Saturday, May 18, 2024


Let me begin by expressing my profound appreciation to the Organizers of this event for inviting me to speak to the youths and people of Akwa Ibom State at a time that the place and role of the youths in our State’s democratic experiment is being eroded, confused and compromised.
It is my fervent prayer that this assemblage of young intellectuals with proper representation from the political leadership, security agencies, private sector and the media will trigger a dispassionate and blunt conversation on the fate of the youths of Akwa Ibom State.
The tragedy for Akwa Ibom State today is that a vast majority of her youthful population have happily elected to play the second fiddle in the affairs of the State. We have an unpalatable situation where the youths have not only been relegated in the scheme of things, but have been explicitly and implicitly told that they are inconsequential. The political class in this State have by their self-serving actions and inactions, relegated some of our youths to political thugs, beggars, gamblers, political assasins, prostitutes, armed robbers, sycophants and praise singers due to the current high rate of unemployment in the State.
Today, we are all witnesses to the frightening unemployment rate in this State. How many young people who are seated here today are gainfully employed? Please raise your right hand if you have a decent and properly remunerated source of income? I assume those whose hands are raised are among the very fortunate minority who are gainfully employed. We cannot build or develop our society by neglecting the youths. The youths are inarguably the strength of every society.
As youths, we owe it to ourselves and posterity to insist on good governance. It is our civil duty to hold the government accountable. While our active participation in the political process is commendable, such participation should be geared towards achieving the common good. Painfully and regrettably, many youths in Akwa Ibom State today have taken politics as their lifetime career. The unproductive aspiration of many young people today is to be appointed a Senior Special Adviser (SSA), Special Adviser (SA), Senior Special Assistant (SSA), Special Assistant (SA) or Personal Assistant (PA) and so on. Holders of each of these portfolios also appoint their own SAs, PAs, etc. That is why it is common to see a young person who should be developing himself in a particular profession or career proudly announcing to all and sundry that he or she is a Personal Assistant to the Special Adviser to the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor. What a tragedy!
I am of the firm belief that the youths of Akwa Ibom State deserves far more than what they are presently getting from their Local and State Governments in terms of education, employment, infrastructure, health care and other social services. They deserves more than the pittance they are being paid as “Dakkada Ambassadors”, which in my respectful view, is a camouflage to cover governmental incompetence. They deserves more than the insulting N500 to N2000 (Five Hundred – Two Thousand Naira) that they occasionally receive to march and dance under the scorching sun in solidarity with a Governor whose most visible achievement since assumption of office is a Multi-Million Naira state of the art mansion in his hometown in Awa Clan, Onna Local Government Area.
I speak today not as an enemy of the government. I speak today not as an opposition. I speak today as an conscientious Akwa Ibom youth who is tired of the lies and deception of the political class. If we all sit here and pretend that there is a bright future for the youths of this State in the light of the prevailing culture of exclusion and enslavement, history will judge us harshly. This is not the cries of a pessimist. Indeed, I am confident that many of our teeming youths are illustrious, hard working and intellectually blessed. However, the present socio-political and economic climate offers modicum of hope.
I challenge us to rise from this event today with a renewed and a reinvigorated determination to end the enslavement of our youths. I implore us to declare henceforth that never again will we submit to the manipulative machinations of a parasitic and clueless political leadership, notwithstanding our differing political partisanship and leaning. Both the APC and the PDP will come and go, no single political party will govern this State forever. Akwa Ibom will outlive these parties. Therefore, let us give primacy to the collective good of our dear State. Instead of wearing customized T-shirts of our political leaders and singing their praises with an empty stomach, it is time for us to start carrying placards and be marching on the streets to demand good governance.
Recently, Governor Udom Emmanuel arbitrarily announced the sack of about 5000 teachers who were recruited by his benefactor and predecessor at the twilight of the last administration. It is true that the immediate past governor, being who he is, conducted the employment exercise in a very divisive manner which gave undue preference to a particular section of the State. Like I said during an interview programme on Planet 101.1 FM last Friday, it is a persuasive argument for the government to say that the recruitment was not done equitably in line with federal character. However, there is no justification in law for the manner the appointments were terminated. I made it clear during that interview that the failure of the present government to accord the affected teachers a fair hearing in line with the mandatory provisions of Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) renders the purported termination unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
Meanwhile, I hope we are aware that Prof. Maria Ikorok was the Chairman of the State Secondary Education Board (SUBEB) at the time the recruitment was done? Are we aware that the same Prof. Ikorok was not only appointed a member of the Transition Team constituted by the governor to usher in his administration, but was recently appointed the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB)? Also, Dr. (Mrs.) Cecilia Udoessien who was the Head of Civil Service while the recruitment was carried-out was retained by Governor Udom Emmanuel upon assumption of office for several months despite reports that she had since reached the mandatory retirement age. In the light of this, what moral right does Governor Udom Emmanuel have to talk about irregularities in the manner the recruitment exercise was conducted, let alone to sack the beneficiaries of the recruitment, most of whom are youths, when those who directly supervised it have been handsomely rewarded by him? Can corruption be used to fight corruption?
I am mentioning the teacher’s issue to drive home my point on the seeming non-chalant and despondent attitude of the average youth in Akwa Ibom State to issues of human rights and good governance. Weeks after the Governor terminated the employment, no single person, not even among the affected teachers, has carried a placard in protest. And I ask: What is wrong with us? Why are we like this? Slavery has never done any society any good. Nobody will fight for our rights as youths.
This Stockholm syndrome has to stop. It is time we stop seeing the government as a monstrosity whose actions and views can neither be challenged nor defeated. The truth is that the government is neither invincible nor unconquerable. Yes, the actions of every government can be challenged and defeated when they are in contravention of the law.
Fellow youths of Akwa Ibom State, are you ready to fight for good governance? Are you now ready to insist on your rights? If you are, I congratulate you for taking one of the most important decisions of your lives. The historicity of that decision will never be lost.
Finally, let it be known that Inibehe Effiong is very proud to come from Akwa Ibom; God’s own State. The Land of Promise. My speech today should not be misconstrued as an expression of disdain for my heritage. Far from that, I have striven to be a good Ambassador of this State in everything that I do, and at every place that I go to . I urge all of us to do the same. Be proud to tell Nigerians from other parts of this country – “I’M FROM AKWA IBOM, IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW”.
God bless Akwa Ibom State. Yak afon ano mme Mkparawa ye me Uboikpa Akwa Ibom State.
Thank you.
Being the text of an address delivered by barrister Inibehe Effiong on Saturday, December 3, 2016, at Sheer Grace Arena, Uyo, on the occasion o the Ibom Future Convention.


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