Stone Akpabio with rotten eggs – Hon. Asuquo Darby

18 Dec
Rt. Hon. Asuquo Darby

Rt. Hon. Asuquo Darby

Hon Udo Darby Asuquo is a former member of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly. He represented the people of Nsit Atai State constituency from 2007 to 2011 were he is popularly known for his active contributions in the floor of the House. He carved a niche for himself as the paramount ruler of the 4th Assembly which had Hon Anietie Etuk as the speaker. Darby Udo in this explosive interview spoke on the forthcoming 2015 general elections were he kicked against the Governor Godswill Akpabio’s intention to host a town hall meeting, he advised the people to prepare so that they stone the Governor with rotten eggs during any of such town hall meetings. He said there is no political leader in Nsit Atai and that if there is any, it is Maj. Gen Edet Akpan, rtd. Udo Darby took a hot swipe at Chief Sunny Elijah and described him as a pure illiterate who is not the political leader of Nsit Atai but parading himself as one. He spoke to JOSEPH OKON

You have been a council chairman and a member of the State House of Assembly, how was it then, and how is it now?

I am Rt. Hon. Elder Obong Asuquo Dabby Udo an Officer of the Order of Wesley (OOW); that is my title in the Methodist Church. I will say yes, I was a Council Chairman and I can also say no because there is much difference between being the chairman of a local government council and being the head of a council. There is a difference between the parliamentary and presidential system of government. That is why at the end of every month, they either give you enough money to pay workers salaries or the workers will lynch you for not being able to pay them at the end of the month. But be that as it may, sometimes I accept being a council chairman.

My advice to the youths who want to be politicians is that they should not go into politics behind a god-father, because when this happens, they may end up exiting the stage without having full knowledge of what politics is.

The reason is because the godfather will want to direct every step you take with little bribes, and you would not want to disobey him because of your position. But when you get into politics on your own, with the little you have, you will actually know the in and out of politics. That was how I entered into politics, and I thank God for that. I entered politics as a matured man, so I can affirm some situations and disagree on some. I am still in politics. I have been attending meetings and I am one of those who will work hard to ensure that somebody goes into the Hilltop Mansion come 2015. I would have been in the present Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly if we were to go through ballot boxes. If I was not deceived by the governor I would have been there. The present Governor called me and told me that I will not like to take appointment; so I should go and work to return back to the State House of Assembly. I was so happy and comfortable about that statement, but I never knew that it was a sort of deception, I was deceived. So, after spending money; running campaigns and preparing my grounds, my local government became a battle ground where blood was being spilled here and there. People were killed indiscriminately because there was another underlying plot against me apart from the initial deception. If you are a man of low integrity it will be very good with you because you will swallow all the dirty things you will be given in order to stuff your pocket with money. But if you are a man of integrity, you will stay and go with your statutory entitlement like what I did. I went with only my entitlement but that did not make me a beggar. There are two things involved; you submit your integrity to the government, accept everything being done whether it is good or bad and also share in the outcome or you stand your grounds and say no to those things which you are convinced should not be done. For example, in the first six months after our entrance into the House, the Deputy Speaker was to be impeached. Before a thing like this occurs, members of the House must meet and the appropriate steps must be taken. But then, the reverse was the case so I refused to be mobilized and stood my grounds with five others including the one who was to be impeached. We succeeded in disordering the House completely and sending people out.

It takes a brave heart to do what I did; it also takes integrity because in such trivial issue, you may be bribed with N2million. A money-inclined person may before collecting the money start calculating the number of luxuries he will acquire without thinking of the wrongness in the action. That is what is happening in government, but when you come out you may not be as functional as you were while there. This is because those at the helm of affairs know very well who you are and what you stand for; what you can do and what you cannot do and will not be comfortable with you because of your integrity. So they will do everything to see that you don’t come in, they can even kill you because they will look at you as a torn in their flesh.

