ETHNIC VENGEANCE: WHY AKPABIO TORTURES THE IBIBIOS

9 Nov

 

BY THOMAS THOMAS
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“…I came with a vengeance to undo the wrongs of the past. Since the creation of the State, Ibibio people have been in control of power, and by the time I finish being the Governor, there won’t be anything like Ibibio, Oron or Annang…” – CHIEF GODSWILL AKPABIO.


Akwa Ibom State’s 31 Local Government Areas are shared between 3 Senatorial Districts: (Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, and Eket); and generally comprise the majority Ibibios; the minority Annangs, Oron and others consisting in 16,8, 5, and 2LGA’s respectively. By virtue of their size, the Ibibios have had a numerical advantage over other ethnic groups within the Government. This advantage does not however constitute a “wrong of the past”; and should not inspire “vengeance”. The intent therefore, behind the threat “by the time I finish being the Governor, there won’t be anything like Ibibio, Oron or Annang”, could be clearly presumed to represent Akpabio’s track record in office thereafter. Please read on. 

A careful study of the politics of the State would easily debunk Akpabio’s misleading insinuation of Ibibio ‘suppression’ of other ethnic groups. It would expose him as a disgruntled ethnic warlord; establish his pre-conceived grouse against the Ibibios as predating his bid for the Governorship; and presume the bid an opportunity to wage war against the Ibibios.

Nine Military and Civilian Governors have administered Akwa Ibom State since its creation in September 1987. Three were Ibibios: Wing Cdr. Idongesit Nkanga (an appointed Military Governor); and two elected Governors (Obong Akpan Isemin, and Arc. Victor Attah). The only Annang Governor is the elected incumbent (Godswill Akpabio); while the other five Governors (Col Jonathan Tunde Ogbeha, Col. Godwin Abbe, Lt. Col. Yakubu Bako, Navy Capt. Joseph Adeusi, and Grp. Capt. John Eyepeiyah Ebiye), were non-indigenes appointed Military Governors. Seven Deputy Governors served in Akwa Ibom State including: Amb. Etim Okpoyo (from Oron); Obong Ufot Ekaette (an Ibibioman), Engr. Chris Ekpenyong and Sir Michael Udofia (both Annangs); and the trio of Engr. Patrick Ekpotu, Obong Nsima Ekere, and Lady Valerie Ebe – all from Eket Senatorial District (and not Uyo) all of who served under Gov Akpabio. 

Similarly, Eight Military and Civilian Governors administered the defunct South Eastern and old Cross River States (before the creation of Akwa Ibom State). Three were Ibibios: Brig UJ Esuene of South Eastern State; as well as Navy Captain Edet Akpan Archibong of Cross River State, were all appointed Military Governors; while Dr. Clement Isong was elected. An Annang Governor (Chief Don Etiebet) was also elected, while the three other Governors (Lt. Col. Paul Ufuoma Omu, Navy Capt. Babatunde Elegbede, and Navy Capt. Ibim Princewill) were non-indigenes appointed Military Governors. The two Deputy Governors who served in the old Cross River State were Dr. Matthias Offoboche from Ogoja, etc) It is therefore clear that Uyo Senatorial District (the Ibibio heartland) has produced 4 Governors and no Deputy Governors; Eket Senatorial District has produced 2; while Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District (the Annang heartland) has produced 2. Clearly therefore, all ethnic groupings in the defunct South Eastern, old Cross River and present Akwa Ibom States have enjoyed a measure of relevance with their indigenes occupying prominent positions in government. Under all Ibibio Governors, there were several Commissioners, Special Advisers, Heads of Boards and Parastatals of different ethnic groups in the State. Governor Akpabio’s claim therefore to Ibibio suppression, is not only false and misleading, but also obscures the fact that his ascendance to the governorship was founded on Ibibio magnanimity.

