AS GOV. AKPABIO CLOCKS 48
Scholars of gerontology - the scientific study of aging and its effects -especially the Western writers among them, generally describe human beings in their 40s as living in their middle age years. This categorization adumbrates both optimism and pessimism, all at the same time. It is optimistic in that such categorization presents hope that those in their 40s have only spent about half their life time, and so still have about another half ahead. But its pessimism is that the classification erroneously assumes that people cannot live longer than a century.
People like Sophie Tucker, who in a song title proffered that 'life begins at forty', and George Best, who quipped, 'They told me I wouldn't make 25. Then it was 35, then 45. These are my doctors speaking - they're all dead now', belong to the optimism side. On the other side of the divide is Rudolph Chambers Lehmann who said, '…, but as for me I know a man has reached his best age at forty-two or so', and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who contended that, 'Once a man's thirty, he's already old.
He is indeed as good as dead. It's best to kill him right way.' It is not clear why Goethe (28.08.1749 - 22.03.1832), the best-known German writer of his day, would say what he did, even if he did not mean it literally. Now, Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State is about exiting the middle years as he turns 48 by 9th December, 2010. He has been in office as governor since May 2007, when he was 45. And from what observers say of his administration, Lehmann's apex performance age may not be true of him. These observers view his years as governor as showcasing his best years, putting the lie to Goethe's postulation.
At his inauguration on 29th May 2007, Akpabio had promised to leave the State better than he met it. Well, every politician does that; and so what makes his case different? Amid the cacophony of praises and criticisms of his performance in office, Governor Akpabio has often times answered with the words of biblical Philip of Bethsaida. On hearing from Philip the great things Jesus Christ of Nazareth was doing, Nathanael had asked him, 'Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?'
A believer in the, 'seeing is believing' doctrine, Philip told him, 'Come and see.' Many see this riposte the governor likes using as germane to his administration's situation. Akpabio challenges all to visit his State to see if he is working for the people who elected him or not. And trust Nigerians; many have, after visiting the State, aired their impressions.
As he celebrates his 48th birthday, it is not out of place to review bits of this 'come and see' challenge Gov. Akpabio likes posing.
At a reception for him on 15.07.10, at Uyo township stadium during his last visit, President Goodluck Jonathan, remarked, 'I have seen quite a number of projects, some have been commissioned and some inspected … the airport, the roads, the library, the drainage system, the government house and others. But one thing again I will note is that the projects I have seen are not just projects but of very high quality.
I am quite pleased with that because the governor is not playing politics with projects, but it shows clearly that he is committed to changing things.' Wole Olanipekun (SAN), one-time leader of the NBA, justified his call for a lawyer president for the country saying, 'Look at lawyers, who are governors, they make a difference…. look at Lagos State Governor Raji Fashola (SAN); look at the Governor of Katsina and that of Akwa Ibom…. There is something that separates them from the pack' (Daily Sun, 19.11.10).
Another visitor to the State, the well-known Ebenezer Babatope, noted, 'One thing that is very clear to me and objective observers of Akwa Ibom State is that Akwa Ibom State is a land of progress and the state is definitely one of the few states in Nigeria governed by forward-looking young me. Governor Godswill Akpabio is one of such rulers. He is wonderful' (Nigerian Tribune, 19.11.10). The Weekend Pioneer (12.11.10), cited Governor Olusola Saraki of Kwara State, as saying during his visit to Akwa Ibom State, 'I think I have had the opportunity to go to many states. I have not seen anything like this.
I am very impressed. All I can say is for the governor to keep it up. I congratulate him on this massive development…. He has improved the economic activities of the State. He has particularly done massive projects.' Saraki went on to reveal that he had jokingly told Akpbaio, 'You've done this in three and a half years, can you imagine what the future holds for Akwa Ibom?' Another governor, Mohammed Goje of Gombe, had said of Governor Akpabio, as reported in ThisDay of 12.02.10, 'Governor Akpabio stands out very tall among governors for his correct focus and total commitment to positively transform Akwa Ibom State, particularly in the areas of education, provision of essential infrastructure and maintenance of the political unity and stability of his State in particular and Nigeria in general.'