And so what you have to do is to find a safe corner until the red color days are over. A time will come when you will resurface. People will like some of the things you do. If one comes to me now and tell me he/she wants to go to the National Assembly for Uyo Federal Constituency which I am a member, and by constitution, I should cast my vote during the primaries; I will simply look at the person and if I’m convinced that he/she will be able to properly represent me, I will agree and support the person till the very end. I will do everything unless the fellow retreats voluntarily. But if I see that the chances of such person succeeding are low, I will advise such to retreat. Or I will let him know that I’ll tow his boat whether it floats or sinks. I don’t say two things at a time. I say one thing at a time, and before I talk, I must think and look at it repeatedly. Else people will say oh! This man said this and that. So after leaving the State House of Assembly, I had to go into habitation pending the time the dangerous days will be over.

How was the State House of Assembly then when you were there?
I don’t normally compare issues of management or administration. The 4th Assembly I belonged to was to my own consideration perfect because there were men and women of integrity who were resolute on their decisions. For example, when we decided to remove the Speaker, everyone agreed. I was a member of a group called integrity group, we believed it was not good to impeach anybody, but it was good to remove somebody because impeachment in politics if it is taken serious, that means the person is taken away from politics. So when we decided to remove the speaker, within few hours we had 22 signatories. Soon His Excellency, Gov Akpabio called us and asked if we were sponsored, because sometime people are always sponsored, but we told him that it is our own free will that we want to remove this man for one reason or the other. He said, are you sure is not people sponsoring you? I told him nobody sponsored me, and so I have decided. So the House at that time was made up of people who would say they agree on a particular issue, no matter what you will do, no matter the intimidation or the offer, nobody will change but will see that the thing is done especially when it involves a situation that will be inimical to the progress of the State or the House of Assembly. So there was so much maturity in the House then.

I’m not comparing it with any other House, but all I’m saying is that there was so much maturity in the House as at when we were there to a point that we took personal decisions on issues, and the Governor saw the way we operated, so he cooperated with us. Never a time he will tell us this thing you do I don’t like it so don’t do it, no! He never interfered with anything we were dong but rather he will say please can you help in this situation? Like that case of removing the speaker, and we said no Your Excellency, we have taken a decision and cannot go back on it. He will ask the reasons, putting up the reasons to him he will then say well, there is no problem, and you can do what you have decided. So it was a House of maturity and honesty. That was because many of us in that House have already seen the other side of life before. Some of us were very senior people, some of us were very senior officers in banks, senior officers in government, senior officers in coporations and industries, and so we could do without any incentives to survive. Like myself, I was the first the chairman House Committee on Agriculture, I could have used that to go to ministries and parastatals to collect money, it did not take long I was moved to youth and sports, and there was a little bit of confusion, finally I was moved to information, just like that.
The House was a very good House; I wished a House like that could be transferred to another Assembly.

Will you say that the integrity of the House then still exist today?
Well, I don’t know because I’m not close to anybody in the House now, I don’t even know what they are doing.

Are you satisfied with what is going on today in Nsit Atai where you come from?
Well, satisfaction is a word that is very difficult to be used by me. Even in my house, what may satisfy me may not satisfy another person, so to bring a whole local government administration to say whether I am satisfied or not is not easy, I would not say I’m satisfied or not. In the Bible it was written that to everything there is a season and there is time for everything, might be what happened during my time is not happening now, so therefore to say I’m satisfied or I’m not satisfied is not fair.
During my time, the money which should have been given to local government was used at the State level to build those housing units that you see today in all the local government areas. So I was satisfied with that, even though I was not given the money to award contracts, and I was not even given one to build, but I knew that the money used was taken from the local government allocation. Also, when I was about leaving, I was satisfied that on completion of those buildings, some Federal Government Parastatals workers sent to the place will have place to be accommodated, and I’m very satisfied that today immigration officers are now having accommodation and other federal parastatals are also accommodated. Even sub-treasury is now occupying one of the blocks, so I’m so satisfied that something was done during my time.
Apart from that, when I was there, anytime that we were given money to pay salaries and up to one million naira left, I will say let us open some few boreholes for people to enjoy water, because there was no money for us to do more things. We sent people to school, personally from my personal money and my personal purse; I think I still have some people who have not completed their higher institutions. From the time I left Nsit Atai council to the House of Assembly, I think I have sponsored up to 45 Nsit Atai indigenes in higher institutions pay up to N500, 000 every year. I was satisfied with what I did; I would not say I’m satisfied or not satisfied with what is happening today because I don’t know how much they are receiving.