Arch. Victor Attah, (an Ibibioman and Akpabio’s predecessor in office), single handedly instigated a power shift to Akpabio’s Annang ethnic grouping in 2007. Although Akpabio was not Attah’s preferred candidate, several influential Ibibio politicians and leaders of thought, adopted him against Attah’s choice (and son-in-law) Dr. Udoma Ekarika (an Annang man). Such influential Ibibios included: Senator JJ Udoedeghe (Akpabio’s Campaign Manager in 2007, who introduced him, and sold his viability to then incumbent President Obasanjo). Obong Ufot Ekaette (the 8 year Secretary to the Federal Government, reportedly always spoke to his boss ‘Obasanjo’ about Akpabio in favorable light. Amb. Sam Edem (the influential NDDC Chairman at the time) also played a lead role in Akpabio’s emergence. Almost all the Ibibio traditional leaders backed Akpabio, along with countless Ibibio Youth Groups. These, swayed the grass-root voters in Akpabio’s favor. Of a truth, Akpabio rose to the crest of power on the wings of massive Ibibio support. He acknowledged in the following speeches: 

“ … In our election, you buried tribalism and ethnic sentiments. You spoke with one voice from the shores of Mbo to the fertile soil of Ini Local Government Area. Our detractors thought we would continue to remain an ‘atomistic society perpetually at war with itself’, but you proved them wrong … in the said elections, Akwa Ibom witnessed unprecedented unanimity in political decision making. From the youths, the elders, the traditional fathers, to our sons and daughters in Nigeria and in the diaspora, you spoke with one voice … let God’s will be done…” – IN AKPABIO’S INAUGURAL SPEECH DELIVERED ON THE OCCASION OF HIS SWEARING-IN ON MAY 29, 2007. 

“ … By my election, you captured the noble spirit of co-existence and unity. The uniqueness was demonstrated in the fact that for the first time in the politics of Akwa Ibom State, all the component linguistic groupings buried clannish sentiments and voted as one people for me and our great Party, the Peoples Democratic Party …” – ON THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CREATION OF AKWA IBOM STATE ON SEPTEMBER 23, 2007. 

“ … I note with delight that for the first time in the history of Akwa Ibom State, the people surmounted the odds, buried ethnic sentiments and dialectical differences, and embraced the generational power shift which I represented …” – ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF HIS ADMINISTRATION AND DEMOCRACY DAY, MAY 29, 2008.

“ … But the days of disunity are past; consigned to the dustbin of history. The election of 2007 was a unity anthem orchestrated with symphonic tribal harmony. From that electoral ballad, you entrusted me with the sacred mandate of the office of Governor; and this administration was born …” – ON THE 21ST ANNIVERSARY OF THE CREATION OF THE STATE, SEPTEMBER 23, 2008.
Governor Akpabio made similar speeches after winning his second term, but these only truly acknowledge his first term mandate, and not the second, which he obtained at the cost of sorrow, tears and blood. In a speech to mark his conferment with an award of Doctor of Management Science (Honoris Causa), by the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), on December 3, 2011, Akpabio said: “… I would not have been here if Akwa Ibom people did not allow principles to triumph over politics and vote for virtue, not clannishness …” In another speech on May 29, 2011, he said: “… I am happy for the great honor of this hour, and this great opportunity to keep serving you as your Governor. I am not unmindful of the fact that you made the choice against the backdrop of the most pernicious campaign of false hood, ethnicity, hatred and blackmail in the chequered history of mankind …” 

The Akpabio, who spoke of falsehood, ethnicity, hatred and blackmail, despite acknowledging Ibibio support in his countless speeches, was not however deterred from manifesting the same vices subsequently. He turned against the same Ibibios who catapulted him to the Governorship; became extremely intolerant of opposition, and clamped down on the free Press. Dissidents were targeted, including GLOBAL CONCORD which suffered extreme persecution. Newspaper distributors like Mr. Essien Ewoh; and Fresh Facts publisher Sam Asogwata suffered harrowing experiences; yet Akpabio, at the 4th National Roundtable for Proactive Laws and Good Governance in Abuja, in July 2008, had said: “… even though Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution guarantees rights to freedom of expression and the Press, I believe the passage into law of the Freedom of Information Bill, and its inclusion in the amended Constitution will help Nigerians play their expected roles more effectively in nation building. Access to information is vital to every democratic system. The tendency to withhold information from people is therefore to be checked. Free access to information will encourage people’s support for laudable causes and allow constructive criticism of wrong policies and programmes…” The same Akpabio was much later on to tell journalists at a Conference of Editors: “… as Editors, you are the captains of the media industry, and your interpretations of reality become the reality of the nation…” He described them as “… the conscience of the nation…” and charged them thus: “… the spirits of our ancestors who used the vehicle of crusading journalism to win independence for us is still alive in our time. It would be foolhardy for you to kill the baby; the democracy you midwifed. It would be the highest level of treachery and betrayal, for you whose colleagues watered the tree of our collective liberty and democracy with their blood, to dishonor their memory by not fighting for the survival of our nation and our democracy…” Let us ask salient questions. How else does one fight for the survival of our nation and democracy except by speaking out about ills in society with a view to abatement, redress, sanctions, or remedy where necessary? How else does one fight for the survival of our nation and democracy except by being principled and refusing compromise to act contrary to natural justice, equity and good conscience? If the critical press is silenced, then the nation will crash. Even God tolerates opposition (the Devil). 

