Politics & Policy - Viewpoint - August 23, 2021

Akwa Ibom 2023: Family influences, spiritual posturing & power play (2)

By Etim Etim

In the first part of this article, I focused on the growing menace of involvement of some pastors (or supposed men of God) and Governor Udom Emmanuel’s family members in the succession politics of 2023 in Akwa Ibom State.
In that essay, I said:
‘’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. He is said to be very close to Gov. Emmanuel. Mbang and his group are echoing the governor’s oft repeated sentiments that no cult member will ever become governor.’’
In the second and concluding part of the piece, I can report that Gov. Udom Emmanuel has become very frustrated by the growing menace of the “Fathers of Faith” (FoF), especially the activities of one the most prominent members of the group from Abia State, Uma Ukpai. The temerity and audacity of an Igbo man in seeking to influence the emergence of the next governor of Akwa Ibom State have incensed the people greatly and seriously inflicted a split of the FoF group into camps. Many church leaders have openly excoriated the governor for giving Ukpai so much influence in Akwa Ibom political affairs. On the other hand, the governor has also been very mortified by the meddlesomeness of his elder brother who is openly and earnestly campaigning for the Commissioner for Lands, Umoh Eno, as his (Udom’s) successor.
While other PDP governors like Nyesom Wike of Rivers and Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta have reined in on their commissioners and appointees; warning them against intruding into the 2023 politics, it’s curious to see some commissioners in Akwa Ibom, like Eno, going about as if they had already won the nomination.
It does not matter to them that most of the administration’s projects are still largely uncompleted and the governor does not have much to show for all the trillions his government received from the Federation Account. Since Udom assumed office, Akwa Ibom has remained one of the receivers of the highest allocations from the Federation Account.
As if these were not enough, the FoF have also been working at cross purposes with one another, some making outrageous public statements.
While elders like Prelate Sunday Mbang may have genuine intentions in seeking to debar tainted politicians from participating in the race, others have been focusing more on self-promotion and personal aggrandizement.
Never before has the church been inserted so deeply and clumsily into the succession politics in Akwa Ibom state.
Every pastor has become a politician, sycophant and praise singer, seeking to ingratiate themselves with the governor and his politics. It is a great disservice to Christianity.
I was therefore not surprised that Gov. Udom Emmanuel had to summon a meeting of the FoF last week and call them to order. He asked them to spare him all the distractions and embarrassments, and keep away from his transition programme. 
It is important that the governor had finally summoned the courage to reprimand these people. He should take responsibility for their rancorous and noisy politicking.
If the governor had not been claiming that he was waiting to hear from God about the name of his successor, these church leaders (or is it dealers?) would not have had the gut to meddle so messily into politics.
Under this governor, I dare say our pulpits have been so corrupted with government cash that politics has become an irresistible allure to Akwa Ibom Pastors! What a shame!
Now that Gov. Emmanuel has realized his mistakes, he should take further steps to reorder his succession programme.
The first step, as I said in the first piece, is for him to warn his family members to keep away from his 2023 agenda.
Then, he should stop infusing religion into our politics. The two constitute a combustible combination that can never go together!
It is okay for a leader to pray in his privacy for God’s guidance in all his endeavours, but to posture noisily as a prophet as the governor has been doing is equally an unwelcome distraction to good governance.
He is unwittingly inviting more commotion to whatever is left of his administration.

CONCLUDED

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

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