Akwa Ibom 2023:
Gov Udom, OBA in shadow boxing contest
••• As Udom moves against Loyalists of OBA in NUJ chairmanship tussle
…prefers government stoogee
…local media operators vow to floor Udom
…Joe Robert is on a vendetta mission – Journalists
Ahead of the Friday, 2nd August NUJ election, there is uproar amongst journalists based in Akwa Ibom State as the state government has moved against the most popular chairmanship aspirant, Amos Etuk.
TheMail learnt that Amos Etuk, who is currently serving as the Secretary of the Akwa Ibom State Council of the union is widely accepted and popular amongst his colleagues heading into the Friday election.
Threatened by his popularity and a perceived independent-mindedness, some agents of government have moved to stop his election as the successor to the two-term chairman, Elder Patrick Albert.
The government agents have pulled their weight behind a government employee, Joe Robert, who is an information officer in the Akwa Ibom State Civil Service.
According to findings, government feel Joe Robert can be controlled and pocketed to do its bidding throughout his stay as chairman because he is an employee of government.
Leading the pack of government agents backing Joe Robert is the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo. Ekpo who is popularly known as “Uncle Mo” was allegedly co-opted into the Joe Robert team by his Press Secretary, Pastor Ekikere Umoh.
Also, Mr. Ekpo was recently prevailed upon by his peer group in the journalism profession under the aegis of League of Veteran Journalists.
The veteran pen-pushers had impressed upon the Deputy Governor on the need to have Joe Roberts emerge as the next chairman of the union.
According to credible sources, the Deputy Governor has bought into the plan to install Robert as NUJ boss and has promised to give every support he could muster from his vantage position as the state’s number two citizen.
TheMail learnt authoritatively that the Deputy Governor and the government’s media chiefs and handlers are adversely disposed to having Amos Etuk as the next chairman.
One of the reasons for the government agents moving against Amos Etuk is because is of his perceived closeness to Senator Bassey Albert Akpan (OBA).
After helping Governor Udom Emmanuel and the PDP in the state to have a clean sweep during the last general elections, Senator Bassey Albert has been allegedly marked for decimation by “the system” because of his ambition to succeed Udom in 2023.
OBA’s ambition and the early move by the system to block him from actualizing his ambition has had a major spill-over effect on his perceived loyalists, and Amos Etuk might be affected in the process.
Amos has been a key supporter of the governor and government since 2015. He played critical roles in the media for the government and the PDP during the just concluded general elections.
According to findings, the governor is unaware of the recent move by his agents to stop Amos and it is yet to be seen if the governor would support such move.
“The governor was a friend of Amos’ dad. His late dad was an Attorney General in this state. His dad was based in Lagos and worshipped in Qua Iboe Church, Surulere where the governor is a deacon. The governor knows Amos and his family very well. He frequently asks after Amos’ mom and sister each time he sees Amos at events, so the governor doesn’t have anything against him or his aspiration”, said a source in government who craved anonymity.
“At the sidelines of a recent function at Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort, majority of the commissioners in the state had agreed that Amos Etuk is a good choice for the position, stating that he has been a keen supporter of the governor, hence deserves to be supported to ascend into the NUJ Chairmanship position. The commissioners had said they barely know the names of the other aspirants contesting against Amos”, the source hinted further.
TheMail also learnt that the wife of the commissioner for Information, Charles Udoh is related to the Joe Robert, which is allegedly the reason why the information commissioner has thrown his weight behind Robert who contested for same position in 2016 against the incumbent Patrick Albert.
We have learnt that the Commissioner has issued a threat to members of the Information Chapel (who are government employees) that anybody who does not vote for the government candidate will be given unfavourable posting. The commissioner is also allegedly planning to bribe the Information Officers with N10,000 each to vote for Joe Robert.
Meanwhile, Joe Robert has intimated some delegates to the election that being a government candidate, the government will soon release millions of Naira to him for the election. He boasted that Amos and other candidates do not have the financial warchest to contend him in the election and that he will resort to vote buying in order to clinch the coveted position.
Journalists who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity described Joe Robert as a desperate person who has ulterior motive for gunning for the chairmanship position in the state.
“He is too rigid and has tyrannical tendencies. We don’t need such a person. He will polarize the union with hate if he eventually becomes chairman. His agenda is to witch-hunt Patrick Albert, embarrass him by forcefully collecting him the SUV he is currently using as official car and then probe him. He has no good intentions for this union. Apart from that, Joe Robert does not cultivate relationships. He doesn’t know most of his colleagues on one-on-one basis, hence he is not popular amongst them. Out of the close to 500 delegates for the election, I’m not sure he knows upto 1/3 of them on one-on-one basis. These are the people who are delegates for the election, how does he intend to garner votes from them if he doesn’t have relationship with them? Don’t forget that this is a union politics or what I choose to call micro politics. It is close knitted not like the macro or circular politics where a politician may not need to know the electorates before they vote him. If they want to introduce money-politics into union election, they are bound to fail”, said a journalist who didn’t want his name on print.
Meanwhile, local media practitioners in the have vowed to resist the attempt to deny them of the opportunity to produce the next chairman of NUJ. They stated that the NUJ has had 11 chairmen so far and all of them have been government employees. They said that there was an accord by the current chairman of NUJ, Patrick Albert to hand over to someone from the independent media when the time comes for his successor to emerge. They said the local media has contributed largely to the vibrancy the state has enjoyed media-wise and also helped in installing and stabilizing governments, hence this is time for them to be rewarded and not to be fought by government. The local media practitioners vowed to move against the governor and the government if they infiltrate the union and try to impose a chairman for them.
—Culled from TheMail Newspaper