By 2010, Akpabio had earned enough infamy to discourage any Ibibio support for his second term, and to actualize his bid, he was forced to initiate a campaign of undisguised brutality against the mainly Ibibio opposition. In May 2010, (fully aware that he was executing his long conceived plot against the Ibibios), ‘democrat’ Akpabio called on his supporters to annihilate any who opposed him in these words: “… You must rise up with anger and crush anybody who wants to bring down the government … you must crush any opposition against this government with fire. You must show anger because we are developing the State and nobody should stand against the development of the State…” Although no local media (print or electronic), reported this call, except GLOBAL CONCORD, it was gratefully reported in the national dailies. SEE P10 OF DAILY INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER OF MAY 4, 2010.
Akpabio’s “… development of the State …” must have meant empowering his kith, kin and loyalists while prosecuting his ethnic cleansing agenda against the Ibibios, because that was all that was going on in the State. Shortly after Akpabio’s charge to his supporters, the State slid into an era of absolute barbarism and lawless brutality. Kidnappers and hired assassins went on rampage, targeting Ibibios, who suffered the greatest wave of persecution in their entire history. Hundreds were kidnapped for ransom (presumably to break their financial strength); others were killed, and their women kidnapped and often sexually assaulted by their captors. This was under the administration of the same Godswill Akpabio who in a speech entitled: ‘THE NIGER DELTA CRISIS AND THE CHALLENGES OF LEADERSHIP; THE GODSWILL AKPABIO MODEL’ said: “… people need to be free from threats such as political repression and sudden harmful disruption of their lives…” Even those Ibibios who played prominent roles in Akpabio’s emergence were not spared persecution, and include: 
ARC (OBONG) VICTOR ATTAH: His predecessor in office, and a man Akpabio himself often acknowledged as laying the foundation for the development of the State. Attah however suffered relentless abuse and insult including false allegations of embezzlement. His woes under Akpabio’s government reached a crescendo when his wife’s health deteriorated and Akpabio’s government paid a deaf ear to calls for the State Government’s intervention. The former First Lady died. This was how Akpabio paid back Attah who took him from nothing to something (appointing him Special Adviser, then Commissioner, and even nominating him to serve as his Deputy Governor).
SENATOR JJ UDOEDEGHE: (the ACN gubernatorial candidate, and a man whose deft political strategies gifted Akpabio with the Governorship) was soon perceived ‘too big a threat’ to Akpabio’s re-election bid. He was framed for a series of high profile crimes including arson, murder, treason, etc, believed to have been committed by government agents, but in evidence of his innocence, was after severe persecution, absolved by competent courts, of all the charges slammed against him.
AMBASSADOR SAM EDEM: (the influential NDDC Chairman at the time), also considered a threat, considering his rumored bid for the Governorship was framed and relieved of his lucrative office.
HER EXCELLENCY, (MRS) COMFORT EWANG: wife of a former Military Administrator of Ogun and Rivers States, (Group Capt. Sam Ewang, the ANPP governorship candidate), was abducted by kidnappers who reportedly demanded that her husband rescind his decision to contest the 2011 elections. She was released after her abductors had secured a heavy ransom.
MADAM PHILOMENA UDONWA: a retired civil servant; a grandmother of over 70 years, and mother of a Singapore based Marine Engineer and governorship hopeful, Iniekong Udonwa, was kidnapped. Her son was shot at, in a failed assassination attempt, but escaped with bullet wounds. Once again, the kidnappers allegedly demanded that Engr. Udonwa rescind his bid to contest in the 2011 Elections as a pre-condition for his mother’s release. Madam Udonwa was not lucky after-all. She was abused, murdered, stripped naked, and abandoned on a lonely rural road (even after a ransom had reportedly been paid); only to be discovered by early morning risers on their way to the stream the next morning.

