By Franklyn ISONG

“This nepotistic infrastructure strategy completely negates the Oath of Allegiance sworn by the President as sudden attractions of Institutions including universities, refineries etc find Katsina particularly Daura an attractive location against the principle of national interest above private considerations,” being excerpts, taken from a press statement issued by “Akwa Ibom Leaders’ Vanguard” titled; “unconstitutional abuse of the commonwealth and its threat to National Unity and Economic growth.”

Since reading this statement at the weekend, I have been restless and perturbed. I have a lot against it. If these “leaders” had said they were “party leaders” in Akwa Ibom state, I wouldn’t bother about the statement. It would have been understood that the major function of the opposition political party is to provide alternative views to the government in power. One would have looked at it through the prism of opposition party doing the obvious oversight of the ruling party, and since I have no business in politics, I would not have been perturbed, as it were. But no! The impression created by the statement is that these are leaders of Akwa Ibom state, speaking for the “good” interest of Akwa Ibom people.

Obviously, I am worried because I have read through the signatories to the press statement over and over and my conclusion is that these are self-seeking party members who were merely on errand, with due respect to them.

Clearly, the names on the statement are known party members though nothing is wrong about that, but it seems to me, they never wanted the party coloration to be seen, which is why they excluded their party’s name on the press statement.

Again, if the statement was meant to represent Akwa Ibom people, it would have had the likes of former Governors; Idongesit Nkanga, Victor Attah, Godswill Akpabio. It would have had the likes of former deputy governors; Etim Okpoyo, Christopher Ekpenyong, Michael Udofia, Patrick Ekpotu, Nsima Ekere, and Valerie Ebe. It would have had the likes of Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, Senator Eme Ekaette, Senator Ita Enang, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, Senator Akon Eyakenyi. It would have had the likes of Obong Umana Okon Umana, Obong Rita Akpan, Air Marshal Nsikak Eduok (rtd.), General Edet Akpan (rtd.), Obong Michael Afaghideh, Obong Bassey Inuaenyin, Obonganwan Grace Akpan, Engr. Edet Amana, Amb. Sam Edem, Arc. I. I. Etteh, Prof. Okon Eminue, Prof. Akpan Hogan Ekpo, Atuekong Don Etiebet, General Anthony Etukudoh (rtd.), Engr. Ita Awak, Dr. Ime Okopido, Rt. Hon. Nduese Essien and several others who are also known leaders of the State, on the list. Or are these ones not known leaders of Akwa Ibom state anymore?

Save for selfish and politically motivated gains, a situation where twelve (12) individuals would sit in the comfort of their parlours to issue press statements, giving the impression that they are speaking for and on behalf of the over five (5) million Akwa Ibomites is not acceptable. I frown at it and condemn such in very strong terms.

Moving forward, I disassociate myself from the statement and I have the consent of members of my family to disassociate them from the said press statement as well.

I view it as an unprovoked attempt to denigrate the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria unjustly. I wasn’t consulted and I believe the majority of Akwa Ibom people were also not consulted too. Whatever might have prompted the statement, the content, thereof, is uncalled for. Especially because, the signatories to the said statement, lacked the moral justification to talk about nepotism in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration when they had not first removed the speck in their eyes in the State.

For instance, the Udom Emmanuel’s administration is believed to be practicing nepotism in full scale in the state. If these were true leaders of Akwa Ibom State as they wanted the world to believe, they would have kicked against it.

Where were these “leaders” when virtually all the industries/companies/factories attracted to the State through the industrialisation drive of Udom Emmanuel using the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) are being sited in the Governor’s hometown – Awa, Onna LGA?

More than 5 years into the Udom’s government, these “leaders of conscience” are yet to see anything wrong in the lopsided appointments in the government, in favour of the governor’s hometown -Awa, and Onna LGA.

It is truism that, he that wants equity must first do equity to others, just as, he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. I am constrained that today is Sunday, the first Sunday in March, and I am in a haste to meet up church service else, I would have been tempted to say that the hands of these “leaders” are soiled, dented and stained in their inability to call a spade a spade.

What would they lose if they had first asked the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to call the State Governor to order, before calling on the National Assembly to call the President to order? One still wonders why they are so much concerned about the wrongs in the federal level while applauding the wrongs in the State. I do not want to believe that it is a case of “he that pays the piper dictates the tune!”

Henceforth, for the interest of the good people of Akwa Ibom State, before any person or group of persons issue press statement(s) on behalf of the state, there should be wider consultations across all strata of persons.

Akwa Ibom State belongs to all of us. No one person(s) is/are more Akwa Ibomite(s) than the others. We are all stakeholders in the Akwa Ibom project.

“A word is enough for the wise!”

• Franklyn Isong is a public affairs commentator and conscience of the society.

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