GOV AKPABIO: LOVE, JUSTICE AND COMEDY
Sometime in October 2006, Akwa Ibom people, particularly those in PDP rose against their beloved and respected governor, Obong Victor Attah.
The occasion was the nomination of Gov Attah's successor come 2007 when his tenure would terminate.
After all the drama, tension and horse trading, Akpabio emerged the flag-bearer for the PDP and subsequently became the governor of Akwa Ibom State during the election that followed. He was overwhelmingly voted for and supported by majority of Akwa Ibom people.
Here is a young man who rose from a humble beginning to such an enviable height as that of the Chief Executive of a state. With such background, majority believed then that a man who knows what it is to be hungry, having tasted it himself; a man who has felt the pains of deprivations in his early life; a man who was raised by his mother without the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, has finally come who would truly represent the aspirations and the hopes of the down trodden and deprived people whose lives were beginning to be touched during the advent of Attah's administration. It was generally believed that Akpabio, being a part of the outgoing government, would continue from where Obong Attah stopped.
To his advantage came a change in revenue profile of the State through increased Federal Allocations, since the obnoxious onshore/offshore dichotomy had been brought to a positive close.
After almost six years as the governor of Akwa Ibom State, and with revenue earned hitting the top, the people are now wondering whether they were right in the choice of the governor they made in Godswill Akpabio.
The governor we all voted for with a lot love, sacrifice and fanfare has become completely insulated from the populace; flying around the whole world in his luxurious private jets while we are devastated by hunger. He knows nothing of our daily struggles to survive. He has taken us for a long jolly ride serving himself and his immediate family. They live in filthy lucre, our common wealth shared among them and frittered away as if scattered by wild birds. He is caged and made completely distant from the people he is supposed to serve and protect, such that he cannot feel what they are feeling – their hunger, deprivation and poverty stricken lives not attracting his real attention. He is now seen as the governor in the sky; from another planet. He has lost touch with the people – his true friends and assets.
This article is prompted by a publication where Gov Akpabio spoke of himself as having the attributes of his grand father, who according to him hated injustice.
So Gov Akpabio hates injustice? Strange. Let's take a look at a few issues and relate them to the Gov Akpabio's claim of hating injustice.
Before we do this, permit me to quote a part of Gov Akpabio's statement in the said publication. I quote, “I will like to be a comedian even though I am a lawyer. I like making people laugh. I don't like to see people frown. LOVE is the key word. If you love your brother, you will not bomb him, kidnap him, cheat nor kill him” Unquote. And so the sermon according to Gov Akpabio goes on.
Conversely, soon after his assumption of office, a strange trend started to rear its head. Kidnappings, assassinations cult related activities and other state sponsored violence became the order of the day. The populace became highly terrified as they could not relate with its government.
These activities intensified and reached its peak in Akwa Ibom State up to the period leading to Gov Akpabio's second term election.
Sadly, most of those kidnapped and assassinated came from a particular ethnic group – the Ibibio.
It is therefore pertinent to situate Akpabio's claim of love and justice viz a viz the following scenario/posers:
How has Gov Akpabio helped the cause of justice in order that the perpetrators of murders and kidnappings are brought to book? What form of justice has been done to the families whose loved ones were either kidnapped or murdered in cold blood during the life of this administration?
Is it love and justice when people are kidnapped and murdered as happened in Akwa Ibom state during Gov Akpabio's tenure? It certainly cannot be love and justice when the governor promotes ethnic cleansing as a state policy both in practical and socio-economic terms.
What cause of Love and Justice has been served when Gov Akpabio is busy awarding contracts and other patronages to non-indigenes even in areas the indigenes ought to be considered? Is it love and justice when the common wealth of the state is donated away to all manners of people outside the state while the citizens are ravaged by poverty and in need of food?
What love and justice would permit a governor to concentrate the governance and wealth of the state in the hands of his immediate family leaving the citizenry highly impoverished? What Love and Justice would have been served when the oil producing areas, from whose lands and waters oil is produced for the state are denied their dues; their areas neglected in the distribution of infrastructures and amenities and even in government appointments?
Let me address my governor pointedly. Your Excellency sir, look around you now. How many of those who helped you on your way to the exalted position that you now occupy, have you not parted ways with, abandon and consign them to your now over filled “rubbish bin”? Have you shown love and justice to these people? You promised the people during your second term electioneering campaigns that you would build one industry in each of the 31 Local Government Areas. Soon after you 'won' the election or more appropriately put, declared the winner, the tunes have since changed with officials of your government singing discordant notes. Even the amount you mentioned as being set aside for the take-off of this project is also a subject of controversy as some say it is N20 billion, or N5billion as claimed by AKIIPOC chairman. It would appear from the foregoing that you deceived the people. Where then is Love and Justice here?
