Hon. KufreAbasi Etuk is the immediate past Member, representing Uruan State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. He’s a man of his own words. A believer of the new Akwa Ibom project. And a voice any sane human being cannot ignore. He recently granted audience to members of Independent Newspaper Publishers Association, INPA, in his Uyo residence, where he bares his mind on contemporary issues, politics and his new political party, APC.
Why did you choose APC?
As at now, I wouldn’t have a better offer outside APC. But one could say, why APC? It obvious that some of us we know that the original religious background is either you would have been a typical Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Apostolic and others. But to some extent, some people are Redeemed now. Some are Living Faith members. While some belongs to others. What that means is that where you have your faith is where you stay. It does not matter the originality you had before. But as you grow up as a person, you decide to pick up whatever you want of your choice. And to me, after being with PDP for the number of years, I can tell you that life would be so boring if you don’t have a voice somewhere. And fortunately, APC was the only platform that could give a voice.
Because I belong to my people; I don’t belong to a party. Because I believe that party will always come and go, but the people will always stay. So on that note, APC, once the platform and it’s still the platform that we believe will navigate us to where we suppose to be.
The Strength of APC within Akwa Ibom
On a very personal note, I will say that the PDP were just very fortunate that there was no rerun in Akwa Ibom. I’m saying it with all manner of sincerity because I can tell you that I was a very serious player towards the supposed rerun election. I am one person that is very straight forward. If I love you, I will tell you I love and if I don’t love you, I will tell you why I don’t love you. I believe in politics. But what I see in politics is that there’s so much pretence. People are not what you see. You could ask us the strength of APC because we were the insiders of APC
Could there have been anyone in Akwa Ibom that was not afraid of rerun? And did not call APC to say please give us a space as you’re winning the election because I know you’re winning. So to that extent, you could say that Akwa Ibom people knew as to who holds the power of APC. Because if they were not strong, I wouldn’t have had calls from PDP major stakeholders who called to say ‘please we know, you’re winning the election. But when you win, give us a space. So that means APC is not just a push-over party, it was actually a movement. But what I will do or try to say now is that this is not the time for campaign. Campaign time is gone. This is the time for governance. So we could leave so much of party of who is strong or not strong and leave people that have gotten mandate, whether the mandate was gotten through Supreme Court or God. We believe that God gives power to whoever He wishes to give. And so to that extent, APC feels, the PDP thing aside. And we should now focus on the development of the state. And so, on that note, APC is a strong party; PDP is a strong party. Those are just platforms for us to get positions.
Rating the performance of Udom Emmanuel in one year
To be very sincere, I would be in a haste to begin to rate them so seriously. This is because I am not one hundred percent steady in Akwa Ibom. I’ve heard a lot of groundbreaking. And I’m seeing them on social media. I’ve not been to most of those sites to know how real they are. But if you’re rating them in terms of groundbreaking, it’s obvious that they have done so well because there is no week that passes that you will not hear groundbreaking.
And since they are not just breaking grounds, they’re initiating things as well. It means they’re actually initiating projects. It is only a matter of time that those projects will come to bare. I think it’s only for the press to begin to keep records of all the groundbreakings. Look at the process and the progress of those groundbreakings and what it will materialize into.
For now, I think if you listen to the news, everywhere you hear groundbreaking of one project or the other. Which means that within the period of another one year, many things would have come our way. They’ve also been able to stay afloat in terms of having projects to do in Akwa Ibom.
The agitations for Uruan people
I don’t speculating. I like being myself. Because no matter what you do, I believe that when a process is known, then you can be rest assured that the product will be guaranteed. I always say that I’m peoples’ person. I speak for my people. And I speak for myself. When I look at my age as a very young person, I try to say the truth because I believe time will catch up with me in the next ten to twenty years if I don’t say the truth.
Whatever I say, I always like someone to take me up after many years to see if I could change my position. And I can tell you, before we started this media chat; I had to drive down to Mbiaya Uruan where the Hatchery is. The people that came in early would have noted that I was not seated when you came in because I didn’t want to speculate. I needed to go and see because I’m from Uruan and somehow, you could ask me questions that relate to Uruan. So, I needed to like have a position.
The eight years of Godswill Obot Akpabio as a governor, I can’t remember one kilometer of road that was constructed in Uruan. The only road that was done was when Obong Attah was the governor, which is the airport road. But in the entire Uruan, there’s no any kilometer of road that was tarred for eight years during the administration of Akpabio. I want to be corrected. You also know that I was my peoples’ representative and I must speak my peoples’ minds. I didn’t go to romance with the governor. If I had a relationship with him, he was the governor of the state as at that time. So we related at that level. But not a master-servant stuff because I speak the minds of my people. You told me that we should be able to negotiate what I want for my people.
