By Anietie Ekong
THE interview by Dr. Udoma Bob Ekarika in Weekly InsightÂ headlined, If I had been the governor I would have done better, made an interesting reading. It is interesting that Ekarika has come out of over two years of political hibernation to foul the political atmosphere with his diatribe against Governor Godswill Akpabio who had trounced him and 49 others in the PDP primaries in the state to pick the coveted ticket of the party.
I see this his latest interview as part of the post election hangover, a refusal to accept the reality that he had been rejected by Akwa Ibom people and no amount of political invective against the present administration can launch him back to reckoning. If the truth must be told, Akwa Ibom people see Ekarika as a stooge, a surrogate of his father-in-law, Obong Victor Attah.
Having had the opportunity to rule the state for eight years and even aspired to be the president at the age of over 70 and presently a member of PDP Board of Trustees, common sense should dictate that Attah should play the role of a statesman and not directly or, through his son-in-law, meddle in local politics, seeking to install a ward chairman here and a councillor there.
I donâ€™t see it as a coincidence that thisÂ interview by Ekarika was also published along with that of his father-in-law,Â who also launched his tirade against the party and the state.But, who is Ekarika? Before 1999 when his elder brother and a more experiencedÂ politician, Senator Itak Bob Ekarika, brought him into politics, he was an unknown quantity.
In the run-up to the 1999 election and even during the Abacha transition, Itak Ekarika had put up a strong challenge for the office of the governor. He was persuaded to step down for Attah in 1999 and a commissioner slot conceded to him. This was how the older Ekarika nominated his younger brother for the post.
According to those who know him, before he became a commissioner, Udoma was a struggling medical practitioner. Since he bragged about his past achievements in school and as a commissioner, Udoma should tell us his professional achievement, before he went into government. Is being the public relations officer of Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) a medical feat that Udoma Ekarika should bore us with?
He also mentioned that he was appointed welfare officer of the Students Union Government of the University of Calabar; but failed to tell his interviewers how he spent over 10 years in UNICAL and graduated only in 1991 for a course that is for seven years. A genius indeed! I think even the achievement of Ekarika as a commissioner should be put in proper perspective.
For the most part that he was the commissioner for health, the professional association which, by his own admission he was the PRO, the NMA had called medical doctors out on a long drawn strike and health care in the state was in a state of comatose. It was his egoistic and uncompromising position and the vow by NMA not to call off the strike unless he was removed that made his father-in-law to beat a retreat and reassigned him to the ministry of works.
According to Ekarika â€œUyo is the seat of government and if the owners say we have to give it to them, so be i.,â€ Flowing from this illogic is an insinuation that the people of Oron, Eket, Ikot Abasi and other places who have not had a shot at the governorship of the state, should be spectators because â€œUyo is the seat of government.â€ What arrant nonsense! Is this somebody who seeks the unity of the state or a political opportunist dancing to the tune of a benevolent in-law who does not want his daughter to go hungry in the husbandâ€™s house?
I am sure that the Annangs have noted the perfidy that this man who claims to be â€œtruly an Annang sonâ€ has uttered and at the appropriate time, they will call on him to account for this betrayal. But the Akpabio 2011 project is not even about the Annangs alone.
As at the last check, all the ethnic groups in the state had endorsed the governor for a second term, so what is Udoma Ekarika talking about? Is he more Ibibio than the Ntisong III, Edidem Udo Ukpa or Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga? Or is he being more Catholic than the Pope?
According to him, he wants to form a â€œgovernment that will carry everybody along come 2011.â€ Again, he says, â€œhow many people have been carried along in Abak axis?â€ When a Nigerian politician complains of not being â€˜carried alongâ€™ what he means is that he has not had political patronage.
But I donâ€™t care if Udoma Ekarika and his ilk cry all day of not being carried along. I would care if the silent majority of Akwa Ibom people who use the roads constructed by the present administration cry of not being carried along. I would care if our kids who have benefitted from the free and compulsory education policy of the present administration (with all its imperfections) cry of not being carried along. I would care if the beneficiary of the health care policy of the present administration cry of not being carried along.
The clincher in the interview is when Udoma Ekarika spills that his cry is about his selfish ambition to become a minister. So this is what the struggle is all about forÂ Attah? A ministerial slot for his son-in-law! Need I say more? God save Akwa Ibom State from the hands of selfish politicians. But Udoma Ekarika should ask Akpanudoedehe who was also a minister what he went and brought back from Abuja to Akwa Ibom.
The truth is Udoma Ekarika is a political liability. He cannot win an election as a councillor in his ward in Oruk Anam. The people loath him because of his arrogance. You know he is â€˜in-law excellencyâ€™. He does not have any political pedigree. In a political contest when the chips are down, he cannot deliver his ward, not to talk of Oruk Anam that also parades his brother Itak Ekarika and Don Etiebet. This interview is the ranting of a political lightweight that should be taken for its comical and entertainment value.