OF A COLUMNIST & MISLEADING COMMENTS
As a columnist of a reputable newspaper, Vincent Akanmode probably hopes that his opinion would be taken seriously by the readers. But he must have taken the generality of the people for granted on Saturday, July 31, 2010. Apparently unaware that Nigerians are now very enlightened, he made certain wild conjectures that fall flat in the face of objective analysis.
In an article entitled: 'Jonathan, 2011 and the Akpabio jinx' on the back page of Saturday Punch of the above date, acting Editor Akanmode claimed that Samuel Peter lost his WBC belt because Akpabio supported him; that the governor's ill-luck made Nigeria to crash out of the World Cup in South Africa; and that some journalists were kidnapped recently in Abia State simply because they identified with Akpabio's good governance! Then, he arrived at his premeditated conclusion that, 'enlisting his (Akpabio's) support in a mega venture like (Dr Goodluck Jonathan's) presidential campaign could amount to taking a risk'.
Obviously, Akanmode knows nothing (and does not even care to find out) about either Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio or Akwa Ibom State .
However, that's not enough reason for any true journalist to draw conclusions based on misinformation; half truths and actual spins. If he cared to be a bit objective, there are various independent sources of information about the governor and state. Ranging from independent assessments from the media; civil society groups; religious bodies; the Nigerian Bar Association; members of the National Assembly; some fellow governors and even lately, Mr President; Governor Akpabio has been adjudged as one of the best in terms of prudent management of resources and actualization of democracy dividends. He has a number of unsolicited awards to show for it. Hence, Akanmode's insinuations on prudent management of resources are clearly misdirected.
For the avoidance of doubt, Samuel Peter, an Akwa Ibom son, won the WBC title over Jameel McCline, at Madison Square, USA , because Governor Akpabio, apart from providing other logistic support, was by the ringside to spur him on. In appreciation, the boxer dedicated the belt to the governor – on global television. But that was the fight involving Peter, which Akpabio attended, contrary to what Akanmode wants his readers to believe. He was not in Germany when Peter lost to Vitali Klitschko.
Yes, Akpabio encouraged Peter further by setting up his training facilities. Unfortunately, Peter lost, in spite of all. If Akanmode blames Akpabio for that loss, that is really myopic. Should we then blame the editor if he foots his sibling's tuition fees; encourages him to study hard, only for the fellow to fail an exam?
Akanmode's other claim that the Super Eagles fell out of the World Cup simply because Akpabio was in South Africa to watch the match. But isn't that simply ridiculous? Pray! What is the connection between a man's patriotic support for his nation's flag bearer at the global competition and the failure of that team to live up to expectation? Again, Akanmode should be informed that Akpabio was not even in South Africa as part of an official Federal Government delegation. He went there as a patriotic citizen who has every right to watch his nation play.
He never met with the Eagles. There were about five other governors – including Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta and Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers – who headed Nigeria 's Presidential Task Force (PTF) for the 2010 World Cup. More dignitaries were on the entourage of President Jonathan to support the Eagles. Senate President David Mark was also there. So, of all the Nigerian officials and many other individuals who were there to watch Nigeria's opening march, why must it be Akpabio's 'ill-luck' that made the Eagles fail? If, indeed, it was Akpabio's ill-luck that determined Argentina 's 1-0 victory over Nigeria in the opening match (which was the only one the governor watched), why then did the Eagles not do well in other matches? If not for the purpose of mischief, can Akanmode truly say that a governor who has brought so much development to the state in just three years, is an embodiment of ill-luck? What are the facts; the evidences? If Akanmode knew the history of Akpabio's emergence as governor, he would not have made such a wild and ridiculous submission.
A man who – without any godfather – defeated 57 other aspirants, including a son-in-law to the incumbent, to become governor cannot be seen as bearing ill-luck. That's why the masses of Akwa Ibom State believe that his emergence, which has now translated into an unprecedented massive infrastructural development in the state, was simply God's will!
Yes, if Akpabio's commendable free and compulsory education; free medi-care; five brand new General Hospitals, e-library, etc constitute what Akanmode calls ill-luck, then we agree with him. One thing Akanmode must admit is that despite his attempt to dent Akpabio's impeccable image, Akwa Ibom State is working! It is clear that when some enemies of the people cannot fault Akpabio on performance, they adopt a smear and blackmail tactics. They tried it recently, with the aim of convincing President Jonathan against visiting Akwa Ibom; but they failed. Hence, when the man eventually visited the state, he declared that Akpabio was not only focused on good governance but was not playing politics with projects.
On the kidnapped journalists, Akanmode again turned logic on its head. Kidnapping and other criminal activities have been on the increase in recent times, across the nation. But the recent disturbing dimension in South-East saw governors in that region lamenting to the Federal Government for help. Hence, Akanmode's claim that of the over 300 journalists who attended the NEC meeting in Uyo, recently, four were kidnapped in Abia State, on their way back to Lagos because of Akpabio's ill-luck sounds absurd. It must be noted that the area where the journalists were unfortunately kidnapped is notorious for such crimes; recent revelations have further confirmed that even the security agencies knew that much for long. Hence, the journalists were forewarned to either return via Ibom International Airport or Umuahia Road , instead of Aba Road . That they were attacked on their way home has nothing to do with Akpabio.
Akanmode, as an editor, would do the journalism profession a lot of good if he could concentrate on objective and informed analysis. The profession cannot grow if we lace everything with conjectures; innuendoes; and deliberate distortions. The truth is, no amount of those would derail Akpabio's people-focused policies. No mischief can hurt his commitment to good governance and massive transformation of Akwa Ibom State for the better.
Usoro is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State.