Akpabio, Udom’s Rift: Lessons from Eket Senatorial Districts Leaders
By Iniedidiong John
Few weeks ago, Akwa Ibom people were thrown into various political and ethnic divides, owing to an utterance attributed to Senator Godswill Akpabio. The erstwhile Governor of the state, while addressing his kinsmen in Abak, had expressed displeasure over Governor Udom Emmanuel’s delay in completing the Four-Point by Sharaton Hotel and the dual carriage Uyo Ikot Ekpene road.
While this statement attracted commendation from Senator Akpabio’s supporters, many elders, youth and even women, came out to condemn the Senator for making what they described as “selfish demands.” Their basis of argument was that, Akpabio, when he was the Governor, abandoned his predecessor’s projects and even abandoned some started by his administration in Uyo.
With that, the media space was fraught with mudslinging, and name callings. The once united Akwa Ibom people woke up to see one another as an enemy. Elders were forced to intervene, and some in the process of settling the issue, created more problems. Leaders of Uyo and Eket Senatorial Districts, urgently took to the media and offered their pieces of advice. While Uyo Senatorial District Leaders, like battle-ready army, in a communique signed by Senator Anietie Okon, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga, Senator Effiong Bob among others, did not mince words in lashing out at Senator Akpabio for trying to cause division between Ibibio ethnic group and Annang, however, a group known as Annang Peoples Front, outrightly accused Governor Emmanuel of sponsoring attack against the Senate Minority Leader.
Uyo Senatorial District Leaders described Senator Akpabio’s statement as “calculated statements of calumny, blackmail and arm-twisting.” Though many appreciated USD leaders for their swift response to the issue, were their punches really necessary?
When the war was raging, the entire state was anxiously waiting to see the Governor’s kinsmen exude anger, ooze out curses and reduce Senator Akpabio and his likes to rubble. To the surprise of nay sayers, and disappointment of those who wished the war should continue, Eket Senatorial District Leaders led by Chief Nduese Essien, chose the path of peace and admonished parties involved to sheath their swords. Indeed, in all the scenario that unfolded, they were the final arbiters whose words of wisdom calmed every nerve.
The first striking point in their press statement titled: “Toeing The Path Of Peace And Harmony In Akwa Ibom State” and signed by Rt.Hon. Nduese Essien(Chairman) ;Barr. Akpadiaha Ebitu (Secretary); Rt. Hon. (Dr) Esio Okwong Udoh (Deputy Chairman) ; Obong Obot Etukafia (Deputy Chairman); Dr. (Mrs.) Akon Eyakenyih and others, is the acknowledgement of Akwa Ibom people as a united family who collectively contributed to where the state is today. ESD leaders emphasized on Akwa Ibom interest as a people. “We the leaders of Eket senatorial district have watched with awe, the unfolding developments in the polity which appear to be at variance with our communal disposition as a people of the same family.”
The lesson here is that, there would never have been Obong Victor Attah, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Governor Udom Emmanuel if Akwa Ibomites were not there to give these leaders the opportunity to lead them. As such, we should not in the process of defending our own, forget that there is a family we must all protect. There is a family that must not be torn apart by our words or actions.
Another thrilling aspect of the press statement is the humility and truth exhibited by the Eket Senatorial District Leaders. These leaders accepted that it took the collective support of Uyo and Ikot Ekpene Senatorial Districts for the emergence of their son as Governor.
“We cannot forget in a hurry, that it took the collective support of our elders, stakeholders and people from Uyo and Ikot Ekpene Senatorial districts to ensure the emergence of our son, His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel as Governor in 2015.” The leaders never harped on 20,000 votes or 300,000 votes that made Mr. Udom Emmanuel governor. This is one aspect we should all outgrow. When we extend our support to our brothers in another ethnic group, we should always remember that we owe them continuous support to succeed.
Eket Senatorial District Leaders never sounded petty or pitiful. They did not tell the world that over the years they have been producing oil to feed the entire West Africa and, as such, they deserve Governorship. Though they acknowledged that previous administrations marginalized them, they never dwell on that. To them, that was not an issue, that wasn’t the matter of the moment, but peace.
They did not threaten or boast of their prowess to do and undo. Every Akwa Ibomite knows that the people of ESD have the capacity to stop oil companies from operating which can affect our output, yet they did not threaten to do that or use it as a bargaining power. They believe that what they have belongs to the entire Akwa Ibom State.
In advocating for their son, Governor Udom Emmanuel, ESD leaders did not present Mr. Emmanuel as all-knowing leader that every other tribe must tremble when he talks, they rather appreciated his weakness as human and call for more support to him. This is noteworthy because even in the Bible, God is a jealous God and wouldn’t want any man be seen as Omniscience. Perhaps these leaders had remembered King Nebuchadnezzar who extolled himself above God and was exalted too by his people above any human, at the end, he was reduced to the like of animal.
In conflict resolution, one party must always strike a compromise and extend the Olive branch for peace to reign. ESD leaders were ready to strike a deal and they did that. “We therefore come with an olive branch to our brothers in Uyo and Ikot Ekpene senatorial district to please exercise restraint in actions that can only disunite us and stall developments in our state. We are therefore appealing for an end to open confrontations and media altercations which can only bring joy and gratifications to enemies of the state, who do not wish us well.”
While Uyo Senatorial District Leaders and Annang Peoples Front were engaging in war of words, Eket Senatorial District leaders came with soothing words, “We have noticed that our two statesmen, His Excellency Senator Godswill Akpabio, and Governor Emmanuel are relating well as partners in the state project, with the former governor making it clear that he had not been well informed of the developments in his district.” Akwa Ibom leaders should always live by example. Anytime Akwa Ibom youth see war among our leaders, they should always point them to the noble path of peace.
In the whole, the visit of Eket Senatorial District leaders to Governor Udom Emmanuel at the Government House and Senator Godswill Akpabio in his country home on Friday, few days after they published their stand, is a clear demonstration that the leaders were not playing with words to sooth fraying nerves during the time of perceived misunderstanding by the two leaders, but meant what they said in their press statement.
Rt. Hon.Nduese Essien should be greatly applauded for being a true statesman we needed at our trying time as family. Above all, our leaders should always strive for peace not to stoke fire for war.