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Date Published: 05/20/10

AKPABIO and the hero’s welcome By Ufot Udokang

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Politics is a game of numbers. Hence, those with strong political ambition for an elected offices try to go all out to ensure that they have the highest votes. Records or antecedents of aspiring politicians count a lot while those already in offices can only secure their new mandates base on effective representation and good leadership which they had directly impacted on the people.

As political campaigns ahead of next year’s general elections gather momentum, politicians are not taking chances to garner more supporters to themselves even as some are now advocating for one man one vote to ensure a credible, free and fair elections. In some states of the Federation Political opponents underrate the power of incumbency. The elected officers still in office who desire another tenure are getting closer to the electorates to again solicit their votes come next election.

The development formed the bases for the formation of different socio-political organizations whose objectives include  campaigning for their preferred political representatives. The reason is simple. In any democratic dispensation, the people must have a say in who represents them. So, they are expected to defend whoever they chose, particularly, against interference from mischief makers and enemies of the people.

In  Akwa Ibom State, the  Governor Chief Godswil Akpabio says he will not interfere by way of altering the names of  preferred candidates selected by the people to stand election both at the state and the national levels. Such a stand has in turn drawn the people closer to the governor, beyond his various laudable people-focused projects.

 Recently, the governor’s popularity was proven when he returned from an international assignment, which involved a trip with President Goodluck Jonathan to the United States of America. However, when the Iceland volcano ash disrupted flights in and out of Europe and America, Akpabio’s return was delayed for about two weeks. Then, when he fly into the country, an award was waiting for him at Aso Villa, where he was honoured by the President. Finally, the governor returned to his state and to a surprising welcome!

At Ibom International Airport, over one hundred  vibrant socio political groups trouped out in their thousands to accord an unprecedented reception in honour of a man they have always strongly believed in. The event was reminiscent of a campaign rally in support of a man who has endeared many personalities internationally and nationally not only to himself but to the generality of the people of the state which he governs.

The crowd, comprising over 250 village heads, all the paramount rulers and other traditional rulers, was more of the ardent supporters of the people’s governor. As early as 8.30am, the people were dressed in their different socio political group attires. Some dressed in T-Shirts with face caps displaying their identical insignia .The traditional fathers numbering over two hundred from different parts of the state were not left out in the reception rally even though they are not involved in partisan politics but they were there to give their royal blessings to what their subjects were doing as a way of concurring to the sign that the man at the center stage deserved a second term.

Patiently they waited till about 5pm when the aircraft conveying the Governor touched the tarmac of the Ibom International Airport. In the arrival hall, the traditional rulers reaffirmed their support for him and prayed for him with their staffs high. When Akpabio eventually mounted the improvised rostrum to address his people, the story was different. It was all cheers, applause, songs and display of banners.

Acknowledging their support, Governor Akpabio said “For many of you that are here just try to be patient, because God’s time is the best. Do not jump the gun. You can run into wealth but when God has not prepared you for the wealth it will not last. Be patient we will touch you. God is in the business of fishing people out. Loud echoes of ‘Amen’ rented the airwave.

Extolling their patience, Akpabio said the reception accorded him was a great mark of honour. Directing his words at one of the groups with acronyms: SUGAR, he said “I have seen that one of the organisations that came to receive me today is called SUGAR. I don’t know how you came about the name but I am assuring you today that I will put sugar on your table”.

In a lighter note, Akpabio told the crowd that “If I had more money I would have turned your kitchen to gold. I would have laid your footsteps in marble” and cautioned his supporter not to fall prey to those he called greedy politicians who want to run others down to get to the top.

Some political analysts have described such “unacademic” Phd (Pull Him Down) syndrome as dirty politics not expected of the elites. In the face of the daunting challenges the “Digital Governor” has refused to be cowed rather he emerged as a Tiger confronting the challenges of fulfilling his 2007 campaign promises with anger.

 One thing that baffles the admirers who believe in the Akpabio project is that whenever some of his critics tried to paint him black, discredit the good things he is doing, the Governor remains responsive like the unbroken biological theory of plant growth. He focuses towards the smallest ray of light just to ensure that he grows by way of fast tracking the development of the state. No wonder his awards of honour internationally and nationally for meritorious services to his people outweighs the number of the unsubstantiated petitions against him.

According to Akpabio they have not seen anything yet. “We will surprise our critics, God must give you a sign that two thousand and eleven is real and that sign means you will not go with empty stomachs. We have problems and one of our problems is ambition and when we are looking for something we must discuss like brother. Let us not start fighting”.

It baffles me not as one of the petitioners but as one who reads some of the chip blackmails on pages of some national dailies where issues of kidnapping is x-rayed as being prevalent to Akwa Ibom rather than viewing it as not only a national but global trend of crime perpetrated by some faceless groups or individuals which needs permanent solution.

I think the people should take the governor by his words which he emphasized again during his reception at the Ibom Airport that; “Be rest assured that our hands are clean. And my prayer is simple. If I have anything to do with kidnapping or armed robbery  in the state, may it not be well with me and my children but if I have nothing to do with it may whatever I touch with my hands turn to gold and diamond”.

After such prayerful declarations Akpabio told the people that sometimes government does not need to put millions of naira in their pockets as may be expected but that government can touch their lives through infrastructural development.  “When you drive through the beautiful roads done by the government that came through your sweat, it means you have achieved something great. What I want form you is sustainable development”, he said.

He also hinted the President Dr Goodluck  Jonathan  will  soon visit the state to lay the foundation stone for  the first private sector initiatives in the  gas sector. “We are partnering with a company called Seventh Energy. They have brought in equipment to Ikot  Abasi worth 250 million dollars .They are going to lay pipes and processed the gas and supply it to the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria at Ikot Abasi Local Government Area”.

.Udokang is a journalist and popular analyst

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