– Samuel Ayara
Until the second decade of the current millennium, repressiveness, impunity, and high handedness in administering a political party were the only module for measuring the effectiveness of chief executive officers in such beats, which freely explains the dirty game taunt it earned. In that era, intelligence, humane disposition, tact, patriotism and character were second fiddle considerations in settling for who leads a political movement, which at that time had power grabbing without commensurate benefit to the populace as a lone caste.
From the murky political waters where men thought more of themselves, emerged a patriot who has challenged the status quo in re-writing the evolution of party administration in this part of the globe; Obong Paul Ekpo. On his advent, with folded sleeves he grabbed the most potent tools in his bid at salvaging the fortunes of the terribly muddled political party leadership, an assignment that has changed the perception of countless several, to the beauty of a selfless and development-centered leadership.
Blessed with the rare fortune of seeing life from a wide range of social prisms, Obong Paul Ekpo’s emergence as State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2012 may not have been viewed as such a mercurial choice. In the obvious, it never presented any close to one, as it was easier to point it as intended to facilitate a power deal, since he most definitely had no credential in political party administration other than those of the corporate world and public service, where he is widely adjudged to have done well.
Early days of Chairman Paul’s emergence may have been a subject of wild speculation over where his loyalty anchored. Never mistake his deep-rooted culture of gratitude for what it is not, this is one man whose loyalty in the long run has proven to remain with the people; which he has severally shown in the moments of discomfort he braves at ensuring everyone gets his due, even when situations present unfavourable to put virtue above individual gains.
As if trained in systems disruption, the Etinan born maverick of political administration did not take long before completely demystifying the untoward standard practices that had become the norm with party chief executives. The reign of impunity and abuse of power was replaced with an era a Chairman of a government party could freely seat among his people to openly brainstorm and embrace ideals that would help build a formidable and respected political family.
The entire state may have watched in awe how Chairman Paul disentangled the succession web for former Governor Godswill Akpabio, when the conversation raged past a discourse to a near war situation. Until now, the Federal Constituency Town Hall meetings the Party under his leadership in 2014 held to feel the pulse of the people as it concerned the 2015 succession, remains the most brilliant transaction that has sustained the soul of the party. One wonders what shreds of the Peoples Democratic Party’s fabric would be left; if he never applied such tact in dealing with the political monster that threatened the unity of Akwa Ibom State at the time.
Bridging the gap to establish a status mix has been a huge positive to the party in the state, which now opens to the concern and aspiration of every member regardless of the social, financial and ethnic strata they belong. It is unarguable that under Obong Paul Ekpo, the PDP has far less intraparty conflicts, the courtrooms are decongested of lawsuits arising from unsatisfactory conduct of party processes. The last seven years of Ekpo’s stewardship have greatly reduced agitation by party men and women, as political god fatherism has lost its hold, with the party now revolving round the people and their choices.
With this repository of humane politics, minority indigenes, shallow pockets and political greenhorns are no longer taken for granted as they are allowed an equal opportunity to aspire on a level playground with those in the advantaged class. Quite often than not, tales of new political structures inundate our political space, because he has more than any school of thought ever predicted, opened up the lawns to allow everyone a voice; a gesture that has made the party’s swelling following both possible and sustainable.
Take his soft speak, humility and mien for granted at your peril, with these