Duke's Unholy Attack On Imoke
When some people describe politics as dirty business, they may not be far
from the truth. Those who are really averse to the 'profession' stay away
from it and have chosen to remain apolitical. These people say they fear
politics because the actors play it without the fear of God and a complete
absence of conscience. And as Thomas Hobbes would call political power –
the leviathan (monster), those who seek it appear to wear the garb of
monstrosity. The twists and turns of it gives it the semblance of no holds
barred. Politics has no face, no front and it cultivates brambles for the
planting of blackberries. Blackberries are good but brambles are thorny.
If you must eat blackberries, you must be ware of thorns. While in war the
soldier knows his enemies, the battle lines, when to retreat, when to
advance, the politician's greatest adversary is his best friend. This must
be a dangerous indulgence. With the panoply of booby traps, outsmartings,
outmaneuverings, bickering, lies and slander, backstabbing, envy,
jealousy, hatred, failed promises, deception, violence, killings and
maiming and all other negative factors, it still more than other
professions enjoy uncontrollable influx of participants. It is for the
negative tendencies, that Sir Winston Churchill, the war time Prime
Minister of Britain during the first World War suffered no pretensions
when he said – “political skill consists in the ability to predict what
would happen next week, month or year and to have the same ability
afterwards to explain why it did not happen”. He should also have added
that it consists in the ability to explain why a governor may have
governed his people with the attributes of Benito Mussolini's Fascism and
cowed the people to submission and faced an outcry of rejection but
resurfaces eight years after brandishing a message of hate for his
This exposition is a prelude to the events leading to the 2015 general
elections in Cross River State. The serenity of the state is being
challenged by those who know no other method than bellicosity. Their
campaign language is becoming inclusive of vituperations and the venting
of condensed anger, simmering rage and bitterness.
On the 6th of November, 2014, I was both worried and sorry that Donald
Duke speaking during the reception organized by them for Goddy Agba
(gubernatorial aspirant) descended from an Olympian height to employ
Hitler's anti-Semitic theory of blaming someone (in Hitler's case, the
Jews) to distract the people and gain power. This strategy is bereft of
peace as someone is bound to pay for another's guilt.
In the weekend Chronicle of Friday April 2, 2010, I published an article
titled – Between Liyel Imoke and Donald Duke. As early as that time,
barely one year or two after Imoke had taken over power, the cordial
relationship between His Excellency, Senator Liyel Imoke and his
predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Donald Duke built on mutual trust was
beginning to turn sore. Due to this, Donald Duke contemplated moving over
to another party (Labour Party) as the speculations were everywhere. Most
of us did not like the idea as it would amount to pulling the rug under
Imoke's feet. This article was intended to remind him that such move is
only typical of ambitious people who move together to achieve a common
purpose after which individual ambitions take over and cause the breaking
of such union. I warned in that article that if that development is not
halted, thinking men would conclude that it amounts to a situation where a
man may say because I have drawn water from that well, let it dry up.
This development worked against their time projection which they had
agreed that working together, they would hold and control power for a very
long time. No sooner was Duke out of power than the dream became blurred
and he began to scheme its destruction. Stalwarts like Ntufam Ekpo Okon
and Venatius Ikem then avowed supporters of Imoke vociferously condemned
this attempted death blow on Imoke. In fact, they said unprintable things
about Duke. In the face of this condemnation and the ever watchful eyes
and listening ears of the irrepressible generalissimo, Obasanjo, the quick
witted maestro, Duke suspected reprisals by the entrapments of the EFCC or
ICPC, so he backed down. Having been helmed in by the ever watchful eyes
of these anti-graft bodies, Duke decided to lie low and do nothing but bid
In his speech on that occasion at the reception in honour of Goddy Agba,
to possibly claim that his long absence from the political scene was
deliberate, he said he was like the dinosaur. The dinosaur could be
extinct but it was all the same a monster that was feared when it existed.
How true such illustration could be! The question is, do we need to hold
someone or each other by the jugular to gain control of political power?
It is not worth it when you consider how fluid such things can be. It is
worrisome indeed that our leaders have forgotten that the state they have
reached is the state where diplomacy is most needed. When a man has become
governor, he has as much as I know reached a state to be counted among the
pantheon of our national leaders. And at a point, he could even be
referred to as elder statesman when he may have reached an age to count
his years downwards. How can you merit this regard if you never allowed
forbearance, wisdom and sanity to prevail?
I am worried when it appears that the little expression that time heals
wounds could outrightly be negated when a man could nurse his animosities
for almost a lifetime waiting for the total kill.
If from all that Duke said, he meant to prove to the world that Imoke is a
failure, he must have forgotten out of acrid bitterness and haste to
deliver killer punches that Imoke's trail of woes began when he inherited
an empty treasury and a staggering debt burden. As a true friend, vilified
for no known or just reason, Imoke on assumption of office tried very hard
to block tales of financial impropriety and misdemeanor so as not to put
his friend at great ridicule. He would not hear about it nor discuss it.
Many people insisted to exhaust their agitations over what they called
squandermania, profligacy, buccaneering achievements and a publicity
conscious government that was overrated by the press. What was achieved
was not commensurate with government claims. Most of the people who felt
so excited to make such remarks were the elders who were so chastised for
their held views over issues which ran counter to his beliefs that such
elders fearing reprisals fled the state. I am not sure that they may even
at this time have recovered from that fear and shock.
