The Battle-end and the Disconnect

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Gov. Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom state governor

Everything and anything which has a beginning is sure to have its end. Even the earth was once without form and void before the spirit of God hovered on the face of the deep. At least, life from the Fall of Man was reconstructed to have a life span. Mankind was temporarily suspended from eternal existence, at least on this plane. Though man sure forever lives, herein and hereafter, he lives eternal in fragmentation. For whether we live here on earth or otherwise, each life extends beyond death.

And so it came to pass that we were together here in peace. Perhaps, unlucky in our contraption, Nigeria itself became a birth of circumstance. Colonial rule suppressed our self love and gave us a dented mark. We progressed into nationhood and constitutional democracy, but soon became victims of decrees. After thirty-three years, our cup was full as our misfortune heightened with shattered hopes, well dressed in garment of deception. Party politics took its toll and players had their filled day. The first party came and after 16 years came the next. The second is dancing towards its eighth and so the pendulum swings. But in all the struggle for the sole of the state, devourers and onlookers keep muttering in discord.

The Akwa Ibom politics is even more interesting. A state constantly being administered by the ruling party, it exists daily with a scar. Since 1999 when democracy returned, the State has been under the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Attempts by other parties at taking over are abortive. The All Progressives Congress (APC) has been on the queue. But the power has remained with the PDP. The hottest contest had been the furore of the 2019 general election, when Warsaw became the official Capital of the State. A finger from ‘above’ played its due and Divine Mandate got retained.

The four years is running and the battle line redrawn. The alignments have failed to succeed the hand of time. Perhaps time the past is furious with time the future, as those who were friends and brothers have retracted. They are distracted from distraction by distraction. Like unknown travellers lost to navigational errors, these birds have flown separate ways. Their vision now diverged into woods, it seems the road leads to no where in particular.

Not even the current local government elections could be predicted. Although the PDP was all alone in the contest, cross purpose interests crossed the line and none could see a brother without mud. In the hit of this confusion came the unemployment rating by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in which Akwa Ibom emerged second highest. Instead of a concentration in the party politics of overbearing dominance, the ground shifted to statements from government officials of how the Bureau was faulty in the assessment.

Also commenting on the development was the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang. He expressed emberrassment over why the state which earns highest from the federal account should be high in unemployment rate. He said hundreds of retirees were leaving service but that government was not recruiting for a long time. Questioning the sincerity of the industries, which he said, were privately owned by individuals, Ita Enang asked parents to “stop buying internet subscription data for their graduate children to sing the praises of Udom Emmanuel’s non-performing government.” He also asked the youths to go and find out for themselves whether the industries actually belonged to the state government.

It was this reaction that got Governor Udom Emmanuel unsettled. The Governor, in a live media chat reached globally, said Senator Ita Enang did not have the monopoly of madness and that he should be warned, or that he would no more tolerate him. Forget not in a hurry how the governor referred to his citizens as illiterates and as being stupid; the noise then has certainly receded.

This reaction awoken the Akwa Ibom APC, which in a press release on Monday, August 24, 2020, said “the temperamental Governor Emmanuel who lacked any fraction of emotional intelligence was accusing the Senator of inciting the youths into violence.” The party wondered whether the Governor had suffered “memory loss”, when he demanded constructive criticism from those who must criticize him, even when his “outburst against Senator Ita Enang was far from it.” The APC expressed surprise that Governor Emmanuel whom it said “had his palm kernel cracked for him by benevolent spirit” and was “of unstable character”, had been “haunted by perpetual character failure and diseased mind.” The party called on President Muhammad Buhari, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, the Department of State Services and all other security agents to “take notice of the threat against Senator Ita Enang or any other supporters of the party.”

But a counter release issued on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 by the publicity secretary of the PDP, Borono Bassey, berated Ita Enang for “not having the locus standi to talk about good governance and accountable leadership.” The party accused him of receiving “billions of Naira as funds for constituency projects without having anything to show. It described the situation as “the height of shamelessness and hypocrisy for Ita Enang to make disparaging remarks on the same Governor who has erected strong pillars for job creation in diverse sectors of the Akwa Ibom State economy.”

Stating that the Governor was right about Ita Enang, the press statement said Mr Emmanuel was stating the “collective mindset of Akwa Ibom people about Senator Ita Enang when he took a swipe at the senator.” The PDP insited that honour is an alien trait to Senator Ita Enang because according to them, the Senator now follows a diversion constructed by the Akwa Ibom State Government to his village in Ibiono Ibom LGA. The release reminded the APC that “His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel is not available for more politicking; his entire focus is now on providing quality leadership for Akwa Ibom people with tangible proofs in the sustainable development of the state.”

While Senator Ita Enang could be viewed from the prism of constructive criticism, the same cannot be said of the Governor. Of course, there are plenty of federal government projects attracted to the state by Senator Ita Enang, while serving in various capacities. It is also true, as Ita Enang observed, that the state government has not done recruitment for the past many years. It was Governor Udom Emmanuel who sacked the five thousand teachers employed by the administration of Godswill Akoabio, while he served as Secretary to Government. The September 2018 recruitment notice where tens of thousands of Akwa Ibom graduates applied for, is still very handy. It could even be true that while government may have used that exercise to attract the support of jobless youths during the electioneering period, nothing has been said of it till date.

Furthermore, delving into the statement published by the PDP publicity secrecy, Mr Borono Bassey, one sees a very fractured attempt at giving the lie. Two things are quickly spotted here. The statement denied the verdict of the NBS. It also denied the observation by Ita Enang that government was not creating jobs. But it stated that the governor was erecting pillars for job creation. It also said the governor was not available for politicking. These statements are true departure from the obvious. If Governor Emmanuel, as the PDP says, is erecting pillars for job creation, it is safer to admit that the jobs are yet to ripen. This is because if people erect pillars without structures, it is conspicuous that they can’t live there.

Again, to say that Governor Emmanuel was not available for politicking was ironical. Who else would be more available for politicking than a man who declares that the other does not have the monopoly of madness. Truth is, a governor who is not afraid of threatening a presidential aide with his dislike for tolerance should more be political than anyone else. Hence, it is concluded, that though it appears there are unending battle between the PDP and the APC in the state, it is an apparent disconnect to see persons who offer to give the lie succeed at telling the lie.

Joseph Atainyang is a journalist and public affairs commentator. GSM: 07036964637

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