Some days ago, I responded to a diatribe on Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom state by my friend and publisher of The Radar Newspaper, Franklyn Isong. It tended to surreptitiously probe Government officials in respect to certain publications about the Managing Director Of the NDDC, Obong Nsima Ekere among other things. My submission was that ‘he who seeks equity should do equity’ as lawyers would say. I also saw in the write up, an attendant of APC’s conspiracy theory aimed at demonizing the Governor’s character and policies, in view of the 2019 gubernatorial elections.
I wish to begin this also by indicating without intellectual arrogance that throughout the about Ten years (twenty semesters I have spent in the University (from undergraduate to Doctoral levels, I have been studying the nature, behaviour and dynamics of multinational companies in relation to Africa and the entire gamut of globalization- the process of integrating world economies, technology and cross-cultural currents. I feel more qualified to articulate views on this topic.
Let me quickly say here with every sense of modesty that my friend, Franklyn lacks both the intellectual depth and strength of character to write on such a sensitive topic as ‘Multinational Companies (of which Exxon Mobil is one) because he knows very little about its workings and metropolitan linkage. He is merely an instrument of its ‘accumulation instinct, but knows very little about its character in global politics.
I must add though, that Franklyn is a good and important instrument of conspiracy due to his unparalleled ability to play the ‘blame shifting game’ of Projection- which has defined the APC from inception. However, joining issues with my friend on the so called contributions of Mobil to the state is quite pathetic- a sad exploration and trajectory. But as the saying goes, the hottest place in hell fire should be reserved for those who are mute in situations of great moral crises’. I reject the option of going to hell!
Let me remind us of the nature and interest of multinationals as adumbrated by VI Lenin, in his famous classic, ‘Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism’:”As long as capitalism remains what it is, surplus capital is required not for the purpose of raising the standard of living of any society, but for exporting capital abroad…. The obvious implication and connotations of this is that: (1) Mobil, being an American concern is an agent of capitalism (2) its operations are controlled from the metropole (US) NOT the satellite (Nigeria) and (3) the profits it makes are exported back to the United States and for the United States. By possible extrapolation, the sole interest of Mobil in Nigeria, as Prof Eskor Toyo noted is ‘primitive accumulation of capital’ and NOT to better the living standards of its operational communities. I think the picture is getting clearer.
My friend Franklyn has made an allusion to the ‘so called contributions of Mobil to Akwa Ibom state, which in cogent terms doesn’t exist. If the peanuts Mobil use to calm the oil bearing communities is what he calls Community Social Responsibility (CSR), then Franklyn is in total oblivion because if this is juxtaposed against what is obtainable in global standard, then Mobil should have no business in Akwa Ibom State. For instance, during the Brent Spar oil spillage in Europe in the early 1990s, Shell was compelled by the actions of Greenpeace, an International NGO, to embark on over 18 different Environmental Impact Assessment. Despite this, Shell was boycotted in Germany and much of Northern Europe which led to a drop in its operations.
If I may ask, to what extent is Mobil accountable to the oil producing communities and the government of Akwa Ibom? Bearing in mind that Environmental Impact Assessment is the hallmark of CSR, how many times has Mobil engaged in EIA in its areas of operations since it started operations more than 4 decades ago? Building hospital blocks, renovating schools and granting of scholarship to few indigenes of the oil communities are simply gambits to keep the society safe for its exploitative enterprises. Does Akwa Ibomites know how much money Mobil earns in the state, in line with global best practice? You see, Franklyn does not have an idea and goofed big time!
Let’s get to the main issue which has to do with Franklyn’s role in entrenching APC’s conspiracy theory. He said, ‘It is also barbaric and incisive for the authorities to instruct that the NNPC/ExxonMobil billboard on the Eket-Ibeno road project be demolished by youths of the area. This action can further promote hostility and youths restiveness against federal government agency(s) and multinationals operating in Akwa Ibom State’.
