An Open Letter From Governor Akpabio to Dr Ime Umanah
Dr. Ime Umanah
Ikot Obio Oko
Akwa Ibom State 8th April 2015
RE: BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
It is a painful duty for me to engage you in the open space of a newspaper and that is because I have no choice. You have often adopted this medium as a vehicle for venting your spleen on me and the Government of Akwa Ibom State. Your open letters are dripping with hate and venom. The language is crude and coarse. Yet you lay claim to being an elder statesman. Statesmanship is not a function of age but a function of one's dedication to the ideals of integrity and the orderly functioning of society. Statesmanship is made of stellar stuff and true statesmen do not engage in petition writing which you inelegantly called “ open letter” when they have more decent means of communication with those whom God in His wisdom has placed in positions of authority, even if temporarily.
Your claim to statesmanship is strange and shallow. As of today you and one Ikemesit Iyire are standing trial for terrorism and threat to life (charge No. HU/C2010) at the Akwa Ibom State High Court. Your trial on this two-count charge commenced in November 2010 and is ongoing. It is strange that a man standing trial for such serious criminal offences can even remotely refer to himself as a statesman.
I am happy that you have admitted that in Akwa Ibom State there exists a free atmosphere that enables you to say your “mind no matter whose ox is gored”. Who do you think created that atmosphere that enables you to abuse and insult and harass and intimidate constituted authority in the State without any fear of reprisal? The State Government made that possible by its openness and its desire to preserve the ideals of our young democracy and encourage the cross fertilization of ideas even if people like you with a penchant for small mindedness abuse it by engaging in rude and rancorous disputation.
In your letter you talked about the transience of power and that very soon I will cease to be the Governor of Akwa Ibom State. Your preachment is unnecessary because the office of governor has a statutory term which everyone knows. Or are you not aware that there will be an election on April 11, 2015 to choose the next Governor of the State? It is only someone of your mindset who thinks that power is permanent and he must cling to it forever.
You were Chairman of the board of Newswatch Communications Limited for about 15 years. You insisted you should be made Chairman of the company for life and the board of the company resisted your sit-tightism and sacked you with ignominy. It is public knowledge that you instructed Chief Assam Assam, SAN, to file a case at a High Court in Calabar challenging that decision to curb your inordinate greed for power everlasting.
You talked about an alleged mismanagement of the State's resources without providing even a scintilla of evidence. The evidence of the efficient use of the resources of the State is present for all to see and that is why the State has become the cynosure of admiring eyes by all fair-minded people within and outside the State. Perpetual petition writers like you may never see anything good in a State that has made, and is continuing to make, the difficult transition to modernity. Developing a State is not a piece of serendipity. It is the product of meticulous planning and execution that takes long hours of devoted labour.
You are clearly the unlikeliest person to win a trophy for proper management. You have tried your hands on many ventures and they have all flopped. Here are some of them: toilet roll factory, biro pen factory, chalk factory; plastic factory, soft drinks factory, Computer Company, ultimate motors (BMW), wood export etc etc. None of these is functioning today. It is widely acknowledged that it is the jumbo debt owed by you to Mercantile Bank and Century Merchant Bank that significantly contributed to the death of both banks. The epitaph on the graves of both banks is a sordid commentary on your recklessness and profligacy. so your lecture on management is the equivalent of Elizabeth Taylor's lecture on marital stability: hollow.
Your talked about “wealth without honour” Couldn't you possibly be referring to yourself? You have been carrying around the photograph of an American woman you say is a fabulously rich heiress to her father's wealth and that you are going to marry her. You want wealth without honour.
In the 90s when Commodore Bode George was the military Governor of Ondo State you were exporting wood acquired from the State to India using Nigeria's ship. On one of the trips in 1992the ship was arrested in India loaded with hard drugs. This was a big embarrassment to the President Ibrahim Babangida Government. The Vice President Admiral Augustus Aikhomo who ordered your arrest, but decided to temper justice with mercy based on the intervention of several Nigerians; it was not because of your fabled friendship with President Babagida whose name you were dropping all over the place because the man himself was thoroughly miffed. Since then the man has kept you at arms length. Talk of wealth without honour!
You have established a solid reputation for yourself as a cantankerous man and an unrepentant trouble-maker. It is on record that you have fought every indigenous Government of Akwa Ibom State, military and civilian. Here is the roll call: under Governor Idongesit Nkanga you started the first ethnic controversy in the State based on language differentiation. The State has been severely polarized along ethnic/language lines since then and I have been doing my best to heal the wounds through a systematic and fair distribution of amenities and appointments to all sections of the State. You fought Governor Akpan Isemin viciously and sponsored all kinds of litigation to distract him. In 2001, you hoodwinked the Governor Attah administration into awarding a contract worth over N3B(Three Billion Naira) for the dredging of the Ibaka sea corridor to your company. You abandoned the contract after payment was made to you and turned around to use the same money to fight Governor Attah in the 2003governorship election.
