Archive | March, 2014

Why we cannot run away from genuine federalism —Obong Attah.

23 Mar

The CONFAB resumed its daily routine of predictable motions and meaningless expressions of gratitude to the Head of State. That was how General Sani Abacha wanted it, until Obong Victor Attah, who later became the governor of Akwa Ibom State for eight years, dropped a bombshell on Wednesday, July 20, I994.

Thereafter, things were never the same at the CONFAB; mostly because, like most gatherings of Nigerians, this CONFAB was also supposed to be dominated by the three large ethnic groups – Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo.

obong_victor_attahThe minority tribes would literally have to beg for any concessions to be granted to them by the big three. Instead, Attah, an Ibibio, one of the minority tribes, jolted them and challenged them with unprecedented audacity. The submission was a masterpiece in tone and courage. The Attah speech:

“I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for giving me this opportunity to join others in thanking the Head of State for convening this conference, for a very comprehensive inauguration speech, and for the opportunity to continue the debate on that speech; from which I intend to quote quite liberally.

I have a lot to say, in only ten minutes; so, I will right away deal with two quick issues before concentrating on my main area of concern.
The first is the question of leadership and good governance which have been proffered as the panacea for stopping coups.

The military has been condemned; the political class has been castigated. I have to ask in which market are we going to find a good leader and a good government to buy?
The truth of the matter is that you elect people and the government on trust, in the hope that they will govern well. At the end of their tenure in office, the people ought to have the unfettered right to assess the government and its leaders, and either endorse them to carry on or replace them.

I believe that if this had been allowed to happen in the past, barring the total indiscipline of the military itself, we might not have had any coups. The reason I say this is that, hardly ever a coup succeeded, in this country that was not considered a popular coup.

In other words, whether at the prompting of civilians or not, the military always took the opportunity of such frustration of the people’s will, at the polls, to fulfill only half of the people’s will. I say only half, because, while they would have helped to remove the bad government that the people wanted to see removed, they would then proceed to install themselves rather than give the people an immediate second chance to elect a replacement.
This is what the Head of State has to say about this in paragraph 34 of his speech and I quote:

”A common denominator of all forms of democracy is the belief that power, which is legitimate, is that which derives from the authority and consent of the people. It must provide for a credible and inviolable procedure for orderly succession”.

Answer to bad leadership
The answer to coups, to bad leadership and bad governance, can all be found in the provision that the people will have the right to decide; and their decision will not be frustrated by rigging, by the blatant declaration of false results or by annulment.

The second point that I would like to deal with, quickly, is the issue of the transition programme, and I thank the delegate whose amendment made it possible for the matter to be dealt with at committee level. I could not agree more with the delegate who suggested that the worst thing we could do is to send the military packing in disarray.

If NADECO and others, in that group, can go this far with a military government, there is no gain saying the need for us to plan our transition very carefully. But having said that, I have to admit that, today, Nigeria is treated like a leper in the community of nations.

Already we are familiar with the sanctions that have been clamped against us.
Last week the Times of London carried an editorial asking for the expulsion of Nigeria from the Commonwealth.

All forms of aid have been withdrawn; at a time that our own earnings are dwindling; trade missions have been cancelled; our appeals for debt relief have been rebuffed and capital inflow has totally dried up. In other words, we have been isolated to the point that, socio-economically, we are dead.

This is what the Head of State has to say about it:
“As you all know, we in the present government in Nigeria are committed to ensuring that there is a speedy and unimpeded transition to a civil democratic rule in which we shall not be participants”.
You will find that in paragraph 5. And in paragraph 41 he adds:
“No set of Nigerians look forward to early democratic rule more than patriotic Nigerians who are serving in this administration”.

Therefore, Mr. Chairman, sir, fellow delegates, none of us should feel hesitant to suggest that the military has already become a most unfortunate and regrettable anachronism and should be dispensed with very quickly so that Nigeria can begin to live again.

Now to my major mission which is to try and tackle the related issues of:

  • The Structure of the Nigerian State
  • Power Sharing
  • Revenue Generation and
  • Revenue Allocation Formula.

In bringing us here, the Head of State, in paragraph 8 of his speech said:
“History invites you today to bear the burden of our nation’s regeneration”.
Though representing various conference districts of various states, we are national delegates on a national assignment.
It was disturbing therefore to listen to several delegates speaking as though we have come here to see what we can take home to our various parochial enclaves.

NigeriaForm of federalism
A few, though, have spoken with varying degrees of concern for Nigeria, and those are the ones that I wish to join; in an attempt to find a possible solution to the problems that now plague Nigeria.
In doing so, I will affirm that, though from Akwa Ibom, whatever I am going to say, I would say if I had come from any other part of this country because I am going to dwell on principles.

Nigeria, in my assessment, has one essential problem; and, that is that we profess federalism and practice something else entirely. All the other problems seem to derive from this.
Dr. Ekeng Anamdu gave us a brilliant presentation of the basis and framework for the establishment of true federalism. I want to go one step further and say that true federalism, balanced federalism, genuine federalism, however we may wish to qualify it, has certain incontrovertible characteristics and all of them, to varying degrees, must be present in any form of federalism.

These characteristics include the empowerment of the federating units towards political and socio-economic self actualisation. In other words, much of the powers that the Federal Government now exercises are in contravention of the norms of federalism and must be taken back to the states.

