Before Tribalism Destroys Akwa Ibom State By Inibehe Effiong
We are approaching another election year in Akwa Ibom State and the
gladiators are up in arms against one another. Nobody is talking about
competence and credibility. Nobody is talking about health care, job
creation, security, infrastructures and the real issues of governance.
What matters to us is ethnicity and tribalism. In Akwa Ibom State today,
the situation is so precarious such that one begins to wonder if things
will ever change. The debate is not about who can do the job, the debate is
centered on which senatorial district and tribe should produce the next
The governor is leading the divisive campaign in the name of a useless and
unproductive zoning arrangement. But the truth is that he is actually
zoning to Udom Emmanuel, his anointed successor.
Godswill Akpabio says he wants his successor to come from the Eket
Senatorial District of the State which has never produced a governor
because that will ensure equity. What insult on our collective sanity. If
zoning is so real and good; why is he pursuing a senatorial ambition
knowing fully well that it should go to the Abak Federal Constituency in
his senatorial district which has never produced a senator? Hypocrite.
These people have succeeded in pitching one tribe against another. Our
people are no longer brothers and sisters. The average Annang person today
sees Akpabio's government as their turn to rule. You rarely find someone
from the governor's tribe speaking against the atrocities of his
administration. They are united in support of “their son”.
The Oro tribe is talking tough, threatening everyone that their time has
come and that they should be given the opportunity to rule the state. They
are complaining of developmental marginalization, which I support having
been there. It is as if the Oro enclave is no longer part of the state.
The Ibibios, being the largest tribe, feel they have been relegated by
Akpabio and that they must return to power by fire by force. They think it
is their birth right to rule the state. Nonsense.
When you see someone from Ibibio or Oro supporting Godswill Akpabio, it is
most likely that the person is a beneficiary of the system. Akpabio himself
has never been a statesman, he is incurably tribalistic. Go to his village
Ukana in Essien Udim Local Government Area, and you will see what I am
talking about. The notorious 'Ukana Mafia' is so dreaded and feared by all.
He has taken important institutions and cited many projects there without
regard to other areas.
The tension is mounting by day, it is becoming too delicate for one to
remain silent. Nobody knows what will trigger the looming implosion. We
should not out of fear of being haunted, victimised or even killed close
our eyes to what is unfolding in our dear state.
Former governor Obong Victor Attah had his flaws, but he was not and has
never been a tribalist. I heard recently that the stooge Akpabio is
fighting hard to foist on the people of the state, the Secretary to the
State Government, has started his own favoritism by giving preferences to
people from his local government area in recruitment.
I challenge Akpabio to publish the full names and local government of all
those employed into the state civil and public service since he assumed
office in 2007. There are certain things I cannot say publicly.
While this mad battle of tribes is going on, the man on the street is
suffering and smiling in the mist of plenty. Our people have never been
this divided. We forget that poverty does not know Ibibio, Annang or Oro or
even Ekid or Ibeno.
Whenever I raise this issue, some will say but the governor has appointed
people from other tribes into his government. This is an absurd defence.
Who are these people and whose interest are they representing? The governor
has sycophants and yes me across tribes. These people are representing
their selfish interest and that of the governor especially when the going
Take for example Obong Bassey Albert, popularly called OBA, the immediate
past commissioner for finance who was recently sacked by Akpabio for
nursing a gubernatorial ambition. While in government, OBA defended Akpabio
with all his might. But today, he is seeking to succeed Akpabio and is
talking nonsense, accusing Akpabio of marginalizing the Ibibios. What
insolence! The same with Obong Umana Okon Umana, the immediate past
Secretary to the State Government.
Some folks will say that I criticise Akpabio because I am Ibibio. This is
because to them, tribe and personal interest determines where one stands
and they cannot imagine someone thinking and acting differently. But that
is a blatant lie.
There is no tribalism in me. During the 2011 elections, I mobilized the
youths of my community against the member currently representing my state
constituency in the State House of Assembly. I also rejected monetary offer
from the member's son. She is from my village. Most of those I have
supported at elections even while in the university where not of my stock
or tribe. Despite coming from the South South, I am today a vociferous
anti-Jonathan campaigner because I do not see in him a responsible leader.
I am anti-zoning, from councillorship to the presidency. Let the best
person get it.
We have to stop this Ibibio, Annang and Oro nonsense. We are one people.
Akpabio should allow the people to choose their governor. The masses need
to realize the deceits of the ruling elites. How come that they only
remember and talk about tribe when they are fighting for political office?
How come they are blind to tribe when stealing and sharing our money. They
know that as long as the people continue to see things from the tribal
perspective they will never be held to account. We have had enough.
*Inibehe Effiong is a Human Rights Activist. He can be reached via
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