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Letter to My Fellow Akwa Ibomites  By Joe Etokudor

Letter to My Fellow Akwa Ibomites By Joe Etokudor

My dear Akwa Ibomites, it is with great sense of responsibility and patriotism that I have decided to address you in my maiden letter on the issues I consider germane to the socio-economic transformation of the state from the proverbial land of promise to the land of fulfillment where the dreams of our forebears for a positive identity and economic emancipation of our people would be realized.

Not a few have contended that the underpinning circumstances and evolution of party politics in the state have, by and large, constituted a continual source of sore distress and unrelieved state and national predicament. And this is hardly an exaggeration, for the history of party politics in Nigeria and Akwa Ibom in particular is one, long sorry episode in a tale of ethnocentric intrigues, diabolical tribal rivalry, exhibition of political amateurism and nauseating nonchalance. In the light of the above contentions and if we must call a spade a spade, this state of affairs has shown the state in a very bad light, bringing more or less, the prestige and honour of the state to its most contemptible insignificance.

The creation of Akwa Ibom State on 23rd September, 1987 by the benevolence of the then military President, General Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida as the 21st state of the federation cannot be said to be an accident of history or situational circumstances for the benevolent Lord had decreed that on such a date, a people united together by a common ancestry inspite of the seeming politically over bloated ethnic differences shall be liberated just like the Biblical Israelites of old. It is on this premise that I am constrained that this letter has become more imperative in addressing the monstrous issues that confront us as a people as we continue the journey to our destination. Indeed, our dear state is on the march to true greatness given the slow but steady progress we have made and witnessed in the last 29 years of existence as a component unit of the structurally defective and fundamentally flawed Nigerian federation.

Thus as we still bask in the euphoria of last year’s celebration of our 28 years and the fulfillment of our dreams for a state of our own, we must ponder to consider the imperative of our existence the reality of our prospective dreams of the Eldorado and the negative tendencies that tend to define the Akwa Ibom person. As a people, we must be ready to confront headlong that hydra headed monster of ethnic biases, treachery, selfishness, crime and criminalities and character assassination especially, the well known ‘pull-him-down syndrome for what we cannot confront we cannot conquer, and what we cannot give up, would hold us down perpetually. The march to fulfillment has started in earnest and it thus behooves us to begin to do things differently in order to consolidate on the gains of the foundation already laid. In doing this, we must pause to sincerely ask ourselves salient questions and honestly and patriotically answer them. Where do we come from? Where are we? Where are we heading for?

Akwa Ibom State as I see it today stands, on the precipes of a great peril occasioned by the resurrection of the patently dangerous ethnic consciousness ignited by the garrulous and deceptive political charlatans who fly the ethnic cards for their selfish reasons, hatred and bitterness against fellow brethren, distrust and mutual suspicion and obvious lack of faith in ourselves. But we must realize that the idea of Akwa Ibom State is never an accident of history but God’s arrangement.

Quite fortunately for us, our dear state constitutes one linguistic and cultural area and it is one of the few states in the federation that bear purely indigenous name rooted in the language and culture of the people “AKWA” which means ‘great’ big and mighty as in Akwa Abasi whose name is often time known as “Abasi Ibom meaning “’Great or ‘Almighty God’. As we approach another auspicious occasion of the celebration of our 29th Anniversary, we must understand that the glory of tomorrow is rooted in the drudgery of today. Though many want the crown without the cross, the shining without the burning, but crucifixion comes before coronation. We must therefore imbibe the culture of self-sacrifice, sacrificing the pleasures of today for the sweetness of tomorrow. Akwa Ibom’s greatest need in the past had been the emergence of a visionary leader who would be ready to commit what the Marxists call “Class suicide”. And now, we have gotten a man in the person of His Excellency, Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel. Such as we have been blessed by God, apart from having what it takes to be a national leader such as “Moses” or ‘Daniel’ come to judgment that will lead our dear state to the promised land of industrialization, must understand the dynamics and challenges of leading a highly expectant people. A leader first identifies the vision, then the people identify the leader and the vision. Our people must therefore of necessity queue behind a clear vision with a well defined destination.

