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Apr 13 at 11:29 PM
Our big brother in Akwa Ibom State Umana Okon Umana was born on Thursday August 20, 1959. That day was a rather uneventful day in history. However, there was an event that took place in faraway USA which seems to share some correlation with what is happening now. On that day, The Pillar II, an inter-island transport ship, capsized and sank off the coast of Palawan Island in the Philippines, drowning more than 100 people on board.

This was reported on 'Oakland Tribune', August 21, 1959, p1. It was learnt that the Captain Albert O'Brian was slightly unwell about a week earlier and had made arrangement for the Chief Officer Chris Schweitzer to handle the voyage. Chris was a fine officer. With variety of experience spanning years in seafaring ranging from Boatswain, deck department and engineering. He was believed to have more experience than O'Brian. But he had some shortcomings: he was self opinionated, over-ambitious and jealous of O'Brian, the ship captain.

A day to the voyage O'Brian, not having received any favorable word from Safety Management Systems (SMS) in respect of the weather, was said to have advised the Chief Officer to put off the voyage. But Chris never missed any opportunity to prove that he was better than O'Brian, though O'Brian. And this voyage was one such opportunity. Therefore Chris insisted that it was too late for him to put-off the voyage; arguing that SMS would have been definite had there been inkling of bad weather. But the weather condition was palpable. The truth was that Chris's ambition to prove to the ship master that he was better than the Captain O'Brian clouded all his sense of judgement. The rest was history.

This event would have had no bearing on Obong Umana O. Umana except for a little item I read in the net. I read that Obong Umana said that Gov Akpabio asked him to contest for governorship. Like O'Brian asked Chris to ferry the ship. I also understand that the same Gov Akpabio, not having gotten a favorable 'weather' condition from the people (who want zoning) has asked him to drop the ambition and proposed alternatives but Obong Umana purportedly insisted it was too late. Just like O'Brian, not sure of the weather asked Chris to put off the voyage. I have also heard a lot of taunting about UOU's experience and suitability from his supporters.

Obong Umana O. Umana is a Nigerian you can comfortably say 'is made'. He is a fine gentleman and financial wizard. He can move things that requires finance with hovercraft speed. But hovercraft has its limit and cargo level. Obong Umana has friends all over the country and in diaspora. He comes from the largest tribe in the state and the only senatorial district that is mono-ethnic in the state. As a Nigerian he has the right under the constitution to vote and be voted for. Therefore he can well contest for election come 2015 if he so desires.

But like Chris Schweitzer I would like to warn Umana O. Umana to not only take a second look at the political weather, but look at the other side of the coin. That is what he stands to gain if I didn't contest.

This is the weather report:
1. Eket Senatorial District strongly want power to rotate to them. This wasn't the case in 2007 when Akpabio won the PDP nomination inspite of Victor Attah's opposition. Then the so called zoning favored Akpabio's side of the divide. Whether Umana likes it or not zoning would be a factor in 2015 and zoning. How he would get ESD to sacrifice their turn for him remains to be seen.

2. The governor on seat is popular and is taking nothing for granted. Whether you want to believe it or not Akpabio is a national icon. He is the State Party Leader and Chairman of PDP governors forum. Above all he has the ear of the president and leader of the party. This is different from 2007 when there was no love lost between Obasanjo and Victor Attah.

3. Unlike 2007 when Arc Otu Ita was brought in to checkmate Victor Attah, Paul Ekpo is Akpabio's creation. The state party machinery is intact baring pockets of Judases. The majority are in the train to ESD.

4. Akpabio is from a Senatorial District that is grateful to him for the level of development he has brought there. No one can currently sway the Annang people to his side than Akpabio. There maybe a few resistance here and there but as far as Annang nation is concerned their son has done them proud. They'll fall down for him.

5. Uyo Senatorial District is likely where UOU may get his greatest vote if any. But he has a problem here. Uyo Senatorial District being the host of the State Capital is also one of the most enlightened area in the state. It is one of the most cosmopolitan city in Nigeria and presently have more statesmen than any of the other districts. As you know statesmen are not politicians though they may engage in politics. While Politicians all too often think about the next election, Statesmen think about the next generation. The Uyos are very concerned about next generation and would not want to put themselves at variance with the general aspiration of the rest of the state because of immediate advantage of one of their sons.

6. How much key members of USD trust Umana O. Umana's is open to speculation. That may not seem clear to him now.

7. The Ibibios which make up this district also have strong spread in other senatorial districts. Therefore if Ibibio factor come into play, they may decide to try 'head and tail' without falling out with the decision of the party in respect of zoning.

Against this scenario, if I were UOU I would 'Lead from the back and let others believe they are in front' like the Mike Adenugas, the Otedolas, the Dangottes and the Elumelus etc. These gentlemen have shown that one can be powerful without holding an elected office.

There is more to life than letting history play prank on you. The sinking of the ship Pilar 11 the same day UOU was born should have no correlation with his aspiration more than 53 years later. But issues surrounding the sinking ship holds some semblance to UOU's aspirations. Coincidence or history? Time would tell.

Written By James Abang
08037277620 (SMS)

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