Self propulsion of the federating parts implies the availability of the wherewithal. That is why derivation has become a cardinal principle of revenue allocation in any successful federation.
And that is why the 1963 Constitution represents the epitome of Federal Constitution making in Nigeria. It was this twin principle of empowerment and derivation that made it possible for the country to develop as it did in the past.

The West, in particular, was able, as we have already been told, to build Cocoa House in Ibadan, Western House in Lagos, several cocoa roads, and through prudent management of its resources, rather than through allocations from federal funds, was able to offer free education to its people.

My father did not go to the Federal Government to complain that he had to pay fees for me, my brothers, sisters and numerous others. He accepted that federalism did not mean uniformity nor did unity imply equality of means. Equality of opportunities, yes, but not of means.

The West did what it could for its people as did the North and the East and none was jealous or envious of the other. That was the golden age of federalism.
Then the coup of 1966 started a series of events that culminated in the civil war. As patriotic citizens, we offered this country the proceeds from all the oil within our continental shelf, so that this country could prosecute the civil war without having to borrow one red cent or one penny from any source.

And what did we get in return! A slap in the face — for being so naive and so trusting.
A law was passed, an obnoxious, vicious law, passed by decree called offshore —/onshore dichotomy. Decree No II3 of I970, so the oil whose ownership was never in dispute; the ownership of which was enshrined in the 1963 Constitution, became “our oil” – common property to be shared equally by all.

“That was the most unkindest cut of all for when the mighty Ceaser saw him stab, ingratitude more strong than traitors arms, quite vanquised him, then burst his mighty heart”. Quote from Shakerspears’s Julius Caeser.
Mr. Chairman sir, fellow delegates, that was indeed the most unkindest cut of all. A most devisive thing, that any people, using the strength of numbers, could perpetrate on their follow countrymen.

Mr. Chairman sir, I wish to say, with all the solemnity that I can command, that law could never have been passed against any of the three major tribes in this country.

From federal to unitary system
With the onset of military rule, we had started the very unfortunate process of transforming a beautiful federal system into a unitary system.
Of course at that time, we had so much money from oil that was seized by force from its rightful owners that we did not know what to do with it.

So we relaxed. We allowed indolence to massage us into a stupor. So much so that when we were confronted with another constitution making exercise in 1979, we refused to confront the real issues. Instead we came up with an apology to the military in power who evidently preferred an approximation to a unitary rather than a true federal type of governance.

That Constitution remained silent on the cardinal issue of derivation and that is why today, the question of how much rightfully belongs to those from whose land and continental shelf the oil is being extracted has become a matter for capricious jerry meandering.

Derivation is not a matter of how much you give me, it is not manna from heaven, it is rather a question of how much I give you out of what is extracted from my soil, my waters and my toils and enterprise.

Mr. Chairman sir, fellow delegates, I want to assure you that I would be repeating these same principles if, rather than the oil in my backyard, we were discussing the gold in Sokoto, the precious stones in Niger, the salt in Abia, the marble in Ikpeti, the tar in Ondo, the granite and other rocks that we quarry, the clay, the limestone or any other sub soil minerals which I understand have been found in such large quantities that this government was considering setting up a separate ministry for solid minerals.

Monstrous system
So, please, there is no selfishness about the position that we are taking. What we want, in fact, is that Nigeria will enjoy total development rather than develpment of the oil sector only. After all, one day, the oil will finish.
When I hear people say that we should come and put all our complaints about marginalization and domination on the table to determine who has been the victim, I feel quite distressed.

Why do we want to indulge in such futile exercise of tribal witch- hunting? It is sufficient to know that, by our own foibles, we have transmogrified a federal system into a monstrous unitary system that appears to have terrorized all of us.
All we need to do is to confront this monster and kill it and, in its place, install a true federal system.

If we do that, we will never again have cause to go to the Federal Government with a plethora of complaints which are borne out of a series of political and socio-economic dislocations and misconceptions.
As has been said here before, waiting on oil money will not help us to truly develop. And, unless we develop our resources, there is no state, including the new ones that we are being urged to create, that cannot live in some measure of abundance.

Late Sani Abacha

Late Sani Abacha

I will give you a few examples. Start from the East. We have allowed Malaysia which, only a few years ago, came to borrow palm nuts from us, to outstrip us. They are now trying to refine palm oil for use in lieu of petroleum oil. But the oil producing areas have some excuse because, quite apart from the fact that their land has been confiscated, other oil related activities such as flaring will destroy your crops and damage your buildings for several kilometers around the oil flares which are all over the place.

A lot has been said about the disappearance of the ground nut pyramids in Kano and I want to add that, recently, UAC of Nigeria had to close some of its textiles mills because it could no longer get cotton. And this has happened since oil money was used to build several dams for irrigation. The people have taken instead to selling currency in the streets of Lagos and other state capitals.

If you go to Adamawa, you find that the Savannah sugar plantation land is more than three times the size of the Island State of Barbados. Yet that Island is exporting sugar from five plantations to large areas of the world. But Savannah, even along with Bacita and Sunti, cannot give Nigeria sugar, because we have oil money with which to import. What will we do when the oil dries up? As, indeed, it will.

I designed the tea factory on the Mambilla Plateau in Taraba State, and I know that the Highland tea from there was sought after in the London Tea Exchange because it was of such high quality that it was used to blend and improve the poorer quality tea from certain other parts of the world.Today we have all been reduced to Yellow label tea lovers. And that same Mambilla Plateau could flood this country with milk cheese and butter but instead we have to pay N20:00 for a tin of Peak Milk.

