Tag Archives: Ambassador

Proud To Be An American—I Wish I Could be as Proud to be a Nigerian.

11 May

By Thompson Essien

If I were to be confronted with a choice of having to decide on what countries I would have to live, I would pick two; Nigeria, the country of my birth, in which I have my roots and which I really call “home”; and America, my adopted country, which has given me the opportunities to advance myself, plan towards my future, in ways I never envisioned when I arrived here more than 30 years ago. The two countries laid the foundations for me as a child to become the father of the man.American flag

Unfortunately, the attitudes of those that run the political and economic affairs of the country of my birth country (Nigeria) have put me in situations in which I would occasionally have to wonder about my loyalty to and my pride for the country. Every time I read about the corrupt practices of officials, and the kidnappings of citizens orchestrated by politicians on the people with whom they are supposed to protect, I would cringe.

Every time I read about the run-down schools, the hospitals that are in dilapidated conditions with no medicine, the elephant projects created by officials as a conduit for money laundering, and all the rest of the vices, I would wonder why God made the ruling elite of the country of my birth (Nigeria) to behave in the manner they are—corrupt, wicked, mean, greedy, uncaring, arrogant, murderous, and vicious.

This is not to say that my adopted country, America, is without its own problems. Of course, America has its own social maladies. But America, unlike Nigeria, has the mechanisms in place to deal with such maladies.

The other day, the governor of the State of Illinois was arrested for insinuating over a telephone conversation over the possibility of offering  bribes. He did not actually give the bribe or received any. All he did was to discuss with one of his assistants on the possibility of offering bribes. That discussion led to his arrest. A few weeks later, he was driven out of office and now faces the possibility of serving a long prison sentence.

A few weeks ago, one of the richest men in America, Mr. Bernard Madoff, was arrested for fraud. And who can forget the impeachment of President Clinton for kissing a woman in his office. We can even go way back into history, when an American President (Nixon) was forced to resign for lying about the existence of a break-in. Yes, that is America; it knows how to deal with its problems. Here in America, they say, “no bulls..t” when it comes to the matter of violating public trust.

As an individual, from the very day I landed in the country, the American society has really made me feel like I matter, and the fact that there are nearly 300 million others to deal with is irrelevant. As an individual, I am accorded my rights and no one dare violates them; not even the police officers who are mandated to protect me. The police can be arrested, charged, and sent to prison for violating my individual rights; in fact, many police officers have actually been sent to prison for violating the rights of other individuals.

As an individual, I am made to feel that my single vote really counts. During the period of campaign for election into public offices, I would be bombarded with all sorts of promotional leaflets, television commercials (advertisements), yard-signs, telephone calls, and all other things from those who run for public office—all to persuade me to cast my vote for them. At the end, no words can express the feelings of knowing that a candidate for political office actually won the election because I voted for him or her.

Every time I travel beyond the shores of America, just for being in possession of an American passport, other countries would treat me with respect and dignity. Many years ago, I traveled with a female partner to France, en route to Nigeria. Both of us wanted to cross into the gift shop for browsing. I was allowed to enter the shop because I had an American passport, but my female companion, who was in possession of a Nigerian passport, was refused entry. And the fact the the female companion was my wife did not matter—we were citizens of two different countries—married or not.

Prior to the incident in France,  there was another one at the Heathrow airport in London. I was also en-route to Nigeria at the time. The immigration officials took my American passport and stamped “entry—permitted to stay in Great Britain for six months…employment not allowed.” I protested. I told them I was just changing planes to Nigeria. Well, that was the “official policy because America is a member of NATO Alliance and every citizen of NATO member-nations is automatically granted a six-month visa to stay in Great Britain.”

America is the only country on earth where an immigrant, who left his country of birth in penury, would within a few years, be able to obtain a university degree, buy a brand-new car, buy a house, get married and have children—it is called an American dream. In America, an immigrant who is willing to work hard can never be a hungry man or woman. It is a country where the doors of opportunities for economic self-sustenance are open for anyone who is willing to put in his fair share of the efforts towards helping self.

In America no one has to be rich in order to attend a university. In fact the system is designed in such a way that the poor are the ones with greater chances for admission. Many schools even have funds set aside from endowments as grants and loans for the benefit of poor students. Governments also have assorted financial aid programs to help needy students. Any student who qualifies will be given the money to attend school till graduation.

