‘TEACHER, DON’T TEACH ME NONSENSE’ By Ofonime Honesty
Now, Udom has become an ‘alumni’ of ‘Akpabio School of Politics.’ But what did he really learn from the ‘great teacher’?
Dear reader, the caption of this piece is an intellectual property of afro beat legend and activist, the late Fela Anikulakpo Kuti. ‘Teacher, Don’t Teach Me Nonsense’ is one of his evergreen hits. In the song, Fela decries the ills embedded in the polity.
In one of the verses, he labeled our brand of democracy as ‘Demonstration of Craze.’ He questioned where the authorities acquired the culture of corruption and flagrant abuse of power, and sought for attitudinal change. According to him, vices will die in the polity if they aren’t promoted or nurtured by the powers that be: ‘‘…as soon as teaching finish, yes, the thing go die.”
In his time, Fela was the conscience of the nation. The armed forces literally reduced him to a punching bag, beating him to pulp on countless instances. Fictitious charges were often cobbled just to put him behind bars. To worsen issues, on the night of April 30, 1974, over a thousand military men raided his house. In the ensuing drama, the soldiers threw Fela’s mother Funmilayo from the first floor of the storey building before setting the edifice on fire.
She later died from injuries sustained during the incident.
Inhuman treatment notwithstanding, Fela remained vibrant in activism. He propagated evergreen messages in his lyrics. A little over two decades after his demise, these lyrics remain so relevant. Take for instance a developing issue involving Governor Udom Emmanuel and Senator Godswill Akpabio.
For the sake of those who just arrived from Jupiter, Mr. Udom Emmanuel is the Governor of Akwa Ibom: a State in the Southern region of Nigeria. Mr. Godswill Akpabio is the Minority Leader of Nigeria’s Senate, he represents Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District in the Upper Legislative House. Before now, he held sway as Governor of Akwa Ibom for eight years which elapsed in 2015 when he passed the baton to Mr. Emmanuel.
Brought in from one of the leading commercial banks in the country, Udom had a brief stint as Secretary to the State Government under the Akpabio administration. He was understudying his boss, I hear you say. Well, it later went beyond mere suspicion to full blown evidence. A kindergarten rhyme apparently remixed by Akpabio’s wife, Unoma, bared it all: ‘What did you, I know; what did you, I know; Godswill Akpabio, a great teacher who taught Udom Emmanuel.’
Campaign grounds were serenaded by the weird song. Akpabio, then in the dying days of his reign as Governor, was packaged as a great teacher who taught Udom the art of governance.
Now, Udom has become an ‘alumni’ of ‘Akpabio School of Politics.’ But what did he really learn from the ‘great teacher’? Well, few days ago at the Abak Independence Hall, we heard from the horse’s mouth. The ‘great teacher’ spilled his mind. For out of abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, so says the Holy Bible. The great teacher himself revealed Udom’s report card.
Sampler: “2018 is less than one year to election, all is not well o; don’t allow anybody to deceive you that all is well. If the hotel in Ikot Ekpene (Four Points by Sheraton) rots after so much money had been expended, would that be a good thing?
“That road from Uyo to Ikot Ekpene, is still the way it was (when I left office). In the 2018 budget, what is the percentage for Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District? My job is to say the truth because if at this level I cannot say the truth, then I am not doing well. So please I want us to start the hotel because when the Commissioner for Works addressed the youths in August, he assured them that the hotel would be opened in December, it will soon decay if urgent intervention is not given to the facility.
He wasn’t done: “Please, let us check the budget to know what has been earmarked for that place. I am not interested in what I did and what I did not do, I am only interested in what I am going to do.
“The truth is that Godswill Akpabio expects us to set our path straight so that we can take one route. Even when you are going for communion, you must be in a state of grace, so let us have something from the Senatorial District to use in talking about election; to use in convincing the people to stand by us. We are in opposition, we don’t have government, we don’t have Police, we don’t have INEC”, he warned.
Akpabio told us what we knew, what we should know and what we didn’t know. ‘The great teacher’ pointedly accused Udom of marginalizing Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District. He painted his political son as a tribal bigot.
Dear reader, is nemesis not catching up with ‘the great teacher?’ Yours truly observes that Udom isn’t doing anything that Akpabio didn’t do. Permit my bluntness. Akpabio as a ‘great teacher’ was setting a dangerous precedent for his ‘student’ cum successor.
Under Akpabio, the maxim ‘government is a continuum’ was abolished. His predecessor, Obong Victor Attah, having messed up with the Science Park project left office in 2007. However, given the strategic importance of the project, the rife yearning was for Akpabio to complete work on the project. He however shut his ears and abandoned it. Today, the remains of Ibom Science Park have become a den of criminal. The Ibom Science Park is just one in a long list of the Attah era projects abandoned by Akpabio.
Akpabio demonized the Attah administration covertly and overtly. A man who became a hero in the resource control agitation was reduced to a pathetic case study. Obong Attah whined severally in the media, but received barrage of insults. Akpabio himself and his allies verbally whipped him for fun.
Who forgets the infamous government sponsored ‘What does Obong Attah Really Want?’ advertorial on The Nation Newspaper wherein few spent forces were fronted as signatories just to spite Attah for daring to question the rationale behind the Ibom Tropicana Project? That project which was a conduit pipe. Today, Ibom Tropicana lies in waste.
From 2007 to 2015, tribalism bare its poisonous fangs. Akwa Ibom became a tribal cauldron. The 2011 guber poll particularly was more of an Annang versus Ibibio contest. I choose not to narrate several incidences here for the sake of allowing the proverbial sleeping dog lie.
To cap it all, Akpabio was covertly and overtly accused of favouring the Annangs and commandeering the state’s commonwealth to his hometown of Ukana Ikot Ntuen. Today, Udom has followed suit, empowering his Onna brothers and turning his native Awa Iman hometown into a haven.
The Governor isn’t doing anything that his predecessor didn’t do. Governor Udom Emmanuel as an ‘alumni’ of the ‘Akpabio School of Politics’ is exhibiting what he learnt with dexterity. Even the ‘great teacher’ is in awe. Akpabio abandoned Attah’s projects, today, Udom is abandoning Akpabio’s projects. Akpabio was severally accused of marginalizing the Ibibio’s, today, he is accusing an Ibibio son of marginalizing the Annangs (Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District).
‘They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind’, so says the Bible. Akpabio is harvesting his investment in Udom. Forget the fake smiles and hugs, ‘all is not well’ as Akpabio confirmed.
Dear reader, permit me to conclude this short piece by positing that nonsense must surely give birth to nonsense. You reap what you sow. To avoid becoming a nuisance, when you are taught nonsense, reject it promptly. Don’t hesitate to boldly say: ‘teacher, don’t teach me nonsense.’
Even as yours truly zoom off to church this beautiful Sunday morning, I have resolved to reject all the ‘nonsense’ sermons aimed at brainwashing members to believe that God needs money. God needs a righteous nation, full stop.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti, may God bless your soul for inspiring this piece!
(Ofonime Honesty is Public Affairs Analyst. email@example.com)