Drought and the threat of the desert are no excuse either because a lot of dams and irrigation systems have been built. Far more money too has been spent on afforestation and desert control than has ever been spent on erosion control. And what is interesting is that, though Niger Republic is far more into the desert, it is able to produce so much more cattle and sheep that, every Sallah, we go there to import rams into Nigeria.

Justice and derivation
Please do not misunderstand me, I am not saying any of this to pillory or castigate anybody. I am merely appealing to us to accept that this oil has already done a lot to develop this country but most of it outside the oil areas themselves. The fly overs, the dams, the dual carriage ways, electrification projects — none of which you will find in the oil producing areas. Even, this new Federal Capital territory where we are.

We are not querreling with any of this. We are proud to have been the cause of it all.
But we are certainly saying that we should now also be able to share in it.
It is time for us to return to justice, equity and fairplay by reinstating the derivation principle.
This appeal would not be difficult for anybody to understand and accept except for the fact that we have come to confuse revenue generation with allocation.

The Head of State in paragraph 23 of his speech had this to say:
“Any useful and long lasting revenue allocation formula has to conform with the political structure of the country One of the valid observations which has been made is that revenue allocation should complement rather than substitute revenue generation”.

Anti-federalism
We have for too long now been substituting generation with allocation, and this is anti-federalism.
In this regard, I will say that I was very disturbed, by something that was claimed to have said by Prof. Bala Usman, in an interview.

He was quoted as saying that Ogoni claim was baseless. That they had lost all claims to whatever they might have had when they were conquered by the British and this conquest – listen to this very carefully, dear fellow delegates – this conquest has since been transferred to Nigeria.

Several questions come to mind, and it must be recognised in this context that Ogoni is only representational of all the oil producing areas.
Does Ogoni not belong in Nigeria that inherited the conquest from the British; can Ogoni people therefore be wrong in claiming that they are now suffering from internal colonization from Nigeria; are they therefore not justified in asking for their independence?

cartoon-derivationSimilarly, I want to counsel that we discountenance and dismiss such specious arguments as, “they did not put the oil in the ground so they are no more entitled to it than we are”.
Such arguments can only lead us to serious confrontation. We heard the man from Bonny say that if a father ill treats a child for too long, the child has the right to renounce the father.

We heard the Ijaw man say that if Nigeria rejects them, they cannot reject themselves.
These are weighty statements but the Akwa Ibom man is not saying anything yet than to hope that we will come up with a Constitution that will give everybody a sense of belonging and guarantee justice, equity and fair play”.

-culled from vanguardngr

Assassination of Albert Ukpanah, A Pyrrhic Victory.

23 Mar
By Clayton Udoh.
Victory attained by violence, is equal in value to defeat
because it is momentary –Mahatma Ghandi.
Image
I say this with great danger to me and my family. We cannot live in fear of what men can do. We all must die one day and that includes the Assassin. We must insist on what is right as a record for posterity.Abak’s demise is just deplorable and it enforces a really
bad proverb about “Abak Ntukeyen Ntukeyen” (Abak has no true elders)!
Between the 1870’s to the early 1920’s we have recorded history

of Abak being a very tough place to subdue. Abak was a very tough place to oppress.

The British Colonial Masters encountered very strong resistance from this region,

This is recorded by the Colonial Masters and in their mind it was intense and maybe

unified with the Arochukwu Confederacy resistance.
Now fast forward and we have an Abak in which a senate slot
seat will be taken away from them and given to a sector that would never allow
vice versa in a million years.
Let’s be real, nobody in Abak would ever be able to “seize”
a senate slot seat from the Ikot Ekpene –
Essien Udim-Obot Akara axis in a million years.

That’s bad enough as it is but killing people to add to the
stupendous situation is just downright nauseating.
Abak 5 should not end up becoming the toilet seat of
Annangland ! Abak should not become the place in which you can take the senatoe’s
seat and then kill as much people as you
like and then leave smiling and laughing at Abak. The so called “elders” have a

very serious problem in their hands. They are in danger of coming out of this

election cycle as the laughing stock of the land. The new proverb will be,”

Ours is better than Abak that lost its Senate seat and had all their elders

executed”.

The assassination of Chief Albert Ukpanah is just the tip

of the iceberg. The system has been designed that assassins cannot be caught

and the command chain cannot be traced. In the same way anybody can be executed

and since the chain of command cannot be traced anybody can call for an assassination

on behalf of political advantage. There is no amount of “Chiefdom” that can

save anybody from assassination nowadays because their master has no respect

for the integrity and dignity of others. The more shocking the assassination, the

more effective in instilling fear in the populace which is the petrol for fueling

mass sycophancy.
Question for the elders: What prevents the other side from assassinating

you guys for just demanding the sellout money? It is better you guys took a

stand because receiving money or refusing to do so will not save you from assassination.

Actually the assassination of all of you may end up being the cheaper option.