Whatever is on ground in the state since 2007 when Imoke took over is as a
result of his ingenuity. How could anyone have succeeded with an empty
treasury? This claim could be justified by what Donald himself
inadvertently said. He said that some of our neighbouring states, go home
every month with about 20 billion from the Federation account while Cross
River State goes home with a paltry 2 billion naira.
When Duke was in power, Imoke gave him every support he needed to succeed.
When Imoke came to power, Duke not only turned away his face, he attempted
to pull everything down. The opportunity to carry out his long scheme
presented itself with the coming of Goddy Agba for the governorship race.
Duke realized that Goddy would provide the much needed financial resources
and he would flaunt his former respectable position to bring Goddy under
his canopy, protection and direction to haul his arsenals and assaults on
his avowed enemy to extract revenge by which he would be mollified.
Openly Donald told Goddy Agba that this fight was not Goddy's but his
(Duke's). The question is, how long would you fight against an assumed
opponent may be “enemy” who is not ready to go to battle with you?
Possibly, your excitement to go to battle against such an opponent (enemy)
is because you assume that his pliability means that he has acquiesced.
Secondly, if during your reign as governor you were a dinosaur and feared
as such, are you saying that the government of Goddy Agba (that is if at
all he becomes governor) which you are championing should replicate your
methods? This is sad because metaphorically, the word dinosaur by the
Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary description refers to a person or
thing that is old fashioned and cannot change in the changing conditions
of modern life. This is self-explanatory in view of the old unforgiving
animosities he habours.
Thirdly, it is quite absurd and almost an enormity to attempt to implant
violence in the mind of Goddy Agba as you make him to believe that Cross
River State is a theatre of war.
As Governor of Cross River State you undoubtedly made some marks, yes, you
did! You left some legacies, yes! One of your most fundamental legacies
was the cleanliness of the urban centres especially Calabar. In the same
vein, Imoke is leaving some very fundamental legacies to be remembered by
posterity. One of such is peace. Peace is very key to the galvanization
and harnessing of our resources both human and economic. So if you put
this two on the weigh balance, there is likely to be a tilt to one side.
Cleanliness is external though with something to do with the mind. But
peace has got entirely to do with the mind and the spirit. It is more
difficult to achieve peace than cleanliness.
While His Excellency Donald Duke concentrated development in the urban to
the exclusion of the rural communities, Imoke did not abandon the urban
centres. He improved on what was on ground and shifted attention to the
rural people who had never been so patronized. In fact about 75% of Cross
Riverians began to experience a sense of belonging.
More than this, Imoke insists on instilling a sense of fairness and equity
on the psyche of Cross Riverians. It was based on this that Imoke insisted
that power must shift to the North who have been abandoned and neglected
and who if it had to go by free for all may have again been submerged by
However, when that exercise was being pursued by Imoke, we are aware that
some people who think that they must now come to limelight to shine were
never in complete support of this shift of power. Imoke did it almost
single handedly in case someone is forgetting.
Imoke has also exemplified the lesson of forbearance. That is why you
hardly see him reply supposed opponents with the same snag.
However, what is in front of us now is not a fight or warfare. We do not
need to trade tackles to achieve our aims. We do not need to betray
ourselves to the outside world. We do not need unforgiveness otherwise we
would be throwing the state into turmoil and darkness even if we win the
election. What we have in front of us is a political struggle to put a
worthy and deserving successor to Imoke.
When Imoke became governor he used superior and peaceful methods even when
it was obvious that his predecessor and bosom friend had recanted and
reneged on the initial plan of succession. He never abused Duke or
disagreed openly with him to the extent that Cross Riverians began to
imagine that Imoke fears Duke.
It is typical of human nature that they approbate and reprobate. Duke
knows this fact very well. That is why he thinks that people have
forgotten or even forgiven him to the point that they listen to him
lambast innocent people. This approach of giving a dog a bad name to hang
it is an ungodly way of killing innocent people. And anything that is not
of God brings calamities to the people.
I know that Cross Riverians realize this facts and as smart people who
cherish their peace, they would reject every attempt by such people to
foist themselves on the people. Anything that would dislocate and
disorganize the peace that Imoke had helped to engender in the state would
Let me use this medium to remind the Presidency and the National Working
Committee (NWC) of the PDP that as they are looking into the crises in the
State following the last delegate elections, they should realize that
through the instrumentality of His Excellency, Senator Liyel Imoke, the
party has been stabilized in the state for sixteen years. From 1999 to
2007 during Duke's reign, Imoke was the stabilizing agent of the party.
That was why Donald's henchmen at the time such as the State Chairman of
the PDP Sunny Abang, Mr. Geshum Bassey, the present Deputy Governor to
Imoke Barrister Efiok Cobham, who was then State Secretary of the Party
and Ntufam Ekpo Okon, then Commissioner for Works who doubled as the NDDC
Commissioner shunned Duke when he no longer wanted his friend to succeed
him. These men stood with Imoke because he offered better leadership to
them even as Obasanjo's Minister of Power and Steel. He showed more
concern to the wellbeing of the party than Duke did and since he swung
support to himself and became governor against the wish of Donald, he had
never found it easy to reconcile with this fact.
It would therefore be good to take all these into consideration in
handling Cross River matter in Abuja so that the party will continue to
enjoy the victory and successes it has recorded over the years in the
Hon. Moses Oko
S/A to the Governor on Orientation & Public Affairs
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