MR. MIKE EDUOK (the brother of the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Nsikak Eduok), was kidnapped, possibly over his brothers perceived opposition to Akpabio’s tyrannical governance.

BARR UMO UDOUNWA: slated to take over as the State PDP Chairman, was murdered in shrouded circumstances. He was a close ally of prominent members of the opposition to Akpabio.

ELDER PAUL INYANG: a PDP stalwart also billed for the State PDP Chairmanship, was shot dead in the premises of his church. As Secretary of the Wakili Adamawa led Screening Committee for the 2006 Governorship Primaries, he supported Akpabio’s candidacy. In December 2009, along with other party bigwigs, he endorsed Akpabio’s second term bid in a caucus meeting. Inyang however allied with the opposition duo of ex-Governor Attah and Senator Udoedeghe, probably on account of Akpabio’s high handed administration of the State. It soon became clear that Elder Inyang had shifted his political allegiance after he began to hold meetings with key opposition members. The last meeting he attended before his murder, was summoned and moderated by Obong Attah with the theme revolving around ‘Restructuring the PDP within the State’. It is the incontrovertible view of political analysts that Inyang’s murder was not unconnected with his allegiance to the opposition.

GENERAL EDET AKPAN: a former NYSC Director and Director of Army Education, was kidnapped after a reported disagreement over sale of shares at a stormy meeting of the Board of Universal Energy Resources (Akwa Ibom’s indigenous oil servicing company) of which he (Akpan) was Chairman. Competent sources confirmed that Akpan had resisted a bid by Akpabio’s frontsmen to buy off majority shares in the company. The General was not only kidnapped, but other innocent worshippers in the church premises were murdered. He was released after a ransom was paid, but subsequently relieved of his office.

OKUIBOM R.J OBOT: The most senior Ibibio monarch on earth was gruesomely murdered in his palace. The former Special Adviser on Budget, and Chartered Accountant of England and Wales may also have been perceived to be on the side of the opposition to Akpabio.

THE EKPENYONG BROTHERS: Engr. Emmanuel (aka Submarine) and his brother Matthias (aka Mbota), were murdered in the family quarry site, which knowledgeable sources claim the brothers refused to sell to the State Governor (Akpabio). Fabian (the surviving sibling), was framed for the murder of his brothers by the State Government, after he had identified two of the actual killers. He was detained for several months and later released for lack of evidence. Informed sources are of the view that the objective was not to murder the brothers, but to kidnap the elder (Emmanuel), and extract a heavy ransom; possibly an agreement to sell off the quarry site. The plan, they claim went wrong, when Matthias recognized one of the assailants and called out his name. This led to their both being murdered.

DR CHRIS EKONG: A brilliant economist; a lecturer in the discipline; and a former Commissioner for Youth and Sports, and later Economic Development, was framed for complicity in a kidnap case, jailed for over two years but later cleared of the charges by four successive courts. Ekong’s rising political profile is believed to have been the reason for his being persecuted.

Akpabio’s administration has used and dumped several prominent Ibibios; many of who were once his ardent loyalists. They include two Deputy Governors (Engr. Patrick Ekpotu, and Obong Nsima Ekere); Director General of Godswill Akpabio Campaign Organization in the 2011 elections (Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga); Bishop Sam Akpan (upon whose AKPF structure Akpabio rose to power), and even the erstwhile Secretary to the State Government (Obong Umana Okon Umana) who served between 2007 and 2013. Umana was the State’s Commissioner for Finance when Akpabio was Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs under ex-Governor Attah. Umana supported Akpabio’s emergence and shared in his infamy for maintaining sealed lips throughout the years of terror. He was unceremoniously booted out of office by Akpabio in a commando style operation by armed security operatives allegedly supervised by Unoma Akpabio (Governor Akpabio’s wife). Too many gruesome incidents of persecution and savagery against the Ibibios have been established under the administration of Godswill Akpabio. Presently, the agenda against the Ibibios may have changed in form, but they still persist in the form of brazen marginalization. Although Akpabio often denies this, here are facts which can be ascertained by any.

In 2009, 996 people recruited into the State’s Civil Service, out of which 800 were Annangs (or Akpabio’s kinsmen); 96 were of Ibibio and Oron stock; while 100 others belonged to other minority sub-groupings.

In 2011, 50 Accountants were recruited into the Accountant General’s Office. All 50 were Annang. 

In 2012, 50 Lawyers were also recruited into the State’s Judiciary. All 50 were Annangs. 

