By JOSEPH NDEDU
ON December 9, 1962, a son was born in the then little known village of Ukana Ikot Ntuen of Akwa Ibom State. Yet, only the gifted could read the symbolic signs illustrating that he was born to run. But six months later, he was to step into the furnace of life that was to orientate him in resilience and critical social responsibility. He lost his father before he knew him as a breadwinner.
One of the early signs of the boy’s greatness was in his name. Soon, Godswill Obot Akpabio grew to know one individual with twin responsibilities – a mother and father tucked into one human entity. Mrs. Lucy Obot Akpabio (Nee Inyangetor) held forte at all fronts – domestic, social, spiritual, even as moral barricade and other known sundry duties connected with raising children.
She performed the duties of father and mother, exercising uncommon affection for the children. Madam Lucy Akpabio braved the odds and braced herself to the continuously changing fortunes of a widow.
As is common in our clime, neglect became her portion but the children became her treasure. She invested her all in them, sacrificed her comfort for them and denied herself of everything for them. The result of the steadfastness, sacrifice, self denial is part of the annual ritual being the commemoration of December 9.
An eternal admonition notes that what you put in a today’s child is what you have in tomorrow’s man. Thus, from that state of despair has arisen the spirit behind the beauty we behold today in Akwa Ibom State and the hope and prospects that have become the new building blocks.
One of the products of that chequered beginning has re-written history, re-defined governance, disabled the barriers of our ethnicity and built new bridges of unity. He has tackled infrastructural revolution with messianic zeal and effected interventions in relevant areas that have benefited majority of mankind.
He has also evolved strategic empowerment programmes that range from capacity building to conventional empowerment. Indeed, the hitherto neglected and despised youths owe their transformation from boys to men to Akpabio. In 1962, when he was born conditions that were analogous to the heralding of comets were prevalent.
From the late mother’s account to one Prince Bassey Thomas Atai during the latter’s visit to her after the birth of little Godswill; to the prophetic message of the political patriarch of Akpabio’s royal family, Dr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio; to the dream by the village head of Adiasim Ikot Ono, Chief Udom Atai between 1968 and 1969, there were clear affirmations that Akpabio’s emergence as governor of Akwa Ibom State was ordained by forces that are beyond man. And that since it is an act of verifiable divination, no law suits fashioned against him shall prosper.
It is perhaps why the many contrivances by the wearied opposition would always come to naught for it is not a fight against Godswill Akpabio but against the One who makes kings. And if we agree that He does His things as He likes, then, we would realize that no matter how we loathe the one He has chosen, His will, will always prevail.
In making us subjects to His will, God in His infinite mercy added a caveat of promise which asserts that His thought for us is a thought of good, not of evil. The question therefore is, is His thought for Akwa Ibom people through Akpabio a thought of good? I am sure the host of heaven and an earth would chorus a resounding yes, but not without some minor dissensions and cynicisms.
Akpabio seems to be conscious of the hands of providence that have guided his life to date. He has therefore offered several forms of responses and approaches signaling obedience to God’s will and acknowledgement of His demands. One of the ways he has expressed response is through his disarming humility and uncommon peoples’ skills.
Chief Godswill Akpabio is in every conceivable ramification a metaphor for humility. His ability to connect with the poor, the rich, the young and the old is legendary. Not to talk of old friends and acquaintances whom he seems to keep a special place in his memory to remember them. In fact, you can accuse Governor Godswill Akpabio of everything but not hubris.
This humble disposition acquiesces with the Christian tenet of humility which asserts that those who humble themselves shall be exalted. When he joined the cabinet of former governor, Obong Victor Attah in 2002, he brought an uncommon trait of humility into public office in the state. Thus, a cabinet member that was hitherto seen as a rarefied being became suddenly altered into a human with affinities with the common people.
It became possible to meet with a commissioner, shake hands and exchange the banters that define our common humanity. This was a new vista in public office management. God saw it and decided to exalt him. Men, women and youths saw it and decided to make him their governor. PDP saw it and decided to sponsor him for an election.
Thus, despite the motley population that sought the ticket of PDP, the party found him fit and worthy. Despite the common feature of ethnicity which has remained the perennial bane of our politics, the entire state was united in one accord behind one man that divination had processed for meaningful development in Akwa Ibom State. The Holy Book lived out the true meaning of its creed as God exalted the humble and a man after His heart.
Akpabio has also not failed to demonstrate that he is a windmill in God’s hand.
He acknowledges the fact that the only way to honour God is to ensure unbridled respect for the social contract he entered into with the people. He seems to view the Latin aphorism of: “vox populi, vox dei” translated loosely as: “the voice of the people is the voice of God” as a sacred covenant that must not be violated but respected in all its entirety in the interest of public good. These sentiments, it is argued, constitute the driving force of Akpabio’s administration which is why it is christened as God’s will for Akwa Ibom people.
The christening is not an emotional outpouring, neither is it a hyperbole or elevated political demaguogy. It is an assertion based on the true meaning of events. It is a postulation predicated on verifiable tangibles that are available for all to see.
In other words, irrespective of one’s misgivings for Godswill Akpabio and his administration, such a person will use the beautiful road networks, pass through the airport, enjoy the alleviation of school fees, medical bills of children from age 0-5, pregnant women and the aged, witness renovated primary schools in the urban centres and villages and have access to loan facilities courtesy of Integrated Farmers Scheme (IFS).
The government of Chief Godsdwill Akpabio has also built a first of its kind library in West Africa; a first of its kind drainage system (pipe jacking technology) in Africa; a first of its kind entertainment galleria etc. The Akpabio administration has braced the development tapes of many firsts establishing the government as a fitting peg these past four years.
His achievements in 49 years have engendered admiration and confounded cynics. It has also compelled many lessons most of which are reflective. One of such critical lessons is that no amount of deprivation or intervening set-backs in one’s life can alter the will of God upon that life or change God’s manifest destiny.
It is why the persisting political rumblings in Akwa Ibom must be condemned. Apart from seeming to go against the grain of God’s will, it also has the potential to foster ethnic discord.
Akwa Ibom State must put an end to ethnicity or ethnicity would put an end to the wellbeing of the state. Let us use this birthday that has a rich score-card of goodies for the state to renew our faith in one another as brothers and sisters of the same heritage.
Mr Ndedu, a writer & public affairs analyst, wrote in from Uyo