You claimed you like making people laugh and that you don't like people frowning. Those kidnapped, murdered and denied right of existence and means of livelihood; traumatized by your policies of discriminations can't certainly laugh. Or can they? I ask Your Excellence, how have you made them laugh? Your Excellency, take a good look at these: Some few years back, Obong Victor Attah was denied the use of Le' Meridien Hotel for his birthday celebrations because of your disagreement with him. Did your action show love and justice especially so considering that he established the hotel in Uyo? Mrs Philomena Udonwa, mother of Iniekong Udonwa was abducted, assaulted and murdered; his lifeless body dumped in the street naked. How would you feel if this was done to your mother? Chief Paul Inyang was murdered right inside the church, while Gen Edet Akpan was similarly abducted during church service in your state. What love and justice have you shown in handling these criminal activities the way you have done? The Ekpenyong brothers returned from the USA and were murdered in cold blood. Mrs Comfort Sam Enwang was kidnapped and assaulted during this same period of infamy. The list is endless. Your Excellency, what love and Justice have been done to these victims and their families? Ambassador Sam Edem was framed up by you and accused of charming you. He was subsequently scandalized, disgraced and removed from office. Dr Ime Umana was also framed up and incarcerated by you over trumped up charges. What love and justice have you advanced considering all these infractions that were committed by you?
What love and justice have you practised when the Annangs, (your tribesmen and women) are more favoured in appointments, promotions and deployments in the state civil service and even in contracts over and above the other tribes?
Your Excellency, where is love and justice when you illegally dissolved Ikot Abasi Local Government Council, a democratically elected institution and have refused till moment to consider the plight of the families of those officials who were dispatched to the unemployment market untimely through your high handedness? What love and justice has it served that up till now you have refused to honour court judgment declaring your action illegal in this respect? You have refused to pay their entitlements as ordered by the court.
Your Excellency, when you look at the Tropicana on which your government has spent over N40 billion, what love and justice does it serve? Are Akwa Ibomites to laugh or frown over this daylight robbery?
You denied Obong Victor Attah and his now late wife all their entitlements up to medicals, what love and what justice have you advanced by this action?
You ordered the closure of Ibom Plaza, Uyo where children of the down trodden eke out a living and those who cannot afford passing through the gates of Le Meridien – not to talk of entering there to cool off patronize; whereas the plaza at Ikot Ekpene is allowed to function. What love and what justice has the governor shown in this direction?
Your Excellency, it is on record that some of your colleagues embark on unscheduled and unaccompanied visits to schools, hospitals, market places etc to see how the policies of their administration are being implemented viz a viz funds spent and the impact of such policies on the citizenry. You are not known to have done this even once and therefore rely wholly on the fabrications and twisted reports of your appointees. What love and what justice would you be known to have served when children sit on the bare floor to learn in the name of free education?
As for your ambition of becoming a comedian in the very near future, I strongly support you as that is where your talent really lies. You will make a top class comedian and therefore put your talent of humour making to maximum use. This, I guess, is why you sometimes mix governance with comedy in your utterances and deeds. You may even be paying people to come and watch your show afterall you have amassed so much wealth at the expense of the people you claim love for while they wallow in penury.
As a personal, though unsolicited advice to you, Sir, please start building bridges to genuine reconciliation in the state. You have through you actions and inactions caused a big gulf between the ethnic groups in the state. During your tenure, tribalism has been uplifted as a virtue and state policy to be pursued. It will therefore do you a world of good, Sir, to put in place motion to reconcile yourself and a good number of people whom you have deliberately victimized and humiliated.
Akwa Ibom people are all forgiving people. They may find a place in their heart to forgive you although I know they will never forget all your many infractions.
For now, your knowledge of yourself and who you are is in direct conflict with who you truly are – an uncaring and unjust leader. If therefore you have been misunderstood or misjudged, according to you, the fault is all yours. You are judged according to your words and deeds since you became governor of Akwa Ibom State.
May God give you the grace to accept that you have caused serious injuries on Akwa Ibom people; may He shower His mercy upon you if truly you will begin a new path that will seek to write your history in true and reflective terms.
SAVE AKWA IBOM FORUM.