In America, the individual is paramount—not tribal, religious, or ethnic affiliations. There are highways to take me to eternity, with police officers everywhere available for protection against danger, and in case I am in distress, cameras are installed at major intersections of the highways for authorities to send help quickly. Here in America, there are no check-points to harass citizens, no armed robbers on the road, and any one who goes on a long journey by automobile, will find convenient rest-stops located everywhere for relaxation and easement. Only in America!

Ever since I arrived in America nearly 35 years ago, I have never experienced power-failure, except on a-once-in-a-while situations where a few minutes or hours of interruptions would be made for repairs of malfunctioned equipment. Even then, notices (with apology) would be sent to me in advance as a warning that such interruptions would occur.

In America, as an individual, I always feel as if I am the only one that matters. Those in power are afraid of my complaints—they would wish I never have to complain about services they render out of my tax money.

If I walk into any privately owned business, whether it is a grocery store or furniture store, I am made to feel like a king, and treated as such. I would be, literally, pampered, escorted around the store, and shown around for all kinds of discounted deals. A store employee will be there, just for me, to make me feel as if he or she really needs my business and my money.

Not too long ago, my 19 year old, who is attending a college in the state of Oklahoma, called to tell me that she was having breathing difficulties. When I asked her for possible cause of her problem, she said one of her roommates has a habit of turning off the heat in the room because of her problem with heat flashes. Immediately, I placed a telephone call to the school, which is located more than 2,000 miles from where I live, and registered my complaints. Within three hours, there was a solution to the problem. Only in America!

The other day, a contributor, I think in Ibom Forum, asked to know what is in America that everyone wants to die for. To that contributor, I say there are plenty of reasons in America for anyone to die for; you just have to come here to experience it.

America is a great country. And I am very proud of it. I have been in situations where I have to challenge those who say America is not a good place to live. I have always recommended that such people should take a hike and move to somewhere else that is better than America. So far, none of them has taken my offer. Sometimes, I wish I could be as proud of Nigeria as I am proud of America.

Written by

Ikpafak Thompson Essien

The Voice of the Poor Masses

Defender of the Oppressed

A native of Ibibio nation of Ubium Republic extraction, now living in the safe and beautiful city of Portland, Oregon, where no AKPF, ADUMA, ADV, and Akwa Ibom State politicians can reach.

Godswill Akpabio Cannot Impose a Leader on the people of Akwa Ibom State

2 Mar

By Thompson Essien 


Governor Akpabio

Governor Akpabio

Godswill Akpabio Cannot Impose a Leader on the people of Akwa Ibom State

I don’t care and most people in Akwa Ibom State also do not care if the next governor of the state comes from Eket, Oron, Uyo, Annang, or Timbuktu. It does not matter if the individual who will succeed Akpabio goes by the name of Udom Emmanuel, Ekpenyong Ntekim, Effiong Abia, Mary Udomkpontak, or Alhaji Mohammed Kotzo-Kotoko. At this level of political development as to who will succeed Akpabio, names and places of origin do not really matter.
What matters is to make sure that the individual who will succeed Akpabio is the right choice so that the mistake of the past, which led to the selection of Godswill Akpabio in 2007, does not happen again. To guard against repeating such mistake, the entire people of Akwa Ibom State, irrespective of dialectical orientations (the only dividing line among us), must burry their differences, join hands together in the process of selecting and be ready to vote for a person they believe strongly and convincingly as one who will share the dividends of the society in an equitable manner.
If Godswill Akpabio is allowed to succeed in his determination to impose one of his corrupt surrogates on the people, the next eight years may be a repetition of what the people, especially those of Ibibio extraction, have endured throughout the entire period of Akpabio’s administration. This will translate into continued predicaments associated with unemployment, poverty, crime, political assassinations, kidnappings, theft of resources, child-snatching, and a complete mismanagement of the people’s resources due to the looting of the treasury.
The situation as it stands at the moment is that Akpabio has “delivered” names of two individuals to the people with an “ultimatum” for them to decide on which between the two will succeed him. The two men are Mr. Udom Emmanuel and Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim.
On the surface, it may appear as if Akpabio is practicing equity and fairness by selecting these two men—one of Oron and one of Ibibio— all from Eket Senatorial District. But what may elude Akpabio is the truth that Akwa Ibom people know that these two men are not, by any definition, fit to govern Akwa Ibom State and under a free and fair conduct of elections, the two men would fail abysmally in the poll. The reason Akpabio wants either of them to succeed him is because of his trusts in the two men as the ones who will be able to shield and protect him against prosecution for all the evil deeds he has committed against the people since becoming a governor in 2007. Let us take a glance at the two men; Ekpenyong Ntekim and Udom Emmanuel.
Ekpenyong Ntekim, attorney General and  Commissioner for justice,