People have always seen me as a traitor of the Annangs because

I am not a blind supporter of Godswill Akpabio. I have taken my stand because I

know that government has a limit to its own tribal affinities (especially this

government). If I was in the way of

anybody’s ambition would it matter if was an Annang man? I would be as good as
dead.
However I wonder who advises Godswill Akpabio? You have so
many people in Ibibioland rooting for your failure. Never in my life have I
seen one person with so many enemies. So where do you go when you start executing
your own Annang people? Is your consolation that they are not from the Ikot
Ekpene-Essien Udim-Obot Akara axis?
Sycophants may applaud but in the world of sane men it
raises eyebrows, if so many people have to die for you to become Governor or a member
of the House of Reps, then so many people have to die for you to become Senator
and then so many will have to die before you become the Vice President and so
on and so forth. In the end, my question would be,” Does blood taste that good?”
Who is advising Godswill Akpabio and his political allies?
Here in the USA nobody dies in the election cycle. It is
you who claims Chief Security Officer of the state as the Governor. Can you
ever back up your claim of Chief Security Officer by having an election in
which nobody dies?
If the so called elders of Abak cannot protect the integrity
of the land and decide to be sellouts for the sake of money to buy Garri to
eat, the damage that will be done will last for ages to come.
What gives me the bravery to talk about the situation at
hand is the fact that nobody is safe in the present dispensation. It does not
matter, how old you are or who you are.

NEVERTHELESS WE DO NOT DESERVE THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
THAT COMES WHEN ONE OF US IS DRAGGED TO THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE FOR ASSASSINATION. A
SILENCE BASED ON FEAR THAT EATS AWAY ON THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF A PERSON.
A FEAR THAT REDUCES US TO A LEVEL OF COWS HUMBLY AWAITING SLAUGHTER WHILE
HOPING THAT THE OUTCOME WILL BE SURVIVAL.
I DO NOT CARE ABOUT HOW MANY PROFESSIONALS LIVE IN AKWA
IBOM STATE. Your education is a shame if your right to live has been taken away
from you and you cower in fear.
No matter the excuses you have, fear is a choice! Acceptance
of the Status Quo imposed on the people is your choice.

Clayton “Bane” Udoh, Mesa,AZ

AKWA IBOM 2015: THE CHARADE CALLED TOWN HALL MEETINGS IN AKWA IBOM STATE.

22 Mar

 

By Elder Enefiok Ekefre.

Governor Akpabio.

Governor Akpabio.