Till I left, there was no excess crude, there was no subsidy, they calculated the money and send to us as parliamentarians, and so what I did I will still be satisfied until I leave this planet earth. I will never go and ask anybody what are you doing? How much are you getting? Because is like intruding into somebody’s administration. The person if he is a God-fearing person will know that the money sent to local government is to use and develop the local government, and not for his or her personal use. We have all that should come to us constitutionally; it is written there in black and white that you should have this and that, after all what were you before? All this money is to be used and develop the place and yourself, not to take it to somewhere and dump it. If you steal the money and run away, you will come back, and the place will still be there. One day that money will finish and you will return to who you were. If you steal and keep so that your children will not come and suffer, you are keeping them for vagabonds.

The experiences we have should tell us that the hardest working families are not the richest families. When you come to swim in wealth, you don’t think, your mind is not thinking of anything because you need Y, is there, you need M, is there, so what will you think about? You will not be able to do anything because all you need is there; all you have to do is to scatter. I have not seen any family with all this accumulation of wealth that their children and grandchildren are doing better than the other ordinary man. So if people collect so much and they don’t use it for the benefit of the people, they will be answerable to the Almighty God.

Will you say that the performance of the present administration in Nsit Atai has commiserated with the income of the council?
Mr. Journalist, I have said before that I don’t compare administrations. I don’t even look at what they are doing; when I enter my car to go to Nsit Atai I don’t even look at what is happening. Zebudiaha said some have food but cannot eat; some can eat but don’t have food. I have and I can eat. I used to have cars but now my children have collected all and they are driving them now which means I’m eating what I have.

When I enter my car to Nsit Atai, I will go straight to my house. I build that house when I was 33 years old, is a very old building. I use to work very hard during the world war time, I used to go to Cameron that time I was 23, 24, 25 years, I was very healthy and could do hard work. I don’t look at whether there is road or no road in Nsit Atai or there is building or no building. If the chairman calls me for something, I can go and listen to all the talks, no question! After that I go away because if you are invited to attain anything in your community and you don’t go, people will begin to look at you as somebody who is opposed to the community. So I don’t ask, I don’t look at what has happened or ask question about what is happening. I don’t know what ALGON is doing because ALGON has so much to do with the running of local government councils. The short period I was there, the Nigerian grassroots PDP at Abuja called me and gave me an award of excellent performance even though there was no money after the fifty units housing has been completed, and the other little things I did. So I will always feel satisfied over what I did.

You said you are still in active politics, based on the fact that you left PDP and joined LP in 2011, are you now in Labour Party or you have returned to PDP?
My people still regard me as the leader of PDP in Nsit Atai, they asked me to come back. The only people who may not be happy are the foreigners who have come into the party and are trying to do one thing or the other which is not good with the party. I’m one of the founding fathers of PDP in Nigeria. Till today, if anything is happening at the National, they will send me a text message and sometimes seek for my opinion. The present way the affairs of the party are run is outside the aims and objectives of the founding fathers. We were not to use guns, PDP was not to intimidate but allow a free and fair contest. I have contested election as a chairman of council which they said head of council, I have contested election into the House of Assembly under PDP platform. In those days, the materials for the primaries to those elections were all brought out and we all sat and watch, your agents will all sit there while people vote, after that papers will be brought and counted, if you win, you shake hands and embrace each other and go away. That was for the chairmanship, for the House of Assembly, I had eleven contestants, we were all there and your people will vote for you, and at the end the ballot papers were counted, out of the eleven, I got a little over half of the total votes, so there was no re-run and I was declared the winner, all the other contestants went away. But after the 2006 primaries which brought us into House of Assembly in 2007, everything about PDP changed. Chapter Executives of the party were announced at the Government House, nominations for any election, names will be called.

