Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: The Advice That Caused My Quarrel With Attah - My Response to Akpabio

opinion

FOR a very long time now I have stopped reading anything that is written by or about Barrister Godswill Akpabio the governor of Akwa Ibom State for the reason that I find most of those things sickening and I certainly wanted to avoid being provoked into making a response.

When I was first told that there was another of those write ups in THISDAY newspaper of Friday, January 18, 2013, I simply ignored it. Then again in Vanguard newspaper of Monday, January 21, 2013 my attention was drawn to what must be the same write up.

What alerted me and made me read this piece was the highlighted quote of what Governor Akpabio claimed was my response to him when he "over advised" me on a pending visit by the then president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Over advising somebody is an expression that I am not familiar with and honestly do not know what it means but I can say quite categorically that Barr. Godswill Akpabio was not one of the intellectuals in my cabinet.

He was, therefore, never, at any time made a member of any of my advisory committees. It is, therefore, quite difficult to figure out how he could have been in a position to advise me on an impending visit of the president.

These perceived inadequacies saw him moving from one ministry to another. In the time that he was in my cabinet, he had served in three different ministries. None of those ministries was the ministry of works.

It is not possible, therefore, for him to have been the one to fix the federal roads in my state and, with his own money for that matter. Furthermore I cannot think of any one policy drive in my government that can be attributed to Barr. Godswill Akpabio.

Besides, in the six years that he was my commissioner, the number of memos brought to Council by Barr. Godswill Akpabio can comfortably be counted with the fingers of one hand.

Vile and uncouth language

Be that as it may, the main point is that, even the worst of my detractors, some of whom he has chosen to surround himself with, cannot say that vile and uncouth language or behaviour is part of my character.

Barrister Godswill Akpabio has been reputed to be digitally brutal or is it brutally digital in his ability to mislead, to misinform and to misrepresent issues. Still I would have thought that there would be some respect for decency.

To accuse me of having behaved in such an uncivilized manner and having uttered such abusive words in reference to my president is, to say the least, quite despicable.

If he can allow this type of malicious misrepresentation to come out in print, I hate to think what must be going on in circumstances and situations where he knows I am not in a position to respond.

President Obasanjo will be the first to say that he and I have had some serious disagreements and I would not deny it. But it can never be said that I have been disrespectful to him.

I know better than that, and whatever I cannot say in front of a person I will not say behind that person's back. It has always been my belief that it takes two to quarrel.

Within my right I have commented on some unsavory as well as some very good things that have happened in Akwa Ibom State but I have studiously refused to be drawn into a quarrel with Godswill Akpabio.

If the governor insists that he is quarrelling with me, he should look for a better reason than that, a long time ago, he had over advised me. What it seems like to me is that, the governor is troubled and he should ask himself why.

The governor says he is angry, but there is a world of difference between anger and blind fury. Even so anger remains one of the seven deadly sins and can never be superior to intellect as a driving force for good governance.

If the governor is angry, has he considered that the people may also be angry though for a different reason! The people are angry because in May 2009 the governor told them that he had built a dialysis centre in Uyo to which he donated 17 dialysis machines.

The people have since been searching and to date cannot find it. The people are angry because they remember that the first aircraft landed at Uyo airport in September 2009. During the tour of the facilities, Air Comdr. Idongesit Nkanga, the Chairman of the Airport Development Board, assured the audience that the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) building would be completed and fully operational by the end of that year.

Till today the building is still in construction even though the steel for its erection had arrived since January 2008, and the country is now crying out desperately for such a facility.

The people are angry and resentful because the free and compulsory education that the governor hurriedly declared has since died with its declaration and is now a mirage.

They are also angry and disappointed because in 2008 the governor promised them 10,000 housing units to be built in 2009. In 2009 the number had reduced to 2,000 units. In the same year, 2009, the governor announced that money had been appropriated for the development of housing estates.

In year 2010 the people were told that contracts had been awarded in the sum of N26.9bn to party stalwarts for the construction of those houses. The people are resentful because till today they are still homeless.

In September 2009, by a full page newspaper advert the governor told the people that his much vaunted flagship project, the Tropicana, would open and provide jobs for 5,000 people in the first quarter of 2010.

In case he has forgotten, Tropicana was to have a sky scrapper hotel of 25 storeys, the first in the country if not in Africa. It was to have a 10,000 seat auditorium in which the governor said he would stage world heavy weight boxing fights for Samuel Peters. Today all the people have is a cinema which the people are being told compares favourably with Silverbird in Lagos.

Today the people are unhappy because right now they would be watching the soccer matches of the African Cup of Nations on the giant screen at their favourite Ibom plaza. But they cannot because, in anger the government of Godswill Akpabio had closed down the people's favourite leisure spot.

The people cannot forget that instead of an ICT park, all they have is an E-library that is yet to start to function; the specialist hospital that they were promised is yet to receive its first patient; the Certificate of Occupancy for Ibaka deep sea port has since been handed over to the Nigerian Ports Authority by the government of Godswill Akpabio; the Ibom Power Plant which was fully completed and commissioned in 2007 is yet to be put into use.

Your Excellency, you should know that the people too are angry. They have a thousand and one reasons to be angry, resentful and unhappy.

They are angry because they are tired of being deceived. They are so angry and resentful that in December 2009, at the Niger Delta rock concert, damning the consequences and throwing all caution to the wind, they pelted you with missiles in Uyo township stadium.

This anger was carried into the way the people voted in the elections of 2011, particularly the gubernatorial elections. The people have become even more angry since the announcement of the results of those elections.

My governor cannot forget that quite early in his first tenure, I had, as an elder statesman and one who had occupied that lofty position, written a letter cautioning him against careless talk and unguarded speech.

I had in that letter suggested that a statement by a high office holder, such as a governor is, can be treated in much the same way as the Catholic Pope speaking excathedra.

Pronouncements that are taken as articles of faith. Unfortunately, I must say that by your utterances and indeed your actions too, you have portrayed yourself as a confused young man with a large burden of inferiority complex.

Six years ago you came into office with a determination to practice the well worn pull-him-down tactic by either repudiating or claiming the work of your predecessor.

Despite what success you may think you have gained in the media, to the extent of considering yourself as the messiah that has come to revive a failed state in Akwa Ibom, the fact remains that the people know the truth.

Permit me therefore to remind you of something that Albert Einstein had said which, at some time, you had quoted: that it is only a mad man that will keep repeating the same act and expect a different result.

If after six years, the technique that you had adopted at the beginning has failed you, wisdom would suggest that you consider a different course of action. I wish you well.

Arc (Obong) Victor Attah, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State

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