The visit of Acting President of Nigeria Professor Yemii Osibanjo SAN to Akwa Ibom rekindled the brotherhood in the State ,devoid of ethnographic self-absorption and sociopolitical division .
Apart from the team spirit , the town hall meeting also showcased to the world, the camaraderie of vision, purpose and mission of the people of Akwa Ibom State as all speakers recurrently dwelled on same issues .
In the hall ,I unknowingly sat close to one of the presidential aides, and he kept asking if the gathering was a fusion of APC and PDP members and I habitually answered him yes, pointing my slithers to where the stalwarts of All Progressive Congress, APC, sat, and their members without any separate sitting position from other Political Parties.
He enumerated the crunches they were faced with in other States the Acting President had earlier visited before coming to Akwa Ibom, which in most events venue, there was physical fisticuffs, which most, later led to downright violence.
The Presidential Aide who was also a security operative said that he sat in the middle row, so he can forestall any emergence of such incident in the Akwa Ibom banquet hall, which served as the meeting venue.
Towards the end of the meeting, the Aide who is a northerner could not hide his amazement on the orderly and peaceful conduct of the people of the State. He turned to me and said, “my brother, no shouting match, no catcalling ,not to talk of fighting?”. He Ended up by saying,” your people are very peaceful and I can see why crime rate in the State is the lowest in the country.”
I will wish to recount mementos of the team spirit of Akwa Ibom people from Ibom international Airport during the arrival of the Acting President to the venue of the town hall meeting.
The first sets of hugs and banters that rocked the entire social media was the hugs and throwing of banters between the factions of the All Progressive Congress.
Where John Akpan Udodehe was hugging and almost kissing people, onlookers could term, his sworn political enemies. The likes of Obong Umana Okon Umana , Otuekong Don Etiebet , Ita Enang among others .
What many who read various banner stories in state based newspapers in the preceding weeks in the State and on the social media, with headlines such as, “Udoedehe Bombs Umana ” Umana Says Udoedebe is a thug ” Udodehe slaps Don Etiebet ” APC Expel Udoedehe ” just to mention few ,were mystified and frozen with what they saw .
The paparazzi had a field day of fun as they were taking pictures of these leaders without considering their storage capacities, friends and political followers couldn’t hold back their amazement, their faces can tell you the stories of their thoughts . Some out of disbelief, put their camera phones to use as they were not left out of that moment of great surprises and happiness.
Seeing men who were supposedly fighting, united on a mission to demand for the release of the right of Akwa Ibom State and praying the Federal Government to put a stop to socio-economic marginalization of their land was a beautiful thing.
Still at the airport , Senate Minority leader was seen hugging Udoedehe ,Umana and Don Etiebet , it was another season for paparazzi , I can vividly remember a middle aged man who stood right beside me. He liftted up his fingers to his teeth and exclaimed ‘’ederimbot’’ meaning what a world! .
Out of curiosity , I questioned him to know why he was momentously amazed. He said,” my brother I can’t believe what I’m seeing , we the supporters are fighting others on their behalf, and I behold them hugging each other ? I can never be stupid and place my life on the line for any politician again.” Then I smiled.
I’m not telling the Story of the middle age man because I love it so much, but I tell the story so that the supporters of any politician should not kill the supporters of the opponent ,as if they do it for the politician. Politics should not be seen as do- or- die affair. You don’t need to destroy your political challenger or keep malice with him or her, because he or she, is not in sync with your interest.
After the airport arrival of the Acting President, the next event that really showcased the togetherness of the people of Akwa Ibom State, was the town hall meeting. There was no divisional sitting arrangement to separate the members of PDP and that of APC.
One can obviously see the coloration of unity in the sitting arrangement of ethnocentric pressure groups and that all the socio-cultural groups as they all sat together. Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio ,Esup Nlap Oro, Afid iwad Ekid and Ati Annang among others.
