In my last treatise on the socio-politics of Akwa Ibom, titled, “Governor Akpabio, 2015, and the Fallacy of Imposition” I attempted an intellectual exploration on the recycling falsehood that there is a concerted effort by Governor Akpabio to foist a stooge as governor on the people of the state. It submitted that in as much as the people of the state had collectively agreed that the governorship of the state in 2015, be zoned to Eket Senatorial District, which has never had a governor since the creation of the state in 1987, and so far as the PDP doesn’t intend to bar any qualified person seeking for the position from doing so, the imposition scare tantamount to hallucinations of the absurd.
Obviously, the “imposition scare”has resulted in a plethora of falsehoods by political turncoats, and mischievous politicians, on the media, as part of a coordinated conspiracy to bring down the government of chief Godswill Akpabio, by giving it an “undignified image” before the people, of the state and beyond.
As a grand conspiracy, “the operation bring down Godswill Akpabio”, is centrally planned and operationalized with some top politicians and businessmen as sponsors, and a media cabal whose responsibility is to execute personality onslaughts or propaganda against the government of Chief Godswill Akpabio, for their malevolent end. While it’s simple to decipher the pivots of this grand conspiracy, their motive is deeper than imagined, we shall come to that.
These conspirators, in their bid to attain political power by all means, have resorted to propagating scandalous falsehoods against Governor Akpabio. It has been argued by a security Expert, that “for a Governor that has performed resoundingly in infrastructure, one of the ways to decimate his person is to resort to stereotypes or hackneyed perceptions such as murderer, kidnapper, criminal, among others, Social Psychologist Richard Nisbett, posits that lack of “cognitive control” could account for hostile attitude. According to him: “a variety of issues, especially mental health problems that lead to social isolation, lead the subject to a mental state that alters his or her ability to exercise cognitive control in a healthy manner”. This was true of Joseph Goebell, the German Propaganda Minister, who held sway between 1935-1945, employed same to propagate in favour of the genocide of the German Jews. His feeling of frustration also led him to poisoning all his children before his death.
The underlying motive of the grand conspiracy is as obvious as ‘seeing through a transparent glass': it’s aimed at destroying the goodwill which the governor had earned over the years, taking into cognizance the imperative of goodwill as an intangible asset of political leadership.
What are the sins of Governor Akpabio? The greatest “sin” of Godswill Akpabio is the fact that he has changed the global perception about Akwa ibom through the institutionalization of a sound and enviable political culture in/ for the state, resulting in the building of world -class infrastructure for the state.
Akpabio came as Governor of Akwa Ibom in 2007 and met a state that was in social despair, a state that sat on the backseat in the comity of states in Nigeria. In terms of infrastructural, economic, and political reckoning, Akwa Ibom was ostensibly relegated to the background, and this had far-reaching impacts on the lowered morale of the indigenes of the state. Godswill Akpabio’s emergence as Governor has changed all that. The populist reforms had altered the status quo to an entirely new order.
It was Nicolo Machiavelli, the Italian Statesman, Diplomat and Politician that noted that, “there is nothing more difficult, more susceptible to failure, and more dangerous, as introducing a new order; for the reformer find enemies among those who benefitted from the old order, and receives but a lukewarm attitude from the beneficiaries of the new order”. That the above quote captures the reality of the Akwa Ibom situation is an understatement; it explains the character of opposition and resistance the governor is faced with even in the face of the prevailing developmental feat in the state.
Sociologists have described the Akwa Ibom resistance to functional change as “a case of culture shock, where some slum dwellers wake up in the morning to see bulldozers demolishing their place of domicile for the flyovers and other edifying structures…” This, revolutionary change doesn’t come without pains, that would become gains in the nearest future. But it’s natural, and expected too, for victims of a revolutionary change to feel aggrieved, and possibly resist functional change. It’s even more expected that due to the low level of education among slum dwellers, and their socially disentangled experience, there is a likelihood for them to resist future government policies.
Thus, another sin of Governor Akpabio is introducing a totally “strange social experience”, characterized by dazzling social infrastructure. This experience, arguably, goes with serious consequence. It implies that a greater chunk of the state’s resources will be channeled to development projects, against the old culture of primitive accumulation, or misplaced priorities. It implies further that international best practices underpinned by fiscal discipline and corporate governance principles would define the process of development. That informed why multinational construction companies like Julius Berger, Setraco, CCECC, Stemco, among others were brought into the state to build durable roads and infrastructure for posterity, instead of some incompetent local concerns who would abandon the projects after payment.
