By Joseph Atainyang
During my junior secondary school (JS1 precisely), I learnt that politics is a dirty game. As a young child of about 10 then, I actually thought that politics is a concrete being that can be seen and touched. I was ignorant that as an abstract existence, politics was not a dirty and smelling being. But I later realised that it was a very innocent being, conveniently manipulated, especially in the Nigerian context, to become very dirty. In fact, it was not and is still not politics that is dirty. It is the politicians that are dirty. They are not dirty when they put on their well starched and ironed attire of deception; they are dirty in their minds. God knows why he stopped humanity from knowing the minds of people. We would have been fighting constantly because the human mind does not rest from thinking evil. Politicians are loaded with exceedingly rotten thoughts on their minds and it’s not funny.
When Shakespeare told us that, “There’s no art to find the minds construction in the face”, he meant that humanity, like Aristotel posited, is politically dreadful (when he said, “a human being is by nature a political animal”). Shakespeare, the greatest man of letters that ever lived was ready to build a wall of obscurity around the believe in psychology which attempts to study the human mind by merely looking at the person’s face. But when writing Hamlet, Shakespeare used Prince Hamlet to deconstruct and perhaps reconstruct his view in Macbeth when the young lad staged the “Play within a play” just to focus his attention on the facial impression of his ‘wicked’ uncle, Claudius. Of course, he discovered the worries and confirmed the massage of the ghosts, that, as a politician, his uncle had killed his father who was a king just to take over the throne. He had succeeded killing the man and also succeeded taking the Queen as his wife. But, he, as a greedy and dirty politician sought to kill Prince Hamlet so as to bury the fear of resistance which may come as a result of that revelation. We shall visit this episode much later in this piece.
Hon. Otobong Jonathan Akpan, Member, Ukanafun State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly is a fine gentleman. In politics, your fineness may become a total irony to your character. He smiles and keeps persistent a smiling face. As a correspondent to the AKHA, I see his constant smiling face and I wonder what God created him. In life, a man is always confronted by the challenges of life which most times affect his psyche. Ones a man’s psyche is punctured, his face becomes long by the cloak of worries that compels him to frown. But for this lawmaker, a smiling face seems an undetached nature with him and one rather wonders in the wilderness of bewilderment, to see, just like Prince Hamlet, whether this man has a cliff of skeleton on his cupboard.
When the lawmaker, just like others was victoriously sworn into office in 2015 after the election, his constituents may have had a long list of expectations. They may have had series of meetings with him which they had made a request of what kind of representation they want from him. As a man of conscience who is aware of the desires of his people, he systematically maintains a smiling face which portrays a confidence of his direction and the expected goals. Just like Queen Esther of the scriptures whose heart was heavy with the hostility of the Jews who were ready for slaughter in Shushan, which made her keep a smiling face, even when circumstantially visiting King Ahasuerus in his chambers, Otobong Akpan had long been keeping a smiling face in his numerous attempts to garner goodies for his people.
A native of Ikot Udo Mbang, Northern Afaha in Ukanafun LGA of Akwa Ibom State, the Canadian and London trained technologist has proven his worth, contributing his quota to the growth and development of the state through effective Bills sponsorship, co-sponsorship and has moved several people-oriented Motions on the floor of the hallowed chambers. For those who are familiar with the activities of the House, it could be clearly seen that Akpan has not been tired of making meaningful contributions on almost all issue. As a man of conscience, conscious of the people’s mandate, he is clearly noted as one who attends plenaries at all times.
He is currently the Chairman House Committee on Lands, Housing and Urban Renewal; Vice Chairman, Committee on Judiciary, Justice, Human Rights and Public Petitions; Member, Committee Advisory on Parliamentary Matters, as well as Member, Committees on Public Accounts, Works and Transport, Information, Labour and Productivity, Intergovernmental, Political and Special Matters, and lastly, Member, Committee on Economic Planning and Development.
With these loaded responsibilities, one readily sees Otobong Akpan as a workerholic who stays in his office 24/7, diligently discharging his duties. At plenaries, one is held spell bound by his deep sense of rationality, a feat that has earned him the name, Aristotele. A man, serious with a smiling face always talks tough, knowing that his people’s voice can only be heard when he stands to speak on their behalf. He knows it is a privilege to serve his people and does not mind name callings, provided he makes known the mind of his people and the entire populace of Akwa Ibom State.
The lawmaker has paid hospital bills to over 40 Ukanafun and OrukAnam indigenes; donated free UTME forms/free CBT classes for over 200 Ukanafun students (annually); built six classroom blocks at Ikot Akpa Edem ward 8; constructed a Solar energy powered borehole at Ukanafun, Ikot Ekpat Ward 5 and an ultramodern civic center at Ikot Udo Mbang ward 7. He has also recommended many Ukanafun indigenes for government and private employment and has consistently been paying school fees for many undergraduates in his constituency.
