The Bitter Truth, The Painful Realities Of Our Timeby Monday Etiebet
I owe much of the inspiration of this article to Joe Iniodu, a public affairs commentator. He has been reminding me to return to the pages of Newspapers. I argued that we are into election year and that whatever one writes or publishes is bound to be given political coloration. He persisted and I allowed him be if only he would allow me peace. But the main reason I have returned here is because of the choreographic braggadocio of some Nigerian politicians – people who refuse to accept the fact that life is our funeral. Put differently, that in living, you are basically drawing up your burial programme to the extent as accountants would say that assets equal liabilities plus owner's equity.
You may ask, what do figures or accounting terminology got to do with the subject matter at hand. It is that an average Nigerian Politician does not countenance failure or more precisely; in losing an election, he would appeal such a loss even up to the Supreme Court!. He/she would not want to hear the bitter truth and the painful realities about this profession- if ever it is one, but dwells more on political inanities as a master know all. And so when you consider the oxymoronic tendencies and subterfuge inflexicism of many Nigerian politicians, one is left with gasping breath over their convoluted imprintations. Such insentiate and ghusto – like reasoning and stance on issues of general concern. These are the ones that cause the Nigerian pubic to say that politics is bad and that politicians are unethical or unreliable, but who can really point to an ethical and truly reliable Nigerian!
For now, let us punctuate this line by stating that many Nigerian politicians had long thrown conscience to the winds in more ways than one to the extent that they argue that today's politics has gone digital. They forget that in politics, there must be conscience and that conscience is a feeble and supporting cast in the drama of felony. They forget too that we must uphold the rule of law but NOT at the expense of justice because justice is made without the tolls of consciences. I hope I am not sounding too philosophical here. As former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said, when men are pure, laws are useless, but when men are corrupt, laws are broken. The iconic British Lord of Manor must have had Nigerian politicians in mind when he asserted that much many decades ago.
It was against this very backdrop with a seeming correlated nexus which bears great positive relationship in the Nigerian political context that I wrote my last treatise captioned “The Atavistic Paradox of Akwa Ibom People. Today's outing would beam a bit on the groundswell of opinion of the average Nigerian politician but more on Akwa Ibom. Even at that, you should not expect much word on zonalization of political offices and as to whether the state chief executive has a right or not to install a successor as he leaves office in fifteen months. What is certain is that both the 1999 Nigerian constitution as amended and our great party's constitution make reference to zonalization of political offices even if to give a sense of belonging to the component parts or sections of a given geographical entity – as in Nigerian, a state and even Local Government.
Now let us reason together: which out-going chief executive of a government – be it national, state or Local – would not work to install a successor? Just why are Nigerian politicians so self-centered and iconoclastic in matters of natural imperatives? It is however true that a sitting chief executive of a government would not strive alone to install his/her successor, but through an inclusive democratic process. A round table talk, to ape it right. In this wise, I do not know how many of us can capture the import or message in the Boston Tea party brouhaha of 1773, some three years before the United States of America obtained Independence from Britain in 1776. For the records, American Independence was obtained via concerted inclusive stakeholders' sessions, as in the Nigerian Independence battle.
Instructively, an outgoing chief executive of a government can best do this by an all-inclusive systematization of the political process. Let me state here for the umpteenth time that no matter the prism one looks at it, politics is NOT rotten or debased. And that, unlike the thinking of some Nigerians, politicians are not necessarily unethical and unreliable. These defiantoes, to me, are sweeping generalizations since we still can point to very decent, ethical and reliable politicians of note among us. Fact remains that the society can NOT do without politics as a system of rules and regulations. Since the legislative arm of government derives its existence from the conquer of politics. Politics itself is really a noble profession and morally uplifting. Conclusively, politics is NOT bad any more than members of the society place it, to the extent that other professions have their short-comings including quackery and counterfeiting. This is the Aha! Moment and when the court has spoken it is caedit quaestio! If still in doubt, then ask members of the learned profession and you would most certainly get their concurrence of ipsi liquitor-finaltum.
