Monday, 30 July 2018

Obudu state house Bye Elections: Imoke caught in Ayade’s web

 | 30th July 2018 | Ukorebi Esien

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has fixed Saturday, 11th of August 2018 as date for the conduct of a bye-election to fill the vacant seat of the late Hon. Ukpukpen representing Obudu state constituency in the 8th Cross River State House of Assembly who passed on early this year after he slumped while on a morning exercise.

To this effect, political parties in the state were last week seen in a rush hour skeletal primaries to elect, nominate or appoint aspirants to represent the party as candidates in the forthcoming Cross River State House of Assembly bye-election for Obudu state house constituency.

On the expiration of the Wednesday 25th July 2018 deadline for nomination of candidate as set by the umpire of the election, only three political parties succeeded in filing in candidates for the election. The parties and their candidates are:  

Peoples’ Democratic Party PDP - Abbey Ukpukpen (Mrs)

All Progressive Congress, APC - Adah Ishamali 

African Democracy Congress  ADC – Mr. Agwupuye, John Umeka

Mrs. Abbey Ukpukpen incidentally is the wife of the late lawmaker. And her emergence as the PDP's candidate has attracted a lot of criticism. While many sees her emergence as the PDP having the best interest of the deceasedmember's family members at heart, others believe the decision is aimed at ensuring the slot remains within the late house member's immediate constituency in Obudu, that is Bedia village, Angiaba/
Begiaka ward precisely.
For others this may just be an avenue for the PDP family to assist the widow of the late house member fend for the children her late husband left behind. As the speaker of the state house of assembly said during the burial of the late lawmaker that his family will continue to enjoy a form of remuneration from the state house of assembly till the expiration of the 8th Assembly.

Agba Jalingo of Cross River Watch believes forcing the ex-beauty queen to take over her late husband's seat in the Assembly might just be one of the best ways the dou of the state governor and speaker of the house will want to use in ensuring the enumeration keeps going to the family.

Many critics sees the action by the PDP as a miscalculation on the bases that Mrs. Ukpukpen is not a politician and does not have a good relationship with her husband’s community. This is aside the fact that she is originally from Abi Local Government Area, and married to an Obudu man. Someone had said "she is more of a model than a politician with a very bad and uncontrollable attitude in fact, she is the worst person the PDP should have chosen"

According to Agba Jalingo, his findings also reveals that the said Abbey is not a registered member of the PDP as her name is not in the PDP register in Angiaba/
Begiaka ward which is supposed to be a ward.

Mrs. Ukpukpen has also been accused by many especially those from her husband's family and the Obudu Community in general of breaking the tradition. "As custom and tradition demands, she is supposed to be mourning her husband for some months and not thinking of jumping up and down for elections, I wonder how she is going to come to Obudu for campaigns because she has never mingled with the Obudu women in the community"A close source revealed.

"She is so disrespectful, full of her self and has no respect for anybody including her late husband, she has severally fought, embarrassed and disgraced her late husband even right here in the assembly quarters where we all live, I wonder what she is going to tell the people in Obudu during her campaign because nobody knows her and she doesn't mingle with her husband people". Another source disclosed.

TDN gathered that some PDP members are not happy with her candidacy but are forced to align because she is said to be the anointed candidate of an ex-governor of the state from Abi Local Government Area."Even the governor's camp seems not to be too happy with her candidacy because they all know she is a bad brand for the Party". A source close to the governor disclosed.

It is believed that the ex-governor who has mastery in making sure his anointed always win an election even from the hospital bed outside the borders of the country has promised to deliver her at all cost in his usual manner. Just as we all saw it happened in 2015.

Another source also believes that the emergence of Adah Ishamali as the APC candidate is a ploy to ensure that Governor's camp does not lose out completely and make it a win-win situation for the governor as we approach the 2019 general elections. The source revealed that if the Ishamali emerges winner of the election, he automatically would be the leader of the APC in Obudu and will give the governor a soft landing should he finally decide to switch over to APC.

Adah Ishamali is said to be a close relative of Dr. Linda Ayade, the governor's wife and a close ally with the alleged co-governor of the state. So political jugarnuts believe that whether APC or PDP emergence as the winner in the August 11th election Ayade will still be a winner. 

But trouble looms for the PDP and Ayade as a source in the ADC revealed to TDN that the emergence of their candidate
 Agwupuye, John Umeka, came as a shocker to governor's camp who never saw that coming as John Umeka has a better political goodwill than other candidates and is likely to be the preferred candidate by the electorates. The source who pleaded anonymity went on to disclose that some aide to the governor from Obudu have started aligning with John Umeka as they believe he is the best of all the candidates.

Whatever the outcome of the election will be, Ayade's numerous foot soldiers in the form of appointees should have a major role to play,  as there's hardly any polling unit in Obudu that does not have an appointee, so if all the appointees win their various polling unit, Ayade's victory is secured. Whether for The PDP candidate or the APC candidate. All he needs to do is give the matching order and they just must deliver. 

As Peter Enyievi, a social commentator rightly said, the Obudu election is a litmus test for the 2019 election. Ayade's numerous appointees are supposed to deliver him no matter the party he decides to run under come 2019.

Will Liyel have his way once again, by foisting a bad brand on the people or will Ayade still maintain his win-win stand in either Abbey or Ishamali while he seeks to outsmarts his predecessor or will the masses in deed have their say by giving it to John Umeka?  Saturday 11th August will decide, let's watch as the games unfolds.

Ukorebi Esien blogs for TDN where he tells the Nigerian story, one article at a time.

All views are mine.