Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission (AKISIEC) is set to conduct Local Government elections across the 31 Local Government Areas of the State.
In regards to upcoming Local Government Elections, Pastor Sunny Ibuout, the Special Adviser, Bureau of Political and Legislative Affairs to Governor Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom State,spoke with the Editorial Crew of Readers247 on issues bothering on political developments in the State.
Question: What has been your major achievements under your stewardship?
Answer: Let me first and foremost welcome you to the Bureau of Political and Legislative Affairs over which I am privileged to be the Honourable Special Adviser.
I want to sincerely appreciate the media in Akwa Ibom State especially the Nigeria Union of Journalists Akwa Ibom State Council for their utmost support in promoting the policies of the Akwa Ibom State Government.
Secondly, I want to give glory to God who has done the great things we have seen in Akwa Ibom State. I came in almost at the heat of 2019 elections if you can remember and I took over this Bureau and by the special grace of God I superintended over the elections.
I took over the 2019 elections with the mantra #OnlyGod and at the end of the day, the election came out as the most successful election since the advent of Democracy in Nigeria and in Akwa Ibom State.
Why I am I saying so? It was the election the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won 10/10 Federal House of Representatives, 3/3 Senate seats, then of course, 26 /26 even though along the line judicially speaking along the line one we lost one State Constituency.
To a very large extent that is the number of achievements and it was an election we heard all manners of threats about Federal might, about what is going to happen and what is not going to happen.
But we went to God and asked Him as the Alpha and Omega for success at the polls at the end of the day I’m not sure of any blood spilled at the end of the election. And we came out very successful and very peaceful.
So, that is the number one thing I will love to give glory to God.
Another thing is the peace that has prevailed since after the election we went to the Tribunal, Appeal Court and Supreme Court in all the stages, God gave us Victory and we won all of them.
I will see that as favour from God not an achievement as the case may be.
And soon after that, we went into governance. It is one thing for somebody to be at the helm of Affairs like His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel there are lots of things that will culminate to make him a successful leader.
Number one is the vision number two is relationship with God and number three are the subordinates because governance is not a one man thing.
We came in as a formidable team, the State Executive, the Local Government setting and every other components have worked together for good. There has been no crisis, recently I think we had issues with two Local Government Council Chairmen and as I speak to you now, those issues have been resolved between those Chairmen and their Councillors.
There has not been too much of fractions as far as the system is concerned.
Looking at what has been happening after that, have we made progress as a Government?
And the answer is yes. In this second term that His Excellency unfolded part of the vision he has for the State when he talked about Aviation Development, we are about the first State in the sub Saharan Africa to have the vision of developing the aviation sector and brought it to bare.
Akwa Ibom State Government has recorded the first in the history ever and that of course is a political achievement.
In the past administrations no such feat had been recorded. We look at other developments starting from the eighth point agenda of His Excellency, the Ibom Deep Seaport and everything that has to do with the documentary processes have been fulfilled and all approvals granted.
We look at trying to move IOCs to the State, the State has taken very magnificent strides towards that. Also, apart from the 21 storey building that is ready for occupation of these IOCs, the Governor has actually used his corporate connections he had had in the past in the corporate world to attract a lot of international oil companies to the State.
Discussions are in top gear towards their moving their operational headquarters to Akwa Ibom State. And I think it’s a step forward and such has not happened in the past administrations. So it is part of the Superior performance of this government and a plus as far as this Government is concerned.
Looking at the infrastructure, the road network. We can sit down and say despite the dearth of resources that has accrued to this government from first term to second term, that it wasn’t what it used to be.
If you look at the price of oil that every State Government in this country predicated their sources of revenue had actually promulgated and because of that revenue accruing to State Government and different Local Government Areas have actually reduced.
So with this reduced resources, His Excellency, the Governor, has been able to take this State to where we are now with massive construction of roads all over the State. For instance, a Local Government like Ini that was almost forgotten they have a road that is linking Akwa Ibom State with our sister State, Abia State and other neighbouring States of the Federation.
