9 September 2017

Nigeria: Akwa Ibom Churches As Parastatal

opinion

Governor Udom Emmanuel is doing a remarkable job, writes Aniefiok Macauley

Reuben Abati, a former Special Adviser on Media to President Goodluck Jonathan is a man who ordinarily should command our respect based on his intellectual capacity.

To some writers and journalists however, Abati is an amiable persona but to others he is a study in controversy.

Instances abound where Abati courted controversy over his bad verses, making his readers to wonder if our man has gone gaga. A case in point was sometimes in April 2017 when the Big Brother Naija, a reality television show, ended in South Africa and Efe emerged the winner. Writing about the programme, Abati left the positive parts of the programme and descended so low to the point of demeaning womanhood in Tboss. According to him "Tboss and the other girls kissed and got groped by the boys on live television putting their upbringing to shame... I have seen better breast Tboss. I am not too sure those private jet owners will be excited by your fluffy South- looking, slightly bigger than mangoes breasts. If the same men see bigger assets, I mean those interesting Ojiakor-like ones that look like papayas, pineapples and water melons, they will not send private jets, they will deploy submarines and fighter jets! And that's why you got N500k in the end."

That a veteran journalist and former media advisor to the president of a country could come this low, shows that all the negative media image that Jonathan had was because someone was not doing the job for which he was hired.

Not surprising that on Tuesday, September 5, bereft of any reasonable opinion to fill his column in THISDAY and Vanguard newspapers, Abati took to disparaging Akwa Ibom State Government on an already settled issue and of course, on what he knows virtually nothing about. He chose to ignore the industrial action by the National Association of Resident Doctors , the flood that have ravaged Benue State where scores have been sent to their early graves and rendered others homeless, in addition to students staying at home because of the strike called by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). To Abati, these are no issues.

While I don't hold brief for Reverend Peter Richard of St. Paul African Church, Eket, because every organisation has rules in which members must adhere strictly to and failure to abide by such codified norms may meet with severe sanctions. It is however disappointing that a man in the calibre of Abati could brazenly and shamelessly appoint himself as the media and legal aide to Inibehe Effiong, a Facebook baby lawyer young enough to be his last child. Hear him, "Inibehe Effiong whose interventions in public arena are usually informed, incisive and learned should sue Rev. Peter for his malicious and defamatory allegations." Such attributes are laughable if weighed on a scale of reality. While not subscribing to the Richard's method or otherwise in the handling of Effiong's saga, it must be noted that Richard is human, an Akwa Ibomite who also has the right to support the development efforts of government if he so wishes.

Well Abati may be excused for memory loss, because, at no time in the almost 57 years of independent Nigeria has CAN and PFN led by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor played a prominent role in the nation's political dispensation like during the Goodluck Jonathan- led presidency. But, in all that Abati saw nothing wrong because he was observing table manners.

Furthermore, While Abati's intellectual capacity could not be called to question, it's rather surprising that he could not spare few minutes to do a research about the proposed lodge before mounting the rostrum to pontificate his ignorance on the cost of the lodge. It therefore begs the question who Abati wants to please. Is Abati more intelligent than the 26 members of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly who painstaking considered the proposal of the new lodge and approved N1.2 billion as against Abati's imagined N9.1 and N2.1 billion? Instead of vilifying the government of Akwa Ibomite State, methinks, the governor should be commended for upholding the tenets of democracy by not gagging the protesters and for opening up the political space for freedom of expression. As an Akwa Ibomite, I feel obliged to challenge Mr.Abati to show us his contributions to the course of Akwa Ibom before sermonising further on how and what projects, Akwa Ibom Government should embark on.

Our Abati, who has lived all his life in Lagos, further goofed when he said "the problem with many of the governors across Nigeria is the Lagos syndrome. They have lived in Lagos and worked all their lives in Lagos; when they go back home to become governors or whatever, Lagos never leaves them... in the process they create contradictions". To me, if this is what happened to Abati after leaving Lagos for Abuja as presidential media aide, I can then understand why President Jonathan brought in Chief Femi Kayode to cover the contradictions created by Abati and why press releases were always the same English except dates.

Governor Udom Emmanuel loves God and would not condescend to giving glory to mundane things as Abati would prefer. Unlike Abati's contradiction theory, Emmanuel since assumption of office as governor has given good account of himself largely due to his international exposure beyond the boundaries of Lagos. The recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics disclosed that apart from Lagos, Akwa Ibom is second in attracting foreign direct investment to the tune of over $52 billion. In terms of industrialisation, the first ever syringe manufacturing company in Nigeria with an installed capacity of over 400 million syringes annually has been established in Akwa Ibom.

The first toothpick and pencil factory in Nigeria is in Akwa Ibom; the first Coconut Refining Company is in Akwa Ibom, and many more. The state government, in spite of recession, is constructing over 700 kilometres of roads across the state, most of them have been inaugurated. It is also pertinent to remind the likes of Abati and his ilk that Udom Emmanuel is pursuing vigorously the establishment of Ibom Deep Seaport in Ibaka where contract for the 55km superhighway access road has been awarded. Abati should be reminded that insulting the sensibilities of the Akwa Ibom people with a warped write up cannot stand in the way of the people in continually supporting the governor they voted for. I will like to remind Abati that instead of contradictions in Akwa Ibom, we have cohesive and harmonious relationship with the governor who is working beyond the campaign promises.

Macauley wrote from Abuja

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