Now let us return to Akwa Ibom State, It is by sheer geography and God's perfect design that we find ourselves in this 21st state of the Nigerian nation where we have the IBIBIOS, ANNANGS, ORONS, EKIDS and OBOLOS. No one among us designed or configured him/her self to be dropped in any of these enclaves of the state to the extent that the other sections of Nigeria are peopled as the Yorubas, Igbos, Hausas, Fulanis, the Tivs and the rest.
Methinks we should be proud of where we find ourselves and be contented with the transformational leadership of our performing governor. Yes, the young man has really acquitted himself in infrastructural development, among other things. I certainly know the indices that add up to good governance and can spot them out as a performer given that I was privileged to preside over the affairs of ORUK ANAM Local Government as her first democratically elected chairman. Till date and tomorrow, we still have a positive feedback of that 1991–1993 era from the people of the Local Government as they often make reference to those legacies left behind and the political goodwill that came with that outing as in most other council helmsmen of that 1991 – 1993 outing. The question often asked is how that era can be re-created for the general good of the majority of people of this great state where the councils enjoyed a token level of autonomy and performed creditably well in the face of pittance as statutory allocation; and with no provision for security vote nor imprest. But let us leave this subject matter for another day.
Give it to him; Governor Godswill Akapabio is a man with strong passion for service delivery. Give it to him, he remains the father of MODERN Akwa Ibom State as he is a high flying achiever. Give it to him, he has successfully prepared Akwa Ibom as an industrial hub in the gulf of Guinea and a destination of choice. True, Governor Akpabio has worked diligently to place Akwa Ibom State on the nation's map by giving us a clear and unmistaken identity as a people. He has made us to be proud indigenes of the state in any part of the country that we find ourselves. The greatest legacy His Excellency has left behind is the FREE and COMPULSORY Education Programme which over time will take care of the house boy/girl syndrome which we had long been known over the years.
In point of fact, His Excellency has set a template for development in Akwa Ibom State as he bows out in 2015. The person that will take over from him must really work extra hard to equal or attempt to surpass these developmental strides. Yes, the Governor is a mortal like anyone else with foibles and failings. It is only natural to expect that he has stepped on some toes in the course of his administering the state and without playing the devil's advocate on his behalf; the man is set to make amends at least for his tomorrow as he commences his landing for the change in baton next year. He came, has seen and it is left for posterity to confer a conquer status on him as the records would speak for generations yet unborn – for good or bad, as it is often the case with public office holders. However, the verdict of the common man on the street with these good roads, hospitals, schools, and the free and compulsory education programme, among other goodies remains that the peoples' stomach should earnestly receive some attention.
Significantly, the tremendous achievements of the Akpabio administration have not only made the state a model in the comity of states in Nigeria but have etched her on the sands of time. In my candid opinion, His Excellency's achievements have really been under-reported. It could just be the reason indigenes observe him talk about his achievements in public outings with panache which they argue should best be handled by the information ministry and his aides. Some people maintain that if His Excellency was tackling hunger first over infrastructural development, we would have complained bitterly of no passable roads, good schools, and hospitals for the filled stomachs to find solace in life. On this note, the preponderance of the people's take is that our governor should commence a conscious effort at checking stomach upsets! I certainly know that our ever-listening governor will do this one bidding for the people by issuing us jobbing orders even as we prepare for this election year. A very crucial election outing, if you ask me.As I sign off on this matter, I want to most respectfully bring to the fore the murmurings of some party faithful here. Their position is that His Excellency should do well to re-invigorate that political spark that made our great party to tick with galvanized cohesion during the last sixty months of his administration where the umbrella accommodated more erstwhile political leaders and stakeholders than the broom is now attempting to do. As our people say, wisdom, maturity and reasonableness come with age and none of these attributes comes from the blues of nothingness because the man who leads the pack to the stream is the one who knows best and can defend his disciples. Axiomatically, it is better to jaw-jaw and avoid war-war scenarios to the extent that we must get all our war arsenals in place and march confidently to the war front even as the infantry men would step out first as guides, moreso in this election year. Simple truth, everybody knows because politics settles more on permanent interest and polling the required number of votes for victory even as we know that this can best be achieved when there is peace in the land, but NOT peace of the graveyard.