Ekpenyong Ntekim, attorney General and Commissioner for justice,

Ekpenyong Ntekim:

Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim has always been a man mired in political controversies. Some members of the Oro nation have accused him of being sectional, self-centered, egoistic, and extremely hungry for power. The rest of Oro nation that speak a dialect different from that of Ntekim, who hails from Okobo Local Government Area, see him as a man who wants everything for his (Okobo) people to the detriment of others sections of the Oro communities.
A while ago, in an article by one Edet Nsima, the following was revealed about the corrupt side of Ekpenyong Ntekim: “Strong facts have immerged indicating that the Programme Director of Stepping Stones Nigeria (SSN) Mr. Gary Foxcroft approached the immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, of Akwa Ibom State, Bar Ekpenyong Ntekim with N15m to assist him to lobby the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Goodwill Akpabio, to reverse its resolve to blacklist the UK charity organization, which claims to be one of the organizations that protect the right of children branded witches in Akwa Ibom State and other parts of Nigeria” (http://www.thenigerianvoice.com/nvnews/56753/1/stepping-stones-nigerias-director-attempts-corrupt.html).
During his first term as the Attorney General, Ekpenyong Ntekim could not use his office to solve a single criminal activity of kidnapping, political assassinations, arbitrary arrests and interrogations of opposition members, and theft of ballot materials during the 2011 general elections. When his kinsman—Chief Effiong Ononokpono—questioned the educational qualifications of Akpabio, Barrister Ntekim ordered his arrest and incarceration, just to please Godswill Akpabio. It was the same Ntekim who colluded with Akpabio to arrest Dr. Ime Umana and charged him to court with trumped-up charges.
Shortly after the 2011 hot campaign for governorship election, Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim was fired by Akpabio as Attorney General and was replaced by Assam Ekanem Assam. A short time after he left the office, federal authorities questioned him about gun-smuggling ring, which was routed to Akwa Ibom through Calabar. It did not take long before Akpabio rewarded him for transporting guns to Akwa Ibom State by re-appointing him as Attorney General.
To understand the type of governance-style Ntekim will use if he succeeds Akpabio, one has to revisit the power struggle and the frosty relationships between him and Mrs. Felicia Bassey, who at the time was the Chairman of Okobo Local Government Area. Ntekim wanted her removed and be replaced with a man of his choice. The conflict was traumatizing for Mrs. Felicia Bassey that Mrs. Unoma Akpabio had to intervene to calm things down (http://theinknewspaper.blogspot.com/2013/07/2015-ekpenyong-ntekim-emerges-begins.html).
In 2013 when he was re-appointed as Attorney General, Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim quickly forced the retirement of 19 law officers from the state ministry of justice. What was annoying and unethical was the fact that the affected officers only learned about their retirement on the Facebook page. According to a newspaper report at the time: “In an apparent effort to justify why he took to Facebook for the announcement, Ntekim who has just 736 friends and 78 followers on the popular social media network says; “before it is heard from other sources, with expected misinterpretations and ascription of mala fide, I have the painful obligation of stating that 19 Law Officers who served in various capacities under me in the Ministry of justice until the 14th February 2013 have been retired by the Government of Akwa Ibom State” (http://thinkakwaibom.blogspot.com/2013/02/akwa-ibom-justice-commissioner.html).  
Udom Emmanuel:
In an article, which I wrote on October 2013, titled “Akwa Ibom State Politics: The Next Governor—Is Udom Emmanuel the Right Choice?” I am going to reproduce here what I wrote About Udom Emmanuel at the time.
“Mr. Udom Emmanuel may be the whiz-kid of banking laws and regulations of Nigeria, but when it comes to the politics of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel is just as naïve as any naïve individual could be. This is not to say that Mr. Emmanuel does not know who the President of Nigeria is or does not know who is in charge of all the lootings and all the money launderings in Akwa Ibom State. Rather, Mr. Emmanuel’s knowledge of politics is in reference to the ability and the experience of understanding the problems of the people, being able to articulate and provide solutions to issues that affect the constituents, and being able to identify with the constituents that Akpabio wants him to represent and govern.”
“Until this past August when Akpabio brought him in as the new Secretary to his Government, only those who are well connected with the power-that-be of Akwa Ibom State ever heard of Udom Emmanuel. Those that know him say the man a banking guru, very pompous and arrogant, with perfected mannerisms that easily give him away as a man who is keen at looking down at his own people with disdain.”
“Those close to him have discussed several failed attempts by his kinsmen to integrate him into the community of Akwa Ibom State in Lagos, where he used to live. He rejected invitations to participate in Akwa Ibom State cultural and civic events. Until Akpabio flattered him with the possibility of emerging as the next governor of the State, Udom Emmanuel felt as if he was better than anyone else, simply because he was an expert in banking. To him, anyone who is not into banking or who does not acquire the banking skills at the same level as he is, is inferior and not worthy of Udom Emmanuel’s association and or fraternizing.”
“Now, Godswill Akpabio, the small-time Satan of Akwa Ibom State, wants to impose him on the people as their next governor. The problem is that many people, including the power-brokers of Akwa Ibom State politics, do not know his ideological leanings, and what he can offer the people. As a result, a silent and passive resistances to such imposition is already in motion.”
What is the Alternative?
The alternative is to reject anyone imposed by Godswill Akpabio. Akwa Ibom people are capable of selecting their own  leader. The people are the only qualified elements to select who will represent and who can lead them. If the people remain silent and appear timid enough to let Akpabio fulfill his dreams unchallenged, Akwa Ibom may be saddled by the type of leadership provided to the children of Israel by King Jeroboam and King Rehoboam (I Kings—NIV).
Written by
Ikpafak Thompson Essien
 City of Portland, Oregon

