Sammy Etuk is an Uyo-based legal practitioner and the convener of Akwa Ibom Interest Group Movement (AIGM). In this interview, he speaks on topical issues bothering the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel. Excerpts:
By Chioma Onuegbu
Majority of Akwa Ibom people are of the opinion that the immediate past Governor, Godswill Akpabio is the man behind the mask, Udom, do you agree with that?
First and foremost, people are entitled to their opinions, but the reality on ground is that Udom Emmanuel is a man of his own. Udom Emmanuel, as I have heard, consults a lot. So, it will not be out of place for him to consult his predecessors and beyond that, they are elder statesmen who are always ready to give constructive advice.
Governor Emmanuel realizing that he needs constructive advice will have no other alternative than to reach out to these persons, particularly his predecessor Chief Godswill Akpabio. And doing that does not mean they are dictating his actions. Godswill Akpabio may not have had a very cordial relationship with his benefactor and predecessor, Obong Victor Attah, from the start of his administration, but that does not necessarily mean Udom Emmanuel should also have that experience. I do not know of any mask because at the end of the day, there is only one Governor of Akwa Ibom State now and that Governor is Udom Emmanuel and whatever happens, he will be held responsible for his actions and inactions by the people of the state.
On his appointments
Governor Emmanuel should know that he is coming from an organized private sector background; he should be able to decipher. If he wants to reward people for their loyalty, he can do that but what I am saying is that he should put square pegs in square holes and round pegs in round holes. Those he needs to encourage, he should encourage but appointment should not be seen as a means of empowerment.
What is your expectation of the Udom Emmanuel-led administration?
The expectation of AIGM, like every other discerning Akwa Ibom person, is for the new administration to effect positive change in the state. We expect change that goes beyond infrastructural development, change that will address the issues of unemployment and insecurity; change that will propel our state from civil service based to an investment destination of choice; change that will consolidate on the achievements of past administrations; and change that will not be lopsided. Above all, we expect change that will see projects equitably distributed among every integral part of the state. These are what our movement expects of the Emmanuel-led administration.
How is that feasible?
It is feasible in the sense that the elections are over and the person at the helm of affairs today is Mr. Emmanuel. He is of the Ibibio extraction and emerged the Governor of Akwa Ibom State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. But elections are over and that means Udom Emmanuel has entered a covenant with the people of Akwa Ibom State to deliver responsive governance to all parts of the state irrespective of ethnic composition, religious affiliation, gender or orientation.
He has to address the issue of effective distribution of development across board.
Do you think the last administration did not address that?
Well, to the best of its ability, the Akpabio administration was able to do that but you cannot fail to see a manifest lopsidedness. As a person, I am very passionate about the people of Oron federal constituency. I have had occasions to go to that area for personal and legal businesses and the level of infrastructural decay there is not comparable to any other federal constituency in the state. I do not know what could have necessitated such lopsidedness but it is visible for even a blind man to feel. Yes, Emmanuel’s predecessor must have tried his best but there was an obvious lopsidedness.
His assessment of members of the Technical Committee set up by the governor to realise the Ibaka deep seaport
As a lawyer I have been privileged to read materials on maritime law and the industry and I know in Nigeria there are just two highly known authorities when it comes to this area. One of them is Chief Olisa Agbakoba and fortunately for Akwa Ibom people, the second is a former Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Mrs. Mfon Usoro.
So, for Udom to have constituted a technical committee and appointed her to chair it with the likes of Enobong Etteh, who has versatile experience in labour law, banking and finance law, as the Secretary of the committee amongst others, means the governor knows what he is doing and what Akwa Ibom people want.
Members of that committee are the best hands in the industry. For me, but for the duration given the committee to work, it is a step in the right direction.
You have to understand that this deep seaport project started during Obong Attah’s tenure and Akpabio’s eight years in office could not also actualize it. I am told there is litigation on the project.
So, Udom has to also look at it from this angle to avoid failure; looking at issues that affected the non-actualization of the same project from the days of Obong Attah till date. However, he has started on the right direction but what Akwa Ibom people want is results.