Franklyn has indeed ridiculed his professional character with such hasty conclusion. This negates the principle of investigative journalism which every reputable journalist should hold sacrosanct. I hereby challenge him to establish beyond doubts that the Government of Akwa Ibom State had any hand, (directly or indirectly) in the demolition of the said billboard in the context of the five Ws and and one H. If he fails to do this, his obscurantism would be termed that of an ‘eunuch’ as the general public would be compelled to asking questions!
Franklyn also shot himself on the foot when he noted that: “It can also state that nothing is new in NNPC/ExxonMobil erecting a billboard advertising their N8b contributions for the construction of the Eket- Ibeno road, whether the money was embezzled by the administration that received it or the project contractors. But, everything is wrong for the state to publicly unleashed verbal attacks on NNPC/ExxonMobil and their managements on account of the billboard”.
I align totally with the view that nothing is wrong with Mobil erecting a billboard stating the N8 billion, which actually came from the community oil spill palliative fund. My point of departure however is that it’s professionally, morally, socially, political and culturally wrong for a junior partner in a development process claiming ownership of the project. Has Franklyn ever bothered to ask how much (finances and political will) the state government has invested in the construction of the road? If Mobil or any agent of APC ‘s conspiracy would claim Mobil constructed the Eket-Ibeno road, why would the state Governor be the one to commission it during the second anniversary of his administration in 2017? This is a clear case of logical insights against the argumentum ad hominem which characterizes political conspiracies!
If the above disarticulations clearly define the context of APC’s conspiracies, then the attempt to blackmail Governor Udom Emmanuel with the nomenclature ‘bully’ is libellous, misdirected and ill-informed. For instance, Franklyn wrote: ‘This is one action, I view as uncivilized and counter-productive in this 21st century. It has painted a negative picture to the international community and to sane Nigerians that the two years administration of Mr Udom Emmanuel is specializing in bullying, intimidating and fighting every federal government agencies and multinationals operating in Akwa Ibom, under the guise of project execution’.
Suffice it to say that what determines the respect people earn in international circle is integrity. Governor Udom Emmanuel has garnered quantum goodwill and integrity having rose up to the peak and managed the workings of multinational financial institutions. His actions therefore cannot be dictated by primitive accumulation instinct, which causes the lose of goodwill in the international community. I think Franklyn is merely massaging his ignorant- induced ego. If truly the Governor is bullying, intimidating and fighting federal government agencies, how come there exist a functional partnership between the state government and the Oil & Gas Free Trade Zone, whose managing Director, Mr Umana Okon Umana(his opponent in the last governorship election) recently visited the Governor. I think Franklyn had forgotten this! He also forgot that Ben Ukpong was hosted by the governor shortly after his appointment as member of the National Population Commission, after losing out as running mate to Mr Umana in 2015.
To this end, it begs to remind Franklyn that playing down other administrations in the state in glorification of one is not in the best interest of the unity and solidarity of the state. If we had need for that, I probably would have reminded my friend that the year 2003 witnessed the most brazenly rigged Gubernatorial election in the political history of Akwa Ibom where a judge was indicted for bribery. It is also recent history that in 2005, a deputy Governor was unconstitutionally removed from office for trivial reasons. If these credentials define Franklyn best standard in leadership, then it’s unfortunate.
Finally, it is also the height of blame shifting for Franklyn to allude that ‘the Governor should choose his battles wisely’, when in the actual sense, he is fighting a proxy battle for a certain Governorship aspirant and one of the leaders of the APC. Franklyn and his co- travellers should be the ones to choose their battles wisely. The only kind of battle Governor Udom Emmanuel is fighting is the fight to realize the industrialization of the state, which is key to his administration’s 5 point agenda.
Thank you for acknowledging and thanking the Governor as he commissions Eket- Ibeno Road on the 29th of May, 2017.
Uwemedimoh Umanah, an International Public Affairs Analyst, writes in this piece from Abak