2015: Nobody Can Impose Governor On Akwa Ibom – Amb Assam Assam.

17 Feb

Ambassador Assam E. Assam.

Ambassador Assam E. Assam.

Chief Assam Ekanem Assam (SAN) is Nigeria’s Ambassador to Russia and the Republic of Belarus. Before his diplomatic job, he was Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Akwa Ibom State. Assam, now eyeing the governorship seat in 2015, in this interview with BASSEY ANTHONY, speaks on diverse state, national and international issues including the politics of 2015. He insists that nobody, not even the incumbent Governor Godswill Akpabio or President Goodluck Jonathan can impose or install a governor in the state come 2015. Excerpts:

The Nigerian Embassy in Russia, under your administration, last November organised a trade and investment forum in conjunction with the Russian trade and investment community to boost the investment relationship between the two countries. So far, what can you say have been the benefits of that forum to Nigeria in particular?

We are looking forward to the benefits. And it is most likely we are going to have more of such fora. Nigeria has never really had a serious trading relationship with Russia. So, to commence the process of a serious engagement with the Russian trading and investment community both parties have to cultivate it and that is what we are trying to do – to bring both parties to the table and discuss and know each other, not on Facebook or the internet. And we have started seeing a lot of results.

Never in the history of our relationship has there been so much human and investment traffic into the two countries like now and this is as a result of that event.

I know that despite your appointment as Nigeria’s envoy in Russia, you are still much in touch with the unfolding political activities in the country as they have to do with 2015. What is your take on the defection of five Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors and scores of lawmakers to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC)? Do you think it could scuttle PDP’s victory at the polls?

Well, I don’t know whether they (defections) will work against the interest of the PDP or not. That is not for me to say because that is in the future. What I know is that the new national chairman of the PDP is working hard to reconcile various diverse groups and he is also trying to encourage those who defected from the party to return.

The APC has criticised the election timetable recently released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), alleging it was deliberately structured to give the PDP an advantage and that the presidential election should not come before others. What is your opinion?

My take on it is that even if INEC had put the House of Assembly election first, the APC will still complain. They will say that the presidential election should have come first. There is nothing you can do about the opposition. The essence of the opposition is to oppose and that is what it is doing; so don’t worry about it. Everybody is going to contest the election. You have a presidential candidate that is going to contest against my presidential candidate. You have to choose yours and I too will choose mine; everything is even. So, my take on the matter is that I do not want to do the job of INEC. I don’t know what informed its decision and I am not ready to criticise on the basis of emotions and sentiments. INEC has the statutory duty of conducting elections and it has said it is going to conduct the presidential election on a particular day, so be it. All of us should go and get ready for it. It is like students wanting the examiner to set exams for them on a preferred day, contrary to the day the examiner wants the exams taken. It does not make sense.