When we talk about projects, I’m not referring to renovation of schools. Provision of water and electricity. But all these could also be done by big companies as part of their Corporate Social Responsibilities. So I don’t see them as projects. So when we’re talking about government presence, I’m not talking about renovation of schools. I’m talking about new phenomenal structures that you could say, this is the government for you. And I can tell you for eight years, the only thing I could remember is the Hatchery that was commissioned few days ago. And I had to drive down to that place. I tell you, it’s actually a very nice project in terms of site-seeing. But I have not entered the inside to see what really there. But you could easily see the structures, carcass. But you need also to see if the machinery and every other things are ready for the project to actually kick-start.
One thing that could actually point you out to a project is the accessibility of that project. The road network of that project. The landscape and location of that project. I went to the Hatchery site with some journalists. So we discovered that it was just few days to the commissioning of the project that they just graded the road to that place. And the graders are still there.
And if you are talking about hatching a thousand chicks a day from there; that road suppose to be a major road. That should be able to take like two big trucks at the same time. That’s in opposition direction. Because when you have such a serious facility, you will always have over ten to twenty trucks parked on that road waiting to take turns to be able to load their products out. But unfortunately, that road cannot take two Hilux comfortably because the road is not quit accessible.
Now, supposing we’re starting the production of the poultry now, within one week, if we have about ten trucks entering that road, the road will be destroyed completely. And so for me, it’s a good thing that the government is citing the hatchery there, so that Uruan could be mentioned. But I think it will be a nice thing for them to finish the road. Once they construct the road and people have complete accessibility to that place, it means that the project would have started in earnest. Then, I will then say that the project has started.
Why Onofiok Luke won second term and I lose?
Everybody has a grace. And it also depends on the kind of person they are. I am not someone anybody can hold like this and say ‘I made him.’ Even politically. Until I came to contest election, nobody could say, ‘this is Kufre Etuk, I gave him five hundred thousand, I gave him two hundred thousand to start his life. The only person that can say he has done that for me is God.
I started fending for myself when I was less than 22. And so I did not see any man as my God. So I cannot begin to lick someone’s boot because I feel I must get something from him. I was living my life even before I came into politics. And I can tell you that I’m still leaving my life even after leaving office. I can still live comfortably for many years. What do I really need in life? What I need is to be able to send my children to school. Have where to put my head. And mobility. That’s all.
The truth of matter is that Onofiok Luke has some people around him. Former Governor Akpabio did not want Onofiok. And he didn’t want me too. But Onofiok has some people in their place that Akpabio must respect. When Akpabio wanted to make sure that Onofiok’s name was erased off, Effiong Bob stood up and told Akpabio, ‘Your Excellency, this is Nsit Ubium position. Nsit Ubium people want Onofiok. Would you have seen such a person in Uruan? Do we have a former Senator in Uruan? We only have few opportunists who feels that you can never oppose government so that you can get contracts. So Effiong Bob stood for Onofiok. And told the former governor to leave Onofiok alone that that’s what they wanted. Uruan people would never have defended Kufre because they felt I have gotten too much from the government. And so Kufre was more of a shouting son who had antagonized the government.
I would have won the primary and the government knew about. My people took over the entire stadium. The primary would have been done in Uruan, but they brought it to Uyo. But people that were there could tell you that we took over the entire stadium because people never wanted to hear that Kufre Etuk has failed. Aniekan Bassey, the guy that took over from me, I knew him at that stadium. I never knew him before.
When Godswill Akpabio came to present the budget, he told me, ‘member Uruan, do you know I don’t even know why you didn’t make it. It is Ntukudeh.’ He told me that it was Ntukudeh and I stood up and told him that I’m very surprise that you could tell me that it’s Ntukudeh that stopped me from coming back to the House. I knew Akpabio was not honest. But for him to have told me that it’s Ntukudeh, he wanted me to go and have issues with Ntukudeh. He said, ‘Kufre do you even know that I don’t even know the guy that is taking over from you?’ So, some of our leaders feel they can manipulate people, unfortunately, I’m too learned spiritually to begin to believe that a man can do anything to me. I’m too learned to begin to feel frustrated by man because I believe that whatever we do, time will always tell.
When Akpabio started the governorship thing in his early second term, he called us as House of Assembly members and said, ‘you guys should stay calm. We’re going to do the governorship together. I’m going to go to Senate. And any of you that want a second term should put it on the table; we’re going to run it together. After that meeting that he used us to get Nsima Ekere out, he told us that he has formed a structure. After forming the structure with the entire caucus of the House, the used the entire caucus against Nsima Ekere. After that, there was no meeting again. And we thought that we had a father that we could go together. After forming that structure that he had with the entire house, he used the entire caucus of the House against Nsima Ekere. But you will be so surprised that during the campaigns, when they started this thing, Akpabio will tell you that it was Umana Umana that made him to remove Nsima. But he told us that he removed Nsima because Nsima wanted to become a governor before the election. That Nsima was going to killed him before being the governor. That’s what he told us when he wanted us to sign Nsima’s impeachment. And during the campaigns, he lied that it was Umana because he wanted to use Umana to settle his issues.
