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HomeEditorialOpinionMAY 29: WHO WAS, WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME

MAY 29: WHO WAS, WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME

 

 

By Nseabasi S. J. King

 

May 29 is a cycle in the political life of Nigeria’s 4th Republic.

 

It has come to signpost the entry and exit of many governments and successive administrations in the Nigerian political space. It is the timeline for who was, who is, and who is to come.

 

On May 29, 1999, a chicken farmer and retired army general, Olusegun Obasanjo, and 36 others took oaths of office, as Nigeria transitioned from military dictatorship to participatory democracy.

 

In the old Uyo Township Stadium, here in Akwa Ibom State, the new burden of leadership fell on an accomplished architect and a politician of fine repute, Victor Bassey Attah.

 

The arena wore a subdued look with the last-minute attempts at renovation coming off like paper on cracked walls. It was the vestiges of military misadventure into politics and governance.

 

More than 25 cycles later, the Uyo Township Stadium wears a new look. It is a beautiful sight to behold. The Udom Gabriel Emmanuel administration, within its May 29 cycles had moved in and restored the facility.

 

The present Uyo Township Stadium, one of the oldest sporting arena in the history of sporting events in the region, today, forms part of the Sight and Sound of the State. Akwa  Ibom is now a seeded venue and natural pick for many football competitions. Whenever, the world class Olympic size Godswill Akpabio International Stadium is not readily available for use, it comes in handy and provides an effective alternative for various events like social and recreational activities.

 

A lot also happened in infrastructure in the May 29 cycles of the Godswill Obot Akpabio administration. Matter of fact, this was when the media in Nigeria described Akwa Ibom State as a construction site. Akpabio was a lawyer turned civil engineer. Truth be told, he never stopped building up to his last day in office.

 

For many, he wears the crown in infrastructural development but for me and many more, the Free and Compulsory Education policy remains the watershed of that era. Free education? This was priceless. And this is not debatable.

 

But I do not see why anyone would want to debate the place of education and peace in human affairs. What can civilisation really do without these two?

 

This is why I am beginning to think, that the Umo Bassey Eno administration maybe remembered more for his peace initiatives than for his Arise Agenda. Hear Akpabio at a reception in his honour at the Ikot Ekpene Township Stadium recently, “Akwa Ibom is a very easy State to rule and govern but also a very difficult place to unite.”

 

If this is coming from a man, whose i-can-do-spirit is unbridled. A man who believes that all things are possible, apologies Sinach. Then how is Governor Umo Eno getting it right with uniting us, just under one cycle of May 29?

 

Akpabio does not cower. This is a man who rode the horizon as a political colossus as governor of Akwa Ibom for eight years. He believes it can be done. And maybe, this is one of the reasons he keeps breaking new barriers.

 

If governments of the world agree to a single leadership today, and call for nominations, believe me, Akpabio would be the first African to step forward. His self confidence is to a dizzying height. So when he says uniting Akwa Ibom is a difficult task, please take him seriously.

 

But he went on to acknowledge Pastor Umo Eno’s appointment with fate in a rather prophetic manner, “It is a major duty bestowed on you by God to unite the whole State.” And I am tempted to believe him. Why?

 

Take a look at these scenarios. If Umo Eno joins a political gathering now, the attendance would soon become bipartisan. And whenever he attends a church service, the attendance becomes interdenominational instantly. And I want to give it to him, that if he were to sit as a judge in a court of litigation, it would end up as a court of arbitration. This is quite a phenomenon.

 

We really need this unifying force, because a house divided against itself cannot stand, and a united Akwa Ibom is already in a pole position in the scheme of things at the center.

 

Who ever thought that the puppy and the kitten would play in Akwa Ibom, and the mother dog would mind them both? Umo Eno is attempting what many had thought was near impossible.

 

In a goodwill message from Obongemem Ekperikpe Ekpo, to Governor Umo Eno on his first anniversary in office, the pioneer Minister of State for Petroleum in charge of Gas Resources in Nigeria, recognised the governor as, “… a natural Obongemem.” He credits him for the peace that today sweeps across the land. He might be right, or better put, he should know better, being a prized friend of this golden era.

 

They are always holding hands, bantering and sharing jokes. No party lines. No Abuja front. No ethnic slur but the Akwa Ibom cause. This is a clear departure from the norm, where a Minister gets to Abuja and begin to antagonise the leadership at home.

 

Governor Umo Bassey Eno, how do you do this?  Chief Godswill Akpabio says you’re a man of peace. And I want to believe him. Obongemem Ekperikpe Ekpo calls you a natural Obongemem. And who will doubt him? When the deep calleth to the deep.

 

We need this peace. It is so soothing. Before the next May 29 cycle, we need more Obongemem to join hands with Obongemem Umo Bassey Eno to institutionalise this phenomenon. And we would need another Obongemem in the saddle after he is gone. We need this peace. And there’s no alternative to it.

 

King writes in from Ekpene Ukpa in Etinan LGA.

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