By Suleiman Ajayi
The reign of peace in Akwa Ibom State proved to be one of the most poignant revelations of the interview session between Governor Udom Emmanuel and his interviewers on an AIT Kakaki programme last Wednesday.
Asked whether the decision of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC to flag off its national campaigns in Akwa Ibom State was indicative of the determination of the party to wrest control of the state from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the governor sharply countered. To the contrary, the governor said the decision of the APC to come to Akwa Ibom was mainly because of the peace that had lately enveloped the PDP controlled state.
It was a revelation that has continued to puzzle many. But in the real sense, Governor Emmanuel’s assertion is one that cannot be easily challenged.
The APC in Akwa Ibom had in the last few months been engaged in spewing out propaganda pushing here and there but unfortunately unable to gain traction in the PDP dominated state.
What was to have been a bumper for the APC in Akwa Ibom following the defection of the former governor of the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio also failed to gain traction as most of the former governor’s political followers refused to beckon to his call.
It was as such not surprising that leaders of the party had to resort to other tricks to gain attention to themselves. One of such was the attempt to cause confusion in the State House of Assembly last November, an attempt that the peace-loving people of the state led by Governor Emmanuel tactically suppressed.
Another strategy has been the rapid rotation of commissioners of police assigned to the state with those seen not to be inclined towards the machinations of the APC being quickly eased out.
But above all, propaganda dished out through the mainstream media and through the social media has been the mainstay of the campaign by the APC in Akwa Ibom State.
There is no doubt that it was the peace that the national leadership of the APC saw in Akwa Ibom State that caused the party to flag off its national campaigns from the state. The party would not lie about the reasonable impact of security in the choice of a venue for flag off especially given the fact that the president was involved.
The peace that presently envelops Akwa Ibom is one that even both friends and foes across the political divide are now testifying to.
Elder statesman and leading member of the Akwa Ibom State Caucus of the APC, Elder Enefiok Ekefere deposed to it only recently in a one-page advertorial in The Nation of Tuesday, January 15, 2019.
As he said: “It is worthy to note that during the tenure of Senator Godswill Akpabio and the state governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Obong Nsima Ekere as the Governor and Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State from 2007 to 2015 respectively, our now peaceful state was in serious tumult with incessant politically motivated killings of prominent and innocent Akwa Ibom sons and daughters.”
It is particularly noted that Ekere, the APC governorship candidate has not deemed it fit to condemn the violence that prevailed under his former boss. He has also not voiced out a commendation of the present peace that Governor Emmanuel has brought to the state.
It would be a point of interest for Ekere to honestly speak on security situation in the state as against the time he was in power with his new godfather.
If he eschews propaganda he would undoubtedly confess the paradigm shift in the last three years since Mr. Emmanuel took over the affairs of the state.
Against the pattern of political opponents including former governors being hounded, Governor Emmanuel has provided a template for all political actors in the state to sell themselves.
Despite the serious controversy generated by the proclamation by his immediate predecessor and APC leader, Senator Akpabio that the forthcoming election would be a rehash of the German invasion of Poland, Governor Emmanuel has allowed Akpabio to be, even while putting security measures to ensure that his people do not see war.
Besides, unlike in the past when opposition parties were denied use of government owned facilities, the APC has continued to use government stadia to pour personal attacks on the governor and his party.
Though a human being who could be moved by such acts of ingratitude to fire back, Mr. Emmanuel has refrained himself for two basic reasons.
First, it is not in his nature to be cantankerous. Responding in the same language as his traducers would show him to be a prophet who says “do what I do say and not what I do.” It is simply not in the governor’s DNA to be feisty or to deny any citizen of the state the right to government facility if so available.
Another reason is that the governor like many other political stakeholders know that the propaganda of the APC leaders in Akwa Ibom State remain essentially what it is; propaganda.
The people of Akwa Ibom have not bought into the agenda of the APC either at the state or at the federal level as had been repeatedly demonstrated. In one of the rallies they held, many Akwa Ibomites were rather amused when one of the leaders came to the stage to beckon on the crowd in the native language. Of course the failure of many in the crowd to respond and the bemusement they showed, finally exposed to all that many of those who have been coming to the rallies were imported from neighbouring states. That has been quite reassuring to the governor and the mainstream of the political class in Akwa Ibom.
So, for the governor providing stadia for APC leaders to play their theatrics is not a problem. The only thing is that Governor Emmanuel will not give them the crowd!