Ever since Unoma Akpabio nominated then Deacon Udom Emmanuel as her husband’s successor, not a few people believed that former governor, Godswill Akpabio, was angling for a third term by proxy. That Akpabio is now firmly implementing his third term agenda is no longer in doubt, but a material fact. I was in Nigeria during swearing-in and inauguration of the new administrations throughout the country, and have just returned. The tempo of the debate is heightening by the day regarding how Akpabio can double as governor of AKS and senator representing ISD.
First, we are hopeful that Gov. Emmanuel, unlike his political godfather, would not equivocate that he is a product of zoning. Second, it was hoped that because then candidate Emmanuel came from ESD by zoning arrangement, the USD would produce deputy governor. But Gov. Akpabio insisted that since his wife nominated the gubernatorial candidate, he, the emperor, must nominate the deputy. Thus, he recycled Mr. Moses Ekpo, his fellow Annang man, thereby barefacedly and criminally robbing USD of the opportunity to produce deputy governor.
Third, hope was not completely lost for USD as reasonable people had speculated that it would produce SSG. That hope was dashed as the emperor hijacked the appointment and, again, recycled and imposed by fiat and impunity a retired former civil servant, his former Chief of Staff and, again his fellow Annang man, as SSG.
Then came the list of nominees for the Akpabio cabinet. Of the 16 nominees, 10 were recycled from the Akpabio administration. Again, most of the nominees are from Akpabio’s Annang clan! Conspicuously missing from the list is a nominee from Eket. Is this an oversight, error, or what? It must be admitted that during his eight years of reign, Akpabio did appoint Ekid people to his cabinet. But why are Ekid people missing on the list of nominees for the current Akpabio cabinet in the Gov. Emmanuel administration?
Is this telescoping to Ekid people what they should expect from one of their own? Is this a blowback on the people who fought relentlessly for zoning and presumably won? Did Ekid people win the battle and lose the war? If Gov. Akpabio had unapologetically demonstrated that charity began from Ukana and radiated in ISD and filtered through Uyo, why is Gov. Emmanuel playing St. Obi? Gov. Emmanuel is reported to have emphasized competence as the yardstick of his appointment. Is he insinuating that there is no competent Ekid sons and daughters to be nominated commissioners? This is arrant nonsense!
Where is the leadership of Ekid people in this unfolding scenario of gross neglect and criminal marginalization? Where is Sen. Etang Umoyo? Where is Sen. Helen Esuene? Where is Hon. Nduese Essien? Where is Gen. Anthony Etukudoh? And Eld. Benji Udobia? Where are Professors A. Asindi, Des Wilson, Akpan Abiatu? And for goodness sake, where are the Ekid People Union and Afigh Iwaad Ekid? Ekid people must tell Gov. Emmanuel in no uncertain terms as well as put him on notice that he should not expect unconditional loyalty and support from them. There must be conditionalities for Gov. Emmanuel to the support and loyalty of the Ekid people. After all, what benefit did Ekid communities get from their unconditional support for Gov. Akpabio? I have not seen it; maybe I did not look hard enough!
Gov. Emmanuel should not be in a hurry to forget that after Unoma Akpabio discovered him and he was being rumored as prospective successor to her husband, many people doubted his competency to be governor, notwithstanding his stellar corporate profile, he was considered a green horn in political governance, compared to 22 other aspirants. It would interest Gov. Emmanuel to find out what the individuals on the list of the Akpabio cabinet nominees were doing before they were appointed to their various positions by Gov. Akpabio, who aggressively implemented his Annang Empowerment Program. Were there not more qualified, experienced, and competent Akwa Ibomites when Akpabio appointed them?
For the avoidance of doubt, Gov. Emmanuel needs to do a scorch- earth analysis of state employees by local government, state constituency, federal constituency, and Senatorial District to clearly understand what Gov. Akpabio has done during his two terms in office. In fact a friend confided in me that everyone from Ukana who has school certificate was on the payroll of AKSG, most of whom have not even left their homes. Yet, there are AKS citizens who are university graduates roaming the streets without jobs! It is also on record that virtually all appointees to the federal civil service during Akpabio’s reign were either from his LGA or ISD. It is an irony of fate that Gov. Akpabio believed that keeping people unemployed and pauperizing them are proven strategies to guarantee their subjugation, subservience, and dependence on him for handouts. By so doing, they are powerless to challenge him.
Despite his much touted uncommon transformation, even Gov. Akpabio was shocked at the shameful state of roads and streets in Eket. So-called oil city! I was at Eket when Gov. Akpabio led candidate Emmanuel’s campaign train to the palace of HRM E.C.D. Abia. I believe what he saw pricked his conscience and prompted him say that Gov. Attah had developed USD; he developed ISD; it is now the turn of Udom to develop ESD. Gov. Emmanuel cannot feign that he did not hear it. Why did Gov. Akpabio spend eight years in office with stupendous revenue to the state without resuscitating the paint industry in Ikot Ekpene, but turned around and make it a first tem priority for Gov. Emmanuel? Why is resuscitating Qua Steel not a first term priority for Gov. Emmanuel?
During the last four years, 2011-2014, AKS ranked number one by collecting a whooping N265,068,855,598 from the excess crude oil account. This amount does not include the constitutionally approved share of the state from the Federation Account. Yet, in terms of roads, Eket communities have been worse off. If Gov. Akpabio had passed on to the LGs their allocations from fed, perhaps Eket communities would not have been worse off. But all revenue allocation for each LG was grabbed by Akpabio for the development of Ukana.
I am aware that the Oro Nation has not hidden its frustration with how Gov. Akpabio deprived it of the much needed infrastructure. There are other communities who have suffered similar fate, while Gov. Akpabio relishes in his uncommon transformation. So, this is not just an Ekid or Oro problem. It would smack of parochialism and myopia to even think that it is a PDP problem. Internal colonialism is the major problem confronting AKS. Akwa Ibom people must rise up and free the state from the creeping internal colonialism. If need be, ESD must lead the fight. Freeing AKS means releasing Gov. Udom Emmanuel from whatever unholy deal he entered into with Sen. Akpabio.
l Peterson Ekanem is from Etebi, Esit Eket, and is based in Overland Park, KS, USA.