Going by the provision of Section 182 (1) g) of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulates that “No person shall be qualified for election to the office of a governor of a state if still employed in the public service of the federation or any state, the joint ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Umana O. Umana and his deputy, Mr. Benedict Effiong Ukpong is invalid.
Though anyone vying for elective office is expected to have resigned, withdrawn or retired from public service employment for at least thirty days to the date of the election, documents obtained by Akwa Ibom Consolidated Political Action Committee (AIPAC) revealed that Mr. Ukpong has been collecting his monthly salary and allowances from his First Bank account from September 2014 to June 2015 as a staff of the Federal Capital Development Agency (FCDA).
Interested parties are already raising issues of constitutionality, morals and ethical matters against Effiong, who is also considered to have committed perjury, because he had told the world under oath, that he had fully resigned his employment with FCDA.
By Ukpong’s action, which also violates Section 187 (1) of the 1999 Constitution that provides that: “In any election to which the foregoing provisions of this part of this chapter relate, candidate for the office of governor of a state shall not be deemed to have been validly nominated for such office unless he nominates another candidate as his associate for his running for the office of governor, who is to occupy the office of deputy governor,” the candidature of the APC governorship flag bearer is therefore illegal.
Section 187 (2) of the 1999 Constitution further stipulates that, “The provisions of this part of this chapter relating to qualification for election, tenure of the office, disqualifications, declaration of assets and liabilities and the oath of governor shall apply in relation to the office of deputy governor as if references to governor were references to deputy governor. Therefore, whatever disqualifies a deputy governorship candidate equally affects the governorship candidate.
In a case in 2007 between the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) v Abubakar (2007) in paragraphs 174-175 G-C, Justice Pius Olayiwola Aderemi JSC, maintained that the position of the law is clearly stated and reiterated to wit that, “a governor and his deputy governor shall swim and or sink together for the purposes of an election so that whatever fate befalls the governor automatically applies to the deputy governor.
It is expected that the APC governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom State, Umana and Ukpong were aware of the above provisions before he nominated Ukpong as his running mate for the April 11, 2015 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State.
Immediate reaction among the people has been that it is ethically and morally shocking that a man who had aspired to become a deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State could lie to the world, swear to an oath that he had formally disengaged from the services of a federal agency that had employed him and continue to earn salaries from the same organisation.
The development is already making members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state jubilant. They expect the APC to be embarrassed by the situation and should advise its candidate, Mr. Umana to stop parading himself as the APC governorship candidate for the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State.
This situation is also expected to be a litmus test for President Buhari whose admired stance on corruption helped in his electoral success and eventual assumption of office as the President and Commander in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria by how he handles the matter.