Currently, several key positions in the State Government are occupied by Annangs. They include: 
ACCOUNTANT GENERAL OF THE STATE: Mr. Udo Isobara (Annang from Essien Udim – the Governor’s Local Government), due for retirement since December 2012, but retained in service for ethnic reasons. 

AUDITOR GENERAL OF THE STATE and AUDITOR GENERAL FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: are both Annangs. 

HEAD OF CIVIL SERVICE: Mrs. Cecilia Udoessien, (Annang); also due for retirement since January 2013, but retained for ethnic reasons. 
CHAIRMAN, STATE UNIVERSAL BASIC EDUCATION BOARD (SUBEB): Obonganwan Grace Ekong, (a retired civil servant, former Secretary to the State Government, and an Ibibio lady) is actually controlled by Barr. Ibanga Akpabio (the Governor’s cousin and the Board’s SECRETARY).

CHAIRMAN, STATE SECONDARY EDUCATION BOARD (SSEB): Dr. (Mrs) Maria Ikorok, (Annang); recently alleged to have been used by the Governor’s wife (Unoma, an Ibo woman), to recruit several teachers of Ibo origin into the State’s teaching service. The PERMANENT SECRETARY of the Board (Mr. Ephraim Oton) an Annang, succeeded another Annang, Mr. Inemesit Akabom. The DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION of the Board is also Annang. 

CHAIRMAN, CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION: Mr. J.J Obot, (Annang), is a retired civil servant.
CHAIRMAN, AKWA IBOM STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY COMMISSION: Cornel Udoh (a core Annang tribalist) 

CHAIRMAN, ASSOCIATION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS OF NIGERIA (ALGON): Mr. Nse Ntuen, who doubles as Chairman of Essien Udim (the Governor’s Local Government), was recently nabbed for money laundering by the Maryland State Police Department in the USA. 

CHAIRMAN, AKWA IBOM STATE INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION (AKISIEC): Mrs. Gloria Ukpong (from Ikot Ekpene, in the Governor’s Senatorial District) was widely fingered for aiding and abetting illegalities in the 2011 Elections, in the Governor’s favor; and is likely to be retained till 2015 to further serve ethnic interests. 

CHAIRMAN, AKWA IBOM STATE PDP CHAPTER CHAIRMEN’S FORUM: Chief Sunny Ibanga, (from Ikot Ekpene) was fingered extensively for the violence which preceded the 2011 elections.

CHAIRMAN, AKWA IBOM STATE POLYTECHNIC GOVERNING COUNCIL: Barrister Uwemedimo Nwoko, (Annang), is also the Institution’s RECTOR.
AKWA IBOM AND CROSS RIVER STATES REPRESENTATIVE IN THE FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICE: Mr. Simon Etim from Essin Udim (Akpabio’s homeland)
AKWA IBOM AND CROSS RIVER STATES REPRESENTATIVE IN THE FEDERAL CHARACTER COMMISSION: Barrister Matthew Ukpong.

CHAIRMAN, CHRISTIAN PILGRIMS WELFARE BOARD: Rev. Fr. (Prof) Nyoyoko (from Essien Udim – the Governor’s Local Government), heads a Board comprising over 70% of Annangs staffers. The EXECUTIVE SECRETARY of the Board: Mrs. Rose Uko is also Annang, and was recently alleged to be engaged in fraudulent activities in the Board. 

DIRECTOR GENERAL, AKWA IBOM BROADCASTING CORPORATION (AKBC): Pastor Praise Okon, (Annang); heads a Corporation dubbed Akpabio Broadcasting Corporation (on account of excessive sycophancy). Pastor Okon has been indicted several times for mismanagement, but still remains in office. 

COMMISSIONER FOR INFORMATION: Mr. Aniekan Umanah, (Annang), is the administration’s official spin doctor, and blocks local media from reporting stories inimical to the Governor’s interests. He was preceded in office by another Annang, Mr. Census Ekpu.

COMMISSIONER FOR WORKS: Mr. Don Etim, (Annang); a loyalist of the Governor, and major financier of his 2007 bid) was fingered in cult related activities that once disrupted order in the State.

COMMISSIONER FOR SPECIAL DUTIES: Barrister Emmanuel Enoidem, (Annang), a garrulous troublemaker.