Most Nigerians have come to to know the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio as one individual who will stop at nothing to seek public approval and validation. Chief Akpabio’s penchant to indulge in endless and crude self glorification has become offensive to most Nigerians. There are many governors in Nigeria who with less resources than Akpabio have performed creditably well. These governors can be found in all the geo political zones in Nigeria. Some of these governors have built brand new universities, brand new modern primary and secondary schools, new airports, new hospitals, expansive road networks. Many of these governors are providing free and compulsory education at primary and secondary school levels and have been commended by world financial institutions for their prudent management of their financial resources and their ability to attract investments to their states.These governors include  Ibrahim Shema of Katsina, Babatunde Fashola of Lagos, Adams Oshimole of  Edo, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta and Sen. Liel Imoke of Cross River and Peter Obi, the immediate past governor of Anambra. It is instructive that these governors have been outstanding even when some of their states earn less than twenty percent of the revenues available to Governor Akpabio of Akwa Ibom. It is instructive that these performing governors have shown humility, modesty and decorum in their speeches and general conduct. Unlike Chief Akpabio, these other governors have not spent billions of naira to promote and advertise their  achievements on AIT, BEN TV etc. Unlike Akpabio, these other governors have not asked their colleagues or even Mr. President to come and learn from their examples of “uncommon transformation”.
 Governor Akpabio is currently touring the federal constituencies in Akwa Ibom to hold town hall meetings. According to Chief Akpabio, the town hall meetings will afford him the opportunity to present his score card to the people. The people of the State will also present their problems and suggestions to the Governor. It is a good idea to hold a town hall meeting but for many discerning Nigerians the timing is suspect. The motive for Governor Akpabio’s town hall meetings at this time is also suspect. Why is Akpabio holding town hall meetings at this time when he has barely one year to complete his tenure? Why were these meetings not held before the preparation of the 2014 Budget(the last full budget of the Akpabio administration)? Why is Akpabio the only outgoing second term  governor who is renting crowds to sing his praises on live television under the guise of town hall meetings? Why is Akpabio the only governor who desperately wants approval and validation from Nigerians? Why is Akpabio so insecure?
 The achievements advertised by Akpabio at the town hall meetings are already well known to the people of Akwa Ibom State and indeed all Nigerians. In the last 3 years, billions of naira have been spent on AIT and BEN TV to promote every week without fail the achievements of Governor Akpabio. Based on average expenditure of twenty million Naira a week, Akpabio has so far spent close to four billion  Naira to promote his achievements under the Uncommon Transformation series on AIT and BEN TV. Nigerians therefore already know that Akpabio completed the airport, Ibom Power Plant, a gas plant, four flyovers, some roads and the so called e-Library. They also know that the Ibom Tropicana, the Specialist Hospital and the new Stadium are under construction. They also know about Akpabio’s claims to have completed over 6000 “projects” based on a bogus definition of projects. To deceive Nigerians, for Akpabio every transformer installed anywhere in Akwa Ibom is a “project”, every borehole is a “project”; in a typical school, the gatehouse is a project, the fence is a “project” and every classroom bock in the same school is a separate “project”! Akpabio can therefore boast of 6000 “projects” and he is telling Nigerians how tired he is in going round to commission a transformers, fences and  classroom blocks. Nigerians also know that there are governors in Nigeria with less resources who built brand new universities and secondary schools  and an entire university campus with with structures and road network was commissioned as one project. If Akpabio had built something similar, he would have counted every structure in the campus as a project and would claim he completed 2000 projects.
 So far at the town hall meetings Akpabio has not told Nigerians or the people of Akwa Ibom anything new about his achievements that they have not heard or seen every week on AIT and BEN TV. The truth is that while some Nigerians have appreciated Akpabio’s efforts, his penchant for continuous self praise and self glorification have become offensive to Nigerians.  Why is Akpabio spending sixty million Naira a day (ten million Naira per hour) to further offend the sensibilities of Nigerians by using the platform of the town hall meetings to indulge in further self glorification. At the end of the town hall meetings Akpabio would have spent over one billion Naira. We ask again why is Chief Akpabio the only outgoing governor who desperately wants the validation and approval of Nigerians? What does Akpabio want? Why is Akpabio so insecure? Why is he doing too much to promote himself using rented crowds if he is truly popular and loved by his people? Nigerians have heard enough of Akpabio’s story of uncommon transformation. The story is stale. Akpabio’s achievements can only be evaluated within the context of the State’s revenue profile. It is curious that at these town hall meetings Akpabio has been silent about the fact that Akwa Ibom in the last 7 years has so far received over 3 trillion Naira or 17.6 billion dollars. In the last 7 years the average  budget of Akwa Ibom State has been over 450 billion Naira a year. There are many countries in Africa who do not earn up to 17.6 billion dollars in 7 years. Why is Akpabio silent about the debt profile of the State which has been put at at over 400 billion Naira. Are the debt profile, revenue profile and cost of projects not the salient issues an outgoing governor should have dealt with in the so called town hall meetings.
 Nigerians now know that Akpabio is using the town hall meetings to pursue his political agenda to impose his preferred governorship candidate on the state. The town hall meetings are stage managed and only those who support Governor Akpabio’s agenda are allowed to speak. According to Governor Akpabio, the Governorship position should be zoned to Eket Senatorial District because that district is yet to produce a governor. But Akpabio is insincere in his claims for the following reasons. First all senatorial districts in Akwa Ibom have produced Governors in the past either in Akwa Ibom State or in the much larger territory of old Cross River State. Mr. Nsima Ekere, former deputy governor, confirmed at the Ikot Abasi town hall meeting  that Eket Senatorial District produced Governors Udoakaha Esuene and Clement Isong who served for a total of 13 years in the larger territory of old Cross River State. Second, Akwa Ibom State has always had a tradition for open contest and in the 2006 Governorship primaries, Akpabio contested against 56 other aspirants from all parts of the state. Third, Governor Akpabio is not talking about zoning for the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district since that will not favor him. Fourth, why is Governor Akpabio going against the declaration of the The National Chairman of the PDP that primaries at all levels will be free, open and fair and that the party will present the most popular candidates. Fifth, why is Governor Akpabio  preempting and subverting the will of the people by declaring that the next governor must come from Eket Senatorial District whereas other leaders in the state including the leadership of the Ibibios have called for open contest. It was the same Akpabio who last year on live television during the Good Governance Tour town hall meeting that he was not a product of zoning and that the contest to produce the next governor of the state will be open to all. The question today is what has changed.
 As many Nigerians have noted, Governor Akpabio has been boasting that because he is the chairman of PDP Governor’s Forum, member of the Caucus of the PDP, member of the BOT of the PDP, that whether the people like it or not, he will impose his preferred candidate on the state as governor.  Akpabio’s paid agents, appointees and sycophants have also argued that because of Akpabio’s “performance” it is his right and entitlement to impose anybody he likes on the state as governor. But Akpabio was elected to build infrastructure. He was not elected to nominate or appoint his successor in the same way he appoints his commissioners or nominates persons for appointment as ministers. Akpabio should allow the people of Akwa Ibom State to exercise their right to choose the person they want as governor no matter where there person comes from. Those who want the next Governor to come from Eket Senatorial District will reflect their choice in the way the they would vote. Those who want to vote on the basis of other considerations should also be allowed to do so. The people do not need Akpabio to teach them how to vote. Governor is threatening and harassing all those who do not support his plan to manipulate the political process through the exclusion of popular candidates under the guise of zoning. No other governor in Nigeria is doing what Governor Akpabio is doing. His actions constitute an affront to the authority of the National Chairman of the PDP who directed that that primaries at all levee should be open, free and fair.
Signed:
Elder Enefiok Ekefre, Founding Chairman, PDP,
Uyo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.

Culled From Nation Newspaper

Interactive Session with Ambassador Assam Assam in Houston, Texas.

22 Mar

 

Ladies and gentlemen,
We expect a governorship candidate for the state to rise above ethnic tendencies so that if voted to power and important decisions are made, equal consideration is given to everyone/ every part of the state. The last listening tour/interactive session with Amb. Assam Assam was filled with people from all parts of Akwa Ibom because our concerns, desires, hopes, and aspirations are the same. Others are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Amb. Assam to come over and consult with us as stakeholders in Akwa Ibom project whenever possible.

Amb Assam Conferring With   Guests During Town Hall Meeting

Amb Assam Conferring With Guests During Town Hall Meeting

 Suffice to say that convening a meeting for Amb. Assam last Sunday to interact with members of Houston (TX) community was coordinated by Advocacy for Democracy group. Invitations were extended to all Akwa Ibomites as reflected on its flyers; however, target audience for initial interaction was Houston and other cities within its proximity. Members of AKISAN which is the umbrella organization for Akwa Ibom communities in Houston were invited. Equally, members of Eket Development Congress (EDC),  Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio, and  members of other organization were also invited to attend on individual capacity. 

