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Bassey Albert: ‘Judas’ Is Not Thy Name – Osondu Ahirika

The name JUDAS has become a recurring ‘decimal’ so oft up for mention in Akwa Ibom. I doubt if there is any human alive, irrespective of his faith, who knows not the disciple, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus Christ with a kiss.

As Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio winds down his full tenure, and works to install a successor in office, that word has become common and regular in his speeches. He fears and dreads that, within his rank and file is/are fifth columnists. Traitor(s). Judas(es).

This sentiment has been echoed variously by some of his aides as they try to cement their loyalty, and perhaps, isolate or flay the Judas. In this political context, who is the so called Judas?

At a political retreat held for his Cabinet members in Abuja, Governor Akpabio, who warned his Commissioners and Special Advisers against treachery said,

“…if you are not with us in spirit and truth, then in God’s name do not tarry with us in Government.” The governor added a caveat and a curse, “it is better not to be with us than to be with us and against us. It is my prayers that, those who have worked with us and who do not want us to end well, who are like Judases in our midst will also end like Judas.”

Then, as if to define his context of Judas, Akpabio added, “remembering the other thief who ended up in paradise with Christ, that is how some of you are.

No matter what happens, those of you who have just joined the Executive Council and do not behave like Judas will end up in Paradise come 2015.”

So, it is about his succession plan come 2015? Anyone in his administration who declines to back his preferred succession plan is a Judas.

Interpreted, it means any member of Governor Akpabio’s cabinet, who nurses a governorship ambition not sanctioned by the governor or not in tandem with his game plan, is on a course of treachery.

Is that correct? Governor Akpabio has stated his desire for Power Shift to Eket Senatorial District. Going by that, only those not favoured by that calculation fit the label of Judas in the strict sense of this 2015 conundrum. This is where Bassey Albert sets into the picture. How do I mean?

It was a crestfallen Bassey Albert that reassured his boss Governor Akpabio of his undying loyalty. “I will never betray you”, he said, as I figured him out in emotive prostration before a governor he described as his mentor, father and benefactor.

It was obvious given his unusual melancholic look that he was suffocating silently under the anguish of perceptions and insinuations that encircled him.

I don’t know the behind the scenes events that imposed on him the burden to make that declaratory avowal.

But, latter events within the duration of that unforgettable Itu/Ibiono Ibom Federal Constituency Town Hall Meeting of March 13, 2014 left nobody in doubt, Bassey Albert had, right or wrong, become the proverbial whipping boy of the political ‘Judas’ metaphor in the estimation of detractors.

That brings me to a piece I wrote in Governor Akpabio’s first term, titled, BASSEY ALBERT AS THE WHIPPING BOY, published on the back page of Community Shield Edition of Wednesday 17th, February 2010.

It was at the peak of his cold war with the then Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, his Ibiono Ibom townsman, Rt. Hon. Ignatius Edet.

Summoned to appear before the House, alongside, Mr. Hilary Isobara (State Accountant General) and then Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Obong Paul Ekpo, over alleged breaches of Local Government Administration Law regarding finances, not a few analysts fingered political witch hunt, with Albert as the target in the affair.

I shall take leave and repeat the Whipping Boy tale, as it is apt for my discourse here. King James 1 (1566-1625), popular as King James the Mighty who authorized the publication of a new translation of the bible by scholars in 1611 and in whose honor it is named King James version, espoused the notion of The Divine Rights of Kings to rule.

In summary, the notion propounded that kings are divine beings who must not be subjected to human frailties or humiliated in any manner whatsoever.

Obedience to Kings, he taught, is obedience to God. King James who had a son, Charles (1600-1649) – enrolled him in school.

Not disposed to having his son punished or flogged in school by a mere mortal, in the name of School teacher, who are his subjects, King James contrived an idea.

A boy, Williams, was conscripted to be his son’s surrogate in school. His brief was simple. Anytime the Prince, Charles, erred and deserved a thrashing, William was laid and took the lashes of the whip on his behalf.

