By UDO IBUOT
IT is hardly surprising that the Akwa Ibom Peoples Front (AKPF), as a socio-cultural group, has continued to come under undeserved attacks and criticisms by people who do not seem to understand objectives of the group.
While some people accuse the organisation of being a secret cult, others say that its influence on the economic and political life of the state has been over-bearing.
But both positions are wrong for several reasons. Those who accuse the AKPF of being a secret cult do not seem to understand the objectives of the organization, or even the relevance of the group to the socio-political development of the state.
For the benefit of those who may be hearing of the group for the first time, the AKPF is a socio-cultural platform that mobilised consciousness, leading eventually to the emergence of Obong Godswill Akpabio as the governor of Akwa Ibom State.
You will recall that powerful forces fought the choice of Akpabio as governor of the state, preferring, instead, candidates of their choice. It is doubtful if these forces of resistance have given up their futile opposition to the governor whose administration has brought unprecedented relief to the lives of people of the state.
After failing to instal their cronies as governor of the state, the forces of reaction resorted to blackmail, in an attempt to obscure the focus of Akpabio.
Rather than be distracted, theÂ governor injected unprecedented focus into the conduct of his administration, ushering in an era of prosperity and development never before experienced in the history of the state since its creation in 1987.
Being the major plank of support for the administration of Akpabio, it is natural to expect that some of the mud thrown at the governor would equally splash on those who have stood by him through thick and thin. In fact, it would have been surprising if the AKPF, headed by Bishop Sam Akpan, a respectable man of God, was not dragged into this despicable campaign of calumny by disgruntled enemies of progress.
However, the beauty of the matter is that despite all these attempts to blackmail the group, its leadership has maintained a dignified silence, preferring to partner with the state government to deliver the dividends of democracy than be distracted by some disgruntled and selfish politicians whose only concern is that they have been stopped from milking the resources of the state as they would have wanted to.
How can a group that claims to be godfearing and harbours some of the best professional in the state be described as a secret cult? It is noteworthy to say that most of the members of the AKPF are ministers of God who would have nothing to do with a secret cult.
The AKPF has, for the past two years, been partnering with the state government to bring political stability which is crucial if the state government is to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people as promised by Akpabio.
But nobody has complained about that. If the natural question must be asked, which secret cult has ever worked for the interest and welfare of the ordinary majority?
Also, which secret cult has ever been spearheaded by respectable men and women of God like Bishop Akpan andÂ Dr. Antai, a strong member of the Lagos branch of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN)?
If the state government is determined to improve the welfare of the majority of the people of Akwa Ibom, anybody or group that decides to key into this dream to make it a reality should be commended, not condemned.
Those who had the opportunity to improve the lot and welfare of the people but failed to do so should not constitute themselves into a stumbling block by opposing every progressive effort by government just for the fun of opposition.
There is nothing wrong with criticism, as long as it is constructive, not self-serving. If the AKPF is committed to partnering with the state government to improve the welfare of the people of the state, it should be applauded, not blackmailed with empty and baseless accusations of culthood.
For so long, the people of the state have wallowed in poverty and deprivation, leading to a situation whereby the state has earned the unenviable reputation of the highest producer of domestic workers in the country.
Any stakeholder who can partner with the state government, including the AKPF, to reverse this trend should be welcomed, supported and encouraged. This is not the type for cheap blackmail or idle campaigns of calumny.