Dinner with Amb Assam Assam in Houston Texas

Dinner with Amb Assam Assam in Houston Texas

My position is that Akwaibomites in the diaspora should not shy away when any of its sons or daughters is visiting the US for the purpose of interacting with citizens of Akwa Ibom State in the course of their campaign for a state-wide political office as long as we are not supporting ONLY one candidate to the exclusion of the rests. Therefore, it is incumbent on Advocacy for Democracy group  to provide and effect an enabling environment of support for all candidates  to carry out a successful listening tour/interactive session with Akwa Ibom citizens anywhere in the US. In the end, the public will make up its mind on who to support.
I hope this clarifies any misconception individuals might have had.
Thanks,
Margaret Itauma,
Houston, Texas.
for: Advocacy for Democracy Group. 

Amb Assam Assam Town Hall Meeting in Houston TX

Amb Assam Assam Town Hall Meeting in Houston TX

Amb Assam Assam Town Hall Meeting in Houston

Amb Assam Assam Town Hall Meeting in Houston

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I will establish industrial renaissance in Akwa Ibom – Amb Assam.

21 Mar

 

Amb Assam Assam at a town hall meeting in Houston

 

The Nigerian Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Russia and Belarus, His Excellency, Ambassador Assam Ekanem Assam  (SAN) has lauded the Akwa Ibom State governor, Chief Godswill  Akpabio for  changing the infrastructural landscaping of the State and making the state accessible to industrial revolution. Ambassador Assam made the commendation early this week   in a Town Hall Meeting with business community, intelligentsia and socio-cultural groups in Houston, Texas, the United States of America.

He maintained nobody was capable of faulting the governor when it comes to his infrastructural transformation agenda. He argued that when Akpabio talked about making changes with anger, it did not translate to mean he was an angry man; rather he came and saw the road decay, got angry over it and in the same vein, transformed it.

Ambassador Assam Assam in chit-chat after Town Hall Meeting in Houston

Ambassador Assam Assam in chit-chat after Town Hall Meeting in Houston

Ambassador Assam said when elected into office, he will transform the state to an industrial renaissance in a few years in office. He said there was no denying the fact that people of the state have complained bitterly about hunger and poverty as one of the indices critically bedeviling the state, a case which he said his administration will pay serious attention to, especially in areas of agriculture, technology, industry and trade.

“There’s no doubt that this administration has adorned the state with infrastructural facilities; and you will agree with me that this is the dot that connects industrialization. Akpabio must be applauded for this; and even his critics will be silent on this salient fact. I will no longer donate too much time on this direction but to ensure that our people get opportunity for massive employment. You cannot go to school and study when you’re hungry; you cannot even take medication with empty stomach. That’s why I’ll make Akwa Ibom an Industrial hub for massive employment to set in. It is a goal I want all of you all both at home and in Diaspora to support me with.” Assam said.

Ambassador Assam Assam chatting with top academic during Town Hall Meeting in Houston Texas

Ambassador Assam Assam chatting with top academic during Town Hall Meeting in Houston Texas

On whether he was intimidated that Governor Akpabio was fronting a particular candidate for the governorship position, he said he was not aware of anybody being anointed by Akpabio to succeed him, and the governor being a true democrat, he will not venture to impose a candidate on the people, as the people will resist such imposition. He maintained that any qualified candidate of the state will not hide behind the governor or the president to seek an elective office; only the misfit could do that.

“My people, I don’t think governor Akpabio has anointed anybody to succeed him. Let’s assume that this is coming from the rumor mill. The governor, whom I know, is a true democrat; and true democrats do not impose leaders on the people. The people are allowed by democrats to elect their leaders. If anybody intends to impose a leader on the people, the people will rise against such imposition. You’re the people, will you allow anybody to impose any leader on you? Assam asked rhetorically?

On whether the zoning system affects him adversely or favorably, Chief Assam maintained he was not contesting the governorship position based on the zoning arrangement. He stated that the rotation and zoning principle was entirely the People Democratic Party’s (PDP) affair. He explained that since zoning principle was enshrined in the PDP constitution, it was the party decision to make arrangement based on its constitution; and if it decided on the zoning, it would be more favorable to him given that he’s from Eket Senatorial District (ESD) which governor Akpabio and majority of the people of the state have zoned the position to; but if it were going to be a free for all contests, he sees himself as the most qualified candidate given his vast administrative, political, social and professional experience.

“I have served in various positions of the government. I graduated as lawyer since 1979 and was called to Bar in 1980. I have played active politics since then, and have represented my people both in the local, State and federal levels most diligently; this you all know. I have represented a lot of you sitting here, my brothers and sisters, in various cases in court and won. I have been an Attorney General of the state; today I am representing the Federal government of Nigeria as an Ambassador of Russia and Belarus. I don’t need to sing my praises; I just want to remind my people of the quality person that you will have to support as a governor of your state. It is my credentials that intimidate other aspirants. That is why some of them want to hide behind somebody to contest election.”

Assam called on the Diaspora to participate actively in the politics at home to change the thinking and orientation of the people and fight the culture of ethnic politics which is currently raging like wild fire in the state.

Amb Assam Conferring with Business Community during the Houston Town Hall Meeting

Amb Assam Conferring with Business Community during the Houston Town Hall Meeting

Killing Accusations Trail Akpabio’s Town Hall Meeting In Abak.

21 Mar

Eyen Isong, PHC, Nig.

In continuation of his Town Hall meeting project, Gov Akpabio and his team were at Abak Federal Constituency yesterday 20th March, 2014.

Governor Akpabio.

Governor Akpabio.