The reason I went to Labour Party was to test my popularity. The governor had called me at Ukana and said to me if I give you appointment you will not like to take, therefore go and work, I will give a level playing ground to everybody, so work for your re-election. I went back, not that I had so much money from the government, not that the House of Assembly was so rich to provide for somebody like me who was the chairman of integrity group. There was nothing for the leader of that group. Nothing could come to me because they looked at me as opposition and I say okay, thank you. I went and put everything in place ready to win the election. When it was time for primaries, materials were not brought, we did not see anything. After that, the next day somebody’s name was announced. Since I had people, and God knows if they had allowed the materials to come to Nsit Atai, no matter the party I contested the election, I would have won. God knows that. Nsit Atai youths and elders asked me to move to another party, that was why I left.

During the election day, they saw that if materials will come to Nsit Atai I will win, they did not send any material, instead of sending materials they rather send one man called Fabian Ambrose who was equipped with a bus loaded with arms and ammunitions to destroy Nsit Atai even if there was election and some other person from another party win, should blow off the INEC office with the people inside. He was apprehended by the Soldiers when he was trying to drive towards the INEC office for checking. The boy told the Soldiers that what he was carrying was known by the government, and because everybody who was working during the election was pro-government, the Soldiers said well! We don’t arrest, they called in police who came in and took the boy away who started pleading. They took him to John Harry who was the commissioner for environment then, the police told the commissioner that this boy told us that you equipped him with all this things. The commissioner seeing that it will rubbish the government, told the police to kill that boy, so that boy was killed by the police.

The DPO made no report to Ikot Akpan Abia, after two days it was known at Ikot Akpan Abia. The DPO was invited and was detained for 2 days. The four policemen who were with the DPO were also detained for weeks, later they said they are sending them to zone 6 to go and stand trials, up till today, nobody has heard anything about that. That means they were released after killing somebody. So many things were done during that election which chilled my blood, all in the name of going to be there. Somebody like Prince Sunny Elijah was arrested with a car load of arms and ammunitions, and was detained for 3 hours at the police station and after that released to terrorize people. Any place they took materials to like Ikot Essien, there was a serious fight while that of Ikot Edebe was completely burnt. There were so many problems during that election, but at the end, names of people were read as winners, so I went to Labour party on the grounds that my people, men and women swore that if materials will be brought I will win, and if they had brought materials I would have won. After that I did not want to waste my time in going to court, it was only Prince Sunny Osom that went to court. I went to Labour Party to oppose undemocratic ways of ruling the State by the PDP. I wrote a letter to my ward chairman that I am back in the party, so I’m still a PDP man. I brought PDP to Nsit Atai and spent my money to run the party at Nsit Atai.

Have you been admitted back?
What kind of admission? All I know is that I have sent them a letter that I’m back in the party so I remain a PDP man. We were 43 who signed memorandum of understanding and sent to G34 for the party to emerged, Attah signed first, Idongesit Udokpo second, and then I signed third, so you cannot tell me about any admission. There were many of us who went out, what about Emman Obot? Emman Obot went out and now he is back in the party.

Are you in support of zoning or not?
There has never been zoning in Akwa Ibom State; I came fully into politics since 1996. Before then I used to work as a presiding officer, Infact there was one local government election when I was at Uruan as a returning officer. I came into active politics in 1996. During 1996 election, I was a member of the center party which was one of the most prominent parties in Nigeria.
The question of governorship was so heated, and the battle was so tears to a point that we had camps. Some of us were standing firmly beside Attah. I can remember once he was called at Etiebet’s house at Ewet Housing, and he was asked why he has declared himself the governorship candidate, so many of us who were behind him said if this House will be broken we will break it down. Attah told them that if he knew that he was called to explain things in a kangaroo court like that he would not have come. He immediately came out and we cheered him away before the whole thing collapsed.

