By Victor Essien
Although it is three years to the next elections, Akwa Ibom people have started thinking of their next governor. Who will he be? What qualities? What pedigree? Our people have come to appreciate that the overall landscape and wellbeing of the state could be influenced by the character and pedigree of their chief executive. Do we choose a hardcore, dyed-in-the-wool politician who had never done anything outside government? Or do we look beyond the politicosphere and go for a man of integrity, character and capacity who can draw on his network to the benefit of the state? Do we elect a man whose only career is politics; who has always lived on government; made all his money from government; built only estates instead of businesses?
Take a keen look at the array of core politicians from Uyo Senatorial District in the two leading parties who are warming up for the next governorship race: Senator John James Akpan Udoedeghe, Senator Ita Solomon Enang, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, Senator Effiong Bob and Hon. Onofiok Luke. Apart from Senator Bassey Albert who started his career in banking, the rest have been in government since they left school till today. They have grown very stupendously rich at our expense. For them, politics has become a lifelong business, career and playground. Their idea of government is to share money to friends, acolytes and cronies; and stash away as much as they can for their family and future generation. Their idea of development is big mansions. Have you been to their palatial residential estates in Uyo? One of them actually takes delight in taking his visitors around his estate to show off his wealth! Why not take us around your factory? Yet none of them has any business outside government. None of them has ever built a small business that employs one person. They have become “Social Parasites”, feeding fat on our common patrimony.
These core politicians also lack the imagination and creative ideas on how to develop the state. Their own brand of politics and development centres on taking money from the government and throwing it at the people. They delight in watching our young people scamper for these freebies. They lack the resourcefulness and energy to build enterprises, create wealth and generate employment. They live on government year in, year out. They invest in estates and commercial property in Uyo, Lagos and Abuja for themselves and their families. They specialize on rent-taking, contracts, commissions and outright grafts. Their actions perpetuate underdevelopment which leads to poverty, enslavement, hunger and underdevelopment in the state. Their overall focus is their family and what they can stash away. What happens to ordinary citizens like you and I? What is our fate if we elect one of them governor?
For 2023, Akwa Ibom people will remember the pedigree and track records of Obong Victor Attah and pick a man of vision who has never been tainted by the lucre of political bazaar. Obong Attah came as a self-made man, well-prepared for the job, from the gruelling world of private enterprise. That served us well. As a professional and self-employed person myself, I know what it takes to be a successful businessman or professional in employment. In 2023, we shall look for a man in the Attah mold. We shall choose a governor of great international exposure, decent pedigree and professional calling. We will go for a man who knows how to pursue development methodically, man who knows the linkage between basic literacy and development, a man whose idea of development is not throwing money at Plaza and man who will ‘’de radicalize’’ our youths from cultism.
For 2023, we need a governor who has the mental discipline to read memos and proposals; a man who will not be too intimidated to hire the best Akwa Ibom from anywhere in the world; a man whose ego is not too big to have a rigorous debate with his EXCO and a man who will not be too fascinated by the trappings of the office. For 2023, Akwa Ibom will settle for a mature, calm and capable leader – a man with a sense of purpose, vision and leadership strength and acuity. For 2023, Akwa Ibom people will throw away politics of violence, cultism and occultism. Our people want a governor who will revamp our schools and make cultism unattractive to our youths. We need a leader who will build a new Akwa Ibom and recreate a new paradigm for our people – a paradigm of industry, hard work, enterprise and resourcefulness. For 2023, we need Udom Inoyo.
Essien lives in Lagos