Governor Godswill Akpabio recently led a delegation of PDP bigwigs in the state to the new national chairman of the PDP where he was quoted to have advised the PDP national chairman, Adamu Mu’azu to disregard some Abuja-based politicians from Akwa Ibom State who claimed they could deliver the state to the PDP. Do you too believe we have Abuja and home-based members of the party or factions of that sort?

If you want to know if we still have Abuja front and Akwa Ibom front, it is better you go and ask the governor who truly said there are metropolitan politicians. I don’t know where the governor got his information because I am not in the country. I am in Moscow. I don’t know who is living in Abuja now or who is living at home. But each

time I come into the country, I look for the governor and they tell me he is in Abuja. So, I don’t know who is living more in Abuja than the governor himself. If there are metropolitan politicians, I think the governor is part of that group because he is not living at home; that I can tell you.

Recently, at a well attended thanksgiving service organised by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Governor Akpabio spoke glowingly about the SSG, thereby confirming rumours that he may be his successor in 2015. Do subscribe to the politics of imposition?

But you know my view on this. I have told everybody again and again that nobody will impose a candidate on the people of Akwa Ibom State. We are too republican for that kind of nonsense. Nobody, not the governor, not even the President will impose any candidate on our people. The people of state will choose their candidate when the time comes. That is why we are saying whether you are metropolitan, village or local politician, let the governor give everybody a level-playing field so that we can determine whether, indeed, there are metropolitan or local politicians. Let the governor not campaign for a candidate because he is not contesting the election. But if he wants to contest let him come out and contest because he cannot be pretending that he is giving everybody a level-playing field when he campaigns for a candidate, and according to you, his body language means the endorsement of a particular aspirant. We should, however, not worry because that is how he has always spoke glowingly about people he has kicked out already.

The governorship seat has been zoned to the Eket Senatorial District for the 2015 election; but there is internal wrangling in the district over which constituency should produce the governor (cuts in…)

The governorship seat has not been zoned to the Eket Senatorial District. The governorship seat has simply rotated to that district. Nobody zoned the governorship seat to that district. There is no internal wrangling. You people are creating artificial politics when there is none. The senatorial district exists; the politics of that senatorial district also exists. If you have a senatorial district that also has its own internal politics then if you say the governorship has rotated to Eket, then the Eket senatorial district has a right now to present candidates for the election. It is not only the Eket senatorial district that will determine who the governor will be. The whole state will vote for the governor. So, what internal wrangling do you think exists?

But, I spoke with a prominent politician from Oron federal constituency who said if Oron does not produce the governor in 2015, he would prefer the governorship seat to go back to the Uyo senatorial district instead of Eket or Ikot Abasi in the Eket senatorial district. What is your opinion on this?

When you spoke with the politician from Oron federal constituency, did you expect him to say somebody from Eket must become governor? Where did they do that plebiscite? When did the Oron people meet to mandate that man you spoke to, whoever he is, to declare that rather than Oron people voting for anybody from the Eket senatorial district they should vote for somebody from Uyo? Where did they meet to say that? Did the man tell you he held the mandate of Oron people to say that? You see, the Eket senatorial district is going to produce the next governor. There are people within the district who have taken native oaths with some people outside the district. They will support those people whether you like it or not. The question is not whether the man in Oron is saying the same as the man in Eket or Ikot Abasi, the issue is, it depends on the political interest. What interest do you have? Do you think that an Eket, Ikot Abasi man whose sister is married to a governorship aspirant in Uyo will not support that aspirant? No, he will. I know the so-called prominent people from the various constituencies in Eket Senatorial District, including my own who are supporting the governorship aspirants from Uyo, But do those people speak for the senatorial district? That is the question. So when they say instead of Oron it should be Uyo, I mean that does not make sense.

What is your economic blueprint for Akwa Ibom State if elected as governor in 2015?

When I launch my campaign I will publish my manifesto to show the approach of the government I will lead in the areas of industry, agriculture, education, health and all that. So, taking one bit of it at this moment will not make much impact because as against what obtains now, I am not likely to come to government with the anger Governor Akpabio came with.

