Date Published: 09/08/10
Eket: An Unending Romance With Governor Akpabio By Essien Ndueso
Obong Barr. Akpabio, let me assure you that we in Eket are giving you 100 percent of our votes in the coming elections. But one thing we really would love is request is that we are tired of staying in the corridors of power, Eket people are interested in also serving in the bedroom of power.
The above were the thinking of Chief Nduese Essien, then a member of the House of Representatives, at the campaign ahead of the 2007 gubernatorial elections, in Eket.
Prior to this time, Eket had always had the misfortune of being on the other side of government. It was the ugly replica of neglect of the goose that lay the golden egg. First, and probably pardonable, though not justifiable, the state government during the botched third republic was under the leadership of the National Republican Convention,NRC, while Eket had the Social Democratic Party, SDP at the helms of its affairs. Nothing tangible came to the area as the then government in the state had hardly finished spreading dividends to party affiliating states than the military dictators struck and with Gen Sani Abacha, the whistle was blown to end that era which lasted between January 2, 1992 and November 27, 1993. At a time the roads in Eket became so deplorable that they were christened “usung mme idiok owo” meaning the roads of the ungodly. But if the first instance was pardonable, then how would one explain the 1999 – 2007 era where the area threw its entire weight behind the then government of Obong Victor Attah, and yet it came out with nothing. In eight years, nothing tangible came the way of the people of Idung Mfianwe, and the only time they were able to feel the presence of their governor, was when he decided to make use of aviation facilities at the Mobil Airstrip in Eket, to travel to Lagos or Abuja.
It was indeed frustrating as it was painful, especially when it was on record that the area had massively rallied support for the then governor, and was also under the control of the ruling PDP. When the bells of second term came sounding, the people out of love for peace and unity of the state, decided again to route for the Obong Attah leadership, with hope. Infact when the then Governor Victor Attah, visited the private residence of Chief Assam Assam at Ede Urua in 2002 for his second term campaign bid, he pledged to turn the table around and channel some projects to the area. Not only did he renege in his promises, he also later incurred the wrath of his chief host, Chief Assam Assam, who did not fail to sprinkle his irk over the failure of those promises to materialize.
That faithful afternoon, few days to the April 2007 general elections, the main bowl of the Qua Iboe Church Primary School, Usung Inyang along Eket/Oron road was filled to capacity. The area had not witnessed such a turnout of tens of thousands of people in more than ten years. It was not that there was a Governor or Head of State visiting the area, that was completely off the mark.
There was not a single well meaning Eket son that was not at Usung Inyang to herald the arrival of Barr. Godswill Akpabio, gubernatorial standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party,PDP in Akwa Ibom State. The adjourning streets of Holmes, Klinic and Stadium roads all boasted the impact of a tumultuous converge of women, youths and men of the land also renowned as Idung Mfianwe.
All who took turns to speak, expressed the support of the area for Chief Godswill Akpabio. Of course with the total support of the oil rich city, which also doubles as the headquarters of the largest and most diverse senatorial district in the State, it became practically a confirmation that Chief Akpabio needed no clairvoyant to know that the journey to the Hilltop Mansion had been concluded.
If anyone had any doubt that this candidate will perform, it was certainly erased shortly after his arrival. First, a very long convoy of vehicles thronged the venue of the event. Everyone jumped waved and turned their focus to the center of attraction, were dignitaries were alighting from the SUVs. They strained their necks at the stand for VIPs to catch a glimpse of the chosen one. They never saw him for he was simply not there with the mighty. Suddenly, and nicodemously, another wave of excitement sprung from among the elderly women who never imagined that they would be able to get close enough and clearly see this man, destined to change the history of their area and state. The young amiable aspirant who had cut his teeth as a Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, was dancing and singing with them. It was very very pleasant and exciting to see the joy on the faces of the women and later youths, as they escorted their chosen leader to the designated seat of the PDP standard bearer for the 2007 governorship polls in the State.
Today, after three years and three months in the saddle, Eket has emerged the greatest beneficiary of democracy in Akwa Ibom State, if not Nigeria.