We discovered that Godswill Akpabio was dishonest after the Nsima stuff. So if Akpabio could call the entire caucus of the House that he’s going to the senate and that he was going to bring the mandate on the table for us to discuss. He also said that he was going to bring three people for us to support. By that time, Obong Umana was still in PDP. And don’t forget that Umana was the almighty in PDP then. The fear of Umana was the beginning of wisdom because he was the engine room.
Now, Akpabio told us he was going to bring three people. We thought he was going to bring Umana then and two others from others Senatorial Districts. Because you could also remember that he said he stood election with some people from Uyo, Oron and Ikot Ekpene Senatorial districts during his time. So that means, anybody could be the governor. He did not mention of zoning then. He was thinking of making Umana the governor. And he said he was going to bring three people, up till today, he has not brought the three people. That’s why it was difficult for me to key into the Udom’s stuff
The entire romance with Akpabio would have continued, but he felt betrayed because as he wanted to impeach Nsima Ekere and Nsima resigned before time. So all those things he wanted to do, he never do them again because he thought someone told Nsima to resign before time saying that people betrayed him. So we didn’t impeached Nsima, he resigned before impeachment, which was against Akpabio’s will. Meanwhile, are you telling me that Nsima and Akpabio are not still friends? They are, whether you like or not. That’s our leaders for us.
Did others also know about these things?
Yes, they did. The people that was privy to these things. But people that were not in the caucus would feel bad. But once in a caucus, always in a caucus…
Why did Oron people not say that Uwak should go back because he was a voice in the National Assembly after Ita Enang then in PDP. Since they thought he was outshining some timid people they thought they must kill him. That is exactly what happened to us.
Is this information that you have an ambition for 2019, true?
What is an ambition? This is not time for us to play politics with issues, I have always said I am my people’s person and I don’t know about ambition even though I may be gunning for something in 2019. But that position is not clear yet. I don’t know which office that will be.
So, you are not in anyway discountenancing the story.
I will be very relevant in 2019, but I don’t know in what office. I could go for anything, once you have been able to occupy the seat of House of Assembly you are entitled to any office in Nigeria.
When you are making these revelations it contradicts people’s opinion of the House of Assembly that you people made millions that is why it was a rubber stamp House of Assembly.
I had thought we will discuss about the relationship between the executive – legislative arms of government then we would be able to know how independent we are.
When Sen. Ita Enang was in the State House of Assembly, we can recall that they checked the excesses of the late Akpan Isemin led executive. There was a time they stopped a truck that wanted to take some equipment out for sale.
Let me remind you that there was a time when a pension bill for past governors was brought to the House, which we stopped. That was part of the thing that consumed us. Don’t forget it was an executive bill and given the background that as a PDP House Member once the party takes a position you can’t counter. So, when the bill came to the House of Assembly and we had the guts to challenge a certain clause in that bill was a problem. Now, what we challenged in the floor of the House was that deputy governors who resign should not be given pension.
Like I said: ‘ the governorship ticket is a joint ticket, it doesn’t make one person a super star, that running mate must have resigned from his job to join you to make it a popular ticket so as you are popular in Ikot Ekpene, if the running mate is from Eket, he will be popular in Eket and so the people vote for the team and for you because of him.
As such, you can’t severe that bond because it is a joint ticket. We were saying that no deputy governor would resign after resigning somewhere to join in the government as such if they resign then ‘prodata’ his benefit to include the period he served in the government.
‘Prodata’ means calculate the amount accrue to him for the period he served and pay him or her as pension and remove the caluse that if he doesn’t work for say 2 years makes him ineligible to benefit from pension. Recall there was a voting in the House on the matter. Barrister Onofiok Luke, I, Hon. Bassey Etienam and others opposed the pension bill and that was the beginning of our problem.
So, it was not everything that came to the House passed especially when it had to do with our people. But, the way government is constituted it difficult to always oppose. I can tell you there is not democracy at the state level because the overbearing influence of the executive is 90 %.
Let me shock you, I was a member of the Public Account Committee, is the Judiciary not autonomous and supposed to do its own thing? Go and check, if Judiciary in the state has ever gotten its allocation straight from the budget. If Judiciary were to be independent whatever allocation they are entitled from the budget, approved by the House of Assembly, would be released to them. But, have you ever seen lawyers and judges oppose the fact that Judiciary is not independent at the level of state?
So, if Judiciary cannot speak out, is it House of Assembly that people will always bring their boys? Where a personal assistant, PA, to Chairman, PA to Governor must be compensated with the House of Assembly ticket?
Let we shock you again, there is no time the State House of Assembly has ever stood on its own to produce its leadership.
In this state?
Yes, in this state. I’m not only talking about my regime and why I’m bringing that up is that it was a PDP government and once PDP said something nobody opposed it. As a matter of fact, on the day of picking the Speaking, the party must be there. Can’t you see how hypocritical our people could be, that the same people in charge of affairs at the state level, that would never want you to speak out against them are the people are the people speaking out in Abuja against the president?