Ntufam Ekpo Asuquo Okon is arguably the highest beneficiary of the dividend of democracy from The Southern Senatorial District, where he comes from and perhaps also, the entire Cross River State, since the return of democracy in 1999.
For someone so fortunate and blessed, he is also (with undisputable certainty) “A Serial BLACK-SHEEP” with an insatiable quest and pursuit for political enterprise in the state.
Upon the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, the story of Ntufam Ekpo Okon’s meteoric rise and transformation both financially and otherwise is the type that can only occur in a fictional story, where the author is blessed with the gift of superlative imaginary writing skills.
Ekpo’s benevolent “Chi”, ensured that he found unusual favor in the then and subsequent Governors of Cross River State. As a result of which, he enjoyed very juicy and top of the range political appointments throughout the two terms of His Excellency Mr. Donald Duke as Commissioner for Works and then Agric.
He enjoyed the same goodwill under His Excellency Senator Lyiel Imoke when he was appointed to serve under one of the most sought-after political appointments in South-South Region of Nigeria – the NDDC Board as Commissioner representing Cross River State.
During his term at NDDC, he was responsible for the award of all NDDC projects in the state, most of which ended up as abandoned Projects. Some of the abandoned high impact intervention projects to the state, valued at several Billions of Naira includes:
1. Project Title: Adiabo Eseku Road
• Year 2013
• Value – N3.6B
• Level of Work: 35% Executed
• Payments Received – 65%
• Current Status of Project -Abandoned
2. Project Title: Mkpot Okoroba Ekang Road
• Year: 2013
• Value – N6.1B
• Level of Work: 25% Executed
• Payments Recieved – 45%
• Current Status of Project – Abandoned
Ekpo Okon made Billions of Naira during his tenure, through the award of contracts to his friends (95% of whom are not from his Southern Senatorial District, talk less of from Cross River State). Unfortunately most of the projects that would have impacted positively ended up as abandoned Projects and a loss to Cross River State under his watch.
As if that were not enough, for the first time in the history of the Cross River State or any other state in Nigeria, Governor Imoke, went ahead to make him the PDP State Party Chairman, while still serving as NDDC Commissioner.
Two heavyweight appointments concurrently. The story of this Cross River State PDP Golden Boy was no less under the Senator Ben Ayade’s administration when he was further appointed Chairman of Water Board, another Category A appointment which is reserved for favoured party faithfuls.
For someone who has enjoyed such consistent and overwhelming political benevolence, Ekpo Okon would be expected to be appreciative and loyal to first the source (PDP) and the political platform under which he was considered (The Southern Senatorial District).
Alas, this was not the case with Ntufam Okon, who has consistently disregarded the importance of working in sync with both his PDP and his senatorial district in the quest for further political conquests and acquisitions.
Rather, he shamelessly without any compunction decamped and abandoned the PDP during the 2019 electioneering tussle. Not only did he decamp from the party that made him who he is, he also brashly went against the directives of the party which had zoned the governorship of the state to The Northern Senatorial District, by joining Senator John Owan-Enoh in the APC governorship ticket.
By going against the directives of the PDP, which specifically zoned the Governorship position to the North, Ntufam Ekpo Okon’s decision to join the Sen. John Owan-Enoh APC Gubernatorial Ticket in 2019, singlehandedly put in place the foundation of the Zoning bruhaha which is causing needless problems within the PDP and almost shortchanging The Southern Senatorial District.
This selfish move, has dealt a paralyzing blow against the just and equitable demand by the South for the Return of Power Back.
The paralysis inflicted by Ekpo’s self-love over the overall collective good of the PDP and (now, by extension The South), has become very evident because, recent opponents of the return of power Back 2 South, have at every given opportunity referred to the activities of the BLACK-SHEEP from the South, who opposed the zoning of power to the North in 2019 by joining in the governorship race against the North as one of the points against the argument for zoning.
As if this were not enough Ekpo Asuquo Okon is also one of the leading political figures from the South who is opposed to the quest by his kinsmen that power should return back to the south. This is so because he is an undercover high – ranking members of the Renaissance Movement, which is led by Senator Sandy Onoh and allegedly sponsored by the financial war chest of a Governor friend of the Senator, with the sole purpose of frustrating return of power to the South.
Ekpo recently confirmed his leadership role in The Sandy Onoh Enterprise, when he was presented as The DG of Wike for President Campaign in Cross River State. This incontrovertible confirmation, has conclusively put to rest, hitherto speculations about his surreptitious membership of the notorious Anti-Cross River South Movement, when the news mill penciled him as Sen. Sandy Onoh’s running mate for Governor.
It is absolutely mind boggling that this “Serial BLACK-SHEEP from the South”, who has eaten and enjoyed the best of PDP and the Southern Senatorial District of Cross River State, can pay back the hand that fed him with such premeditated political hostility.
His sense of entitlement is another point of wonder, that for someone with such a BLACK record, who only just returned from his unconscionable and selfish sojourn to the APC is now demanding from the party which he abandoned, a ticket to The Senate of the National Assembly.
At first, when confronted with the motives behind his sudden return back to the PDP, he lied shamelessly that “I didn’t return to PDP because of Political aspirations for 2023, I returned to unite with my family PDP and for rebirth of my State, Cross River, disregard what you’re hearing on Social media about me”. Alas, Ekpo, yet again and true to his nature as The Serial BLACK-SHEEP from the South lied to PDP and Cross River State and should never be trusted again. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. once said, “I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man’s word should be as good as his bond; that character — not wealth or power or position — is of supreme worth.”
This is a call for PDP, both at the national and state levels to be bold to ask this obviously unfaithful sojourner without conscience, to be humble and at best join the political queue for reevaluation; just as the Odukpani Chapter (his local chapter) of the party in the state did when they removed his name and refused to allow him into the party caucus.
It would be a slap on the face of every Consistent, Committed and Loyal member of PDP, especially the Delegates to the forthcoming Primaries, to allow Ntufam Ekpo Asuquo Okon get the PDP Senatorial Ticket, as if he’s the only one left in the Southern Senatorial District of Cross River State.
Saviour Nsa is a Political Commentator and Analyst and based in Abuja.