A COUPLE of months ago – while Yar’Adua was still alive – an unknown person or group decided to paste “Jonathan For 2011” campaign posters all over Abuja.

Dr. Goodluck  Jonathan’s media spokesman, Mr Ima Niboro, swiftly distanced his boss from these posters by saying that: “The Acting President…regards this development as a distraction from the crucial requirements of the nation at this time…We ask those behind them to desist forthwith…”.

Recently, posters and billboards depicting Chief Godswill Akpabio, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, as a running mate to General Ibrahim Babangida, the former Head of State who says that he will be a contestant in next year’s presidential election, started to mysteriously appear in Abuja and other cities.

Last Monday, Mr Aniekan Umanah, Akwa Ibom State’s Commissioner of Information, issued a press release in which it was unequivocally stated that Chief Akpabio has never had any intention of presenting himself as a vice-presidential candidate and possesses no political ambitions beyond a desire to seek a second term when the gubernatorial elections come up next year and a determination to continue to serve his constituents by pursuing the massive developmental programme that he has initiated.

Umanah, having accused “unscrupulous politicians” of printing the provocative posters and billboards for mischevious reasons, went on to say that the government and people of Akwa Ibom are fully behind President Jonathan.

Meanwhile, someone told me yesterday that some aspirants who wish to become legislators, local government officials or whatever are cheekily superimposing President Jonathan’s photograph on their personal campaign posters, in a bid to mislead the public into assuming that he has endorsed their candidacies.

Whenever I hear about such scenarios – which are all too commonplace in this crazy country – I wonder why our political scene is so riddled with unserious, immature individuals who have nothing better to do with their time and money.

I am willing to give some of the folks who specialise in creating and distributing fallacious posters the benefit of the doubt – and to believe that they may be motivated by goodwill and excessive exuberance rather than malice.

For example, it is possible that the fellow or fellows who pulled the “Jonathan for 2011” stunt were sincere supporters who wanted to chivvy their hero into running. But, given that Dr Jonathan did not ask anyone to organise  posters on his behalf, it was inappropriate to inflict an unsolicited PR operation on him.

At any rate, most of these poster-pasters and billboard-erectors are not harmless. They are dangerous, irresponsible miscreants who actively set out to cause confusion and damage the reputations of their innocent victims.

The characters who targeted Chief Akpabio with their poisonous posters definitely fit into this category. They wanted to give the world the impression that if Dr Jonathan decides to run in 2011, Akpabio will join Babangida to oppose him. And yet, nothing could be further from the truth.

I recently met Akpabio; and I instinctively warmed to him. He strikes me as an immensely pleasant man whose heart is in the right place. And I’ve seen with my own eyes the extremely valuable work he is doing in all four corners of his state.

I also know trustworthy people who know Akpabio better than I do – close friends who have socialised with him since he was a schoolboy, political allies who have fought worthy battles alongside him….In short, people he relaxes with, confides in and doesn’t feel any need to pretend in front of; and I clearly recall these Akpabio intimates telling me, earlier on this year, how elated Akpabio was when Dr Jonathan became the first Niger Deltan President of Nigeria.

I’m told that, in addition to being genuinely thrilled by the historical significance attached to Jonathan’s elevation, Akpabio described Jonathan as a decent gentleman who had what it took to be an excellent leader.

In other words, Akpabio’s attitude towards Jonathan has always been brotherly and respectful; and I find it very sad that his enemies are trying to drive a wedge between him and Dr Jonathan by insinuating that he is a potential rival.

For the benefit of sceptics who are convinced that Akpabio is “guilty” because “there is no smoke without fire”, I will simply quote Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s evil propaganda chief, who once cynically observed that:  “If you tell a big enough lie and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it…”.

Fortunately, not everyone is as gullible as Goebbels hoped. Some Germans could see through the many big lies that he repeatedly told them; and I’ve encountered quite a few Nigerians who regard the big lies that we are being fed by Akpabio’s desperate, envy-fuelled adversaries as laughable and offensive.

Umanah contemptuously dismisses such “deceitful abracadabra blackmailers” and says his Oga has adopted a philosophical attitude towards them and takes the view that the best response to those who are hellbent on dragging him down is to start a new project that will make life better for Akwa Ibom indigenes.

Since the best revenge is success, Akpabio’s attitude certainly makes sense.


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