Godswill Akpabio Cannot Impose a Leader on the people of Akwa Ibom State
I don’t care and most people in Akwa Ibom State also do not care if the next governor of the state comes from Eket, Oron, Uyo, Annang, or Timbuktu. It does not matter if the individual who will succeed Akpabio goes by the name of Udom Emmanuel, Ekpenyong Ntekim, Effiong Abia, Mary Udomkpontak, or Alhaji Mohammed Kotzo-Kotoko. At this level of political development as to who will succeed Akpabio, names and places of origin do not really matter.
What matters is to make sure that the individual who will succeed Akpabio is the right choice so that the mistake of the past, which led to the selection of Godswill Akpabio in 2007, does not happen again. To guard against repeating such mistake, the entire people of Akwa Ibom State, irrespective of dialectical orientations (the only dividing line among us), must burry their differences, join hands together in the process of selecting and be ready to vote for a person they believe strongly and convincingly as one who will share the dividends of the society in an equitable manner.
If Godswill Akpabio is allowed to succeed in his determination to impose one of his corrupt surrogates on the people, the next eight years may be a repetition of what the people, especially those of Ibibio extraction, have endured throughout the entire period of Akpabio’s administration. This will translate into continued predicaments associated with unemployment, poverty, crime, political assassinations, kidnappings, theft of resources, child-snatching, and a complete mismanagement of the people’s resources due to the looting of the treasury.
The situation as it stands at the moment is that Akpabio has “delivered” names of two individuals to the people with an “ultimatum” for them to decide on which between the two will succeed him. The two men are Mr. Udom Emmanuel and Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim.
On the surface, it may appear as if Akpabio is practicing equity and fairness by selecting these two men—one of Oron and one of Ibibio— all from Eket Senatorial District. But what may elude Akpabio is the truth that Akwa Ibom people know that these two men are not, by any definition, fit to govern Akwa Ibom State and under a free and fair conduct of elections, the two men would fail abysmally in the poll. The reason Akpabio wants either of them to succeed him is because of his trusts in the two men as the ones who will be able to shield and protect him against prosecution for all the evil deeds he has committed against the people since becoming a governor in 2007. Let us take a glance at the two men; Ekpenyong Ntekim and Udom Emmanuel.
Ekpenyong Ntekim, attorney General and Commissioner for justice,
Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim has always been a man mired in political controversies. Some members of the Oro nation have accused him of being sectional, self-centered, egoistic, and extremely hungry for power. The rest of Oro nation that speak a dialect different from that of Ntekim, who hails from Okobo Local Government Area, see him as a man who wants everything for his (Okobo) people to the detriment of others sections of the Oro communities.
A while ago, in an article by one Edet Nsima, the following was revealed about the corrupt side of Ekpenyong Ntekim: “Strong facts have immerged indicating that the Programme Director of Stepping Stones Nigeria (SSN) Mr. Gary Foxcroft approached the immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, of Akwa Ibom State, Bar Ekpenyong Ntekim with N15m to assist him to lobby the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Goodwill Akpabio, to reverse its resolve to blacklist the UK charity organization, which claims to be one of the organizations that protect the right of children branded witches in Akwa Ibom State and other parts of Nigeria” (http://www.thenigerianvoice.com/nvnews/56753/1/stepping-stones-nigerias-director-attempts-corrupt.html).
During his first term as the Attorney General, Ekpenyong Ntekim could not use his office to solve a single criminal activity of kidnapping, political assassinations, arbitrary arrests and interrogations of opposition members, and theft of ballot materials during the 2011 general elections. When his kinsman—Chief Effiong Ononokpono—questioned the educational qualifications of Akpabio, Barrister Ntekim ordered his arrest and incarceration, just to please Godswill Akpabio. It was the same Ntekim who colluded with Akpabio to arrest Dr. Ime Umana and charged him to court with trumped-up charges.
