The Akwaibom House of Assembly had had peace of the graveyard over several weeks if not months now. The drama began after Senator Goodwill Akpabio defected from the ruling party in the state, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to the All Progressives Congress, APC. With the defection, some commentators had thought there will be a domino effect in the state’s politics that could collapse PDP. That didn’t happen. At the time there were specific expectations by the APC that Assembly members may follow the former governor to his new party, but that was not to be.
This reality may have caused dissatisfaction among the Akpabio crowd who in a bid to show his new friends his political prowess may have over played his hands. After all, there were reports that the state governor was expected to join him too in APC, that didn’t also happen. These instances may have led to plots to distabilise the House ahead of general elections next year. Such destabilisation could make PDP weak and give the APC an unfair advantage as electoral campaigns gather steam. This week’s drama at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in Uyo, should be well situated.
Reports have it that five opposition lawmakers, allegedly suspended by now factional Speaker, Onofiok Luke, who is of the majority PDP reconvened to initiate the removal of Luke and begin the impeachment of Governor Udom Emmanuel. The sitting of the five APC lawmakers led by another factional Speaker, Nse Ntuen, was scuttled by suspected thugs.
Governor Emmanuel, who was at the Assembly Complex, which was thrown into confusion as the suspected thugs manhandled the APC lawmakers, who were suspended for defecting from the ruling PDP. Ntuen, assisted by scores of armed policemen, stormed the Assembly Complex in the company of his four colleagues at about 8.30am and allegedly broke into the main chamber to hold plenary. Suspicion was rife that the group of five equally planned the suspension of the other 21 members, however, luck ran out on them as there were Assembly workers who refused them entry into the chamber.
Unfortunately for the state and the hitherto peaceful disposition of the arms of government in the state since Emmanuel became governor, guns boomed at the complex despite the heavy security presence. We learnt from reports that some of the Assembly workers who escaped the assault told their colleagues about the development. Matters came to a head when some youths, suspected to be party loyalists, stormed the Assembly. They allegedly beat up the factional speaker and his colleagues. Four of the five APC lawmakers escape through the emergency exit. But Ntuen was not so lucky. He was still within the complex when the governor arrived at the scene.
Luke convened the House on November 9, announced the suspension of the five defectors and declared their seats vacant. But Ntuen convened another session on November 20. He also announced the suspension of Luke and 11 PDP lawmakers. Suspended by the Ntuen-led faction are: Udo Akpan, Felicia Bassey, Nse Essien, Lawrence Udofia, Usoro Akpanusoh, Ime Okon, Friday Iwok, Asuquo Archibong, Mark Esset, Emmanuel Ekpenyong and Aniekan Uko.
Now, the House of Assembly had called on law enforcement to arrest the five sacked lawmakers – Nse Ntuen, Idongesit Ituen, Gabriel Toby, Victor Udofia, and Otobong Ndem – for breaking into and desecrating the chambers of the Assembly. This was one of the seven prayers of a motion moved by House Leader Udo Kierian Akpan and seconded by the Deputy Leader, Ime Okon.
We are not impressed by the shenanigans going on in Akwa Ibom state. Coming very close to the general elections, we hope that politicians will not plunge the state into avoidable crisis due to their personal ambitions. There is nothing among the grievances that is connected to disagreement on policy or good governance. It is all about partisan supremacy. This is tragic and must end now.
We call on all combatants to think about the greater good of the state. From media accounts, it appears each of the factions has offended one another. However, under no circumstances should five people be encouraged to attempt to render the majority (21 members) impotent. That must not happen. Conversely, the majority should be encouraged to uphold the rule of law in spite of the noise of the minority. Akwa Ibom state should be left alone to decide what their political destiny should be, not what is dictated via outside influences.