Again, in 2008/2009 you got contracts and patronage worth over N4.5 Billion (Four Billion Five Hundred Thousand Naira) from my administration. Again, you joined the opposition ACN and fought me during the 2011governorship elections. Statesman, indeed! You also took up arms against Governor Victor Attah in a fierce claim to winning an election you did not win and could not have won. It is clear that any governor who does not yield to your greed for unmerited favours cannot escape your acerbic tongue and your mafia-style intrigues.
You are now speaking in glowing terms about the APC Governorship candidate, Umana Okon Umana. You seem to forget that Umana served in my government as the Secretary to the State Government for six and a half years. You seem to forget, too, that Umana was in the PDP and part of this government until a few months ago. At that time he was to you a villain.
Now he is your hero, your beautiful virgin, unkissed, untainted, undefiled. He is now the new road to Eldorado, the new messiah, the man with the magic wand who will solve all your problems with the wave of a walking stick. Pray, what has changed about Umana Okon Umana within the last few months?
The answer is POLITICS, Politics of the stomach.
You falsely accused the Government, without any shred of evidence, of the kidnapping/killing of innocent citizens. We have decided to seek redress in court against such seditious and treasonable false accusations of Government by persons who seek to incite unrest in our society. If you were not blinded by mischief, you would have known that security agencies are investigating kidnapping/homicide cases in the state. Many culprits and malefactors (like yourself and your accomplices) have been/ are being prosecuted. It is a bare-faced evil, therefore, to accuse a government of crimes you know in your heart are not and cannot possibly be committed by the government. I can proudly attest before the Almighty God that I have never been involved in any kidnapping or killing since I was born. Dr Umanah, can you honestly make the same affirmation before the Almighty God about yourself?
You alleged that the State Government is owing N500 billion. That is a figment of your imagination. As a truth bender you have no respect for facts and figures. By leave of the State House of Assembly the State borrowed N80 billion which has now come down to less than N50 billion which are largely debts owed to contractors for the many development projects that are transforming our hitherto rural State into a show piece of infrastructural splendor.
You have been a serial contestant for power in the State. You have contested three times and failed three times. The people have roundly
rejected you which is why you have now set up shop as a career critic knowing that your quest for the governorship of Akwa Ibom State is a pie in the sky. You try to present yourself as Sir Galahad, pure and noble but Akwa Ibomites know you better than you think they do.
They know that, like Janus, you are double-faced. Your exploits are driven not by patriotism but by small-mindedness garnished by greed.
You talked about poverty in the State. Yes, there is poverty here as indeed there is poverty in every State of Nigeria. The difference here is that we are not afraid to engage poverty in a hand combat. We have several youth and women empowerment programmes which will in the not too distant date extirpate poverty to a large extent. Reducing poverty is not a day's job. It is an eternal confrontation with the ponderable and imponderable conditions of human existence. Our free and compulsory education programme is potentially the best antidote to poverty. No one can be poor if he is well educated. To suggest, as you have done, that
poverty can be eliminated from any society within eight short years is a reflection of the poverty of your ideas. I ask you, Dr. Umanah, please grow up.
You claimed in your open letter that my wife owns Davok Hotel in Ewet Housing Estate where you claim the INEC REC, Mr. Austin Okojie, lodged. My wife does not own a hotel called Davok or a hotel by any other name anywhere on this planet. If you had done your home work you would have known that the hotel is not owned by my wife but because you have a penchant for public deception and you are an expert in vulgar abuse the truth or falsity of it did not matter to you. Statesman indeed!
Your claim that the last election in Akwa Ibom was not free and fair is not substantiated. Such claims cannot stand the test of close scrutiny because election losers in Nigeria hardly ever accept defeat. That is why many persons within and outside the country are congratulating President Goodluck Jonathan for accepting defeat and congratulating the winner despite the many imperfections in the election.
You have named yourself self-importantly as Ufan Ndito Ubuene (friend of the poor). This presumptuous self-advertisement is alien to the facts on the ground. When you were Chairman of Abak Local Government the Federal Government paid a huge compensation for the land at Ibagwa which it acquired for the army barracks there. You pocketed a large sum of the money and paid the poor people who owned the land peanuts. The people protested but you used their money you had pocketed to fight them. You are like the socialists of old who always claimed that they were fighting capitalists in order to corner the wealth and use it to fight for the poor. But the wealth always made them capitalists in socialist clothing. That is what you are. Friend of the poor indeed!
Your wide ranging allegations against me are all surface, no substance. I would categorise your allegations as the flippancy of the frivolous as there is no shred of evidence to substantiate your allegations. Your words are aflame with dishonesty. Your advice is dense with sanctimony. How can a Benedict Arnold be trying to give Dionysian lectures when the people know the true worth or better put the true worthlessness of his words.
It is obvious that your open letters to me are aimed at refurbishing your battered image. But the public knows better. For me this is a distraction. I do not intend to continue to respond to your vituperations because your tantrums do not add value to public discourse. Instead I intend, from now onwards, to prepare myself for the task of effectively representing my constituency as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the benefit of Akwa Ibom and Nigeria.
Dr.. Ime Umanah, if you want to be seen, treated and regarded as a statesman you have to turn a new leaf BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.
Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON
Executive Governor, Akwa Ibom State