We are approaching another election year in Akwa Ibom State and the gladiators are up in arms against one another. Nobody is talking about competence and credibility. Nobody is talking about health care, job creation, security, infrastructures and the real issues of governance.
What matters to us is ethnicity and tribalism. In Akwa Ibom State today, the situation is so precarious such that one begins to wonder if things will ever change. The debate is not about who can do the job, the debate is centered on which senatorial district and tribe should produce the next governor.
The governor is leading the divisive campaign in the name of a useless and unproductive zoning arrangement. But the truth is that he is actually zoning to Udom Emmanuel, his anointed successor.
Godswill Akpabio says he wants his successor to come from the Eket Senatorial District of the State which has never produced a governor because that will ensure equity. What insult on our collective sanity. If zoning is so real and good; why is he pursuing a senatorial ambition knowing fully well that it should go to the Abak Federal Constituency in his senatorial district which has never produced a senator? Hypocrite.
These people have succeeded in pitching one tribe against another. Our people are no longer brothers and sisters. The average Annang person today sees Akpabio’s government as their turn to rule. You rarely find someone from the governor’s tribe speaking against the atrocities of his administration. They are united in support of “their son”.
The Oro tribe is talking tough, threatening everyone that their time has come and that they should be given the opportunity to rule the state. They are complaining of developmental marginalization, which I support having been there. It is as if the Oro enclave is no longer part of the state.
The Ibibios, being the largest tribe, feel they have been relegated by Akpabio and that they must return to power by fire by force. They think it is their birth right to rule the state. Nonsense.
When you see someone from Ibibio or Oro supporting Godswill Akpabio, it is most likely that the person is a beneficiary of the system. Akpabio himself has never been a statesman, he is incurably tribalistic. Go to his village Ukana in Essien Udim Local Government Area, and you will see what I am talking about. The notorious ‘Ukana Mafia’ is so dreaded and feared by all. He has taken important institutions and cited many projects there without regard to other areas.
The tension is mounting by day, it is becoming too delicate for one to remain silent. Nobody knows what will trigger the looming implosion. We should not out of fear of being haunted, victimised or even killed close our eyes to what is unfolding in our dear state.
Former governor Obong Victor Attah had his flaws, but he was not and has never been a tribalist. I heard recently that the stooge Akpabio is fighting hard to foist on the people of the state, the Secretary to the State Government, has started his own favoritism by giving preferences to people from his local government area in recruitment.
I challenge Akpabio to publish the full names and local government of all those employed into the state civil and public service since he assumed office in 2007. There are certain things I cannot say publicly.
While this mad battle of tribes is going on, the man on the street is suffering and smiling in the mist of plenty. Our people have never been this divided. We forget that poverty does not know Ibibio, Annang or Oro or even Ekid or Ibeno.
Whenever I raise this issue, some will say but the governor has appointed people from other tribes into his government. This is an absurd defence. Who are these people and whose interest are they representing? The governor has sycophants and yes me across tribes. These people are representing their selfish interest and that of the governor especially when the going is good.
Take for example Obong Bassey Albert, popularly called OBA, the immediate past commissioner for finance who was recently sacked by Akpabio for nursing a gubernatorial ambition. While in government, OBA defended Akpabio with all his might. But today, he is seeking to succeed Akpabio and is talking nonsense, accusing Akpabio of marginalizing the Ibibios. What insolence! The same with Obong Umana Okon Umana, the immediate past Secretary to the State Government.
Some folks will say that I criticise Akpabio because I am Ibibio. This is because to them, tribe and personal interest determines where one stands and they cannot imagine someone thinking and acting differently. But that is a blatant lie.
There is no tribalism in me. During the 2011 elections, I mobilized the youths of my community against the member currently representing my state constituency in the State House of Assembly. I also rejected monetary offer from the member’s son. She is from my village. Most of those I have supported at elections even while in the university where not of my stock or tribe. Despite coming from the South South, I am today a vociferous anti-Jonathan campaigner because I do not see in him a responsible leader. I am anti-zoning, from councillorship to the presidency. Let the best person get it.
We have to stop this Ibibio, Annang and Oro nonsense. We are one people. Akpabio should allow the people to choose their governor. The masses need to realize the deceits of the ruling elites. How come that they only remember and talk about tribe when they are fighting for political office? How come they are blind to tribe when stealing and sharing our money. They know that as long as the people continue to see things from the tribal perspective they will never be held to account. We have had enough.
Inibehe Effiong is a Human Rights Activist. He can be reached via +2348065142135 or [email protected]