Plus other road developments in the State in all the Senatorial Districts in the State. You see that this Government has moved many steps forward towards actually bringing Akwa Ibom State to a point of reckoning as far as this Nigerian Nation is concerned.
Today we want to compare, look back and see development of other states like the Katsina state that was created the same day with Akwa Ibom State to compare it and you will see that we have not lacked behind in anything.
So, I want to use the opportunity to thank his His Excellency, a man with vision who came in with the determination to move Akwa Ibom State to an enviable position as far as this Nation is concerned.
I can go on and on, there has been lots of human capacity development in the State, there are other serious developments and when we look at the situation where you can now sleep in your house with eyes closed right now, that this Government is able to pay workers salary without crumbling I know that no government can satisfy everybody.
You know the government can meet statutory obligations of Government, then we can come to a conclusion that there has been a lot of giant strides as far as this Government is concerned.
So, I will pull all of that to the political stock.
Question: What do you think have been the major challenges in the survival of political parties in the society?
Answer: Recently, we all know that INEC delisted 74 political Parties in the country. Out of 92 that we had, they delisted 74 and we are having 18 now.
The major challenge there is that many political stakeholders have not come in terms with the reality that we should develop political ideology as far as the nation is concerned.
You see when people speak on national television you will observe the challenge of lack of political ideology. You will hear a lot of people say, PDP, APC and all other Parties are they from the same stock, a composition of 18 fingers with same one hand if I want to borrow from Abacha’s era.
You know so, I think it will be proper for the political stakeholders and the players to sit down and develop their ideologies There are people who can say because of this ideology I join this Party because of the consistency and the vision they are pursuing and try to develop that ideology in order to develop followership.
To the extent that people will hold on to a particular belief far as political parties development is concerned.
Today, what people are saying which I believe it is more true than fiction,is that a lot of people pursue political drive without ideology. All they want is control of power and office.
Vision and ideology are the bane of Nigerian politics today.
Again, another challenge I will see is the level of monetization of political activities.
There are a lot of brilliant people out there who could make a difference and bring about sustainable development to the nation but they don’t have such financial strength to procure and prosecute elections in order to give them the opportunity to occupy the number one seat in Nigeria to really turn around the fortunes of their Nation.
Question: What is the Present Status of IPAC in Akwa Ibom State?
Answer: I am not a member of IPAC, incidentally, once in a while we peep into what they do; because we know at the end of the day, political Parties are platforms.
Everyone of us in Akwa Ibom State we are all brothers and sisters and as far as we have a Government that is presided over by our brother Mr. Udom Emmanuel, we want everybody no matter the political party you belong to be able to reap the dividends of democracy of good governance.
So, that gives us the resolution to ensure that there is peace, harmony, and progress in whatever political party that you operate.
However, we were informed that the national officers of IPAC comprising the National Chairman of IPAC, the interim management of IPAC and National Secretary and the National Publicity Secretary were in the State to inaugurate the Interim Management Committee of IPAC.
Remember that before now IPAC did their election not quite long ago but the event of the delistment of some Parties has affected that Exco. Only three parties that survived out of the 18 executive members they had to that extent, it became invalid.
That did not only take place in Akwa Ibom State alone but it’s happening all over the nation and so, the National Officers of IPAC are going from State to states to inaugurate Interim Management Committee.
So they were in the State ans I was aware of it and I understand they had a very successful election the interim Management Committee of IPAC in the State.
You know political is deviod of opposition, so it is not a new thing, so if it is said there faction in the midst of IPAC, it wont be surprising because it is all about politics and what we ow about politics is that, minis a game of number.
If majority out of the 18 IPAC members of the State, I am told that about 12 of them came together and said they are cooperating with National Headquarters is trying to do and we will take instructions from you till when Local Government elections are conducted in due course and they were inaugurated; and I am sure they had the majority and in the game of politics majority Carries the way.
Question: In less than four months, Akwa Ibom State will Conduct Local Government election, How prepared is the State towards conducting the polls?