COMMISSIONER FOR AGRICULTURE: Mr. Godwin Afangideh, (Annang – from Essien Udim, the Governor’s LGA).

SPECIAL ADVISER ON TECHNICAL MATTERS: Engr. Etido Inyang, (Annang)
PERMANENT SECRETARY, BUDGET DEPARTMENT: Mr. Nicholas Ekarika, (Annang).
PERMANENT SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF EDUCATION: Mr. Chrysanthus Azuka, (Annang); due for retirement since August 2013, but retained for ethnic reasons.
PERMANENT SECRETARY, GOVERNOR’S OFFICE: Mr. Etekamba Umoren, (Annang).
CHAIRMAN, AKWA UNITED FC: Mr. Isong Isang, (Annang). 
SENIOR SPECIAL ASSISTANT (MEDIA), and CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNOR: Pastor Anietie Ukpe, (Annang).

DIRECTOR OF PROTOCOL: Mr. Aniekpeno Mkpanang, (Annang), was indicted for being the brain behind the Akwa Ibom State Ushers sex group. 

In his inaugural speech after the 2007 Elections, Akpabio decried factionalization in the words: “… never again shall we allow and condone such factionalization (sic) with its attendant negative effects…” Yet there is factionalism in Government Ministries, where junior civil servants of Annang extraction are given priority assignments over their Ibibio and Oron superiors. Top Annang civil servants are retained beyond their retirement dates for undisclosed reasons which Civil Service sources claim to be ethnic bias. According to them, when the next officer in rank to an Annang officer is Ibibio or Oron, the Governor retains the Annang officer beyond his or her due retirement date, with a probable view to 2015, when he expects to vacate power. He however retires senior Ibibio and Oron officers even when they are not due, to pave the way for the emergence of their Annang subordinates. One such case is that of late Elder (Mrs) Grace Anwana (the immediate past Head of Civil Service) of Oron extraction, who had two years left in service, but was forced out to pave the way for the current Head of Service (an Annang, and her subordinate) Mrs. Cecilia Udoessien. Mrs. Anwana is the same lady who while in Service, Akpabio spoke thus about, in a speech delivered during the commissioning of the Civil Servants Bus Scheme, on Thursday October 16, 2008: “… I also want to commend the leadership of the Civil Service and the Bureau of Labor Matters for their strides in maintaining cordial government/labor relations. The Head of Civil Service would not let a day go by, without seeking for one thing or the other to enhance the welfare of Civil Servants. I must confess that civil servants in the State would not have wished for a better Head of Civil Service than Elder (Mrs) Grace Anwana. Just yesterday, she obtained approval for an upward review of car loans to civil servants in the State. She is a mother and a committed leader…” One wonders what apart from ethnic bias would have informed Elder (Mrs) Anwana’s forced retirement. With regard to what obtains in the Civil Service today, Akpabio advertises his inconsistency, especially in view of the following statement which he made in a speech to mark the commissioning of the Akwa Ibom State office of the Federal Character Commission on Thursday February 14, 2008: “… my resolve to promote unity among the various people of our State will not end at slogans. We must ensure that all sections of our State are involved in this campaign. My government will view seriously any deliberate policy of lopsidedness in recruitment of staff and marginalization in the dispensation of political patronage in our State, as these are inimical to the principles of unity and brotherly co-existence in our State…” 

It is no news that Akpabio has empowered his kith and kin beyond the ordinary. His Uncle – Sir Emem Akpabio; his brother – Dr. Nsentip Akpabio; his nephew – Prince Ukpong Akpabio; and his cousins-Barr. Ibanga Akpabio and Mr. Aniedi Akpabio, are multi-millionaires (if not billionaires). His nephew (Prince), (a second year law student in the University of Uyo) who boasts of owning billions, often claims that no Ibibio or Oron indigene will ever match the wealth of the ‘Akpabio Five’ as they are called. These are the power brokers in the State who determine government policies and other issues as well as ‘who gets what’ in terms of contracts, or other government patronage (excluding the Governor and his ‘Mother Teresa’). The lavish splendor of the Akpabios’ (none of who amounted to much before the governorship of their benefactor brother), questions Akpabio’s integrity in office, especially in view of this statement he made at the swearing-in of new Heads of Boards, Commissions, Agencies and Governing Councils, on October 20, 2008: “…many of you have come with your teeming supporters to celebrate your appointments. I am happy for you and I share in the spirit of your celebration. But let me inform you that better is the end of a matter than the beginning thereof. Therefore fight shy of ignoble acts and do not consort with evil men like witch doctors and fraudsters in the performance of your chores. Remember that you have been appointed to serve your State and not your ethnic group, supporters, friends and well-wishers. This administration has an Akwa Ibom perspective and we would not allow anyone to limit our vibrant vision of Akwa Ibom State into a narrow ethnic patch. Anyone who thinks he or she would be allowed to use his or her position for the advancement of selfish or ethnic goals, is not worthy of serving in this patriotic administration. Such a person should please quit before he or she is shown the door…” 

