… As Youth Challenge Uwem Ita Etuk’s Political Leadership, Call For Zoning
… Uwem Ita Etuk Apeals For Stay of Status Quo
Youths of Ibesikpo Asutan, under the aegis of Coalition of Asutan Ekpe Youth Leaders (CAEYL), have challenged the political leadership of Prince Uwem Ita Etuk, Commissioner for Land and Housing, over the area.
The youth body, through a communiqué referenced CAEYL/AD/G/Vol/016/018, signed by over 30 of its executive members and addressed to Governor Udom Emmanuel, expressed dissatisfaction over what they called marginalization in the distribution of political offices in the area.
The communiqué stated thus, “At the special congress today (Monday 20th June, 2016) of the Coalition of Asutan Ekpe Youth Leaders (CAEYL), it was resolved as follows: 1. We are proud to identify with the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency Mr. Udom Emmanuel on his exceptional achievements during his first year in office. 2. We wish to bring to the knowledge of His Excellency Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State that Ibesikpo Asutan as a Local Government is made up of two (2) distinct clans, Ibesikpo and Asutan Ekpe, with 5 wards each. 3. From the creation of Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area on 1st October 1996, the office of Member Representing Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and that of Local Government Chairman always rotate between the two clans. 4. At the end of the tenure of the immediate past Executive Chairman of Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, Apostle (Hon.) Ekpe James, it was expected that an indigene of Ibesikpo was appointed as Transition Committee Chairman in the person of Hon. (Elder) Ita Udombon. It must be stressed here that, the office of House of Assembly Member that was occupied by an Asutan man in the person of Rt. Hon. Eyakeno Etukudo was relinquished to Ibesikpo Clan, which led to the emergence of the present member, Rt. Hon. (Elder) Aniekan Uko during the 2015 State Constituency election.”
“At present, the Member Representing Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency in AKHA, Rt. Hon. (Elder) Aniekan Uko, the Honorable Commissioner for Lands and Town Planning, Prince Uwem Ita Etuk, Chapter Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Ibesikpo Asutan, Elder Okon Edet Offiong and Transition Committee Chairman, Hon. Ita Udombon are all indigenes of Ibesikpo Clan, while Asutan Ekpe is left with no political office holder. 6. From inception of the present democratic dispensation in 1999, offices of PDP Chapter Chairman and that of the Local Government Chairman are always interchanged between the two clans. It is safe to state here clearly that presently, the Chapter Chairman of Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) is from Ibesikpo Clan and the Chairman in Council SHOULD NOT come from the same Ibesikpo Clan. 7. We therefore plead with the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel to use his good office to address this imbalance by appointing an indigene of Asutan Ekpe as Caretaker Committee Chairman at the expiration of the present Transition Committee. 8. We wish to express our unalloyed support and unflinching loyalty to the Government of His Excellency Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel till 2019 and beyond,” it concluded.
Reacting to the incident, Prince Ita Etuk, through a press statement made available to newsmen by his Media Aide, Abasifreke Effiong, appealed to the youths group to “allow the status quo to subsist for the purposes of smooth political administration of the two clans as it has always been.”
To put the record straight, the statement said “A youth group, through a letter to the Governor, raised a skewed analysis on zoning of political offices in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area. In the eight paragraphs letter, the youths whose demand is that the position of the transition committee chairman of Ibesikpo Asutan be zoned to Asutan clan alleged marginalization of their clan in the current political arrangement in Ibesikpo Asutan.”
“This piece seeks to give clarification on how transition committees and other relevant political offices have been shared between the two clans since the creation of Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area. Without sounding immodest, the Peoples Democratic Party’s zoning policy as implemented in Ibesikpo Asutan has over the years provided a template for other local government areas where this arrangement has not yet had tap roots in their political structuring. This has been possible because of the political leadership and followership structure within the party built over the years by founding fathers of the Party in the local government and currently managed by Prince Uwem Ita Etuk.”
“Right after the creation of Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area in 1996, elective offices as House of Assembly, Executive Chairman, and Chairman of the Party has been rotating between the two clans on a single term basis. This arrangement predates the PDP, and has been adopted by other political parties in the local government area. The choice of the chairman of transition committees has always followed a replacement arrangement not zoning based on clans. What this means is that if the executive chairman is from Asutan clan, at the end his tenure, the transition committee chairman must be appointed from that clan. From 1996, after the pioneer executive chairman of Ibesikpo Asutan, Mr. Iniobong Ekpenyong from Asutan clan had completed his tenure; he was replaced by the pioneer transition chairman, Mr. Ita Ekpo from Asutan clan. The next executive chairman, Prince Uwem Ita Etuk was elected from Ibesikpo clan. The transition chairman thereafter, Mr. Joseph Udounwa was appointed from Ibesikpo. In 2008, the executive chairman, Barr. Christopher Essien was from Asutan clan and the succeeding transition committee chairman, Mr. Etetim Ubom was appointed from Asutan.”
“In 2012, the executive chairman, Apostle Ekpe James was elected from Ibesikpo clan and the subsisting transition committee chairman Elder Ita Udombon is from Ibesikpo clan. This chronology is important to help the Governor, the leadership of the PDP in the State and Ibesikpo Asutan, and the public to form an opinion on the agitation by this group of youths whose attempt is to complicate and alter the age-long zoning arrangement in Ibesikpo Asutan. It is important to add that each of these transition committees exhausted their duration and handed over to the executive from the other clan, without acrimony.”
“Thus, this sudden lash out at the leadership of the Party and protest against the status quo is a kink in the political norm known, practiced and kept by the people of Ibesikpo Asutan. Also, the claim by the group suggesting that Asutan clan has been grossly marginalized both in elective offices and appointments is conceived under a pathological pretence of ignorance about the history of zoning of such offices. It is true as raised by the group that currently the member representing Ibesikpo Asutan in the House of Assembly and chapter chairman of the PDP are from Ibesikpo clan. This is as would be expected, because Asutan clan has just finished its turn through Mr. Eyakeno Etukudoh, immediate past member for Ibesikpo Asutan and Mr. Emmanuel Ukim whose tenure as chapter chairman elapsed two months ago.”
“When the local government elections are eventually conducted, and by next tenure, the positions of House of Assembly, party chairman and transition committee chairman will automatically revert to Asutan clan and by then these same youths would not want the people of Ibesikpo clan to contest any of these positions with them. In political appointments, the group in an attempt to psych up the Prince Uwem Ita Etuk’s leadership and possibly woo sympathy for their skewed posturing singled out the office of Commissioner as the only appointment, which of course is retained in Ibesikpo clan.”
“In doing so the group cleverly avoided to tell themselves and the public that Asutan clan currently has three Special Assistants to the Governor, Account General of the State and in addition to one of them serving as the State representative of the Party. In all of these, I should suggest that the youths of Asutan allow the status quo to subsist for the purposes of smooth political administration of the two clans as it has always been. Any contraption made to spite the political leadership of the local government and alter the existing political arrangement for an interim and selfish gain(s) may have grave consequences for the unity enjoyed by the two clans,” the statement concluded.