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Would Enoidem Maintain Peace?




 By Abasiofiok Inyang

Although the name of the group does not describe it so, it remains common knowledge that the main intent of the Maintain Peace Movement (MPM) was to ensure peaceful installation of Umo Eno in the Akwa Ibom State’s Governor’s office.

With that being achieved, it is safe to adjudge that Emmanuel Enoidem, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and immediate past National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the leader of the MPM, has recorded success, notwithstanding that he lost a senatorial election in the 2023 General Elections.

Now, since the General Elections and all matters trailing it have been done with, and local government elections in the state are likely to be conducted towards the end of 2024, Enoidem has another test that would be used in assessing his worth on the desired movement of peace in electioneering processes. If the notion that charity should begin at home is considered to be paramount, Enoidem’s ability or otherwise to play a role in Etim Ekpo having a hitch-free election would so much constitute a chunk in evaluating his scorecard.

Already a number of issues are on the setting, just waiting for time to come into calculus of 2024 local government elections in Etim Ekpo and, by extension, it would form the basis of examining Enoidem’s role in maintaining peace in his native locality. Far beyond who would win or lose the election, cardinal among the factors that would come into consideration is zoning.

Gauging from popular saying in all nooks and crannies of Etim Ekpo, which is guided by contemporary history of the politics of the area, Uruk clan is said to be rightly positioned to clinch the next chairmanship position. Since the second creation of Etim Ekpo in 1991, the five clans of Obong, Utut Annang, Ikono, Utu and Uruk have taken turns in producing elected local chairmen at least twice, except Uruk, which had its turn only once, so far, in the person of Mfon Idung, who was Head of the council from 2003 to 2007. It should be noted that Etim Ekpo was first carved out from Abak in 1982 under Governor Clement Isong’s administration in the erstwhile Cross River State.

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Meanwhile, typical of contentious nature of politics and despite the right of way said be enjoyed by Uruk Clan, there is speculation that some underhand dealings are ongoing for Utu clan to snatch the chairmanship position from Uruk clan. If that occurs, it would not only be unpopular but a contravention of the principle of rotating Etim Ekpo chairmanship among the five clans.

Some pundits, who bared their minds with The Sensor, said that if such maneuvering happens, it would be daylight robbery on Uruk clan. They opined that such unhealthy political development would be majorly attributed to Enoidem , who is of the Utu stock and has been wielding tremendous power in Etim Ekpo politics for years.

As a follow-up to the assumption that Utu may scuttle Uruk’s turn, supremacy battle has crept into Ward 4, which is in Utu. The cold war is between Dr Alphonsus Ekanem, the Secretary of Etim Ekpo Transition Council, and Gideon Uwa, Enoidem’s age-long personal assistant. As both of them are said to be eyeing the chairmanship’s office, Ward 4, at the moment, is factionalised between the interest of the two Utu sons.

Ekanem is emboldened because he is also the secretary of the local organizing committee for PDP local government congress. Uwa, whose only strength, as usual, is believed to be tied to his boss, is not among top political gladiators in the Ward. Other Utu indigenes said to be nursing ambition for Etim Ekpo chairmanship are Mr Sunday Ukanga (Enoidem’s cousin), Mr Isong Ikafia, immediate past council secretary, and Akanimo Akpan.
Even among the people of Utu, the notion among majority of the contenders and political stalwarts is that if the next Etim Ekpo council chairman is zoned to the clan, it simply means that it would be schemed for Uwa and not the clan. On that score, the subtle clamour to get Utu to produce the next chairman is also unpopular among the people of Utu clan.

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On account of frontline role that Enoidem has been playing in the politics of the larger Akwa Ibom polity, Utu clan is said to have been reaping far more than other sections of Etim Ekpo. One community leader in Etim Ekpo, who preferred that his identity should not be revealed, told The Sensor that “the trend under Enoidem’s leadership has been to push everything to his blood brothers and kinsmen from Utu. So far, the people of Utu has been getting juicy jobs from the Umo Eno administration.”
The community leader, who is also of the PDP family, hailed Enoidem in other aspects of leadership role in Etim Ekpo. He, however, substantiated his allegation against the Senior Advocate, being the political leader of Etim Ekpo, his elder brother, Godwin Enoidem, is a member of State Universal Basic Education Commission (SUBEB). He also mentioned Barrister Nse Ekanem, who hails from Utu and is the chairman of Law Reform Commission. Another person, among others, identified from Utu to be enjoying Enoidem’s patronage is Barrister Sunday Ukanga, who is a resource person for a health centre project in Etim Ekpo. The project is in Utu. A PDP State youth leader, who is also the resource person at another state sponsored project, is Enoidem’s kinsman.

Besides working in tandem with popular wishes of Etim Ekpo people, as the MPM leader, Enoidem is expected to be exemplary in giving peace a chance to flourish in the local government by coming in line with zoning, which was the formula that brought Umo Eno to power. On top of that, with the governor’s laudable peaceful disposition, Enoidem stands the risk of being labeled a killjoy, if he fails to play a role in domesticating in Etim Ekpo justice, fairness and harmony that have been dominating the Akwa Ibom polity under Umo Eno.

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In the build-up to the 2023 General Elections, Enoidem was believed by many to have failed in maintaining peace right inside the MPM family in Etim Ekpo. The situation did not only result in his former allies in the local government area having serious altercation with him but led to the defection of some PDP members to opposition parties and that also formed part of the issues that brought down Enoidem in the senatorial election.

While the incoming local government elections, particularly in Etim Ekpo, may offer Enoidem a chance to correct his perceived mistakes in the pre-2023 elections, there are also concerns that Umo Eno’s die-hard position on zoning may join other factors in compelling him to abide by zoning in his local government area.

As permutations for the local elections would keep re-surfacing, the common question among political analysts hovers more on whether Enoidem would maintain peace in Etim Ekpo.

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