When we started the PDP, Attah was not the only candidate. There were candidates from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District and Eket Senatorial District who contested the election, but he emerged. The positions in Akwa Ibom politics is always like this; when a governor emerges, we now know where the speaker of the State House of Assembly will go to, and the deputy governor. That involves zoning, and not the governorship. Even when Akpabio came out to contest, up to 56 other aspirants came out, prominently in my mind is Larry Esin from Oron which is Eket Senatorial District and many others from Uyo Senatorial District. We worked, personally like me I was very interested in supporting Akpabio because I thought Akpabio was going to be a leader; I worked very hard on the day of the primaries. I was outside the Ibom Hall trying to lobby and buy people to support Akpabio, while people like Enoidem, Monday Uko were inside the Ibom Hall trying to mobilize for Udoma. I stood outside to mobilize people before they go in. Let me tell you that it was not on the platter of gold, we put in money, even the security people who were there also helped us to mobilize. The campaign Akpabio and others did was consolidated at the entrance of Ibom Hall.

I had a huge sum of money in my pocket, people called me names but I did not mind because I had a problem with Attah’s group and decided to leave that group. When we went the first day for the candidate to be presented, I was ignobly treated, and when I left, I said well, I will join another group. So I decided to work very hard to ensure that Akpabio wins that primary. Like I’m going to work when we begin, I’m not sick, I still have my strength and strategies to deliver except they don’t stay one place and call names. I know the strategies that I’m going to use. So at the end of the day when ballot papers were counted, Akpabio won.

The matter of zoning has not been accepted in this State. Nobody will tell me that, because if it has been accepted, even in my local government, we have Afaha, Ibiaikot, and Ibedu. If it is Ibiaikot man like the present person, who is on seat, by the time of election, it is only Ibiaikot people that will fill forms as chairman, nobody from Afaha, nobody from Ibedu. That is zoning or rotational changes, but a situation where the 2015 local government election in my area which suppose to be Ibedu turn, when Ibedu man will complete the form, Afaha man will not, Ibiaikot man will not, even 100 Ibedu people are permitted to, that is what is called zoning. But if in this Akwa Ibom, like Akpabio was, people from Uyo Senatorial District completed forms to contest and was accepted by the party, and they contested. People from Eket Senatorial District contested, will you call that zoning? There was no zoning; we only shared other political posts which are not by election. You will be elected somewhere for another post but it will be given to you not that another person from another local government will come to contest.

Nobody has ever contested the position of the deputy governor, like Akpabio has done, all deputy governors are suppose to come from Eket Senatorial District and all speakers are suppose to come from Uyo Senatorial District. Should Uyo be the governor like Attah was, the speaker will come from Eket Senatorial District while the deputy governor comes from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District; that is a mere distribution and not contested for. Nobody will ask you to come and contest as deputy governor or the speaker of the State House of Assembly. When you finish your election as House member, you will be selected because it comes to your own senatorial district. It is only the position of the governor that is always contested for. I have never, ever known that Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District did not contest when Attah was contesting, Eket Senatorial District did not contest when Attah was a candidate. Equally too when Akpabio was a candidate; so whoever talks about zoning should come and prove to me that it is only one senatorial district that would contest governor exclusive of others. You see my stand? So, I will work with whoever I see is credible, maybe when he goes there the credibility as am thinking will change, but he must look credible, then apart from credibility he must have some atoms of leadership. Truth must be seen in such a person though I know he can later become a mirage like Akpabio.

Are you contesting any political office come 2015?
The only office I will like to contest is the governorship. I will like to be the governor of this State so that I can keep things right. If I become the governor of this State, all elections will be conducted following the constitutional laid down principles. Even if you are my son, I will not ask you to go and be there. I will ask you to contest; when you win you will know that you were send there by people. You asked if the local government is doing well or not.
Local government can stop doing well because nobody from the local government voted for the chairman. Let them bring the result that this one scored this and that one scored that so that is why this one is declared the winner.

