By Franklyn Isong

According to Wikipedia, “Death row is a place in a prison that houses inmates awaiting execution after being convicted of a capital crime.”

Here, I am using the term ‘deathrow’ figuratively to describe the true state of those serving in the state executive council under Governor Udom Emmanuel.

The Governor is serving out his second term in office having been elected in 2015. It is widely believed that the reappointment of most of the cabinet members who had served in the governor’s first term was influenced by their roles during the 2019 election.

Elsewhere, I have argued that 85% (percent) of the exco members have no reason being in the exco. I have also asserted that if political appointments were to be premised on merit, capacity and competence that 85% of the exco members have no business in Udom’s cabinet.

I don’t want to start mentioning names but, my assessment shows that 85 percent of the cabinet members aren’t doing well in their responsibilities, perhaps due to lack of knowhow to head such sensitive ministries they are assigned.

Last week, Akwa Ibom people might have had a temporary sigh of relief, when fake news about the dissolution of the exco found it way into the social media space for hours, before it was debunked by the government.

The news, however, gave temporary succour to those of us who hold the opinion that the exco has over stayed its welcome by reason of underperformance and its inability to interpret the governor’s Completion Agenda. Except, “Completion Agenda” means underperformance, which is not!

I do not know where the fake news came from, but believe me when I say that the merriment, excitement and jubilation that trailed it in the state, were true reflection of the people’s endorsement that Governor Emmanuel needs to dissolve his exco, moving forward.

“The attention of Akwa Ibom State Government has been drawn to the fake news making rounds on social media about a purported dissolution of the State Executive Council by His Excellency, the Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel. This fake news is a figment of imagination of some mischief makers. It is a meek and condemnable attempt to cause distraction.

“The State Government remains undaunted in the pursuit of its sustainable and people oriented development agenda,” Charles Udoh, Commissioner for Information said through a press release dated, “March 11, 2020”.

On the title of this article, dissatisfied with the performance of the exco, sometimes in January this year, I interfaced with a close friend who is currently an exco member. We had a lengthy discussion ranging from politics, governance, education to security. It was a nonpartisan conversation that spanned from state to federal government.

It was my commissioner-friend who used the words “death row” repeatedly to illustrate why they are underperforming in Udom Emmanuel’s cabinet.

As a trained journalist, my ethics prohibit me from disclosing my sources, especially when they pleaded anonymity or during private conservation with me. So, I will protect the identity of my commissioner-friend.

While trying to give reasons of their (exco members’) failure to perform, he said that they are “living their lives on a daily basis like condemned criminals who are on death row awaiting execution which may come any time, any day, not known to them, but known only to the governor.”

He noted that they (exco members) “are aware of the fact that the governor may just sleep and wake up one morning and announce the dissolution of the exco and that will be our end as cabinet members in the state.”

He maintained that “as it stands, we are only doing our best and leave the rest. Government is a continuum. Another commissioner will continue from where I stop. My major worry now is that I have not achieved enough for myself.”

In a nutshell, a criminal on death row lives his best on a daily basis. He lives like there is no tomorrow, because he might be called upon for execution by the hangman any moment.

My commissioner-friend to a large extent, one would say, justified the reason Udom Emmanuel’s exco members have poorly performed. Even though, it did not go down well with me.

Simply put, my take on this is, it is high time Governor Emmanuel dissolved the state exco and reconstitute it, with merit and competency as yardsticks, than other considerations!

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

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