2023:Between Inoyo ,Akan Udofia in A’Ibom Gov’ship Race (1)

The two horse race

2023: Between Inoyo ,Akan Udofia in A’Ibom Gov’ship Race (1)

By Ufok Ibekwe

The Akwa Ibom gubernatorial race for 2023 is gradually heating and shaping up into a two-horse race. Most of the aspirants have switched into battle moods.  From the long list of over ten aspirants, Udom Inoyo and Akan Udofia for now are the ones running next to neck on top of the chart. This is probably because their résumés at a casual glance fit snugly into governor Udom’s prescription of the caliber of successor he desires. They two also offer a sense of fresh breath in the polity away from the stuffy air associated with some old core politicians in the race.

Beside Inoyo and Udofia, other names like Pastor Umo Eno and Akan Okon who are serving commissioners under Udom have also popped up as close contenders though without compelling tempo.

As commissioners currently serving in Udom’s government, Akan Okon and Umo Eno are already seated on the royal banquet table. They are not expected to shake the table and annoy the chief host of the banquette even though Pastor Umo Eno has slightly breached this decorum lately. Eno is said to have been flaunting some phony endorsements by the governor and fathers of faith on pages of some local newspapers with intention to woo the fickle minded populace to his tent. His action is probably overlooked by his boss who may blame his haste on his inexperience in learning the dicey robe to power.

PASTOR ENO until his appointment as commissioner was a business man, ExxonMobil contractor, pulpit pastor and a hotel owner.  He was said to have been nominated into Udom’s cabinet by the fathers of faith. However, when it comes to capacity to drive the State, Eno is still wet around his ears and has huge skill gap in terms of human management capacity.  He is also seen as an emergency aspirant acting through impulse fueled by his current station in life as commissioner and his close relationship with the fathers of faith. Eno’s dossier   which portrays him as having a narrow back devoid of the mental strength to carry the weight of responsibility required to run a State like Akwa Ibom is a huge disadvantage to his aspiration. His key hubris was recently highlighted by Kassim Gussua in Vanguard newspaper as follows: Many Akwa Ibomites are uncomfortable with Umo Eno because he is largely known as a very tight-fisted investor, who has no record of social welfare programmes, even for Akwa Ibomites working for him despite his billions from businesses in the state. He is said to be very stingy. With this, people are scared of another Bible carrying Governor that does not understand the needs of the state and with no street credibility status.

AKAN OKON who is the commissioner for Economic development and Ibom Deep Seaport is an experienced administrator and a complete gentleman. Apart from having the mental capacity to be governor, he is a very stable minded person without peripheral or direct affinity with any nocturnal or the so-called dark cult flags. But his major limitation is the absence of a groundswell public buy-in to his aspiration despite his long and sustained stay as commissioner in government for over seven years now. As a man with his eyes on the throne, many people believe that he did not utilize the past seven years in the corridor of power well to build and oil his structure quietly to facilitate his easy enthronement. Although Akan is seen as a good and capable hand who understand governor Udom’s vision, people think he will be a hard sale except he can magically swings the table very fast to his side.

Interestingly, Governor Udom having worked closely Akan Okon and Umo Eno knows their worth and the role they can possibly play in the coming kingdom; whether as captain of the ship or crew members.   But as it stands currently, they are not close to the succession equation. May be later they could count.

Anybody with a sensitive antenna is bound to know that Udom’s 6th anniversary speech clearly sought a successor in the mould of the Asian tigers like Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore or Park Chung-hee of South Korea. The two leaders   transformed their respective countries economy from struggling third world to first world economies. If Udom’s mouth truly represented the true state of heart, then Udom Inoyo and Akan Udofia fit into that vision.

AKAN UDOFIA 52, is a Toronto based business man from Etinan local government with a net worth of over 900 million US dollars. His strength lies chiefly in his huge financial war chest and business acumen. He is known to be the richest man from Akwa Ibom and rated as one of the 55 Richest men in Africa by Ventures Africa. AK 47 as he is fondly called is the CEO of Desicon Engineering Ltd, a transnational company involved oil and gas businesses. Apart from his strength which is anchored on his huge financial war chest, Akan Udofia’s major weakness is his political alignment that is somewhat fluid without any well-established root in any of the top two political parties. Presently there is a confusing raging debate on whether he belongs to APC or PDP. Some skeptics who strongly doubt his stand regarding the 2023 race have even stretched the argument further to the point that he is said to be fronting for his friend Senator Bassey Albert.