Answer: Yes, there’s going to be Local Government elections, quite like previous administrations where you will hear caretaker Committees and interim Committees; this government of Mr. Udom Emmanuel is definitely plotting a model of leadership .
The issue of care taker is not going to happen and remember and it is going to be on record that this will be the first democratically elected government in the State that has not indulged in caretaker committees it goes to show that the Governor we have is a true Democrat he works for development of democracy in the nation.
And this is going to serve as a model to other States to learn how to do the right thing. Other States from what we are hearing there are lots of issues, we hear about dissolution of local government, but since this government came on board, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has been doing the right thing.
So, yes, we are going to conduct Local government elections before the end of the year and swear in the new administration of the Local Government councils before the end of the year.
It is going to be a free, fair, transparent and hitch free election where the electorates shall the opportunity of choosing their chairmen and councillors.
Question: Will the principles of zoning be adhered in line with the ideology of Governor Emmanuel for the nomination processes for the Local Government elections?
Answer: I can go straight to say Yes without trying to be diplomatic in answering the question. As far as his Excellency is concerned, equity, fair play and justice is the watchword as it concerns zoning of political positions in Local Government elections in the state.
A committee has been put in place to ensure no section of the Local Government is marginalized . Zoning is going to play a major part of what is going to happen. You know in the past we have been having the problem of a Member of the House of Assembly and the Chairman even Councillor from the same bloc, Commissioner etc. and at end of the day, these has brought issues.
From 2019 we started looking into it and those things are accurately taken So, 2020 local Government election is going to be an example of what should be a model of a proper local government election in the State.
Zoning is going to take it proper place in the choices of Chairmen and Councillors across the State.
Question: The challenge of zoning is already brewing crisis in some Local Government Areas, how will this be addressed before it affects your Party in the upcoming Local Government Elections?
Answer: As it concerns political education, when we talk about politics it is all about sharing resources at the end of the day and once that happens at the centre of it definitely there is bound to be crisis.
There is no political scenario even in the developed world today that you won’t have crisis when it comes to who occupies a particular office, there must be crisis. There must be challenges, conflicts and misunderstanding.
But the work of a responsible government just like what we have today in the State is to reduce it to the barest minimum.
I want to agree that there are people that are not given to easy reconciliation, there are recalcitrant people when it comes to conflict resolution, so what we will, do is that, we will try as much as possible to reduce those issues as Local Government elections draws closer.
The issues started coming as a byproduct of our last congresses that we had in the State. There has been a lot of protests but that is part of politics and this office is placed on a platform capable of reconciling conflicting and warring parties.
That is why PDP is a Party to belong. Because we have developed internal democracy of resolving conflicts, and what ever crisis that may spring up.
So, whatever crisis we may have in relation to zoning there is a committee vested with the responsibility of handling those matters to the satisfaction of the majority of the stakeholders. It might not be to the satisfaction of all quarters, because it will be very difficult to satisfy everybody no matter who sits on the saddle.
Even when Jesus Christ was here physically, he wasn’t able to convince everybody to follow his line, so, it is impossible for anybody no matter how reasonable, decent and responsible the person is to be able to convince 100% of the populace.
As it has to do with the issue of zoning, we will try as much as possible to reconcile and make sure that there is justice, equity and fairplay in the upcoming Local Government elections.
Question: Are you confident that the Local Government Elections will be transparent and credible going by the fact that AKISIEC is a State Government Commission and going by the past antecedents?
Answer: You know in the Party politics, opposition parties must always have a popular slogan to attract the sympathy of the people. Where you are not popular, you want to ascribe it to a particular reason.
Remember that PDP is an opposition Party today in Nigeria and went to the national election in 2019 without any fear, although there were threats of using the Federal-Might that is controlling everything, including the security forces in the nation to overrun Akwa Ibom State.
So that the ruling party will take over Akwa Ibom State, but that didn’t happen, because we knew what we were doing, we were getting to Akwa Ibom people and telling them what peace means to us as a people, what the present administration has done since resumption in office.
We were able to show them legacy projects, what has been put on ground by the successive governments and we were able to convince the people that look this is the right party to follow for deepening of developmental strides in Akwa Ibom State.
