Yes! Maybe out of oversight, deliberate marginalisation, denial of history or sheer lack of knowledge, previous administrations in Akwa Ibom State had failed to do it. However, the fact of late Chief Clement Isong’s achievements both in physical cum industrial infrastructure and high personal moral and ethical rectitude in politics and governance can never be glossed over for ever.
I, therefore, once again, wholeheartedly, call on Governor Udom Emmanuel to name one of our iconic monuments after the first Executive Governor of former Cross River State who happened to hail from the part of that defunct political unit now known as Akwa Ibom State. I may have been, in our Governor’s estimation, the wrong person to be championing this cause for some time now, going by my political status as a member of the opposition Party, which by the unfortunate nature of our politics is evil to power incumbents, but history, as they say, will vindicate the just.
If others in the State before Governor Udom had ignored Isong and his achievements, the former, as a fellow Awa man and also an indigene of Onna LGA as Isong must not persist in that error. The sing-song excuse by some of Akwa Ibom State Government’s officials that the Federal Government has already honoured Isong, a former sterlingly performing war-time Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (if in doubt see Professor Sam Aluko’s opinion on Isong) by pairing his picture with another Nigerian on the N1000 currency note is, at best, ducking the issue and at worst, trying to deny a great fact of our history. Yes, the federal government has done its bit, however, we, his people still owe his memory a lot more. Even recently, you most appropriately and thoughtfully named the Ring Road in Uyo after the late Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga again, a former performing military Governor of the State who had had the State Secretariat already and deservingly too, named after him long before he died.
I guess Governor Udom may be avoiding the issue of Isong for fear of a charge of clanishness being directed at him. But to me such a potentially uninformed charge will only appeal to the rabbles. Governor Udom must, therefore, not allow the fear of what a few rabbles and their rousers would say to deny him a unique and historic opportunity to right a haunting historical wrong. Remember, if President Goodluck Jonathan did not pardon his kinsman, former Governor Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamiesiegha, the former Governor of Bayelsa State, most probably, would have died an ex-convict.
The facts of the two morally very opposing cases are, of course, different but I’m only using the former Bayelsa Governor’s case where the Chief Executive of Nigeria at the time who happened to be the ex-convicts kinsman used his executive powers to remove a debilitating and haunting but perhaps deserving moral cross from the neck of a brother as a guide. If that could happen in a situation of acute and overwhelming moral crisis that we had all witnessed, and even with great toll on the image of the then reprieve-giving President, what in this world then has stopped you from dipping your hand into our State’s honour tray to pick an over-deserving but long-denied medal of achievements and put on our Akwa Ibom and Nigeria’s hero’s neck who only happens to hail from your clan and Local Government Area? The whole of Akwa Ibom will certainly clap for you on this.
Apart from tangible and prolific industrialization of his bigger former jurisdiction (now comprising Cross River and Akwa Ibom States), Isong signed into law the statute establishing the University of Cross River State which the Federal Government much later turned into the University of Uyo. That he wasn’t around in government to develop the institution much according to his well acknowledged prolific vision, can hardly detract from his achievements in that regard. And this fact can more than enough be buttressed by what he did on the industry and economic diversification fronts. I won’t belabour the reader with recounting Isong’s achievements again having done so more than once in the past.
Governor Udom therefore, can immediately name the State University at Ikot Akpaden in Mkpat Enin LGA after him because most of Isong’s political peers who also heralded their States’ Universities such as, Chief Olabisi Onabanjo of Ogun, Professor Ambrose Ali of then Bendel but now Edo, Chief Michael Ajasin of Ondo States etc have all had those institutions named after them. Or, set up a well conceived, massive and viable special economic zone like an industrial park around the State capital in Isong’s name. But I’ll still prefer the University to any other thing.
The late Chief Dr Clement Nyong Isong’s memory richly deserves this iconic gesture.
Governor Udom, remember you are an Awa man. If others before you either by commission or omission perpetrated and persisted in this monumental injustice against a fellow Awa man, you should arrive with a just remedy and rescue for him. Please spare your people the future awkward question of, “why did your kinsman not do it if Isong merited the honour? I’m sure you know he more than merits it. And also spare yourself and your family the charge of envy and selfishness of coveting the status of remaining the greatest Awa or Onna man in the pantheon of your people and Akwa Ibomites in general.
Chief (Dr) Clement Nyong Isong, Obong Ikpaisong Ibibio ye Annang must take his rightful place in the Akwa Ibom State’s pantheon of monument owners.
Over to you Governor Udom, let me leave you at this point to reflect on this, and march on to do the needful.