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The biblical story of 'casting of stones' summarizes the drama unfolding in Etinan, in the build up to the 2023 general elections. 

Incase you are not familiar, in the story, Jesus went unto the mount of Olives and early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them in his usual manner. The scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they said unto Jesus, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

'Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?' This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her, and they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and the woman was left alone standing in the midst. 

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers?... 

In a similar narrative, a group of dissatisfied aspirants for the seat to represent Etinan State Constituency in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly have raised dust about the upcoming People's Democratic Party (PDP) primaries happening in few days.

That wouldn't be a problem, if they concentrate on issue based discussions and campaign, however, instead of them to promote their profiles and accomplishments, instead of them to tell Etinan people their plans in the legislature, they are busy casting aspersions.

The leading and most loved aspirant, UduakObong Ekpo-Ufot from Efa seems to be the woman in the bible. They called on the governor and leadership of the People's Democratic Party to cast stones on him. They have ganged up to point the accusing finger, forgetting that the remaining 4 fingers faces the accuser. 

What is this supposed cry over alleged 'imposition'? Afterall, the delegates would be given an opportunity to make their choice of who they want to speak for them in the state house of assembly. Governor Udom Emmanuel had publicly stated that he has no anointed aspirants for State House of Assembly and Federal House Assembly come 2023. He said the clarification became necessary to dismiss insinuations by some aspirants that are going around deceiving supporters.

In a recent statement in Uyo, the governor, who is also a Presidential aspirant urged every eligible aspirant of PDP who wishes to contest for any position to present themselves to the delegates and convince them of their suitability for such office. "I never promised any of the aspirants that I will anoint them', he said. 'I am not God to anoint anyone to be State House of Assembly or Federal House Member, this is the reason why I have allowed the process to be followed diligently."

“Delegates would decide who will be representing them and not me' Mr Emmanuel stated this in a meeting with stakeholders of Eket Senatorial District as part of activities ahead of the forthcoming PDP primaries in the State.

Interestingly, investigation shows that the outburst by the aspirants is as a result of the perceived victory of UduakObong at the primaries. It's a battle of Special Assistants,as two of the undersigned contenders were also appointed aides to governor on Project Monitoring, a position they occupied as recommended by the same Etinan political leaders they have castigated in their lengthy and baseless publication. 

However, Efa born Udo Ekwere, who serves as special assistant on transportation stood out from the crowd and threw his weight behind Uduak in good faith, instead of wailing, he recognizes that Iman people need a representative that befits their intellectual status in the committee of local government areas (LGA) as the 'Brain Basket of the State', one who assides intellectual capacity, exposure and experience, is young enough to interact with the youths and old enough to learn from the wisdom of the elders. The media & technology expert, Uduak Ekpo-Ufot just fits in well, he is referred to as that symbol of hope for Etinan youths, for it is in him that they have a sense of belonging and see light at the end of the tunnel.

Not just the youths, men, old and young, even the women, are proud to have their own Etinan 'Golden Boy', several speakers have said so on different occasions during the Uduakobong Campaign Organization consultative tour of the 11 wards in the LGA.

Uduak has also received blessings from elders and stakeholders, notable amongst them is that of the former lawmaker who represented Etinan in the state house,later became the speaker of the state assembly and proceeded to the Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Sam Ikon and the royal father, the paramount ruler of Etinan, His Royal Highness, Edidem Ime Dickson Umoete penultimate week at the palace. If there is anything higher than royalty, it is religion. 

A look at history shows that all political office holders in Etinan have been beneficiaries of recommendation by elders, stakeholders or favour from God over other contenders. As an indigene who is conversant with the politicking in the area, I smell a sense of entitlement. No individual should think that an elective office is their birth right, or a slot for political compensation. No. Not in a woke generation like this, and not at a time like this, when the youths are taking good advantage of the 'Not Too Young To Run' bill that was passed into law.

Beyond that, there is increasing political awareness by the youths, seeking political inclusion, which causes them to field some of their peers as viable 'products' and rally round him or her for an elective office. Remember, the youth form a major percentage of the voting population. 

Would you say there is trouble in Etinan? I dare say yes. The trouble here is that these regular political actors are just about to loose grip, call it the end of an era, the people do not want to be led by them anymore, but they have remained in circulation hitherto, imposing themselves on the people, seemingly leaving them with no option until new players emerged in the political field.

To the aspirants who say they have been on ground, as such they deserve the seat as compensation, yes you are on ground, the question is, are you loved by your people? Are they willing to give you their mandate freely? a journey to the hinterlands of Etinan will confirm the negative. 

In a twist of fate, a new crop of players are coming into the space with a lot of value and vibrance, you can mention the journalist with THISDAY Newspaper, Nseobong Okon-Ekong, the Efa born oil worker, Ebong Essien or the incredible Udo Jonathan Ekwere, who was also a strong contender in the race before he identified potentials and endorsed his kinsman, UduakObong Ekpo-Ufot.

What more is there to say, than to await the date of the conduct of the primaries and watch Uduak sail to victory. If the aspirants who have ganged up remain unrepentant in their aspersion casting, then let he who has no sin, be the first to cast the stone. Let the newbies be weary, lest they be used as pawns for negotiation. 

Nelson NseAbasi is a Journalist & Talent Manager, he hails from Ikot Obio Eka in Etinan LGA, Akwa Ibom State

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