Abbey Ukpukpen, a former beauty queen and widow of late Hon. Stephen Ukpukpen, emerged yesterday in a PDP primary election at the Senator Liyel Imoke Civic Center, Obudu, to represent the party in the August 11 bye-election to fill the vacancy created by the demise of her husband who represented Obudu state constituency in the House of Assembly.
Abbey is a Malabress. A graduate from the prestigious University of Calabar, UNICAL. She is from Abi local government area in Cross River state and has been married to late Ukpukpen for years with children.
At the burial of her husband in Bedia (our village), the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Honorable John Gaul Lebo said that the family of the late lawmaker was going to keep earning remuneration from the Assembly till the end of the 8th Assembly.
This decision sure has the blessing of the Governor, Senator Ben Ayade.
I suspect that the duo thought about how remuneration was going to be paid to the family of a dead legislator and they decided in their “wisdom” on behalf of the 161,000 Obudu people to compensate Abbey with her husband’s seat.
The first process has been formalised seamlessly with the party’s primary, to meet INEC’s July 25, deadline for primaries.
They hope to complete the process by August 11 and make Abbey our most honorable representative from Obudu who inherited the ancestral royal throne of her beloved husband.
Let me make somethings clear from the bottom of my heart.
1. Abbey is qualified by age, education and by marriage to contest for the position.
2. But, the electoral act requires that for a person to qualify to win a party ticket, you must have been a registered member of your party in your ward for at least a year. The party however has prerogative to grant waivers.
3. Common sense also requires that to represent a people as a local MP, you must have lived long enough among them to integrate and at least be able to speak their language and practice some aspects of their culture.
4. You should be able to campaign to your voters in their local language as a local MP.
5. You should be a person of good standing and integrity both in private and public life.
Break This Down:
Let me begin from number 2.
From my findings, even as I write, Abbey’s name is not on the PDP register in Angiaba/Begiaka ward. That is my ward. I am from Bedia. Me and Abbey will vote in the same polling unit if I transfer my vote to Cross River. Everybody in my village knows me and I know everyone in my village too. I have information to the smallest details from there. Abbey is not a member of PDP in Bedia, at least.
Those who concocted this arrangement are now considering creating a register that will accommodate her name or a waiver in anticipation of any qualms.
Secondly, I can say here authoritatively that the young woman herself is still grappling to come to terms with what the politicians are throwing at her. She is just being railroaded and buoyed on by those who are bent on imposing her. If you doubt, tell her to start campaigns. I bet she won’t go to Obudu for campaign.
If you look at number 3.
Abbey has never lived in Obudu. She does not speak any Obudu language. Nobody knows her in Obudu. She is not involved in/with anything in Obudu that is known to the public. How exactly does she intend to represent these people she doesn’t know?
And then number 4.
From the INEC timetable, campaigns have started for the bye-election. Most of the aged population who are left behind in the villages by the youths, to do the voting do not speak or understand English. Will Abbey speak only English all through her campaign or is it going to be another evangelical tour where the preacher speaks and the interpreter adds his/her salt? Or is it a ploy to give Abi local government area two seats in the House and deny Obudu of any?
Number 5 is the most controversial:
Like I said, late Honorable Ukpukpen and I are from the same village, Bedia. I knew a few things closely. But even what I think was close, wasn’t, because it is open knowledge that Abbey Ukpukpen, who wants to be my representative in the State House of Assembly is a renowned violent lady with reported feats of violent fights with her husband, sometimes even openly in the Assembly quarters at Ekorinim. But like I said, this issue is very controversial and tempers and emotions are still high, so I will speak less on this.
God forbid that I wish that the family of Steve Ukpukpen suffer anymore misfortune than the loss of their bread winner, but cry! If the Governor or the Speaker or anyone for that matter, wants to come to their rescue, she can be made special adviser on “everything” and she gets paid anything the powers that be desire.
I consider it inconceivable that even with this level of enlightenment, something as important and crucial to our existence like a seat in parliament, will still be handed out on the basis of pity and emotions; will still be considered as something to “put food on the table of the bereaved.” It hurts. And to think that it is my constituency, my village, is even more hurting.
I think very frankly that whoever made the decision to make Abbey Ukpukpen, the PDP candidate for Obudu state constituency bye-election is simply taking us for granted.
That person deserves to be taught a lesson on how not to ride roughshod on an enlightened people who have a right to make a choice by voting enmass for another candidate who knows and understand what Obudu people want.
Unfortunately, the other party qualified to contest in the bye-election, the APC in Obudu and the entire state and even the country is in disarray.
I also know that the grammar I am writing here will not stop the imposition of Abbey as a member of the House as planned, for the remaining 9 months.
But those people must be sure that she will be on the hot seat for the 9 months.
The only way she will have peace of mind in that House is if she can meet up the expectations of Obudu people both in terms of meeting the challenges back home and effective representation in the Assembly.
I don talk my own.
I am citizen Jalingo Agba from Bedia village in Obudu local government area.
Agba Jalingo, a journalist and rights activist, writes from Lagos.
NOTE:Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.