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We have for than a decade, used the tenets of good conscience to further the cause of social justice, political freedom, sanctity of human life, issue-oriented and developmental politics, good governance and sustainable development of Akwa Ibom State.

Having fought, along with other progressives, and won for the state the relative political peace that we are enjoying today, it would be the height of disservice to remain passive in the face of the growing spate of political machinations currently promoted by selfish-seeking politicians and expended political stakeholders to incite other interests and heat up the political space ostensibly to return political engagements in the state to the detestable dark political era, In view of these, we wish to call on all politicians to eschew undue politics of mudslinging, campaign of calumny, f inciting and ethnic politics and concentrate on issue-based political engagements that should highlight what the state stands to benefit from a their political ambitions.

Currently, we have observed that some politicians are engaged in promoting a slant of extremely dangerous political sentiments in the state in a bid to narrow the political path and institute a culture of political exclusivity that would deny the people the required political latitude to critically assess and chose the best governorship material for the state in 2015. This has resulted in the emergence of discriminative political vocabularies and unjustifiable labelling of certain prominent sons and daughters of Akwa Ibom State as 'Strangers', 'Political Neophytes', 'Stooge' 'new comers' and 'impostors who want to reap from where they did not sow'.

Consequently, we are constrained by historical facts to enlighten the people of Akwa Ibom on the need to be guided and objective in electing a governor for the state in 2015.We recall that what is happening in Akwa Ibom State today is a repeat of the scenario we had in 1979 when a great son of Akwa lbom State, late Dr. Clement Isong signified interest to contest as the governor of the then Cross River State. Not only was his intimidating profile as a world class economist and banker vilified, like what is happening today, the contending political interests then did everything politically possible to smear his character and discredit him as a neophyte in politics. Indeed the late Dr. lsong was castigated as someone with no political antecedents and would not offer anything positive to the state as the governor.

But, we could count from the then University of Cross River State which is now the University of Uyo to the Steel Mill in Eket, Asbestonit in Oron, Sunshine Battery in Ikot Ekpene, Quality Ceramics in Itu and many other industrial concerns as the legacies of the late Dr. Clement lsong's administration. The lesson here is that the very Dr. Isong whom the contending political forces then discredited not only left immense, footprint in the sand of time but very enduring legacies and messages for our generation and for the political-economic governance of Akwa born State and Nigeria today. However, the irony of the situation, or what could better pass as a negative history, is that the industrial legacies left by Isong have all been run aground by many of those political forces who are jostling for the governorship stool of Akwa Ibom State in 2015.

We have noted that rather than highlight what Akwa Ibom State stands to benefit from their aspirations, contending political forces and many of those who have indicated interest to contest the 2015 elections have evolved and are promoting baseless sentiments that are packaged and presented on such themes as:'Udom Emmanuel is a stooge', 'Udom is a political neophyte', 'Udom is a new comer and stranger' etc. Having, taken time to painstakingly appraise the profile of Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, the character that is the target of these new wave of political machination, we see a resemblance of what happened to the late Dr. Clement Isong in what is going on in the state today. Without any fear of contradiction, we wish to note that Udom Gabriel Emmanuel is a distinguished son of Akwa Ibom State who has excelled in national and international engagements. To describe him therefore as a neophyte is not merely attempting to undermine his impeccable records but an assault on excellence.

And so we are invited, primarily, by both the prevailing torrent of politics of unwarranted campaign of calumny and character assassination and the facts of history to warn Akwa Ibom people that there is grave danger in embracing the prevailing retrogressive political campaign that has absolutely no bearing with issues that would enhance the overall development of Akwa Ibom State from 2015.

As could be seen in the late Dr. lsong's example and very many contemporary cases, good governance and development-centered political administration are entirely not a product of a mere credential or prerogative of spending lengthy years in the political arena but a product of a visionary development policy and managerial prudence that could not be found in many of those aspiring to govern the state in 2015.

The criteria for selecting the governor of the state in 2015, therefore, must not be reduced to a political contest measured by the length of time anybody has spent in government or the number of years he has nursed ambition to be the governor but on the enduring tenets of excellence, leadership capacity of the candidates and what they have for the state.

Our position is that the next Governor of the state must be someone who possesses ingenuous leadership foresight and strategies. He must be someone who places premium on intellectual integrity and leadership excellence; imbued with administrative foresight and unquenchable drive for strategic sustainable investment and industrialization. He must indeed have implementable blueprints for sustainable human capacity development; local and international connections to attract offshore investment, open-mindedness for equitable distribution of social Infrastructure; commitment to promote peaceful coexistence and social integration; humility to lead the state responsibly and responsively and the commitments to leave enduring legacies for posterity.

In view of these and many more, we call on politicians and those jostling to contest the 2015 governorship election to stop the ongoing campaign of calumny and engage in issue-based politics.

Our findings reveal that Udom Gabriel Emmanuel has the intellectual capacity, managerial ability, political sagacity, moral character and massive goodwill to lead Akwa Ibom State. And by all standards he is qualified to contest the 2015 gubernatorial election and we encourage him to step forward and contest if he has the ambition to do so.

Written By Chief Godwin Ekpo & Dr. Bassey Stephen Udoh

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