Attah, Akpabio, Udom And Ingratitude

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By UbongAbasi Ise

 

“If the Cause is forgotten, it gets angry” – Ibibio Proverb

 

Beyond the week-long celebration of Arc. (Obong) Victor Attah’s 80th Birthday anniversary that were well-attended by most of the glitterati of this world, there are certain disturbing facts that are unnecessarily stirred from quiescence. Perhaps, it could have been very convenient to have finished the all-week wining and dining in a cautious manner without having to wake up the feral ghost of history from its slumber. In this piece, I wouldn’t love to go back to fully discuss Attah’s All Is Well With Soul book launched on Tuesday 20th of November, 2018 which seemed to have been motivated by the former governor’s own wistfulness. Nonetheless, the work is laudable to a reasonable extent, but there are some contestable facts here and there. I can’t help admiring the author’s bluntness and forcefulness. While he dedicated some pages to comment on the phantom, falsity state of industrialization as flown about all over the places by the incumbent government of Mr. Udom Emmanuel, he also created  space to rubbish the recklessness he found to have characterized the government of his immediate successor, Senator Godswill Akpabio. That was not all, most significantly, during a symposium organized at Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort on Friday 23th November, 2018 to honour the octogenarian, a message was sent across to show that all is not well with the soul of leadership in Akwa Ibom State. On that day, Attah said something that had deeper contextual meaning outside the literal expression as he was addressing Mr. Udom Emmanuel who had eaten the humble pie and still show up at the function. It goes: “I will say that honestly I count myself very lucky to have a Governor like Deacon Udom Emmanuel and I will explain why I said so… There were times when this would have not been possible, there are times when this would have been prohibited.”

Yes! There were times such flirtatious visitation would have roundly prohibited, and this doesn’t mean that such times are over as far as Akwa Ibom State leadership is concerned because campaign period can hold unimaginable deception. Attah’s comment had sent a message which explains the underlying tension diffusing from himself through Godswill Akpabio to Udom Emmanuel and back.  The unfortunate implication of this bad blood existing among these governors constituted a major hurdle to governmental and developmental continuity in the state. War for supremacy preoccupies these three leaders, festering badly, resulting in envy and resentment. Perhaps the predecessors are seeking to maintain unparalleled record against their successor(s), while the successors are taking their counsel from Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power which says, “Slay the overbearing father, disparage his legacy, and gain power by shining in your own way.” But how they got to the Hilltop Mansion is a history that doesn’t matter to them now. This is a sour story of a river that forgets its source; a sorry tale of ingratitude.

The recent fallout between Senator Godswill Akpabio and Mr. Udom Emmanuel has brought a sort of homespun submission vainly aimed at justifying Udom’s headiness towards Akpabio. It is often contended erroneously that since Godswill Akpabio turned around to fight Victor Attah who brought him to power, therefore it is just okay for Udom Emmanuel to humiliate Akpabio who, against all odds, positioned him as governor of Akwa Ibom State in 2015. To set the record straight, the truth is that Akpabio made Udom governor, but it is untrue that Victor Attah brought Akpabio to power given some historical facts as presented here. 

In 1999 when the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, came to power, Godswil Akpabio was not in any way a member of the PDP. He came to the state as a non-PDP member in the early 2000 to join the government following the loggerhead in the selection of a Commissioner to represent Essien Udim local government area in the State Executive Council. The circumstances that led to Godswill Akpabio’s appointment happened in his own local government, Essien Udim where one camp that was comprising of the Chairman of all the ward chairmen in Essien Udim local government area, Mr. Emmanuel Akpan-utim; Mr. Peter Tombere a.k.a. Patom; Barr. Ibanga Akpabio; and some other ward PDP chairmen in the local government area. All these personalities formed one camp known as Patom Group, and nominated Barr. Ibanga Akpabio for the commissionership position for Essien Udim slot at the State’s cabinet.

The other camp called Afangideh Group included the then council chairman of Essien Udim local government area, Mr. Martins Michael Umanah; Obong M.A. Afangideh and the then chapter chairman of the PDP, Mr. Emmanuel Sunday Akpan. They came to nominate late Mr. Etim Etido Atakpa for the commissionership position. When Atakpa was rejected by the generality of the members of the PDP in Essien Udim Chapter, Barr. Ibanga Ibanga akpabio had the edge and was presented by his camp to late Chief Fidelis Etim, a one-time chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), for onward presentation to the then governor, Obong Victor Attah for appointment. When Fidelis Etim took Ibanga Akpabio to Obong Attah, the other group popularly known as ‘the Afangideh Group’ wrote a petition noting that Ibanga was not qualified to be a Commissioner on the ground that, as a bachelor, he was irresponsible and would not be able to handle the duties of the office of the commissioner.  But owing to his relationship with late Fidelis Etim, whom he served as his secretary coupled with Chief Etim’s in-depth passion for Ibanga’s family, he was given an opportunity to choose his next of kin for the appointment, and therefore he chose his immediate cousin, Mr. Godswill Obot Akpabio, who at that time, was working in a private company in Lagos.

We have mostly been entertained before now by the tale of Godswill Akpabio’s return to the state through night bus. Godswill was brought from Lagos into the State’s politics courtesy of his cousin Ibanga and his Patom Group. Since then, Godswill Akpabio has been enjoying the government of the state beginning from his first appointment as the Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources, from there he became the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, all under Obong Attah, and then had a shot at the governorship position of the state. The rest is history.

Victor Attah could have rejected Godswill Akpabio, but he couldn’t. There was a long story of kindness and relationship beyond the surface.

Here, the story goes. Chief Fidelis Etim was a rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Yola where he facilitated some major contracts for Arc. Victor Attah in the institution. He had housed Arc. Attah in his personal home in Yola until the time he was relieved of his position as the rector of the polytechnic owing to the anger of the northerners expressed against Etim on the grounds that he was a southerner, who was facilitating contracts for his fellow southerners. You could see why Attah could not reject a nominee coming from Etim, because there was a relationship, a kindness, and a sacrifice – we should not forget that.

Obong Attah did not support Godswill gubernatorial ambition – that is the hard truth we should adhere to. Instead, he backed his son-in-law, Dr. Udoma Bob Ekarika. It was the likes of John Akpanudoedehe, Bishop Samuel Akpan and the rest that helped made Godswill Akpabio’s emergence as governor possible in 2007.

But between Godswill Akpabio and Udom Emmanuel, the case was different. Akpabio threw all his weight behind Udom, frustrating Nsima Ekere and 21 other aspirants in the PDP during the preliminary stage of the 2015 general elections.  But today, Udom is urinating on mentor’s head. And this is the sad story of ingratitude.

Whatever good Attah did to Godswill Akpabio, was a repayment of kindness done to him by Akpabio’s benefactor, Chief Fidelis Etim. Today, Udom Emmanuel has gained prominence from Akpabio, but what has Akpabio gained from Udom Emmanuel today? Abuse, humiliation and ridicule.

Yes! I am UbongAbas Ise. For comment, please send SMS to 08189914609 |ubongabasiise@gmail.com

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