As a people we must shun and abhor character – assassination of our leaders no matter the extent of the provocation. The popular saying goes thus, “Se inua abo Ke’do, ado do” meaning (what the mouth says you are, that is what you are} we must learn to show respect to our leaders and encourage them to grow beyond the limitation of our state’s boundary. Let us celebrate excellence in service.

Akwa Ibom State has been noted for treachery and betrayal of brethren, just for selfish interest. Blood, they say, is thicker than water and so our brotherhood must transcend the constricted prison of political fraternity. How long shall we continue to be an atomistic society perpetually at war with itself? For United we stand, divided, we fall.

The world over is radically moving from exclusionism to that of inclusion, but in our dear state, there is the tendency by people to go it all alone with disregard to the need for proactive cooperation between the government and the governed which provides avenue for cross-fertilization of ideas. Akwa Ibom State can achieve true greatness and attain the dreamed El-dorado if we support one another, support the government and the leaders to deliver, and make available our intellect for optimum utilization of our innate potentials for the greater good of the state, when the right leader and the right people come ‘together, incredible things happen. Our state can be better if we do not aid and abet crime.

To our amiable governor whose clarity vision has endeared him to the people, let me repeat what I have said earlier, that the leader finds first the vision and then the people, the people identify the leader and the vision. The leader’s effective modeling of the vision makes the picture come true. As a leader, your success is measured by your ability to actually take the people where they need to go. Our people have come to see you as a personification of the hope, the vision and future of a greater Akwa Ibom State given your ingenious re-engineering process of industrialization that our state has witnessed under  your pragmatic leadership in just a little over 100 days in office. You must not, and cannot derail now.

To the church and the clergy, it is sad to note that the church is gradually losing its Christianity without being aware. It has radically moved from being congregation of penitent sinners to an assemblage of unrepentant, sinners, hardened and senseless murderers and thieves, wife snatchers, fraudsters (who pay fat tithes) and even ritualists. It is an indefensible commentary that despite the proliferation of churches which to me, is a practical demonstration of the commercial ingenuity of our religious entrepreneurs, the incidence of anti-social vices have been on the increase. If the church must regain its rightful position in our state, as it was in the past, she must, as a shining light in darkness, return to the old time religion that made her the custodian of moral virtues and values which held the fibre of society together. To our reverend clergy, let it be stated that when you cease to serve as a shepherd preferring instead to be watered as the sheep, you are dangerously and unwillingly inviting the uncalled into the vineyard. And when you fail to live above board but rather preach, “do what I say and not what I do”, the congregation would always invariably respond, “what you speak so loud that we cannot hear what you say, so we must join you in doing what you are doing or do even worst.”  The time has come for spiritual individual soul searching.

Fellow compatriots, the times indeed are perilous, both for our state and the country at large. Today, Nigeria stands on the threshold of history as it attempts each day to sit and pass the biggest defining and most critical test of her nationhood. Our state occupies a pride of place in the comity of states in the country and has become a beautiful bride given her new found position as the highest producer of crude oil, the major source of foreign exchange earnings. As a people, we must rise above petty mindedness, and espouse the leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel for the final burial of the ghost of distrust that provides the state and tends to divide us.

Together, we must join hands, arise and fight to enthrone hope and faith in the unity of our state, in times like this when Akwa Ibom and indeed the country is being seriously threatened, where the fabric of our continued existence is being dangerously eroded.

We can make Akwa Ibom State the envy of her other contemporaries. We can be the greatest supplier of labour (specialized). But we can only make Akwa Ibom truly great if only we think Akwa Ibom, dream Akwa Ibom, sleep Akwa Ibom and act well Akwa Ibom, if we love one another, care for one another and above all, place the interest of Akwa Ibom over and above personal interest our state shall be greater. I enjoin the people not to waver in their support for the leadership of the state and the federal government, sincerely yours.

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