Members-elect in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly have defied pressure from political gladiators in the state by appointing their first-time colleagues as speaker and deputy speakers respectively.
The lawmakers-elect in a rare exertion of their independence elected Aniekan Uko, a member representing Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency as their speaker while Effiong Bassey from Oron State Constituency was elected deputy speaker.
The action was taken after hours of disagreement by factions loyal to the state Governor, Udom Emmanuel, and another loyal to the former Governor, Godswill Akpabio.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that while the governor supported the emergence of a ranking member from Nsit Ubium, Onofiok Luke, the camp loyal to Mr. Akpabio rooted for another ranking member from Ibiono Ibom, Ime Okon.
Seven members are said to have supported the emergence of Mr. Okon, while 19 others threw their weight behind Mr. Luke, a former student activist.
Apparently to douse tension in the state, the lawmakers met and decided to wield their power by dropping the two candidates favoured by the two major political gladiators in the state.
Since the office of the speaker was zoned to Uyo Senatorial District, both Messrs Luke and Okon were qualified to occupy the exalted position.
But the lawmakers-elect would not allow any of the two candidates to emerge and instead implemented an alternate plan which is said to have worked against the interest of the former governor.
It was further learnt that the alternate plan was introduced by former allies of Mr. Akpabio including a former commissioner and chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uwem Etuk, and some leaders of Eket Senatorial District.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that while angry youth barricaded the gates of the assembly complex and barred the brothers of the former governor, Emem and Prince Akpabio, from gaining access to the premises, Mr. Etuk and other leaders bent on dethroning the Akpabios from power in the state, pushed Mr. Uko to be elected speaker.
After a holding a brief meeting outside the chamber, the lawmakers returned and the session began at 7.19p.m. with prayers by the Bishop of Uyo Diocese of the Methodist Church, Emmanuel Udofia.
A member from Itu State Constituency, Idongesit Ituen, moved for the nomination of Mr. Uko as speaker.
The motion was seconded by Udo Kierian, a member-elect from Oruk Anam.
The members unanimously voted for Mr. Uko as their speaker while Mr. Bassey was elected deputy speaker.
Out of the 26 members of the assembly, only six are ranking members while 20 other won election into the assembly for the first time.
A source told PREMIUM TIMES that the battle for who emerged the speaker of the assembly was between the new and the old order in the state.
“The lawmakers have today shown that the old order can no longer take decisions for the people of the state,” he said.
“Mr. Uko was elected based on an alternative plan by supporters of the new order in Akwa Ibom State.
“Akwa Ibom people are tired of one family appointing every political office holder in the state. We are for democracy and those who think they are godfathers should begin to learn now.”
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the old order refers to the former governor while the new order refers to the governor of the state, Mr. Emmanuel.
Mr. Emmanuel is said to have during the weekend bared his fangs by demolishing a filling station owned by one of the former governor’s brothers, Prince Akpabio.
The filling station is said to have been built on a major drainage system along Nwaniba Road, Uyo against the order of the Uyo Capital City Development Authority.