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2023: Expect Surprises

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…Series On The Election (1)

OPINION

By Etim Etim

Happy New Year, folks and welcome to 2023, the year of our 7th general elections since 1999. It is a little over two months to the governorship election on March 11, and here are the possible scenarios that may come up.

Over 95% of YPP members and supporters are PDP members who defected from PDP with OBA to YPP. Of the remaining members of PDP, quite many are sympathetic to OBA because they still have not found a nexus between themselves and the governorship candidate of the PDP, Umo Eno. This means that PDP in Akwa Ibom State has been severely weakened.

YPP members, supporters and PDP members supporting OBA are aware that voting Pastor Umo Eno to power is tantamount to a total political elimination of OBA. Make no mistake, OBA would be further victimized, harassed and doomed if PDP wins this election, and this explains why YPP members and OBA’s supporters are anxious and apprehensive about Umo Eno.

Similarly, if the Appeal Court acquits OBA and he wins the election, he will certainly go for his pound of flesh against the PDP and Udom Emmanuel whom he perceives as those who hunted him. At a church service on New Year Day, OBA said, ‘’What the enemy meant for evil, God has turned it around for my good’’. Who is the enemy he was referring to?

Surely, Akwa Ibom State may return to the era of endless war of attrition and persecution. Remember, election has consequences.

Already, the ongoing YPP vs PDP war in parts of Ini LGA that has claimed some five lives, including a PDP ward Chairman, is the nature of things to come.

Obong Victor Attah was humiliated under the administration of Godswill Akpabio and Akpabio himself has received the same dose of treatment under Gov. Udom Emmanuel. What happens if OBA is Governor? The tit-for-tat will definitely continue, but to what dimension?

However, if Senator John Udoedehe of NNPP is elected governor, violence; tit-for-tat; an eye-for-an eye will end. Udoedehe does not have any problem with anybody in PDP, including the governor. He has no quarrel with OBA. He has no quarrel with Senator Akpabio. Of course, he loves and adores Obong Attah. Udoedehe’s only preoccupation is to use Akwa Ibom money to tackle the many socioeconomic problems afflicting our people. If Udoedehe is elected governor, all our former governors would be given their pride of place and would be free to visit the state at any time.

For this 2023 election, Udoedehe is the fiercest, most formidable and relentless contestant, and he is poised to cause a big upset. He has out-worked, out-thought and out-strategized his competitors. This week, Senator Udoedehe will complete a tour of the 329 wards in the state. To reach Akwa Ibom people in their communities and engage them in close interactions, Udoedehe embarked on the ward-to -ward tour around the state in August. So far, he has met with over 400,000 supporters in over 300 wards, and has dutifully documented their personal details in a big register of about 10 notebooks. In the last one month, he has been making calls to, and taking calls from, these people every morning. Talk of a grassroots strategist! Americans call it the grounds game, and it helped sweep Barack Obama into the White in November 2008. In an expected 700,000 voter turn-out election involving in three or four candidates, the one who locks up 300,000 – 350,000 votes will carry the day. Expect surprises!

Most of these 400,000+ people whom Udoedehe met during the Ward Tour have been his life-long loyalists who have supported him all of his political career. When Udoedehe visited my ward (Ibesikpo Ward 3) in October, the man who hosted him in his house in Ikot Obio Offong was his campaign manager when he ran for Uyo LGA Chairman in 1997! None of the other candidates commands such a durable allegiance all across the state. In each ward, it is these supporters who chip in money to hire chairs, PA system and other items for the Town Hall Meetings. That is the level of their commitment and love to the candidate. We all know that unlike the other candidates, he is not relying on government resources.

Next: The mathematics of the election

Etim is a Journalist and Political Analyst ,writes from Abuja

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