I don’t want you to behave like your mentor, don’t inherit anybody’s enemy, make your own enemies – Akpabio had told Eno when the latter came visiting after the Senate Principal Officer’s election.
Barely three weeks after the immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, handed over the reins of power to his successor, Umo Bassey Eno, their seemingly perfect godfather/godson relationship has unfortunately broken down irretrievably.
Eno, who felt stifled by Udom’s domineering and dictatorial attitude has forcefully broken loose from the apron strings of his former boss and now operates on his own terms, only answering to himself.
It was all rosy in the beginning with Eno worming his way into Emmanuel’s life in the early days of his first term in office, through a religious-political organisation known as Fathers of Faith. He was also projected by the former governor’s friend, clergyman, Apostle Lawrence Achudume, founder of Victory Life Bible Church International.
This subsequently earned him an appointment in Emmanuel’s cabinet during his second term in office as the Commissioner for Lands and Housing. Although he played big in the hospitality business for many years, building hotels and eateries, Eno had his sights set on bigger things. He played his subservient and loyal role perfectly and this endeared him to Emmanuel, who decided to make him his successor.
Naturally, successors in Nigeria’s political space are without being told, expected to remain loyal to their predecessors and pander to their requests. While some have maintained this gentleman agreement, either for fear of the unknown or simply out of reverence, not a few have had to break free from the influence of their godfathers to become their own man. And this Eno has done without wasting time, barely before the fanfare of his inauguration died down.
Problems began between the two when Emmanuel decided he wanted to be solely responsible for determining who occupies all the political positions in the state. Besides wanting his cronies to be appointed to Eno’s cabinet, he wanted to also be the one to determine who becomes Speaker of the State House of Assembly. He wanted to impose a member of the House, Ukpong Akpabio, as the Assembly’s speaker.
Ironically, Ukpong is a nephew of Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of the state and the Senate President of the 10th National Assembly. It is common knowledge in the state that Emmanuel and his predecessor do not see eye to eye despite the fact that it was Akpabio’s wife, Unoma, who allegedly recommended him to her husband as his successor.
Ukpong past caring, chose to take sides with an outsider against the family. Unfortunately, he didn’t emerge as the Speaker as Eno vowed not to let that happen. He had confided in a source close to THEWIILL saying about Emmanuel, “He thinks I’m a baby and wants to impose people on me.”
Eno’s preferred candidate, Udeme Otong, eventually emerged Speaker, leaving Emmanuel dazed by the blow dealt to him by his political godson. To make matters worse, Eno now openly aligns with the senior Akpabio, who he joined his predecessor in solidarity to vilify while he was in office. He was seen going to Akpabio’s home on the morning of the day principal officers were elected in the National Assembly to pay homage to him, thus technically lending his support to his Senate presidency ambition.
Regardless of whatever Eno’s plans are for suddenly aligning with him, Akpabio is likely not going to let this opportunity slip by him. Going by his antecedents and to prove his mettle as the number three citizen, he will most likely strike while it is still hot to deliver Akwa Ibom as his conquest gift to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). With this last stroke, Eno may have finally sealed Emmanuel’s relevance both nationally and in the state by putting the final nail in his political coffin.