Akpabio’s touted “Development’ and “Uncommon Transformation” in the State runs far ahead of actual facts on ground; thanks to his ‘glib’ tongue; the ‘digital liars’ in his administration; and hungry bootlickers. On Tuesday April 29, 2008, at the opening ceremony of the Akwa Ibom State Council on Industry (AKSCI), he said: “…the State Government in an effort to provide a conducive operational environment for investors, has put in place a number of infra-structure to enhance productivity. Some of these include the on-going Independent Power Plant project, the international Airport project, Ibaka Oil and Gas Processing Zone project, and the Ikot Abasi Free Trade Zone project…” Anybody would question why five-and-a-half-years-and-billions-of-naira-accruing-to-the-State-later, none of these projects apart from the International Airport which Akpabio inherited at an advanced stage of completion (but often denies), is not fully functional. 
In another speech shortly after assuming office in 2007, Akpabio also said: “… My administration is poised to embark on community based development programmes and Local Government authorities in the State are expected to partner with us in this direction. We will soon establish mini-estates in all the Local Government Areas of the State to house all key officers of each Local Government Area. The era where key functionaries of Local Government Councils reside in Uyo the State capital, to administer their Councils will be over. They will have to live and work with their people so that they can appreciate their problems and seek ways to solve them…” Anybody would ask two questions: (1) Where are the mini-estates? (2) What example does Akpabio himself show his subordinates when he administers the State from the air, Lagos, Abuja, or overseas? Anybody would also ask where the 31 industries he promised in the 31 Local Government Areas are sited.

In yet another speech on Thursday February 14, 2008 at the commissioning of the Federal Character Office in Uyo, Akpabio said: “…We are equally at the verge of commissioning all past projects initiated by my predecessor. I intend to continue in this direction throughout the tenure of my administration…” Isn’t it likely Akpabio must have forgotten the Science Park, the fight to relocate Mobil Headquarters from Lagos to Akwa Ibom, etc?

At the opening of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Building in Uyo on November 19, 2007, Akpabio also promised that the Stock Exchange under his administration would experience a boom; this, after congratulating its initiator (ex Governor Attah). Akpabio said: “… I want to assure you that the floor here will be very busy because our people are now better enlightened about the operations of the Capital Market … we sincerely acknowledge and commend the immediate past Governor of the State, His Excellency (Arc) Obong Victor Attah, for the vision and key role he played in the Capital Market development in Akwa Ibom State, which has resulted in this historic event…” Anybody would question how “busy” the floor of the Stock Exchange been since then. 

In London, on October 12, 2012, Akpabio addressed the Akwa Ibom Economic Summit and investment Expo, and said: “… when we assumed office in 2007, we met an Airport project which was at site clearing level. Because we understood its importance to the Akwa Ibom people, we pursued it to its logical conclusion…” Akpabio’s claim contrasts sharply with that of Airport project staffers at the time (many of who are still resident in Uyo today). They insist the Airport Akpabio inherited was at an advanced stage of completion. 

At the same London forum, Akpabio said: “…we have given out township taxis and buses in order to ease transportation. Such vehicles included 300 Hyundai Accent cabs, 10 Marco Polo buses, 100 Ford Focus cabs, 40 Toyota Hiace (18 seater buses)…” This may be true, but where are all those ‘brand new’ vehicles today? Anyone would believe the touted initiative to ease transportation was a covert way of handing out brand new vehicles to cronies, friends and loyalists of the administration.

