By Inibehe Effiong
Make no mistake about it, governor Godswill Obot Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, his wife and his entire family are bent on ensuring that their lineage maintains it’s prevailing monstrous grip over the resources and affairs of the state beyond May 29, 2015. The insatiable plan is simple; impose a protégé, stooge and feeble fellow as a successor and every other thing will follow.
This ignoble game plan is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf.
Many Nigerians are outraged and full of indignation over Akpabio’s recent public boastful and shameful confession that his wife, Mrs. Ekaette Unoma Godswill Akpabio “discovered” his preferred candidate, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, for the February 28, 2015, gubernatorial election in the state. But such self-centered and provocative declaration is neither novel, strange nor surprising to keen watchers of the present regime in the state.
To those of us who are in the know about the true state of affairs in Akwa Ibom State, that despicable declaration is merely a reaffirmation of a very notorious fact; that Akwa Ibom State is being impoverished, enslaved and massively looted by a deadly and arrogant clique comprising majorly of the Akpabio’s family and few cronies who call the shot and dictate every important issue in the state.
Today, it is axiomatic and common knowledge that nobody can assume any sensitive position in Akwa Ibom State without the imprimatur, approval and concurrence of the dreaded Akpabio’s family. These people have completely emasculated and ruined the once peaceful, united and prosperous state to the extent that silence is no longer golden.
In saner climes, wives of presidents and governors only play ceremonial roles during the currency of their spouses tenure. Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka once described a ‘First Lady’ as “a mere domestic appendage”. In Akwa Ibom State today, the governor’s wife is the ‘Second Governor’ with unquestionable, unrestrained and absolute powers. Her words are law and nobody dares to vet her wishes. The relations of the governor, especially his brothers, are above the law. They control elected and appointed officials with atavistic impunity.
The current Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state is Barr. Ibanga Akpabio, a brother of the governor. The leader and Chairman Board of Trustees of the Akwa Ibom Consolidation Alliance (ACA), the platform that is spearheading the forceful succession plan of governor Akpabio, is Sir. Emem Akpabio, another brother of the governor. I can go on and on, but the point here is that one family has subjugated the destinies of over 4 million people and is non-negotiably prepared to foist an unpopular candidate on the state.
During the scandalous and staged managed gubernatorial primaries of the PDP in the state, there were 24 aspirants in all, 22 ( now called the G 22) staged a walked – out, 1 decamped to the Accord Party, while the governor’s preferred aspirant, Udom Emmanuel, was forcefully imposed as the party’s candidate in a manner that made nonsense of the Electoral Act, the guidelines of the party and democratic norms.
On his part, Obong Umana Okon Umana, who had served as the Finance Commissioner during Obong Victor Attah’s dispensation and as the Secretary to the State Government under Akpabio foresaw the electoral malfeasance and did not wait to be cajoled, insulted and disgraced at the PDP charade called primaries. He did the needful by joining the All Progressives Congress (APC) where he secured the party’s gubernatorial ticket.
Today, his candidacy is popularly viewed as the revolutionary alternative through which the collective aspirations of the masses of Akwa Ibom State can be achieved. His candidacy also offers the long suffering people of the state a weapon with which they will challenge, confront and defeat the monstrosity of the Akpabios and their evil third term bid with their protégé, Udom Emmanuel, as a veil. The battle today is not between Umana Umana and Godswill Akpabio; the battle today is between the conscientious people of Akwa Ibom State and Godswill Akpabio his family and cronies.
Some have argued that Udom Emmanuel as a person is not bad. But that is just belittling the issue at stake. A product cannot sell beyond the limits of its marketer(s). Illegitimacy can not give birth to legitimacy. The fact that Udom Emmanuel has a pedigree in the banking sector does not mean he can manage the resources of the state properly.
Although bankers and financial experts are ordinarily expected to exude prudence in the management of resources, it is commonsensical that no high profile fraud, pen robbery and serious act of corruption can take place without the assistance of bankers, accountants and auditors. Is it not bankers that gave out bad loans to unscrupulous elements which almost led to the collapse of the banking sector before the bailout by the federal government and the recapitalisation initiative of the Mallam Sanusi-led Central Bank of Nigeria in 2009?
So let us not trivialise the ongoing desperate attempt by governor Akpabio, his family and cronies to have a third term by foisting an unpopular stooge on the state. If Udom is that good, there would have been no need to force him on the people. His goodness would have endeared him freely to the hearts of the people. Can Udom talk without Akpabio’s ‘microphone’? Can he breath (politically) without Akpabio’s ‘lungs’?
To further show to the world that indeed, a third term agenda is in the offing, Akpabio went for an old ‘grandpa’ as Udom’s running mate. One hitherto unknown Mr. Moses Ekpo, a 77 year old man, has been chosen as the running mate to Udom, a 48 year old man. It is widely rumored that Mr. Ekpo is only a front for another person and will be removed if the third term plot succeeds.
However, the people are determined to truncate the entrenchment of this evil dynasty. The days when some undemocratic folks boast arrogantly that Akwa Ibom State is a “PDP State” is gone, and gone forever. The hand writing on the wall is undeniable clear; Akpabio, his family and cronies will lose in their ungodly third term drive.
They cannot prevail over the collective aspirations of the people. Though they will deploy money, incumbency, state apparatus and other weapons at their arsenal to pursue and promote their objective, the people will come against them in the name of the Most High God. They will face them frontally with their permanent voters card at the polls. At the end of the day, God willing, the third term drive will be truncated and Udom Emmanuel WILL NOT be the governor of Akwa Ibom State.
I urge the people of Akwa Ibom State to appreciate the fact that there is neither gain nor pride in slavery. The masses must come to terms with the historical significance of this struggle for the emancipation of our state from the chains and clutches of an emerging anti-people dynasty. Every eligible electorate should get his permanent voters card preparatory to the final showdown at the polls. Through our votes, we must send a clear message that Akwa Ibom State belongs to all, not a privileged few. We have had enough of this culture of state sponsored impoverishment, terror and impunity.
The time to act is now!
Inibehe Effiong is a Human Rights Activist based in Lagos, Nigeria, and the Convener of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders ( COHRD ).
Email : [email protected]