In this connection, another sin of Governor Akpabio was his refusal to compromise on the standard of projects, by hiring cheap hands that would abandon the projects as soon as they get paid. Imagine what would have been the fate of the 30000 seater international stadium, if the contract were awarded to an unproven local concern!
Resultantly, some of the “aggrieved” local contractors teamed up with political opposition to criticize every policy of the state government with the view of demeaning the efforts of the government in all ramifications. A case in point is one Chief Ime Mbatessien, whose belligerence against the government, on the pages of newspaper was premised on government’s refusal to patronize non-performing local construction firms.
Godswill Akpabio’s other sin was his refusal to trade-off on the use of state resources for personal and selfish reasons. The governor believes that the wealth of the state should be judiciously used for the common good of the state, instead of encouraging cronyism and clientelism. The Governor’s resoluteness in this wise played out when a politician in the state who claims to be “land lord of Uyo” suggested that that the governor should “divert” state funds for the acquisition of one of the moribund federal enterprise, NNMC, Oku Iboku.
As expected, the governor’s defiance to this sparked off a personality crises, what led to the reinforcement of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria ACN in Akwa Ibom State, with the said landlord as the party’s gubernatorial candidate in the April 2011 governorship elections.
Governor Akpabio also committed “sin”, by purging his Executive Council of some desperate and over -ambitious men, who considered their personal ambition over the collective interest of the state. I have read on the pages of newspaper, instances where public officers own multi billion naira residence, estates across the globe, and oil and construction firms. These men who have turned traducers of Governor Akpabio believe that primitive accumulation is the prime essence of leadership, therefore the happiness and collective good of future generation matter less to them, as their personal enrichment and predatory accumulation of capital.
These amalgam of traducers of the Akwa Ibom project have resorted to ignominious blackmail, falsehood, and other forms of character assassination, in attempt to dissuade public support and goodwill for the governor.
Thus, the governor, to this group, is a murderer and kidnapper, armed robbery, and the like, but can Governor Akpabio alone or members of his government be all these? While it cannot proven that there are no “bad eggs” in government who “may”be involved in deviant acts. But one thing worth the mention is that governments, church, family, schools, political parties among other social institutions are part of the larger society, inferring that one would have been culpable at the family level before being a member of government. It’s untenable too, to link Governor Akpabio who has no traces of psychiatric and deranged cognitive mechanism with murder and other forms of insecurity.
Beyond that, there is also an argument by a social psychologist, that it’s not possible that for a governor, who is not under any form of threat, such as those of impeachment, lack of control of governmental institutions, unacceptability, and inability to get a bill(s) through, to resort to hostility and other acts of insecurity. This corroborates the frustration – aggression theory, as propounded by Prof John Dollard, and given greater currency by Dembo and Lewin (1941), using the kiddies toy thesis.
Let’s have a rethink at this point: who are those counting the sins of Governor Akpabio? Are they not the most corrupt in the society, who fed on the “blood” and toiling of others? Are they not those that Chukwuma Kaduna-Nzegwu, leader of the first military coup in Nigeria referred to as “political profiteers”? Are they not those who wined and dined with the Governor, but with an evil heart? The prophet Isaiah said this of them: “These people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me…” These are the people our lord Jesus Christ called “hypocrites”, particularly among the Pharisee and Saducee!
In conclusion purported”sins” of Governor Godswill Akpabio could be likened to the hypocrisy of the Pharisee who were in the habit of criticizing Jesus for doing good, particularly, when it contradicted their laws.
This scenario played out when the disciples of Jesus were accused of plucking corns on sabbath, and when Jesus healed the sick on sabbath, as recorded in the Book of Luke 13: 15-16, Mattew 12:1-13, among other scripture. Here is what Jesus replied them as recorded in Mark gospel: “Which is lawful on the Sabbath(Holy Day), to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy? ” But they remained silent.
At this point of our history in Akwa Ibom, must we remain the good old Pharisees of our generation?
Uwemedimoh Umanah, a Peace Researcher, Newspaper Publisher, and Public Affairs Analyst, writes in this piece from Uyo