So it was that up until this day, WHIPPING BOY came into usage in the English lexicon. Let me add this bit of how that notion was tarnished. Oliver Cromwell overthrew Charles, tried him for treason and beheaded him on January 30, 1649.

What does this story, in the current scenario, have again to do with Bassey Albert? A lot. The former Finance boss should not be made to look bad simply because he nurses a dream to become governor.

He should not be singled out to take the flak on behalf of several others, who will surely move against Governor Akpabio’s designs, which truth be told, is also natural.

The Biblical story of Joseph and his dream has taught us an eternal lesson. No man, howsoever, should be stoned, lynched, sold or blackmailed for tenaciously holding on to his dream. Even Governor Akpabio must concede that, it is beyond his reach and control to regulate the dream of his biological child, much more his associates, friends or hirelings.

Some of them will stick with him. Others may seek their adolescence elsewhere. He should graciously accommodate that as did Attah before him.

If Akpabio abandoned his dream under the intense pressure and formidable power of his then boss, Governor Victor Attah, the Uncommon Transformation diary which has become a singsong today, would have been a fantasy dream and nothing more.

If Akpabio was not a Judas for resisting promptings to renounce his dream even while still in Attah’s government, against Attah’s agenda, then, neither Bassey Albert, Effiong Abia, Umana Okon Umana, nor any other, among those who have been removed from office or are yet to leave is.

Truth is, it boils down to destiny and what the Almighty God, the Authour and Finisher of everyman’s fate has written from the beginning and encrypted into the DNA of all these folks.

They are not to blame for, in many cases, a power higher than they can refrain from, prods them to a course which God fore knew and predestined.

The flipside is the Zoning paradigm. Power shift to Eket Senatorial District has been canvassed with religious zeal by Governor Akpabio, as anchored on equity, fairness and justice.

But let’s face the fact. PDP while passing its zoning resolution in the crucial meeting of Tuesday, April 22, 2014 entertained a proviso, stating that, “…pursuant to Section 7 (3) of the Party Constitution 2012 (as amended) stipulating adherence to the “policy of the rotation and zoning of Party and public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness” the meeting zones the Governorship position to Eket Senatorial District.

This is without prejudice to the right of any other person from other Senatorial Districts to contest for the Governorship seat in 2015.”

Can we therefore submit that, Bassey Albert enjoys the immunity of this clause to also join the chase for the Hilltop Mansion without being called names?

It is akin to Jesus’ teaching that, the weed and the wheat should grow together, when the time for harvest comes, then the Lord of the harvest will sort them out.

Should we not appropriate that allowance to qualify that, the outcome of the PDP Governorship Primaries come October 2014 and ultimately, the April Governorship Elections will certify the harvest.

Nothing should be done to needlessly hunt down Bassey Albert or any other aspirant for that matter.

They are all divinely and constitutionally entitled, protected and at liberty to pursue their God given, or self driven aspirations.

Who can discern which among the lot is truly Gods Will for Akwa Ibom? Hence actualizing the dream is a different call entirely for Psalm 62:11 states, Power belongs to God. “All things” Scripture says, “works together for good to them that love the Lord.” In like saying, all the aspirants work together for good to the development of Akwa Ibom’s political chronicle.

Away from the 2015 Governorship race, Bassey Albert as so many crossroads of this administration has been the whipping boy for the fervency of his input to the stability and success stories of the Akpabio administration.

As Chairman of the Inter Ministerial Direct Labour Committee, Albert has been excellent in delivery of thousands of executed and complete projects, which have become one of the strongest points of Akpabio’ Uncommon Transformation scorecard.

Such labor should not be cancelled in unthankfulness of an undeserved stigmatization.

Many times, Albert took the blows, blames and flaks that Akpabio should have gotten, simply because with a Socio-political group called Utuenikang Ibibio, bankrolled by Albert, they presented a safe buffer zone for Akpabio against the onslaught of ethnic jingoism as irredent tribalists went for Akpabio’s jugular.

I therefore submit that, even out of Government he should be celebrated not vilified for thinking differently.

Let Bassey Albert be.

He is not the Judas Akpabio should fear.

[Written By] Osondu Ahirika – A Social and Political Analyst

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