Back to Akwa Ibom as the epicenter of our outing today. And so, if you excuse yourself from the political abraggadocios of the political class and annul your spectre of gait from the transformational leadership witnessed in Akwa Ibom in the past six years, you will come to terms with the incontrovertible fact that a proud IBIBIO man has his opposite number in the ANNANG Ethnic Nationality as much as a bad Oron man has one in Eket. But still, we must co-exist. The begging question is: Just where did we go wrong or more precisely who passed on this ethnic baton to us and at what point in our existence dating back from the old South Eastern State? And yet we inter-marry with grand children from both sides of the divide. It would appear to me that, we are NOT telling ourselves the truth to get at the painful reality of the matter. As it were, we need to accept the bitter truth and embrace the painful reality of our time.
Methinks these issues and others should be left for our creator to bother about since He is the all-knowing God. For a fact, the RED INDIANS still survive in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Think about it, but if you still worry, then I would like to know who owns the land. True, it is our Papa's land if you allow me to borrow Evangelist Sonny Okosun's lyrics here. It is your land, my land – indeed, our land and so we just must co-exist. Why must we always intone that it is only when our ethnic brother/sister is in the saddle that one would benefit from empowerment and infrastructural developments. How long can one continue to be sold on this falsehood. The numerous flyovers, pedestrian bridges, concentric roads, dualized highways, newly constructed hospitals and recreational facilities with Five Star Hotels are NOT in ESSIEN UDIM Local Government or ANNANG nation alone. They are found here in Uyo and other major towns of the State.
If anything, ORUK ANAM as a major Local Government – one of the largest in the state with the highest number of Clans; Nine and thirteen (13) political wards, 229 POLLING UNITS with about 200 villages is yet to be fully keyed into the transformational programme of this government. We are very anxiously awaiting the goodies from this scion of the GREAT Akpabio family of UKANA IKOT NTUEN. As His Excellency mooted the other day when he hosted ABAK-5 Political Elders, it is ORUK ANAM people that should complain as he admitted that not much has gone their way. As a promise-keeper and a listening governor, ORUK ANAM people are very hopeful of His Excellency's promise to them in the appointment of Senior Special Assistants, special assistants and Personal assistants. It would not be too much if His Excellency appoints a full-fledged commissioner into his cabinet since we have capable, intelligent and knowledgeable people in the Local Government considering our enormous votes in the 2011 gubernatorial elections. We sincerely thank His Excellency for mobilizing the contractor to the ORUK ANAM road that traverses from Ukanafun and links up to the East – West Highway through Ikot Esenam. We are equally hopeful that the governor will appoint a full-fledged commissioner and Special/Personal Assistants from ORUK ANAM.
Akwa Ibom people have had enough of ethnic preachings. We should now play down on the ethnic drumbeat just for the needed peace, unity and development to reign. We should watch against potentially inflammatory statements that border on incendiary atrophism; moreso as election year is here. Now let us touch on a point often muttered by the people: the by-pass development in ESSIEN UDIUM Local Government. My take here is if a sitting/serving chief executive of the State or Local Government forgets or refuses to develop his/her immediate community, then he/she would very well return to his homestead as a fugitive. How and why would anyone fault this transformational governor for opening up UKANA IKOT NTUEN and Ikot Ekpene or what would he tell his people for the eight years sojourn as the State Chief Executive if he does not or forgets to do as the Holy Book commands where CHARITY must begin at home. Haba!
Akwa Ibom people must learn to live together as brothers and sisters as neither the ANNANGS, EKETS, IBIBIOS can entirely go alone in politics, food sufficiency and all EXCEPT by co-habitation which requires trust, co-operation, understanding and unity of purpose. If we consciously build on this ethos, it would matter less where the next Chief executive hails from to the extent that he/she would be a governor for all of us. To argue otherwise would amount to perfidy. And so for 2015, we need a governor whose goal shall be the continued unification of the diverse peoples of this State; not one who would fang out his/her ethnic background as if only the people of his/her enclave made him/her win the election to govern the State . No, we do not need an ethnic jingoist or someone with pathological ethnic sentiments of unimaginable proportion. True, we need someone who would consciously consolidate on the gains made in the eight year reign of Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON.
Prince Etiebet is the immediate past Chairman, Governing Council, Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua, Ikot Ekpene.