By Nelson Utip
IT is a known fact that Senator Godswill Akpabio supported Mr. Udom Emmanuel as his successor. The ‘uncommon transformation’ of Akwa Ibom State, however, came at a huge price: A huge debt profile. Whereas the debt is impeding the smooth running of the state, it takes a thoroughbred technocrat and financial manager of international repute such as the incumbent governor to keep Akwa Ibom afloat, paying salaries as and when due and still attending to numerous aspects of statecraft.
The details of the debt burden on the present administration are not the subject of this write-up.
During the Yuletide season, Akpabio spoke from both sides of the mouth and flew a kite that got burnt to ashes. While addressing some Ikot Ekpene youths, elders and elites, he openly condemned Udom for abandoning the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road and Four Point by Sheraton Hotel at Ikot Ekpene. He whipped up ethnic sentiments against the governor, setting conditions to support his second term ambition.
The next moment, he led a delegation to show solidarity with the governor at the Government House, promising him half a million votes in the next gubernatorial election. What is the Senate Minority Leader up to? Is he trying to spite the Ibibios of Uyo Senatorial District who are warming up to take the governorship slot come 2023? It is simple arithmetic that if Udom does not complete his eight years, whoever comes in from Eket Senatorial District will not serve for four years but will want to serve for the eight years the constitution permits; this simply means that the people of Uyo will have to wait till 2027 before they can occupy the Hilltop Mansion.
Akpabio is the greatest beneficiary of the zoning system in the state. The Ibibios overwhelmingly voted for him against Bob Ekarika, the then governor’s in law; there was no ethnic bias. He was elected and supported by the Ibibios of Uyo Senatorial District, the same people he vilified during his tenure as governor.
It is absolutely depressing to see the greatest beneficiary of unity of purpose in the state stirring up ethnic disharmony. The overbearing posture of the senator is a huge yoke on the neck of the incumbent governor. In the early days of the present administration, the senator was always breaking protocols, arriving at occasions when the governor was already seated.
On his facebook page, Udo Silas, General Manager, Pioneer Newspapers during Akpabio’s regime, castigated Udom. Ironically, Silas is from Onna, the same Local Government Area as the incumbent governor. Silas is trying to protect his university days colleague and former boss. He saw the incumbent governor as an ingrate who paid back his master in bad coins.
Does Udo Silas know that Udom spends almost half the allocation he receives from the centre to service the debts left behind by the former administration? Has he asked himself why his boss did not complete Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road even when N9.7 billion had been expended only on compensation? The eight years of Akpabio as governor was the years of oil boom and huge financial wind fall. How did he manage the resources?
The Ibibios instituted the zoning formula for governorship in the state to allow peace to reign and accommodate the minority groups which Akpabio was the first beneficiary of Akpabio should let the sleeping the dog lie. He should bury his inordinate ambition and work to sustain the peaceful, harmonious co-existence in the state. He should not drag the people of Annang into a fight of blame as Chinua Achebe will put it.
Akpabio should not forget so soon that he usurped the chance of the Abak 5 to become a senator. Udom will actualize his second term ambition with or without the support of Akpabio as Uyo Senatorial District, the Ibibios and the entire state are solidly behind him.
*Utip is resident in Uyo