While waiting for the entrance of the August visitor, members of both political Parties were seen hugging each other and holding hands with broad smiles, a clear sign of brotherly companionship.
The Senate Minority leader , Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio in his characteristic element, brought his comic prowess to defuse tension that engulfed the hall as speaker after speaker, was revealing to the world the injustice done to the people of Akwa Ibom State by the federal Government .
The former Governor of Akwa Ibom State took Senator Ita Enang and Engr Ita Awak to the altar of comedy. In his words he said and here quote “I thank you for the appointment of the Managing Director of Planet FM, sorry SSA to the President, Senator Ita Enang” . this state send laughter into the mouth of every Akwa Ibom persons ,and Vice President after communing with the Governor to really find out what could send the once very silent crowd into wild laughter , could hold back himself from laughing .
And Senator Ita Solomon Enang who was the subject of the matter was seen laughing and he nearly fell off his sit . As many thought Senator Akpabio was done with his comic accretion, he brought down the hall again into another quaking moment of laughter when he said “I want to thank you for the appointment of our son as the Director of Air Worthiness at NCAA, Mr Ita Awak; though sometimes he gets confused when he is on television”. This made even Ita Awak to stand up on his feet and laugh , pointing his finger to the podium where the Senate Minority leader was standing with great awe ,as the people Laughed and laughed .
As a prudent politician the Immediate past Governor ended his speech politically by saying, ‘’Finally, I want to urge you to ensure that there is free and fair election in 2019. Allow Akwa Ibom that is a PDP State to remain PDP”,
When it was the turn of the amiable Governor of Akwa Ibom State to speak the entire people of the State in the hall stood up, as mark of honour and respect to their leader, not minding political differences and division nor ethnic lines and thoughts.
Governor Udom Emmanuel began his speech by letting everyone to know that politics of exclusion should be kept off Governance, when he said ‘’ The unity among us in this meeting is going to send a strong signal ,When we came on board ,we made a clarion call to everyone that it is time for all of us to rise to togetherness.”
Elections have been won and lost it is now time for governance. People who are watching us today have seen a clear demonstration of Akwa Ibom people’s readiness to match forward” My entire article centers on this quote by the most productive Governor in Nigeria as confirmed by the Acting President, when he said, Governor Udom Emmanuel is most development driven Governor in Nigeria .
Governor Udom Emmanuel before his speech adopted the demands made by Chief Essien Ndueso and Otuekong Idonesit Nkanga , that They are also demanding that over N 160 billion naira spent on the construction of Federal roads be refunded by the federal government to the state for more development; Commencement of the proposed Calabar-Lagos railway line project and the upgrade of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron to a degree awarding institution, as well as the completion of the East-West road project in line with the stipulated specifications, relocation of IOC’S headquarters to Akwa Ibom State ,revisiting the ailing ASCON in Ikot Abasi and MMNC in Oku Iboku .
Partnering with the State Government to build Ibom Deep Sea Port ,construction of industrial Park and Skills Acquisition centers ,employment of the people of Akwa Ibom State into Federal Parastatals and Ministries. Partner with the State to complete the MRO facility at Ibom International Airport among others .
In his response , the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has directed the International Oil Companies operating in the Niger-Delta region to relocate their headquarters to their States of operation to mitigate tension in host communities.
The Acting President urged the Minister of State, Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu to begin the process of engaging the International Oil Companies on the way forward to actualize the directive, saying “I think it is the right thing to do”. He emphasized on the importance of the Ibom deep Sea port project, saying that, the Federal Government is seriously committed to its realization. According to him, “Indeed as a matter of fact, in the 2017 budget there is already a provision for the Ibom port. There is already N1billion provision. It is a matter we take seriously to partner with the Akwa Ibom State Government” These few among the issues the Ag President accepted to ensure it come to pass .
The visit of the Acting President has come and gone but the bond of love and brotherhood it has rekindled in the State will continue as a flame of eternal light to the generations unbound.
Written by Emmanuel Nicholas