True to the unpredictable nature of the Town Hall meetngs since it kicked off, the people of Abak Federal Constituency probably got what they never bargained for as the Paramount Ruler of the area Edidem Christopher Ukpe caused tension and drama during his speech.

After heaping accolades on Akpabio for his “uncommon transformation”, the monarch started hitting targets that took everybody by surprise.

On a live television program beamed to the outside world, Edidem Ukpe complained of being bed-ridden for some time now, as a result of charms that have affected both of his legs, causing them to discharge liquid susbstance uncontrollably. He then appealed to the governor to asssist him get proper medical attention as all his efforts so far have yielded no significant improvement on the legs.

Just when everyone thought he had landed, he turned to declare: “this illness or charm was placed on me by the Clan Head of Abak (ObongFriday Uko), seated here right behind me. He had earlier killed the former Paramount Ruler of Abak through the same type of charm and now he is after me”.

Silence and tension enveloped the entire atmosphere of the meeting. He was not done yet. He continued: “I challenge him to come out and deny that he is responsible. If he does, the Annang nation would make him swear to an oath. If he accepts to take the oath, I will on that day resign from the stool of the Paramount Rulership. I challenge him to deny the accusation.” He went on and on, refusing to stop even when Akpabio had stood up to respond and perhaps calm tension.

Finally, Akpabio took the microphone and attempted to exonerate the Clan Head of Abak from the accusations. This only infuriated the Paramount Ruler the more as he continued to scream that he was sure of his facts and that the Clan Head of Abak should accept his challenge of swearing to an oath.

At this juncture, Akpabio turned to the thoroughly embarrssed Clan Head of Abak, asking him to respond to the allegations so levelled against him. Of course he denied being responsible, claiming that he is an Elder in Mount Zion church and cannot therefore indulge in fetish practices. He however promised to consult with his subjects back home after which he would respond appropriately.

Gov Akpabio then directed his Commisioners for Health and that of Local Government & Chieftaincy Affairs to process the Paramount Ruler’s papers for him to be flown to India for proper medical treatment.

But even after this, the monarch was not completely done yet. Next he tackled Abak Local Government Chairman whom he accused of not paying his monthly allowance. He complained he has only been paid three times since coming into office of the current Chairman. Governor Akpabio consequently invited the Chairman to respond on the allegation. Ruffled and completely taken off balance, all he could only stammer was: “Your Excellency & his wife, we have been paying but not very regularly; we have paid more than three times. The vouchers are there sir.”

Tension was to return again when former DIG Ekpoudom took to the floor. After praising Akpabio to high heavens, he said: “Your Excellency, I have an advice for you and it would be nice if you you can do something about it. Some of your aides are causing a lot of problems and creating bad image for you. Some of them openly boast to the people that what God cannot do and money cannot do, Gun can do. I am a security officer and I know what I am talking about. So please call them to order.”

Silence and tension again permeated the entire venue as everybody waited to hear what Akpabio would say. Trust him to dramatize serious issues. Akpabio simply dismissed Ekpoudom’s advice as blackmail. He proceeded to call out some of his Commissioners present. “Commissioner for Health, please stand up; Commissioner for Works, please stand up and Special Assistant to the Governor on Technical Matters, please stand up. They all did. Akpabio then asked the audience: “these are some of my aides, do they look like people who can shoot guns?”

And the crowd yelled…. You know the answer.

The drama continues.

Eyenisong PHC, Nig.

Town hall mayhem: One dead as Udom’s rants set Ikot Abasi on fire.

21 Mar

 

-Akpabio’s equity lacks human face- Nsima Ekere

The ongoing town hall meeting floated by Governor Godswill Akpabio is fast degenerating into disarray going by the spate of resentment, confusion, fury and violence trailing the confab.

Akpabio and his Ikot Abasi victim

Akpabio and his Ikot Abasi victim

The governor, who has attached so much importance to the meeting, is fast losing grip of its outcome as stakeholders make a meal of the initiative which many have seen dismissed as a ploy to foist a successor on Akwa Ibom people.
The level of opposition and condemnation greeting both the meeting and Akpabio’s succession plan has sent the governor jittery as the meeting becomes messier and messier by the day.
The last two outings-Ibiono Ibom/ Itu and Ikot Abasi Federal Constituencies were more chaotic and violent.
Just last Tuesday, the trip to Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency turned violent and bloody as at least one person was reportedly killed and several others sustained various degree of injuries following the ensuing rampage by Ikot Abasi youths who vandalized vehicles in and around the premises, attacking the governor’s convoy in the process.
The violence, it was learnt, was sequel to a comment by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Emmanuel Udom, who in his vote of thanks, said that, being in the corridor of power, he has every government document at his disposal and could manipulate same in his favour in 2015. He was said to have insinuated that with this singular edge, he was the candidate to beat in the 2015 election. He reportedly argued that three deputy governors from Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency is as good as one governor.
Udom’s was said to have reacted to a remark by the immediate-past Deputy Governor of the State, Obong Nsima Ekere who argued that if Governor Akpabio is truly an epitome of justice, fairness and equity, the 2015 governorship slot should be given to either Oron Federal Constituency or Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency, and not Eket Federal Constituency which Udom hails from..
“If you’re truly an advocate of justice, fairness and equity as propagated through this Town Hall meeting, in 2015, give power to either Oron or Ikot Abasi Federal
Constituency who have not tested power before, if not let the people decide,”
Obong Nsima Ekere was quoted as warning Akpabio.
Udom’s statement had angered the already irked youths who immediately went on rampage against the governor and his envoy, allegedly attacking the governor’s convoy. The situation worsened when members of the Crowd Control Unit (CCU) attempted to stop the angry youths. Report says they were overcome by hundreds of of Ikot Abasi youths who chased and beat them mercilessly, after exchange of fire.
The youths were angry that Udom Emmanuel was not only undermining their collective role in the 2015 governorship election, but had also gone too far to insult their sensibilities and intelligence.

