Essien Ukpe, PhD. is a senior lecturer in the Akwa Ibom State University. He teaches International Relations in the Political Science Department and the Senior Pastor of Living Spring Bible Church, Mbribit Itam, Uyo, married to Mae with four Children three boys and one girl. Ukpe who Previously lectured in the University of Uyo graduated with First Class in 1996 and was retained as a teaching assistant from there, he got his masters and was moved to Assistant lecturer but due to the remuneration in the University at that time, he sought for greener pastures and got a contract job with Dawoo and that took him out of the system. In October 2010 came back into the system as a lecturer in
the Akwa Ibom State University and went for his PhD, which he completed in March, 2016. On November 13, Ukpe clocked 25 years in married, Century Newsfront crew led by Saviour Ekpe in an interview delved into these and national, political issues. EXCERPTS
NEWSFRONT: How has AKSU fared in terms of infrastructure so far?
- UKPE: in reality, during the tenure of Prof. Eno Ibanga, we actually witnessed infrastructural renaissance. Really structures are coming up. The Akwa Ibom State University in particular we are actually competing, we have the quality assurance that is overseeing the quality of what is produced. The students that we produce can compete favourably with the best of the best the world over. I remembered one of my students coming back from youth service and he was so happy that going to interact with other students in the orientation camp he saw that he was above board and even coppers from very renowned Universities could not measure up to what they knew and that’s when they knew that we are really practising quality.
NEWSFRONT: Any plan for further greener pastures?
- UKPE: with my PhD., I don’t know where you think I should go to. I can only think of any international job in the academia, something that can help me add quality to the society.
NEWSFRONT: (cuts in) any plan to dabble in politics?
- UKPE: Well not really. We teach political Science, we teach politics in reality, we are teaching the ideal thing our prayer is that Nigeria would practise the ideal politics because what is obtainable here is not what should be and that is why it is important that people that were trained in the field are allowed into that area, not necessarily me. I don’t have an intention now to contest except that I have a political appointment, I wouldn’t reject that.
NEWSFRONT: are we practicing democracy in Nigeria in the actual sense of the word, if no, how can it be put in the right perspective?
- UKPE: in reality, what we are seeing in Nigeria is not Democracy because what is going on here at the centre; the Federal government is actually an aberration. We are not practicing democracy there is no total press freedom, no protection of the fundamental human rights of the people a lot of things that is out of the ideal we see. A militarized society is not a democracy, democracy is the rule of civilians by civilians and for civilians not necessarily because the president is a former military officer, but his behaviour is still as a military man, he has forgotten that he’s no more wearing the khaki. The high handedness in the country is beyond what is expected of a civilian government.
NEWSFRONT: is Nigeria ripe for restructuring?
- UKPE: There are so many dimensions in the issue of restructuring, you can either split or remerge the country. When we had regions, I believe things ran smoothly, the more we split into trying to accommodate the ethnic sentiments, the more agitations come because every restructuring by splitting states and local governments, each of those exercises will create more minorities because a lot of people are balkanized, spilt from their ethnic group into some others and so they become minority and so the hue and cry continues. On the other hand, the issue of totally restructuring Nigeria either splitting it completely to become different nations is another dimension. A lot of people have been talking about allowing the six geo-political zones to become independent countries so as to correct the “mistake of 1914”. They will have to look at this I did advocate that what the federal government should do is not to clamp down on those that are trying to express their self determination like the IPOB but to set up a sovereign National Conference. The National Conference we’ve had so far has not been sovereign because it is appointed by the government, they dictate on what they should say and what they should not say and at the end of the day, their decision is taken and sometimes is thrown out. Like the last national conference by the Goodluck Jonathan, am not sure they have implemented what those people recommended. So it is important that we have if not a referendum a sovereign national conference where people are elected by the citizens from each tribe and state to go and represent them in that conference and they should be given the liberty to determine what the structure of the country should be. Should we continue to live in this unholy union or should we go our separate ways and if we decide to go our separate ways, what are the modalities devoid of war which is the best thing for Nigeria, if we can sit on a round table, if we are to have a sovereign national conference that government is ready to respect its decisions and if that conference said let each geo political zone decide either to stay in the Nigeria of today of today or to have their self determination to become an independent nation it will be the best thing that can happen to this country because the way we are going, there is a tendency that if we don’t divide in peace, we may divide in war, God forbid.
NEWSFRONT: 2019 general elections what does it portend for Nigeria?
- UKPE: the drums of war are already beating everywhere with the determination of the incumbent to clinch on to power by force with all the revelation of importations of arms. There is a red alert to the herdsmen to prepare for war if the president does not win. On the other hand, the opposition is also poised to take over power from the present administration because in reality, the present government has failed abysmally. I believe, it will be a mark of honour for the president to even resign and allow somebody in the APC who is more credible to take over so as not to destroy that party.
NEWSFRONT: your celebration of silver jubilee in marriage. What is the story behind?
- UKPE: I got wedded to my wife, Mae on the 13th of November, 1993 and so November, 2018 happened to be the 25th year of our marriage. I met my wife when I was still in Deeper Life together as God directed we prayed and we were led to one another, we followed the procedure of the church and we were wedded. We were about six couples that wedded that day and one of the couples that we wedded together, Pastor Nicholas Ekarika and his wife was there at the celebration. The other is Pastor Christopher Essien. Since then, God has been helping us but initially when we got married, we didn’t have any child for the first five years, we went medically, prayerfully but God answered our prayers when I obeyed him. Our first child was born on November 28, 1998 and now we have four children.
NEWSFRONT: Thank you for your time.
DR. UKPE: Thank you.