The political cold war currently going on in Ukanafun Local Government area has taken a frightening dimension following alleged refusal of the Transition Chairman, Barr. Abasiono Udomfu to administer oath of office to a new council secretary appointed by Governor Udom Emmanuel.
The new council secretary, Obong Ime Willie Atakpa was appointed through a letter signed by the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Obong Udo Ekpeyong, and dated March 1, 2017.
The Sensor authoritatively gathered that Atakpa was to be sworn-in on March 2, 2017 but the visit of the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo stalled it. It was later shifted to March 3 but could not still hold.
The chairman then apologized and fixed March 8 for swearing in at council hall by 1pm. Eventually, the swearing in coincided with the International Women Day celebration which guests had to wait for the chairman to come and perform the function but the event did not hold again.
The chairman, it was further gathered, came into council premises at about 4:55pm and again apologized to the people for the delay. He, however, said that the event could no longer hold that day as the time was already out of official duty. He was said to have persuaded the guests who had gathered since 12pm and they understood with him. He then fixed Thursday, March 9 for the event to take place by 9am.
However, in a twist, Barr. Udomfu told the guests that there is no official communication with the governor to ascertain the authenticity of the appointment letter. This left everyone that had gathered in disappointment, even as they attributed it to high wire politics and divide going on in the area.
Our correspondent recalls Office of the council secretary became vacant since December 1, 2016 when the then council secretary, Barr. Udomfu was elevated to the position of Transition Chairman following the removal of Barr. Samuel Udokoh, a nephew to the present commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, Obong Udo Ekpeyong.
Some Ukanafun stakeholders had pressurized the governor to either drop Obong Udo Ekpeyong who was then a commissioner nominee or drop his nephew as transition chairman. The governor it was gathered, after a meeting with the Ukanafun elders, opted to drop the transition chairman to allow peace to reign. The governor is also said to be enjoying the support of Obong Ekpeyong in delivering the local government for him come 2019.
The Sensor gathered that the non-swearing in of Ime Atakpan is as a result of serious political squabble in the area which it is said has divided the entire Ukanafun into two major camps. The Eno Akpan/Udo Ekpeyong camp and Aniekan Akpan camp.
The transition chairman, it was learnt belongs to Aniekan Akpan camp while Ime Atakpa belongs to Eno Akpan/Udo Ekpeyong camp.
The transition chairman, it was gathered, is said to be uncomfortable working with Obong Atakpa simply because the latter is from the other camp.
When contacted, the transition chairman, Barr. Udomfu said that there is nothing like plan to scuttle the appointment and subsequent swearing in of Obong Atakpa. He said that the oath of office will be administerd once he gets directive from the governor.
He said, “My brother, the secretary will be sworn-in once I get directive from the governor. There is no problem about that.” Asked if there is any tension in the area as a result of non-administering of oath of office to the new council scribe, Barr. Udomfu said that there is no such tension. He urged the people of the area to discard rumour of tension in the area.
The newly appointed council scribe, Obong Ime Atakpa could not be reached for comment.
However, one of his loyalists, a Peoples Democratic Party PDP Ward Executive in the area, who preferred not to be mentioned as the party, has not mandated the attitude of the transition chairman. He said that the chairman would not have rescheduled the swearing-in event in the first place if he had not seen the appointment letter. He attributed the act to the current war between the two camps and described as such as dangerous.
Meanwhile, tension is mounting in the area as group loyal to one camp were said to be jubilating that the swearing in has been stalled. But another camp is said to be maintaining calm as it expresses hope that the delay in the swearing-in will no way provoke them.