It would be recalled that only on the first day of the briefing in Eket, elders of Eket Senatorial District had warned Akpabio not to go ahead with his plans of singling out a candidate from the senatorial district for the people of Eket as they are capable of selecting their own candidate in an open and level playing field. Former Minister, Essien Nduese had particularly called on all aspirants from Eket to contest in the election and not think that Akpabio was going to select anyone at the detriment of other qualified candidates from the area.
Violence had also erupted on Thursday, during the town hall meeting at Itu/Ibiono Ibom Federal Constituency, as angry youths from Ibiono Ibom protested the zoning arrangement they said does not take the area into consideration.
Both the Paramount Ruler of Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area and that of Itu berated Governor Akpabio for playing politics with the Ibibios and the traditional institution, describing the Town Hall meetings as nothing but a political jamboree stage-managed by the governor for his own benefit.

“If it was in the North, an Emir would never be invited to come and sit here and participate in this type of discussion. The proper thing you could have done would have been to consult us, the royal fathers. We would have told you what is going on in our various communities and then give you recommendations on the proper direction to go. We are all Ibibio. We, the royal fathers, are not the ones propagating ethnic divisions,” one of the royal fathers was quoted as saying.
They bemoaned the deplorable road conditions in their domains, blaming Akpabio for not keeping the promise he made to the people of his area.
One of Ikot Abasi youths slain during the rampage.
The ongoing town hall meeting floated by Governor Godswill Akpabio is fast degenerating into disarray going by the spate of resentment, confusion, fury and violence trailing the confab.
The governor, who has attached so much importance to the meeting, is fast losing grip of its outcome as stakeholders make a meal of the initiative which many have seen dismissed as a ploy to foist a successor on Akwa Ibom people.
The level of opposition and condemnation greeting both the meeting and Akpabio’s succession plan has sent the governor jittery as the meeting becomes messier and messier by the day.
The last two outings-Ibiono Ibom/ Itu and Ikot Abasi Federal Constituencies were more chaotic and violent.
Just last Tuesday, the trip to Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency turned violent and bloody as at least one person was reportedly killed and several others sustained various degree of injuries following the ensuing rampage by Ikot Abasi youths who vandalized vehicles in and around the premises, attacking the governor’s convoy in the process.
The violence, it was learnt, was sequel to a comment by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Emmanuel Udom, who in his vote of thanks, said that, being in the corridor of power, he has every government document at his disposal and could manipulate same in his favour in 2015. He was said to have insinuated that with this singular edge, he was the candidate to beat in the 2015 election. He reportedly argued that three deputy governors from Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency is as good as one governor.
Udom’s was said to have reacted to a remark by the immediate-past Deputy Governor of the State, Obong Nsima Ekere who argued that if Governor Akpabio is truly an epitome of justice, fairness and equity, the 2015 governorship slot should be given to either Oron Federal Constituency or Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency, and not Eket Federal Constituency which Udom hails from..
“If you’re truly an advocate of justice, fairness and equity as propagated through this Town Hall meeting, in 2015, give power to either Oron or Ikot Abasi Federal
Constituency who have not tested power before, if not let the people decide,”
Obong Nsima Ekere was quoted as warning Akpabio.
Udom’s statement had angered the already irked youths who immediately went on rampage against the governor and his envoy, allegedly attacking the governor’s convoy. The situation worsened when members of the Crowd Control Unit (CCU) attempted to stop the angry youths. Report says they were overcome by hundreds of of Ikot Abasi youths who chased and beat them mercilessly, after exchange of fire.
The youths were angry that Udom Emmanuel was not only undermining their collective role in the 2015 governorship election, but had also gone too far to insult their sensibilities and intelligence.

It would be recalled that only on the first day of the briefing in Eket, elders of Eket Senatorial District had warned Akpabio not to go ahead with his plans of singling out a candidate from the senatorial district for the people of Eket as they are capable of selecting their own candidate in an open and level playing field. Former Minister, Essien Nduese had particularly called on all aspirants from Eket to contest in the election and not think that Akpabio was going to select anyone at the detriment of other qualified candidates from the area.
Violence had also erupted on Thursday, during the town hall meeting at Itu/Ibiono Ibom Federal Constituency, as angry youths from Ibiono Ibom protested the zoning arrangement they said does not take the area into consideration.
Both the Paramount Ruler of Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area and that of Itu berated Governor Akpabio for playing politics with the Ibibios and the traditional institution, describing the Town Hall meetings as nothing but a political jamboree stage-managed by the governor for his own benefit.

“If it was in the North, an Emir would never be invited to come and sit here and participate in this type of discussion. The proper thing you could have done would have been to consult us, the royal fathers. We would have told you what is going on in our various communities and then give you recommendations on the proper direction to go. We are all Ibibio. We, the royal fathers, are not the ones propagating ethnic divisions,” one of the royal fathers was quoted as saying.
They bemoaned the deplorable road conditions in their domains, blaming Akpabio for not keeping the promise he made to the people of his area.

Courtesy: National Newstrack

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