Just as he had promised, and as if to make up for the years in which people from the area had been denied good positions in government, no fewer than five of Eket sons are now comfortably strolling in the bedroom of power. A Federal Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, Chief Nduese Essien, the Commissioner for Commerce and Industries, Dr. Emem Wilcox Wills, the Special Adviser, Bureau of Labour, Productivity and Public Service Matters Elder Sunny Akpadiaha, as well as the Honourary Special Adviser on Legal and Constitutional Matters, Chief Assam Assam. Just as the current resident electoral commissioner in Kwara State, Obong Aniedi Ikoiwak also hails from the area, same as the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Akpabio, Usoro Usoro and Iwaad Bassey Etang, who is a Special Assistant to the Governor on Projects Monitoring.
A former military governor of this state had prior to this time told a gathering of Eket people that they were not qualified to man positions of responsibilities or managerial positions. This unsurprisingly drew the irk of the people who pour their grievances on the poor military ruler. It is also not out of place to mention that several decades since the days of His Royal Majesty Edidem Uyoatta Akpabio, former Paramount Ruler of Eket, the area had for several years been enmeshed in issues over the traditional stool. Not only have the issues been resolved, but everyone is proud to hail HRM Edidem Timtingiko Papaudo Enodien, Paramount Ruler of Eket and Chairman State Council of Chiefs.
How about in the area of project execution, Eket has recorded the highest number of road projects in the state, with almost a quarter of the entire roads constructed in the entire state. 49 roads have been constructed and the area has been able to reclaim its famous slogan as the oil rich city. Former governors usually brandished the excuse that Mobil has already developed Eket and as such, there wa nothing left to be done. Maybe these previous governors can now conclude that 49 deplorable roads fell from the sky into Akpabio’s sight.
Of all the ethnic nationalities in Akwa Ibom, only Eket has kept its promise and has faithfully appreciated the benevolence of the performing governor. No son of Eket has come out to challenge the second term mandate bestowed on Chief Akpabio by the entire state.
As a Federal Constituency, Eket prides itself as one of the few in which all its component local government areas have commissioners as front benchers in the State executive council, while two top positions in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC - Executive Director of Projects, and Commissioner have been shared between Esit Eket and Ibeno. Asides this,there is also the establishment of the first indigenous gas plant in Esit Eket, and this project on completion will take care of all the gas needs of the Independent Power Plant at Ikot Abasi.
Now back to the Q.I.C rally in 2007, the Iberedem Ibibio, when he spoke, gave himself out as truly passionate about changing the Eket story; and as such promises such as “you want your good roads in Eket? I assure you and I assure you. You want your people in prominent positions? I assure you, I assure you, and I assure you. You want the reactivation of your moribund industries, I assure you, I assure you, and I assure you…” The Atta of Ekid roared.
Apart from the delay in the take off of the industries, every other promise has been fulfilled by Governor Akpabio. Recently in an interview, he told the people of the state that with the basic infrastructure like roads and electricity in place, the stage is now set for industrialization to take shape in state.
The appreciative spirit of the people of Eket have never been in doubt, and this explains why the people have not been tired of receiving, hosting, honouring and endorsing Uko Akwa Ibom – a thing that has never happened in history of Eket. Recently, the youths of the Federal Constituency in their thousands, rolled out the drums to pour accolades on the Governor, and this comes on the heels of a previous exercise carried out by their parents. It will not be out of place to have children follow suit in the nearest future.
As the 2011 gubernatorial elections approaches, it is perhaps pertinent to point out the significance of the position of Eket people. First, they have sounded it clear that their entire heart goes with the second term aspiration of Chief Dr, Godswill Akpabio. Secondly, that they will resist any attempt by any attention seeking politician to cajole them against this collective and sacred decision. This explains the reason the people were quite resolute as they marched through the streets of Eket to protest an alleged attempt by another aspirant to come and display his political miens in the area. Though it may sound undemocratic, but can you blame them? Of course except you are ready to dispute the axiom that you can’t change the winning team.
The drums of celebration by the women and youth groups are sounding louder and louder with the magnificent display of good dance steps between Akpabio and the Eket nation, and this is the reason this sweet and pleasant romance that started during that campaign trip to QIC, Usung Inyang, must continue.
To Hon Commissioner For Information
Akwa Ibom State