Another bugging issue regarding Akan Udofia’s aspiration is that he is seen to be too elitist and lives a recluse lifestyle. He is based in Toronto Canada and shuttles between two continents with his private jet to run his chains of businesses in Nigeria. The general notion about him is that he is so disconnected from the people as he sits on his cozy feelingless firmament away from ordinary citizens. People are afraid that as governor and wealthy business man, he could wind up as a black man’s version of Donald Trump who  may look down through  his nose at lesser people. Mr Udofia has however tried to deflate this notion lately through plain folks’ propaganda technique by hurriedly identifying with ordinary citizen and even eating roasted corns openly on the road side amidst cheering admirers. He also seized the moment of Iniubong Umoren’s murder saga to hang an empathy effigy in the minds of the populace by giving a job to the late girl’s sibling in his company. Good as those actions may seem on the face of it, they are emergency and spontaneous. Many believe they don’t represent the core of his soul.

Many people are also concerned about the source of Akan Udofia’s mammoth fortune. It is mostly believed as written by Mario Puzzo in The Godfather that “behind every great fortune there is a crime”. People love to think that the secret of every amazing great fortune is an underpinning crime that has never been found out, because it was properly executed. There are also some great, honest fortunes legitimately acquired by hardworking people and Akan Udofia’s fortune may even fall within such category. But even at that, his entry into politics could throw open the floodgate of unwarranted scrutiny into his past financial dealings or ignite a possible frame up for imaginary offences by government anti-corruption agencies instigated by his opponents.

THE SIX-FOOTER UDOM INOYO with his ever smiling and sunny countenance is from Ikot Okoro Ubium in Nsit Ubium local government Area. After a blistering career in ExxonMobil that covered about 31 years, Inoyo retired in 2020 with glowing eulogies from friends and admirers. In the 2023 power equation, Inoyo integrity and his solid capacity to run the state are his core assets. He has a consistent past, a coherent present and clear vision of the future having ran a top transnational organization as a high-ranking executive. Talking about Inoyo , a columnist with Sunday independent, Nsikak Ekanem in a SWOT analysis of the 2023 gubernatorial aspirants in Akwa Ibom recently wrote  To Inoyo’s advantage, he is seen as having recommendable dose of financial probity, evidently seen in his steady rise to the top echelon of his career with Exxon Mobil, which spanned a period of 31 years. Owing to this positivity, a probe on his past, which has potency of plaguing a politician, may be a ploy that his political adversaries would hardly think of deploying.

Inoyo’s also has a good name, integrity quotient, and proper grasp of the job description of a governor. People who have worked closely with him have testified that he is a very detribalized humble man who is very sound in formulating, translating and driving policies. He is also said to be an avid development apostle who believes in building youths through sound educational foundation. This he has demonstrated through the Inoyo Toro foundation, an NGO focused on educational development of youths, re-training and reward of teachers.  Through the Foundation “more than 5040 students have been mentored, 3500 teachers trained, 235 teachers empowered, 3 principals rewarded, more than 90 schools reached across 30 LGAs of the state costing more than 400 million naira since 2007”.

With several glorious years of experience as an administrator in a top transnational corporation under his belt, he is not likely to have any challenge or be overwhelmed by any work pressure whatsoever in running the state.  Inoyo is visionary and tends to share the same mentality of Obong Victor Attah on deep belief in building a bridge into the future for subsequent generations.

His key weakness lies on his financial weight which is not as heavy as his co-aspirants who are serving and former top government official with deep pockets. Despite Inoyo’s eminent qualification for the job people are worried whether he will have the capacity to outbid other aspirants in event of a bidding war for delegates votes during the gubernatorial primaries.  Time shall surely tell. But for now, Udom Inoyo is the aspirant to watch in the 2023 PDP gubernatorial race.



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Written by Ufok Ibekwe

Barr. Ufok Ibekwe is a patriotic and charismatic Nigerian, He is well versed in the different areas of life and dedicated his time to sharing his knowledge, impacting people by providing a safe space for them to share their views.

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