So, that was what we did. That is what opposition Parties should do. They should go to the grassroots, and convince the people. We have been able to do many projects, programmes and implemented policies of public interests.
For instance, have they been able to bring people out of poverty as promised us, you know in 2019, APC led government promised bringing people out of poverty but as we speak today, I don’t know if they’ve been able to bring people out of poverty or they have ushered in millions of Nigerians into poverty.
Every nooks and crannies, every family in Akwa Ibom State is PDP. So as we are going, we have started telling the people what PDP is all about.
The people occupying Local Government slots now, we have told them to present their scorecard for the masses to see their achievements within the three years they’ve been in office.
And so, by the time they convince the people who are subject to them, those are the same people that will return to the poll and vote who they want.
I want to tell us that a level playing ground is going to be made available for all parties who are interested in contesting various positions in the forthcoming Local Government elections.
Question: With less than three years to the end of the second term of HE, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, what qualities of a successor do you feel can sustain his legacies?
Answer: We are facing governance now. I feel it is too early to dabble into issues surrounding 2023 for now to avoid distractions.
His Excellency has told us that what we are doing now is trying to fulfill electoral promises to the people and so, politics of 2023 is reserved for tomorrow.
And once that happens, I will be able to you. You know God brought Governor Udom Emmanuel on the saddle and today, Akwa Ibom people can sleep with their two eyes closed in the night, there are a lot of things that other states are passing through that is not the lots of Akwa Ibom people.
In terms of payment of salaries, and all other things. The development of industries in Akwa Ibom State and other giants projects, inspire of paucity of funds, the man with the vision that God brought us has been able to lead us through the woods.
I don’t believe it is going to be a different thing come 2023. Because the bible says the steps of the righteous shall be from glory to glory.
Why I don’t want to dive into the issue of 2023 is that I can assure you that the captain of the ship is Mr. Udom Emmanuel our Governor and He is going to lead us into 2023 in flying colours.
It is going to be higher and greater than where we are now.
Question: What is your message to the people of Akwa Ibom State especially in the next two years?
Answer: I want Akwa Ibom people to imbibe the DAKKADA philosophy of Mr. Udom Emmanuel the Governor of Akwa Ibom State. The problem that we are having in the State is the mentality emancipation.
You know before now, Akwa Ibom was known as a State that supplies domestic servants to other States of the country. But thank God the previous government was able to wage war against the house boy, house girl syndrome stigma.
So, this government came in to build on from there in telling Akwa Ibom people that we posses a superior mentality that we can be the President of Nigeria tomorrow, that we have a mentality that Akwa Ibom was created by God out of greatness and that we are people who are created to take possession of things God has create for us and not to be subject to other people.
Based on this, I want Akwa Ibom people to embrace that philosophy of being able to do that which God has deposited in them with all the potentials not looking for white collar jobs as we can be employers of labour.
That is how we will be able to develop our potentials and bring other people from other parts of the nation to Akwa Ibom State to begin to learn what bought about mental revolution of the people.
Secondly, I want Akwa Ibom people to continue to support the programmes, policies and initiatives of His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel. The Governor means well for the people of Akwa Ibom State and we are in safe hands in a safe boat.
He is going to take us to a safe destination as far as development of Politics, the people and the State is concerned. People should begin to support and believe in their leaders rather than pulling down their leaders.
Finally, I want Akwa Ibom people to believe in God. With God all things are possible. His Excellency kept saying; when the passion is right nothing is impossible.
When we believe in Him all through and we will discover that what is befallng other people in other parts of the world, we shall only hear it, it shall not come near Akwa Ibom State.
I want to thank Akwa Ibom people for the support so far, given to this Government. And I want to assure them that the bible says whatever a man sows he shall reap, because they have given this support to Governor Udom Emmanuel.
God is going to bring to their loins people that shall occupy influential positions tomorrow whether in politics of the State, Nation and of the World.
And at the end of the day, Akwa Ibom shall be proud of the greatness that God has created it from.