Shortly after the 2011 hot campaign for governorship election, Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim was fired by Akpabio as Attorney General and was replaced by Assam Ekanem Assam. A short time after he left the office, federal authorities questioned him about gun-smuggling ring, which was routed to Akwa Ibom through Calabar. It did not take long before Akpabio rewarded him for transporting guns to Akwa Ibom State by re-appointing him as Attorney General.
To understand the type of governance-style Ntekim will use if he succeeds Akpabio, one has to revisit the power struggle and the frosty relationships between him and Mrs. Felicia Bassey, who at the time was the Chairman of Okobo Local Government Area. Ntekim wanted her removed and be replaced with a man of his choice. The conflict was traumatizing for Mrs. Felicia Bassey that Mrs. Unoma Akpabio had to intervene to calm things down (http://theinknewspaper.blogspot.com/2013/07/2015-ekpenyong-ntekim-emerges-begins.html).
In 2013 when he was re-appointed as Attorney General, Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim quickly forced the retirement of 19 law officers from the state ministry of justice. What was annoying and unethical was the fact that the affected officers only learned about their retirement on the Facebook page. According to a newspaper report at the time: “In an apparent effort to justify why he took to Facebook for the announcement, Ntekim who has just 736 friends and 78 followers on the popular social media network says; “before it is heard from other sources, with expected misinterpretations and ascription of mala fide, I have the painful obligation of stating that 19 Law Officers who served in various capacities under me in the Ministry of justice until the 14th February 2013 have been retired by the Government of Akwa Ibom State” (http://thinkakwaibom.blogspot.com/2013/02/akwa-ibom-justice-commissioner.html).
In an article, which I wrote on October 2013, titled “Akwa Ibom State Politics: The Next Governor—Is Udom Emmanuel the Right Choice?” I am going to reproduce here what I wrote About Udom Emmanuel at the time.
“Mr. Udom Emmanuel may be the whiz-kid of banking laws and regulations of Nigeria, but when it comes to the politics of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel is just as naïve as any naïve individual could be. This is not to say that Mr. Emmanuel does not know who the President of Nigeria is or does not know who is in charge of all the lootings and all the money launderings in Akwa Ibom State. Rather, Mr. Emmanuel’s knowledge of politics is in reference to the ability and the experience of understanding the problems of the people, being able to articulate and provide solutions to issues that affect the constituents, and being able to identify with the constituents that Akpabio wants him to represent and govern.”
“Until this past August when Akpabio brought him in as the new Secretary to his Government, only those who are well connected with the power-that-be of Akwa Ibom State ever heard of Udom Emmanuel. Those that know him say the man a banking guru, very pompous and arrogant, with perfected mannerisms that easily give him away as a man who is keen at looking down at his own people with disdain.”
“Those close to him have discussed several failed attempts by his kinsmen to integrate him into the community of Akwa Ibom State in Lagos, where he used to live. He rejected invitations to participate in Akwa Ibom State cultural and civic events. Until Akpabio flattered him with the possibility of emerging as the next governor of the State, Udom Emmanuel felt as if he was better than anyone else, simply because he was an expert in banking. To him, anyone who is not into banking or who does not acquire the banking skills at the same level as he is, is inferior and not worthy of Udom Emmanuel’s association and or fraternizing.”
“Now, Godswill Akpabio, the small-time Satan of Akwa Ibom State, wants to impose him on the people as their next governor. The problem is that many people, including the power-brokers of Akwa Ibom State politics, do not know his ideological leanings, and what he can offer the people. As a result, a silent and passive resistances to such imposition is already in motion.”
What is the Alternative?
The alternative is to reject anyone imposed by Godswill Akpabio. Akwa Ibom people are capable of selecting their own leader. The people are the only qualified elements to select who will represent and who can lead them. If the people remain silent and appear timid enough to let Akpabio fulfill his dreams unchallenged, Akwa Ibom may be saddled by the type of leadership provided to the children of Israel by King Jeroboam and King Rehoboam (I Kings—NIV).
Ikpafak Thompson Essien
City of Portland, Oregon