I am likely to come very well prepared and more organised with a proper programme for implementation so that if I build a road that road will achieve a particular purpose – not for the purpose of self-aggrandisement. My programme will be well explained in the manifesto. But I want to say that the trade and investment forum in Moscow is not a one-stop shop. It is a well planned thing. We are undertaking another one in June this year. I may not be there but it is all planned out that every year we must have an investment forum until we are able to actualise a marginal response to the entreaties of Nigeria to Russian investments. So, it is not going to be a thing that will be done one time and it is finished. We are doing it regularly in Moscow.

There is this impression that since you relocated to Russia as an ambassador, you have lost touch with your people and that you don’t relate with the grassroots. Won’t this affect your governorship ambition?

Well, I don’t know what losing touch means. That was the thought and essence of recommending me for ambassadorial appointment by the governor – that I should go there so that I could lose touch with the grassroots. But, unfortunately for him, I have not lost touch with the grassroots. I am rather closer to the grassroots. This insinuation frightens the people who thought I would lose touch. You are talking to me now in Nigeria, not in Moscow. I am here. And I do come home once in a while when it is necessary for the purpose of my job. And when I come to Nigeria I have the opportunity of visiting my home and I do meet with politicians. I am in touch with them. And when I can’t meet with them I ask them to come to Moscow and they come and listen to me and I talk to them. So, I am in touch. I read literally all the 85 newspapers published in Akwa Ibom State and I know what is happening. I do also contribute my thoughts on the state and nation issues. I recently granted an interview which was quite well read according to the sources I have spoken to. So I am in touch with the grassroots. I am a politician who is interested in contesting the

governorship election. So, I won’t tell you everything I do.

There is also the belief in many quarters that you are not youth-friendly and that the youths will not be accommodated in your administration if you become governor. How true is this?

Well, it depends on what youth-friendliness means. I have looked at the dictionary and I have not seen a phrase called ‘youth-friendly.’ So, I don’t know what they mean by it. But I have met some of the people who made the statement and they said what they mean is that I do not patronise secret cults and that I am not a member of the secret cults. Well, at my age I don’t need to be a member of a secret cult and I would not be a member of a secret cult and I will not patronise cultism.

Whoever is making that allegation is doing me a favour. But, if it is been friendly with young people, I can say I am very friendly with young people. I married at when I was 24 years old, and I had my first daughter when I was 25 years old. So, when I was 50 my daughter was already 25. And, I have been growing up with them. I am not like some people who married at 40 and they have a 10-year old first child at 50. I have grown up with my children and their friends. Anybody who knows me knows that my house is always filled up with young people at any particular time because of my children. So, if being ‘youth-friendly’ means cultism, they may be right because I don’t patronise cultism and I will never patronise it.

But if they mean being friendly with young people, then I can say I am very friendly with young people. The accusation that I am not youth-friendly came from my governor. He said the reason he couldn’t support me is because I am not youth-friendly. The question I will like to ask my governor is: Is he youth-friendly? How can the governor be youth-friendly and the youths are not employed? How can the governor be youth-friendly when literally 10 per cent of our youths are involved in crime, abducting people; armed robbery and all sorts of crime and then the governor is youth-friendly. And these children are there involved in all these crimes? How is he ensuring that these children are re-integrated into the society? So, I am not happy that anybody can make that kind of statement. If you have to make a comment about me, it is better you make a comment that sounds reasonable and intelligent.

What is your vision for a new Akwa Ibom State?

I don’t know whether there will be a new Akwa Ibom State or an old one. But I know that I have a document from which I intend to publish my views on how I would like to leave the state when I complete my tenure. Perhaps, that will be my vision. I don’t like all these catch-phrases like ‘Vision for a new Akwa Ibom.’ What is wrong with the old one? It is just a matter of telling stories to allow the system remain the same. But there are three issues that bother me. We have no health programme in Akwa Ibom State. We have no educational programme in the state, and we have no youth employment scheme. These are the things that bother me and these are the things I want to face. How do I ensure that children who have gone to school and have no employment are employed? And they must have quality education and

quality health. Our children are dying on the streets. Our women are delivering children on the vestries of churches because of lack of confidence in our medical sector. Our people are going to native doctors because there is no healthcare in the state. Not even the uncommon healthcare can solve the problem. We don’t have uncommon healthcare; uncommon education we don’t have.

But, what of the free and compulsory education programme of the Governor Akpabio’s administration?

When you have a teacher to 2,000 students? I don’t know how free and compulsory that type of education is.

