Politics & Policy - Viewpoint - August 22, 2021

Akwa Ibom 2023: Family influences, spiritual posturing & power play (1)

By Etim Etim

A familiar malady is creeping into the transition politics of Gov. Udom Emmanuel, and that is the influence of family members. This writer has been reliably informed that one of the governor’s brothers is mounting pressure on the governor to anoint Umoh Eno, the Commissioner for Lands & Water Resources, as the his successor. Eno ran a hotel and catering business before he became a commissioner last year. It is not exactly clear why the governor’s brother is routing for Eno, who is also being touted as a church pastor and the preferred candidate of the evangelicals in the state.
But the recent upsurge in the commissioner’s coverage by an Uyo-based newspapers is directly linked to his desperation to position himself as the chosen one.
Eno is also being touted as the preferred candidate of the so-called Fathers of Faith, a disparate collection of priests, spiritual businessmen, pastors and church owners in the state who have developed special skills that enable them waltz themselves into the embrace of every governor since 1999.
The Fathers of Faith are also overreaching themselves posturing as influencers in the 2023 politics of Gov. Udom Emmanuel. They have started ‘’screening’’ PDP governorship aspirants, and have vowed to weed out cultists from the race.
Leading that group is Prelate Sunday Mbang, the nonagenarian who was very active during the Obasanjo presidency and Akpabio administration, and is said to be very close to Gov. Emmanuel.
Prelate Mbang is echoing the governor’s oft repeated sentiments that no cult member will ever become governor in the state.
In the APC, there are growing rumours that the delayed congresses and convention of the party may just allow a certain aspirant to gain undue advantage over others.
In all these, I will like to make a few points:
1. Udom Emmanuel will be repeating the mistakes of our past governors if he allows his siblings or any family member to insert themselves into his transition programme.
Such a blunder will render his succession agenda controversial, untidy and lacking in basic credibility.
We have seen this in the past, and I don’t need to repeat it here. It is all the more shameful that the governor’s brother is being driven by financial inducements in his desires. Somebody should call him to order, and the governor in particular should note that Akwa Ibom people have always resisted politics as a family affair.
2. The Fathers of Faith are welcome to continue their search for the next governor, although the pedigree of some of them, like Cletus Bassey, Angela Ashong, and a few others in that ilk, are well known to us.
As for the prelate, I actually like him and his anti-cultism campaign. Personally, I cannot support any cultist. I resent the pernicious and corrosive influences of cult groups on our way of life, government, polity and politics.
Even our school kids are now drug addicts and cult members. We must route this evil from our society, otherwise they will ruin us.
But we should also make it clear that not being a cultist is not the only important criterion for being a good governor, and not being a Christian should not even be an important consideration.
Many of the developed countries of the world, like Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, China, and Vietnam have negligible Christian populations. Their leaders are not even Christians. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim State that runs on strict Sharia law, but Saudi Aramco is better managed than NNPC!
Akwa Ibom people should therefore look for balance in a candidate and pay attention to those leadership qualities that matter.
In fact, I should state that given our experience in the last few years, the only quality that matters now is capacity to lead the people to the promised land.
3. For 2023, Akwa Ibom people will consider capacity, pedigree, reputation and the intentions of the candidates.
I have written a lot on this and it bears repeating that the next governor will have to be a man of strong ethical and moral standing, who has the interest of the people at heart.
We will reject those who have stolen money from Akwa Ibom government. We will also avoid those who have pursued a very narrow career path since they left school, especially those who have never done anything beyond politics.

… to be continued

Etim, a journalist and public affairs commentator, wrote from Uyo.

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