Monday , December 4 2023


 Inibehe Effiong

As politicians and political parties in the country continue in their campaigns to lure the electorates preparatory to the rescheduled elections, governor Godswill Obot Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State and his stooge Udom Emmanuel have taken their insatiable plot to get power to a ridiculous and provocative level. Governor Akpabio has continued to dissipate public funds in promoting his ungodly third term agenda using Udom as a veil even as he manipulates critical state institutions and apparatus for egregious and partisan objectives.

Recently, I watched governor Akpabio’s stooge, Mr. Udom on television talking arrogantly in a very desperate attempt to deceive credulous and unsuspecting voters in the state. While speaking in a campaign rally, Mr. Udom declared that he will carry – out a census of all youths in the Akwa Ibom State within his first three months in office in order to determine those that should be sponsored abroad for education and those that should be empowered to start businesses and so on.

In case Udom Emmanuel and his supporters do not know, census is item 8 in the Exclusive Legislative List under Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ( as amended ). The undeniable import of this is that only the federal government is vested with constitutional vires ( power ) to determine population.

Therefore, no state government can conduct census. In any case, we are all conversant with the chronic and alarming level of unemployment in Nigeria. As such, any candidate that says he will conduct census in order to determine the rate of unemployment in a state if elected is being deceitful and insincere. In any case, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics is there for any administration that requires official information on demographic related matters and statistics for planning.

In the said speech, Udom also admonished youths in the state not to “play opposition” saying that opposition is not good. What other evidence do we need of Udom’s autocratic inclination? What is democracy without a strong opposition? That statement smacks of sheer arrogance and intolerance by a man that was forced on the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP ) in Akwa Ibom State as her gubernatorial candidate. It clearly shows that Udom, if given the chance will be more brutal and monstrous than his imperial benefactor.

Not done with his nauseating campaign shenanigans, Udom Emmanuel a supposed banker and economist of repute, went on air in a radio interview and declared that the price of garri will be reduced by 50% if he assumes office as the governor of Akwa Ibom State. I have said it repeatedly, “a product cannot sell beyond the limits of its marketer ( s ). Illegitimacy cannot give birth to legitimacy”.

Udom Emmanuel, an illegitimate child of Governor Akpabio’s brigandage, despotism, corruption and politics of exclusion should stop teaching our people nonsense. Akwa Ibom State as at today is not known for large scale agricultural exploits. The state largely depends on neighbouring states and importation of food supplies to meet her food needs. Is Udom Emmanuel going to subsidise the price of garri if at all he’s elected? How will this banker reduce the price of garri by 50%?.

During his 2011 electioneering campaigns, governor Godswill Akpabio had audaciously declared that he was going to build one industry in each of the 31 Local Government Areas of the state if elected for a second term. Though the gubernatorial election in the state was marred by rigging, violence and fraud, in the end, the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC ) declared him elected.

With less than three months to the expiration of his tenure, Akpabio has not laid the foundation for even one industry in the state. Ironically, governor Akpabio in 2013 presented a N459. 9 billion budgetary estimate to the rubber stamp Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly which he christened “budget of industrialisation and consolidation”. The truth is that no industrialisation has taken place. Akpabio has however consolidated his insatiable proclivity for wasteful spending, extravagance and suppression of dissenting voices.

On Friday February 27, 2015, all markets in the state capital were forcefully shut down on the orders of governor Akpabio because Udom Emmanuel wanted to sell his manifesto to market women in the state ostensibly as a counter to an earlier visit to major markets in the state by the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress ( APC ) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Umana Okon Umana. Angered by the popular reception said to had greeted the APC campaign in the markets, Akpabio ordered the closure of markets for his stooge.

As if our people are fools, the media apologists of Akpabio went to town with the insulting lie that it was the market women who willingly closed the markets in solidarity with the PDP. Is it possible for everyone in a market to support one candidate? However, my discussion with the leadership of the market women in the state revealed that the closure of the market was not of their volition.

The truth is that the market women were not consulted nor was their consent sought. This crass provocative lawlessness and impunity is happening in a state without a viable economy; a state without employment opportunities and industries despite receiving the highest allocations from the federation account.

How can Udom, a man who prides himself as a clean intellectual consent to such cruel obstruction of peoples’ only source of livelihood in an effort to make him a governor? With what we  have seen, is Udom Emmanuel not another imperial Godswill Akpabio? A candidate who seeks to ride to power on the tears and blood of the down trodden is a disaster that shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

The whole country was recently incandescent with rage over the dubious donation of a whooping N100 million to Udom Emmanuel by some ragtag “student leaders ” in Akwa Ibom State as their contribution to his campaign. Only a candidate with a criminal mind whose goal is to steal and loot will accept ONE HUNDRED MILLION NAIRA from some unemployed lazy minds? How does Udom Emmanuel Intend to repay them if he emerges the governor? That donation cannot be charitable, it was made with an expectation.

Governor Godswill Akpabio is using state funds to secure bogus endorsement for his stooge from the labour union leadership in the state, traditional rulers, religious leaders, transporters and all sorts of money seeking groups in the state. Few days ago, it was widely reported in the media that some so-called youth leaders in the state were summoned to the government house where the governor reportedly shared N155 million to the youths who are said by some reports to be cultists.

With the way Akpabio is going, Nigerians may wakeup to the news that Mr. Akpabio has summoned mad people roaming the state, Boko Haram, witches and wizards, rapists, armed robbers, kidnappers, prostitutes and like persons to the Akwa Ibom State Government House for them to endorse his stooge.

Democratic dividends should not be reduced to construction of some roads at highly inflated rates. Let us not wittingly or unwittingly reduce democracy to pettiness and mediocrity. It is an abuse of language to credit a governor and a gubernatorial candidate who can shut down markets in a gestapo and primitive show of power to score cheap political goals with the appellation ‘democrat’.

There should be no compulsion in political choices. The freedom to choose who should govern us is the hallmark of democracy. It was former American President, Abraham Lincoln who posited that ” no man is good enough to govern another without his consent “. 

Nigerians should deprecate this crude, illegal and tyrannical plot to foist a candidate on Akwa Ibom people. If this is allowed to go unchallenged, then there is a justifiable reason to be sceptical about the forthcoming elections.

The time to act is now!.

Inibehe Effiong is a Human Rights Activist based in Lagos, Nigeria and the Convener of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders ( COHRD ).
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