Otobong Jonathan Akpan has sponsored two laudable motions: on Ukanafun abandoned General Hospital and the Oil Mill Depoty. He had recently empowered Akpan Essiet Market women as well as visited hospitals and clinics within Ukanafun to offset backlog of bills for very many patients. These strides have made him an appealing representative to his constituents who have demonstrated an uncommon sense of pride and confidence in him.
Looking at these accumulated achievements of the lawmaker, one can be sure that his choice by the Peoples Democratic Party for the last election was not a miscalculation. In fact, as the 2019 general elections approach, one can be sure that his people would freely give him their mandate to go to the Green Chambers of the National Assembly.
His representation has been effective, sensitive, ideal and very proportional to the expectations of his people. Sources within the Constituency have affirmed that Otobong Akpan has fitted so well as a square peck in the Ukanafun Constituency Seat. Sources have also confirmed that the lawmaker would in few months, hold his Constituency Briefing where he shall empower his constituents.
But, Ukanafun had long been a war territory. It had long been a place of blood bath and one recalls with saddened sadness, the fate of the APC candidate, late Obong Okon Uwah who was gruesomely murdered during the 2015 electioneering. Since then, the ‘war zone’ has lived up to its expectation by presenting itself as a territory of escalating criminality. Several lives have gone. Multiple kidnappings have ragged the place and cult war has long been drumming in the area. While many youths have been arrested with most of them being prosecuted, the zone has refused to allow an enduring peace even as no fewer of four police commissioners have been posted in an out of the state just to see whose heart is large enough to contain the dreaded cultists.
Of course, the crime rate in Ukanafun had long spread its ugly tentacles to Etim Ekpo and Ika Local Government Areas, where cult wars have bred in good health. One may think that Otobong Akpan deserves mud slinging simply because he had not raised a motion of urgent public importance on the floor of the House since the trend came to stay. At the same time, one also believes, the matter had long been in the hands of the security chiefs and the state government even before his ascension. One thing is important here, if Hon. Otobong Akpan had raised such a motion, the House would only direct appropriate security agents to swing into action.
The 26 members of the AKHA would not vacate their onerous tasks of law making, oversight functions and representation just to work on the streets in Ukanafun to show that they are ready to tackle the security challenges of the areas. If security issues were very simple to deal with, the police and other security agents would not be found running away from trouble spots at very unfortunate situations. Ukanafun has been known for its notorious criminality and blaming such uncomfortable development on a lawmaker who is working had to meet expectations would be shifting the blame. Security is everyone’s business and as the Nigerian President, Muhammad Buhari constantly advises, ‘change begins with me’; so, all and sundry must join hands to tackle the eruption in our dear State.
Just last week, Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel demonstrated uncommon bravery while reading the riot act and proscribing more than forty cult groups in the State. With this development, one believes that the activities of this people would drastically reduce. The Ukanafun security challenge shall be nibbed in the bud and tranquility should expectedly be restored.
So, Otobong Jonathan Akpan, a smooth sailing politician whose effective representation at the AKHA has been rewarded by the hyping call by his constituents to aspire into the higher office of the Ukanafun/OrukAnam Federal Constituency seat can only be encouraged to move further. It is to be expected that when Ofonime Udotu, an ‘imaginative progressive mind’ opins that the fine lawmaker is ‘messing up the people’s mandate’, the biases would necessarily be prejudicial. It could be peaceably understood from the stand point of the dirty minds of politicians whose jobs, they are, to engage unseen and inexistent figures for the destruction of well built character and reputation. One can readily be satisfied in these towering heights in the long list of Akpan’s achievements. This speaks volumes of how he has been intune with his people whose mandate he holds seriously for effective accountability.
As Hamlet’s uncle was discovered to have been responsible for the demise of the King of Denmark in that Shakespearean play, so has some political gluttons been discovered of fuelling the fire of hostility, just to smear the selling brand called Hon. Otobong Jonathan Akpan. As a known Aristotele of the Sixth Assembly, whose engaging deliberative contributions has been well noted, one would rather appreciate the bravery of the lawmaker for gallantly securing such mind blowing achievements in less than three years.
Akpan is a legislator who is loaded with ideas. His mission in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly could be said to be very fruitful. His contributions at plenaries stand him out as a perfect brand of an idealistic intellectual who must be given a chance to contribute to democracy. As a courageous gentleman, oiled with his passion for service, one certainly believes the lawmaker has much to offer. With an apparent array of simplicity whose smiling face propels an alluring sense of friendship, it is important that he be encouraged to sail higher in his legislative representation. In fact, what people do not know is that Otobong Jonathan Akpan is a serious minded personality whose constantly smiling face keeps him glued to his mission and vision as far as the great task of effectively representing his people is concerned. So, if a politician rises to stop his well deserved aspiration by recruiting ‘pushers of incoherent arguments, it can only be understood as a perfect mischief, integrally connected with politicians and their activities.
Joseph Atainyang is a journalist and public affairs commentator. Gsm: 07036964637