What footprints do you want to leave behind as a politician?

I don’t have footprints for now.  I am still outside. When I step into the office of governor I would know the footprints I will leave behind.

-Daily Newswatch

Moscow: Ambassador Assam Assam: Talking sports more than diplomacy

13 Oct

By Onochie Anibeze, Vanguard, Nigeria

Chief Assam E. Assam is Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Russian Federation and Belarus.

Seasoned diplomats carry themselves with candour. They portray dignity in their functions. There’s so much diplomacy in the way they talk and in their actions too.

Chief Assam represents all these. But when sports is the discourse, he discards diplomacy and hits the nail on the head. He jabs the authorities for failing to advise the government on real sports development and in turn frowns at government for not appointing people knowledgeable in sports to manage it.

Assam Ekanem Assam

Assam Ekanem Assam

Emotions get the better of him when he discusses sports. He makes some technical points which give him away as a player or technocrat in the field of sports. Assam gives a clue on sports development, administration and promotion and you wonder what such a man could do if he were a governor of a state in Nigeria or in such a top position to influence decisions on sports in the country.

Assam was baring his mind in a chat with Chief Solomon Ogba, the President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria who visited the Nigerian Embassy here in Moscow with the Technical Director of AFN, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama. This reporter was there too.

Assam was calm when he gave a history of Russia and their transformation from the Bolsheviks Revolution of 1917 to the break up of the Soviet Union under Gobarchev who introduced Perestroika and to present day. He gave kudos to the way they manage their oil production and sale. The Russians, he said, own all the oil blocks. They, in turn, invite the oil companies and other partners. Russians are the driving force. In Nigeria, it is Shell, Chevron etc.

“There’s no such case of producing, for example, 2,000 barrels and declaring 1,500. You will go to jail if you do that, nothing, absolutely nothing like that in their oil business,” Assam said with authority.

He said that the Russian economy was strong and that Russians were better for it.

The affluence in the city of Moscow here absolutely confirms the fair assessment of Assam. Those who nurse a picture of communist Russia need to visit this place. They would not believe that free market economy only started in 1991. Russians were bold in addressing their problems and they are reaping from their efforts now.

Assam, would not, as a diplomat, publicly draw comparisons between Russia and Nigeria. There couldn’t be any basis of comparison, in the first place. But inferences can be drawn on how they managed their problems in spite of their political upheavals and the failure of Nigerian leaders to do same.

Assam was brilliant in discussing different economies and what he feels will be a great approach for Nigeria.

“A developing country is like a young girl. You must take care of her clothing, all her needs especially education. If you must borrow to send her to school you must do so because it is an investment that will surely produce results,” he said apparently hoping that the listeners understood the perspective of his analogy with regard to the current policy.

But Assam showed greater passion in using sports as tool for human capital development. He was at home with sports.

“The future lies in the development of human capital and nothing develops the mind more than sports,” Assam says, pointing out the brain work athletes employ to win games. He even gave example with himself, citing how, sometimes, he prepares for a game of squash.

“I visualise how my opponent plays, his weak and strong points and what I should do at every point of the game. You even play the game in your mind before the game.”

Assam is sad that there’s no high quality sports institute which trains coaches, sports administrators and which has programmes for talent development.

“We need sports institutions, we need infrastructure and we need to engage more youths in sports. Why do we not have sports facilities in our schools any more? And why are we not keeping busy some of the few sports facilities we have in the country? Why would you in the first place build a stadium if you would not have a programme to make such a facility productive? Don’t we know that during depression, especially, sports is one of the things that could engage the youth and provide employment?

Assam would not stop. His voice became loud, his gesticulations kept his body busy. When he analysed the men and women 100m finals in the ongoing 14th edition of the World Championships, pointing out the elements he felt produced the champions in Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce, Ambassador Assam clearly showed his depth in the technicalities of sports. He clearly impressed his guests. Solomon Ogba was nodding and saying “we need people like him.”

Some of the things Ambassador Assam noted that we now lack in Nigeria were once prominent.

Sports in schools was a serious feature and he recalled how, as secondary school students, they were grouped according to their talents and they all participated in sports. Facilities were in schools. Many of them have now been taken over by weeds or buildings erected on them. Some universities even awarded sports scholarships and sports was part of the school culture.

“What happened to Nigeria? What actually happened and caused this rot?,” I asked Ambassador Assam. He paused and asked if I wanted an answer. “Yes”, I said. He smiled with a tinge of drama.

