By Engr. Patrick Ekpotu
The importance and high-stake nature of the coming elections in our nation, Nigeria, especially in our dear state, is not lost on us. For many reasons, the 2019 elections will be the most crucial since the return of democracy in 1999. This, among others, follow the obvious flips in the conduct of elections and degrees of awareness which provides enhanced opportunities that guarantee our dignity in choosing the path to travel. The elections will most likely be a referendum for true democracy in the country.
This, for us, also makes the moment more challenging because, a look at the arc of Akwa Ibom political history reveals a tradition of push and pull between people who stand by the truth and those who profit in deceit; those who choose to go forward and those who prefer to look back: between those who believe in service and those committed only to grabbing; between those to whom the state resources must remain under their yoke and imperious whims and those opposed to it; those who thrive in divide and rule and those that seek to bring people together; those who flourish in violence and impunity and those who allow the vibrancy of the land to echo only in the voices of the people. Related to these are the promoters of the politics of hope and those who exploit the politics of fear; who prefer continued servitude to a few individual tin gods and those detesting and deploring such as abominable idolatory worship. Confounding things more are people who have taken to the profane and mundane roadside career of too quickly judging and condemning others by their worst examples, while judging and praising themselves by their best intentions.
It often appears like the forces seeking to pull down our civilization are stronger than the forces binding it on us. This is the harrowing political community in which Deacon Emmanuel Udom emerged as Governor. In his first campaign in 2014, he could not enjoy the support of some of us because like him, over 22 others were also seeking the same opportunity: To lead the State we so love in a different direction and restore the enduring principles on which our society was built and to change the same old politics of Uyo Hill Top Mansion. But by the decision of our party and by the choice of the Akwa Ibom people, we all aspired to serve, he was chosen as Governor. Election was over but the task of rebuilding the State remained and we left everything on the field and thank our supporters for taking up the slack.
We congratulated him and the dedicated campaign team he led. I prayed fervently that he succeeded so that Akwa Ibom would succeed. And I trusted that his intellect and his hard work and his commitment to principles would continue to contribute to the good of the State. Concerned more about Akwa Ibom, there was no need to risk partisan bickering and political posturing and to join the dark side of push and pull. But to reach across the aisle to help do the people’s work and inspire our children with a passion for sportsmanship. And real democrats always come together after elections. That is why that it is not surprising that Governor Emmanuel’s second campaign is featuring an enlarged support base, men and women, boys and girls, young and old, the poor and the richly’ status all united in one vision, inspired by common values and sustained by shared heritage.
And we were right. Today, profound practice of empathy is witnessed in the land. Growing children are having the atmosphere to once again imagine themselves in the lives and circumstances of others. Our children are again picking up the necessary spirit of moral courage, because their character is our destiny. There is a gradual return of that outstanding honour of the image of God we traditionally see in one another. This follows the progressive re-recognition that we are brothers and sisters, sharing the same brief moment on earth and owing each other the loyalty of our shared humanity. Arguments no longer turn too easily into animosity and disagreements less escalate too quickly into dehumanization, pains and death. By mere guided leadership utterances and body language has the page been turned.
Governor Udom Emmanuel would have been despised by those in the dark side of the pool; yet he remains focused and pushed only by so much more than what divide us. He may have been disappointed by what our Interpretation of politics; but he is optimistic and positive and confident of the future. Three years into the excitement of the last election, he may not have met everyone’s aspirations today, and no one does. But I wish Akwa Ibom gets to see what I see in Udom Emmanuel- a Godfearing, bighearted and down to earth leader who is confident in the challenge that this moment demands. Today, by inspiring the progressing tendencies now redirecting the constructive energies of our young and repositioning the coast so that our children become better blessed than we are, Governor Emmanuel holds out as the bridge across our State’s deepest divisions.
In weeks to come, when electioneering commences- from lecture rooms to board rooms, from the factory floors he has inspired to workshops, in print and on all the screens, from village squares to markets, from worship halls to auditoriums; from loudspeakers to radios, in public and in private, this one message will be proclaimed.
But for this significant milestone to prevail, Akwa Ibom must continue to reject the past of divisiveness, engineered by the masquerades belatedly dancing to drum beats of our discarded past. We must, through the coming elections take steps that uphold our overall interest, that of the State and nation, by not giving into their physical and psychological chants. We must stand united and say no to evil plots, intimidation and deceit. A moment comes in the life of every generation where such spirit must come through.
This is the time and the coming elections, that moment… when you can stand and say, I make my destiny. And I deserve better! For the strength and power and goodness of Nigeria will always be based on the strength and power and goodness of our communities, our families, our faiths. And all without exception come under the powers of the Governor who can have you sleep peacefully or enact strenuous circumstances that determine your life and death. A small tribe was told thousands of years ago: “ I put before you life and death, blessings and curses – and you choose life”. This, Akwa Ibom, should be our choice too. And so, following the gains thus recorded, let us authorize him further with our votes- to harness the extraordinary creativity and talents and industry of the Akwa Ibom people with a system that is dedicated to creating tomorrow’s prosperity rather than waste them on candidates who are deep in nothing and master nothing than redistribution of today’s prosperity.
Thankfully, Akwa Ibom people irrespective of socio-economic standing are now more politically aware, strong and decent; strongly holding beliefs beyond ourselves and that’s a good citizenship spirit. When it is missing, no government programme can replace it. When this spirit is present, no wrong can ever be advocated to stand against it. And in that spirit, I see Akwa Ibom people ready to take their destiny in their own hands by voting to sustain our freedom, peace and sustainable development. These are what a vote for Governor Emmanuel and the PDP represents.
The task ahead may be daunting. But by collective work, victory is assured. It requires such unity of purpose that allows no rooms for distractions and internal wrangling- the reason I salute the Governor and the party leadership for muting the idea of harmonization/integration committee. It is bold. It is commendable. For all hands have to be on deck and every unhappy party member made to count.
In accepting the trust, honour and responsibility you have placed on us, Your Excellency and Distinguished Chairman, my colleagues and I wish to pledge to do our best in this assignment. To be clear, we are not arbitrating; we are not sitting on appeal. We constitute an opportunity offered by the party to care for all members whose faith has grounds to grow thinner. And to all do we promise satisfaction. As this committee sets to mitigate, pacify, unify and de-escalate grouses arising from the recently concluded primaries and other party exercises, I appeal that we open-up every troubling element of our injuries or objections or grouses, so that our individual hatchets can be buried. For the potential all-round ramifications of not doing so are as difficult to understate as they are to predict.
Join us therefore to work together for a better future. Let us together step-up and not let things go bad. Let the flip of sanity now underlining our politics not be lost on us. Let us put all disappointments of the past behind us and roll up our sleeves, going forward, and set at work. Let’s put on our marching shoes and start knocking on some doors, beating the streets, mobilizing and galvanizing our people for yet another victory of the PDP in our State.
May God bless our State PDP leadership and may God bless Akwa Ibom State and its people.