Udom, a Christian on “Bended Knees”

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Udom Emmanuel

No one could be more hypocritical than a man who comes to Jesus by night, pleading to be shown how to make heaven. Governor Udom Emmanuel has a familiar style of bending his knees. He comes to kneel, plead and cry at night, but stands erect to boast at noon.

When the first citizen of a people makes a broadcast, every conscious person stays awake. The reason is simple. A governor or a president of any people is a gateman, looking after the welfare of his people. As already enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution, the primary purpose of government remains the security and welfare of its citizens. Like in January 2012 when fuel scarcity took the Nigerian nation to a place of panic, the presidential broadcast of January 15 became a great relief to the people of Nigeria. That pronouncement on the deregulation of the down stream petroleum sector which came with an adjustment as well as the eventual reduction in fuel price across the nation, became a cold water to a thirty soul.

But, when a broadcast of a leader lacks that superior anaesthesia to heal the wounds of the times, the result is a great frustration that may not be forgotten. It takes a mind back to the lamentation of Rachel who cried so long for her children and could not be comforted. A Governor whose address remains a typical stereotype of no substantial engagement, apart from loaded accusations, demoralizes the consciousness of right thinking persons. And so, the Christmas Broadcast by Governor Udom Emmanuel is another piece of a shift in logic.

Recall that on September 24, 2018, this writer published a piece with the title, “Udom’s 31st Anniversary Broadcast, an Error in Logic”. This article addressed all issues raised in that broadcast. Again, as a number of those items gain parallel repetitions in this Christmas Broadcast, yours truly wishes that readers could ask Google for the piece, as most of those issues would not be treated here, for obvious reason.

Two segments of the christmas broadcast are here given a clinical therapy. First is the mention of ‘bended knees’ and then, that of ‘Warsaw’. No point talking in parables. Mr Udom Emmanuel has used this phrase too often and deserves a proper argument. On August 5, 2018, the then minority leader of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio paid a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari who was on a medical vacation in London. He was caught on camera shaking hands with the President. He bowed to show a sign of respect. That is the simple story the governor cannot tell straight. The news of Akpabio’s defection was everywhere and on Saturday, August 4, the Governor had called a night of vigil with elders of the PDP who were caught on camera wearing the countenance of a people who have lost A GREAT AND MIGHTY KING. That did not translate to anything tangible. Akpabio left the ship and got conscripted into the army of the APC on Wednesday, August 8.

The Governor in the Christmas Broadcast of Tuesday, December 25, 2018 said, “…We are not on a course for fleeting applause, we are not here to create a cult of personality or to play God or to define ourselves as the sole repositories of knowledge and power; we are not here to sell our State on BENDED KNEES or to cut deals that will imperil the future of our State or our children… I pledge to you again, on this day of the birth of the Prince of Peace, that I will not be intimated, I will not bend, I will not give in to blackmail, lies or attacks on my person or my administration. I will not CUT DEALS to sell our State to the HIGHEST BIDDER neither will I sacrifice the elements that define us as a people simply to further a political goal” (emphasis mine).

Questions are quite superfluous on an issue of this magnitude. Who is the highest bidder referred to in this statement? Does this illustration refer to the same President Muhammadu Buhari whom the Governor has been pleading to support him win a second term? Was there no DEAL to sell the state when Governor Udom’s predecessor, Senator Godswill Akpabio imposed him on Akwa Ibom people? Has Our Governor suddenly forgotten the G-22 who spent 40 days and 40 nights in the Wilderness of Abuja without being granted access to the then President Goodluck Jonathan? Perhaps, Governor Emmanuel would remain a man of integrity to fault the familiar scripture that “good measure of what one does to others, pressed down, shaken together and running over” would be a portion of him who became a beneficiary of SO GREAT A FAVOUR. Would it be safe to say that Governor Emmanuel was first in a deal with Senator Akpabio and that the highest bidder was the then President Jonathan?

Again, the Governor stated, “As we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the Prince of Peace, my prayer is that may those who wish to unleash terror on our people, may those who have made elaborate plans to allow our State become a theatre of violence as in Warsaw saw war be put to shame by the collective will of our people who have all embraced peace that we have enjoyed in this State the past three and half years and are only interested in rising to the faith of their greatness and those of their children”.