“The people who lit the candle and handed it to us left and we let the candle burn out on our palms.”

He meant that the colonial masters and the missionaries who laid the foundation for sports development in the country handed the baton to Nigerians and they destroyed the structures and the system that were left behind for them to build on. The same Nigerian factor that everybody complains about but which the leadership fails to act on.

Ambassador Assam’s passion for sports excites. It compels one to admire him and just dream.

“Mary Onyali met him on the flight to Moscow from Lagos and kept on saying that we needed to get hold of him,” Commodore Nesiama told Ogba.

Assam is a chief, a lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN) for that matter and Nigeria’s Ambassador to Russia and Belarus. He may need a platform to practice what he preaches in social mobilisation, economy and most importantly sports development. The man is from Akwa Ibom State. And charity, they say, begins at home.

– See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/08/ambassador-assam-e-assam-talking-sports-more-than-diplomacy/#sthash.ratAJLem.dpuf

US Ambassador to Nigeria Commissions Mega Fish Project at CRARN Centre Eket

27 Aug

By Don Oliver

Ambassador Terence P. McCulley and Consul General Jeffrey Hawkins cutting the Fish Project tape at CRARN Centre

The United State Ambassador to Nigeria , Mr. Terence McCulley, on Saturday
commissioned an ultra modern fish project at Child’s Right and
Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) Centre, Ikot Afaha in Eket, the major oil
city of Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria.

Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, Ambassador McCulley stated that the
US government was prepared to support groups and organisation that work
towards enhancing the quality of lives of the vulnerable and the less
privileged members of the society.

“We will continue to give our support to organisations and community that
pay greater attention to alleviating poverty in the midst of its community
and gear up quality lives of the under privileged people, the women and
mostly children who need helping hands, who crave for support and comfort.”

The Ambassador commended CRARN for paying greater attention to the
underprivileged children and women who suffer torture and other forms of
horrendous abuses in the hands of those who owe them a duty of protection
and love. He acknowledged that his office had been following the good work
of CRARN for quite a long time and found it worthy for its support; and
promised to give further assistance to organization and the community.

Barrister Pius Madaki-CRARN Attorney addressing the US Ambassador to Nigeria

A community leader and former Eket chapter Chairman of the defunct NPN,
Apostle Okon Harry Ekpuk expressed the community’s deepest appreciation to
the Ambassador and his team for selecting the Eket community as one of the
beneficiaries of their projects. Apostle Ekpuk averred that the fish
project will go a long way in touching the lives of the ordinary people.

“His Excellency, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, let me at this moment
express out profound appreciation to you and your team on behalf of the
people of Eket Community and its environs and to state categorically
clearly that this project is a huge one, and will so strongly touched the
lives of the ordinary people of this community and beyond and we will do
everything humanly possible to protect and sustain it. Our community is a
humane and hospitable one, so our is culture…. ” Ekpuk said

Apostle Ekpuk who spoke glowingly of the good work of CRARN said despite
daunting challenges, the organization was still working hard to save live
of children. He urged CRARN to continue with its services to humanity for
which he said holds abundant, nature and God’s reward.
“As you can see, CRARN is not only a blessing to this community, but a
huge asset to world and entire human race, given its philosophy, advocacy
work and humanitarian record of saving and indeed transformation of
children lives and the aged ones beyond its scope of operation.”

In his response, the principal attorney to CRARN, Mr Pius Madaki expressed
gratitude to the Ambassador for citing a project of such magnitude at the
CRARN Children Centre; and expressed the willingness of the organisation
to train the community to replicate it in various communities. He said the
fish project will no doubt propel a lot of ordinary people to be

” It is my strongest belief that this project will touch the lives of the
disadvantage children, foster parents, the ordinary people and the
community towards becoming self-reliant…” Madaki asserts

According to the project coordinator, Mr Akpan Umoh, the pond has four
compartments ( One Nursery pond, one Transition pond and two Raising
pond) which
has the capacity to nursing 8000 fingerlings and raising 15000 mature
catfish, was constructed and completed in July 2012 with support from
US government

Ambassador Terence McCulley and his team at CRARN Centre Eket

He maintained that the organization would not lose focus in its quest to
enlighten the society on mental reconstruction, superstition and
witchcraft belief; rescuing and
rehabilitation of stigmatized children.

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