Yet again at the same London forum, Akpabio said: “…We intend to sustain our free medical treatment for the aged of 70 years and above, pregnant women and children five years and below…” Is it true that people of 70 years and above; and children 5 years and below, are treated free in any hospitals in the State? 
In an address on May 29, 2012 (Democracy Day and the 5th Anniversary of his administration), Akpabio said: “… this is one aspect of uncommon transformation that seldom gets talked about. The fact that this administration was birthed in the crucible of unity and faith, compelled our coming together to strengthen and restore unity to our State, using as a reference point, the unifying example set by our forefathers in the Ibibio State Union. We are building a society knit together in love and brotherhood…” It does not reflect the unifying example set by our forefathers who magnanimously sited the Ibibio State College in Ikot Ekpene, for Governor Akpabio to award contracts in Ibiboland (except the Calabar-Itu highway, and Aka Nung Udoe Road), to inferior contractors including his companies Raycon and Sinoeng, while he uses Julius Berger to construct roads all over Annangland. Akpabio does not build a society knit together in love and brotherhood by constructing sub-standard roads in Ibibioland (like Enen Nsit), and abandoning others (like Use Ikot Amama); or constructing the Aka Nung Udoe road (which leads to ex Governor Attah’s hometown) with a reputable firm (CCECC) primarily to spite the former Governor who has maintained that at the time of his Governorship, there were more important roads (especially with his meager resources) that needed attention. Calabar-Itu road may only have been handled by a reputable firm (Julius Berger), because it is a Federal Road. Akpabio’s administration has certainly not reflected the ideals our forefathers exemplified. 
Godswill Akpabio inherited a richly blessed State. He acknowledged this much in an address at the Nigerian International Summit and Exhibition in New York, when he said: “… although our State (Akwa Ibom) is known for its substantial oil and gas resources, other endowments and opportunities abound. Our strategic location in the Gulf of Guinea offers immense opportunities for lucrative investments, maritime and allied activities; including commercial fishing, sea food processing, oil and gas logistics and support services, ship building, oceanographic research, aqua culture, etc … Akwa Ibom State is a reservoir of wealth and investment potentials, with impeccable infrastructure put in place by my administration, it is a prime target for tourists and investors. The State has a clement weather and a fertile land mass measuring 8,412 square kilometers. The hospitable disposition of our people has become a global refrain. The state is also noted for salubrious cuisines, exotic culture, arts and craft … it boasts the longest coastline in Nigeria. The State is host to Exxon Mobil, Total, Moni Polo, Addax, etc. Akwa Ibom State is one of the highest oil producing states in Nigeria. It is also home of Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria – one of the biggest Aluminium plants in the world. Solid industrial minerals which abound in the State include: kaolinite and ball clays, glass and silica sand, betonies, limestone, gravels, sodium chloride and gypsum … Akwa Ibom falls within the tropical zone with a dominant vegetation of green foliage of trees, shrubs and oil palm tree belts which hold the highest density of cash crops in the world; including rubber, plantain, bananas, pineapple and kolanut. Its ground is fertile all year round. The State is also endowed with rich deposits of limestone, salt, silver nitrate, silica sand and kaolin…” 

At the same Summit, Akpabio also acknowledged Akwa Ibom as a peaceful State in the words: “… the enviable position we occupy today as one of the safest states in Nigeria, we intend to maintain at all costs…” In another speech on May 29, 2008, (during the Democracy Day celebrations) he also said: “…we intend to maintain the disposition of the State as the most peaceful part of the Niger Delta”. One therefore wonders why despite the solid mineral, oil and gas wealth, investment potentials, peace and mega-finances that accrue to the State, Akwa Ibomites still suffer hunger, lack of jobs, unpaid salaries and entitlements, and the absence of a government assisted boost to the private sector. Why have clannish and selfish politics dictated the murders, persecutions and deprivations of so many in a State claimed to be a ‘destination State? Why has corruption thrived to endemic proportions in the land? Governor Godswill Akpabio himself answered this last question in an address he presented at the Conference of Nigerian Guild of Editors held in Uyo, on September 13, 2012 where he said: “… take the issue of corruption and you will discover that corruption thrives in countries with low levels of patriotism. If you love your country, you will not steal from it…” For the first time, Akpabio told the truth. William Rucklestraus once said: “Nature provides us a free lunch but only if we control our appetites”. This writer believes Akwa Ibom State would also provide all Akwa Ibomites a beautiful, rich, peaceful and progressive home State, if only those at the helm of affairs of the State learnt to control their appetites. The problem with Akwa Ibom State is simply a failure of leadership; nothing more, nothing less.

THOMAS THOMAS is the Editor of Global Concord, Uyo
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