By Udo SILAS
These are interesting times in the politics and governance of Akwa Ibom State. Akwa Ibom is usually a boisterous political community where it appears everyone is hooked on to one political tendency or another, to one political leader or the other and even to one political godfather or another. Here everybody pretends to know the heart and soul of the other person’s politics. It doesn’t really matter how you define politics. You are either in one camp or the other. Even though it is not written anywhere, you must be careful whom you smile with, shake hands with or whom you visit. Indeed, you must be careful with whom you are seen with.
Here our politics bears no relationship to friendship. An enemy of your leader, real or perceived cannot and should not be your friend. You need to be careful with not only whom you talk to even what you talk about. Everybody in my state is a politician. Everyone has an interest in someone. Could be pecuniary, could be altruistic. Everything here is politics. Like I said earlier, it doesn’t really matter how you define politics.
Here conspiracies and conspiracy theories are a notch higher. They titillate the palates of civil service corridors and beer parlors. We have a yarn for everything. James Hadley Chase, a hero of fiction that captured my generation, talked about the beer-sodden beachcomber ‘who haunts the waterfronts of Paradise city always on the look-out for a sucker to buy him a beer’. His name was Al Barney. He knew everything and could spin the incredible yarn. The book was titled “An Ear To The Ground”. It seems everybody in my state has an ear to the ground.
So Udom dissolved his cabinet. The dissolution has been about a week or two now. The mill didn’t wait long. Soon permutations began. Newspaper reporters where not left out. The inquest began on whether or not Udom was ready to break ranks with his friend and benefactor. Is Udom signaling his intention to be his own man? Why did he dissolve his cabinet without prior notice? Why did he switch off his phone and left town immediately after the dissolution? Did he really do that? Would Akpabio have any imput in his new cabinet? Some social media commentators even cheekily asked if Udom got Akpabio’s permission to dissolve his cabinet.
Yet not a few people have placed the cabinet dissolution in the perspective of the 2019 gubernatorial elections. Some views hold that if Udom acted independently of Akpabio in the dissolution of his cabinet then he may have to stand alone in the battle ahead. To these people it would be inconceivable for Udom to expect any substantial support from the Akpabio political machinery or family. It doesn’t end there. Quite a number of people maintain that it would be morally unjustifiable for Udom to exhibit a swagger that would not give Akpabio some considerable say in the politics of Akwa Ibom state, going forward. It is their contention that Udom would not have been governor without the barricade that Akpabio put up at the gate of hate.
There is yet another view. There are some number of people that believe Udom has played a good enough hand by carrying over a large number of Akpabio appointees in his cabinet for as much as two years. To them udom has tried and should be allowed to chart his own course. The interesting corollary in this assertion is not that Udom has not been his own man for this period but that he has been Akpabio’s lackey all the while.
This part is not exactly new. I had written about this in my piece published in the heat of the campaign in last gubernatorial elections. In my “IBOM 2015 ELECTION SERIES (1); Understanding the stooge narrative” Sunday, 4 January, 2015 I had said “…So the propaganda hum says Udom Emmanuel, the gubernatorial candidate of the peoples Democratic Party, PDP is a stooge. Stretched further they contend that his victory at the upcoming polls would be third term by proxy. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a stooge as a weak or unimportant person who is controlled by a powerful person, organization, etc. A stooge generally speaking is perceived as someone who is under the control of another…Indeed; it would be difficult to be perceived a stooge unless your intimacy, closeness and confidante ratio with the piper is acclaimed to be very high. So if intimacy, closeness and enduring confidante are the attributes of stooge ship within the context of who Godswill Akpabio is supporting or not, then it follows to reason that all, if not most of the G-22 are all stooges”
Point is it would have been near impossible for Udom or anyone Akpabio threw up, to escape the toga of stooge ship.
So is Udom in a dilemma? Has he been in anyway encumbered by the Akpabio persona in the discharge of his office? Has he ever been caught in the dilemma of loyalty versus right?
Udom and Udom alone can answer these questions. Perhaps if he were to wear the Trump garb, he would have answered without the establishment code of political correctness. So the answer to these questions must reside in the truthfulness of his thoughts buried deep in the belly of his heart. Or perhaps only very close confidantes may know what we may never hear.
But we are allowed some deductions. Whether in a dilemma or in bliss of vision, it is clear that Udom is at a junction of his political career. Whatever cabinet he pushes forward would be put to the critical test. There is really very little he can do about that. That is because he cannot be seen to demean Akpabio yet he cannot continue under Akpabio’s might of shadow.
Udom has announced that it is God that would draw up his cabinet list. “As I speak, I do not know who will make the list of the next cabinet, and I don’t even know when I will constitute the cabinet… There is no point rushing to make predictions and draw conclusions because I have left everything in the hands of God, to direct the selection and choose those He knows will be sincere and committed to the Akwa Ibom cause…” he said
It is good to have the Hand of God in the affairs of us mortals. But it is doubtful if God would concern himself with the little business of drawing a list. But by calling and indeed invoking the hand of God, Udom is appealing to our sense of divine direction often times unquestionable by mere mortals. It is a simple enough action for a governor to embark on. God becomes relevant because the hard is embedded in the simple. Surely, we don’t call God to unknot simple problems? Or maybe we do.