This Warsaw case had been treated in an article entitled, “Akpabio’s Defection and Flickering Expectations” written by yours truly and published in September this year. Accordingly, it was held that Akpabio’s reference to the invasion of Poland by Adolf Hitler in comparison to his ‘projected’ invasion of Akwa Ibom State by APC was ‘politically’ blown out of proportion. Truth is, those who interpret that statement as being a threat to the peaceful coexistence of Akwa Ibom people, do so because of the ‘necessity’ to create a bad impression and bugle the minds of the electorates against the progress of the progressives. Also, it is a conscious way to dissuading them from seeing the apparent support base of the APC in the state.

Already, many Akwa Ibom people (this writer inclusive) are strong supporters of the current administration. Of course, after realizing that one cannot change what the Nigerian Court installs, it behooves on all persons to stand with the government to move forward. This support should not be seen as a TUNE OF PRAISE at every little step. It rather has its volume in the critical stand point that gives the leadership a sense of direction.

For instance, on July 11, 2016, birth date of Governor Udom Emmanuel, senior citizens in the state (pensioners) felt grievous over their unusual hunger resulting in the nonpayment of their pensions and gratuities. They took a protest to the Wellington Bassey Way end, Uyo, the official road to the Government House. On July 14, the Governor issued a press statement threatening to ban all forms of public protests. This writer did a piece entitled, “Forget Not the Beggars’ Strike: A Modest Proposal to Governor Udom Emmanuel”. That strong worded piece of letters called the Governor’s attention to a leader who had stopped beggars from begging on the streets, only to plead with them to resume their duty post, simply because he wanted to pass election. In that story, the beggars refused to come back and the political leader failed his election.

Although Governor Udom Emmanuel had attempted implementing his ban of public protest by sending heavy-bodied men to stop a human rights lawyer, Barr Inibehe Effiong who led a protest to Lagos against the Lagos Governor’s Lodge Bill, he stands a better chance as a leading protester in recent times. At least, all Akwa Ibom people have seen how this government sponsored a protest of PDP women who appeared in black and painted lips. They witnessed the market women who were paid to protest and the students of Akwa Ibom State origin who were also sponsored on protest, all in an attempt to blackmail the police commissioner in the state. This is a reminder that there was a police commissioner in Akwa Ibom prior to and during the 2015 elections whose public statements, open endorsement and condemnation of political figures met no resistance.

Driving this argument to a close, one ponders on why Governor Emmanuel should be consistent at comically saying that people are selling the state’s future on bended knees. As illustrated in this article, would it not make sense for the Governor to mention his predecessor as one who is doing same? Has the Governor not boasted of himself as having arrived Akwa Ibom State on chartered flight while his predecessor came through a night bus? In spite of whatever message Governor Udom may wish to convey, all Akwa Ibom people know the sharp contrast between him and his predecessor. Akpabio even knelt on camera during a solemn assembly to flag off Nsima Ekere campaign, even while every other person stood on their feet. The simple observation is, while Godswill Akpabio ‘kneels’ in the open, without any fear of misunderstanding, Udom Emmanuel enjoys kneeling in the dark.

How does Udom Emmanuel kneel in the dark? It is in the public domain that immediately when Senator Akpabio left the PDP, Governor Udom Emmanuel started sending messages to leaders of the APC to facilitate his entrance into the party. Yours truly had argued that politics in this part of the country will die instant, if such move was approved. Udom Emmanuel had begged the Caucus Chairman of the party, Chief Don Etiebet, that he be allowed to join the APC. He was turned down. The Governor embarked on a long journey to meet the same man whom mischief makers chose to denigrate with the name, Jubril from Sudan. He was turned down. And just last two weeks, reports available in the media stated that Governor Udom was still sending emissaries to plead with his predecessor to support him win the 2019 election. The last move met a terrible resistance as he was being exposed, after the request was turned down.

Let it be known that it was the current Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Charles Udoh who referred to Governor Udom Emmanuel as a practical christian. The issue in question was about the implementation of some sections of the yearly budget. That description by the commissioner was meant to put the Governor in a good light, as a man who is not playing politics with development. Truly, that trait of a practical christian could not be more properly demonstrated than the Governor knowing the role of Nicodemus in the Bible. He went to Jesus by night seeking direction on how to be born again. Udom, a practical christian can play that role with absolute perfection, pleading at night and boasting at noon. He bends his knees in the secret and claims a cocky elephant at noon. This writer opins that this is nothing but the greatest irony of arrogance.

Joseph Atainyang is an Uyo-based Journalist and public affairs commentator.

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