Before now, the result of elections where always presented before the declaration of the winner, and people will see that this or that party scored this number of votes, and that is why this person of this party is declared the winner. Not saying that this man of PDP got so many votes and is declared the winner, was such thing done before in this Akwa Ibom? Did you see it? See, I really will like to be the governor of this State, and I will change things around. In terms of development, I will do common things. I will never do uncommon things. I’m telling you that I will do very common things, and after doing the common things you will come and see what the State will be. I was a school principal, and I used to do very common things. That was why sometimes when they want to transfer me people will say no! I will tell them I have stayed here for a long time, let me go, and I have been doing very common things. So this time where things are very uncommon, I pray that somebody should come to Akwa Ibom and do common things for common Akwa Ibom people. I will be working for somebody and not for myself. I have a very good relationship with politicians in my local government, there are many people that when I will say let us go this way they will be ready to go with me. The only problem I’m thinking is the problem of primaries.

Who is now the political leader of Nsit Atai?
I don’t know if there is anybody like that. Few years ago they said they were going round selecting what they called “political leaders” in all the local government areas. It did seem to me that major General Edet Akpan would have been selected, but some people swore that over their dead bodies it will not happen. On Sunday breaking Monday that the party was to come to Nsit Atai, somebody was kidnapped, people were killed in the church, and since then I have not heard of appointment of a political leader again. But for Sunny Elijah who claimed to be the political leader of Nsit Atai, I don’t know what qualities that could make him the political leader. I don’t know because educationally he has never pass primary six. Intellectually, he is pure an illiterate. Except everybody in this State will accept the fact that Mbiam is the political leader of Nsit Atai. Because of him, everybody in Nsit Atai politics is about Mbiam. So if Mbiam is the political leader of Nsit Atai, God will help us because I cannot accept that. There is no political leader in Nsit Atai, whoever that says he is the political leader of Nsit Atai let him come out and organize people let us see, not because of money.

If I drive with you to Nsit Atai now, you will see exactly what can make somebody a political leader. I don’t want to declare myself the political leader of Nsit Atai. If I come out in Nsit Atai and say I’m going to lead you as a politician, at least 75 percent of politicians in Nsit Atai will stand behind me because they know; first, I will tell them the truth, I will be very sincere, if I have anything to share, I will give to everybody and all those things that will make somebody a leader. I will never ask you to swear before I give you anything. Many people are dying in Nist Atai because of Mbaim. I’m not joking; two weeks ago I was told that somebody died because of Mbiam. There is no political leader in Nsit Atai, if somebody declares himself a political leader carrying Mbiam here and there to kill people, leadership does not involve a decision to kill. Leadership as I know is ability to live with people, and people feel what comes out of you and your ability to get people to yourself without asking them to come and swear an oath that will kill you. That is what is happening in Nsit Atai.

Are you in support of the proposed town hall meeting by the Governor to choose the next governor?
Let him not do what the Student Union used to do. They will put somebody there, so during question time if you lift up your hand and you were not the person they put they will not allow you to speak and will call another person, so let it not be that kind of a thing. What I can say is that the idea is utopia, is not workable. If he wants to go round and say thank you to people, you did well to elect me, which is okay. But for him to say he want to go round and ask people to select who should be the next governor or present his own candidate to people is not practicable. We are in a democratic dispensation, a democratic period. What the Governor should do is to allow contestants to go on their campaign, when it is time for primaries allow people to go in and vote, whoever wins takes it. I find it difficult to picture what he is trying to do. If it were in Europe or America, you know it is a free society; somebody would have prepared a rotten egg so that when he gets up to speak, somebody will stone the rotten egg on his face. That is what is good for him in such gathering. That is stupidity. If I will know when he is starting, I will go and tell my people to insist that they want me for governorship. There is nothing good in that type of idea, you know the Governor is a window dressing person; he wants to go round showing himself. If I know when he will be coming to Nsit Atai I will love to be there if he will allow me to speak.

After, I will love to ask him a question to tell me where he is getting the example from. People used to say cogent experience, where has such thing been done before?

Culled From INK Newspaper

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