By Comrade Ifot N. Ifot
There is a popular saying about life in pre-world war II European about societies on the danger of not speaking out against undesirable conduct of bad elements in a nation. It goes like this: “first they came for the Jews, since most people were not Jews, no one condemned it. Then they came for Jehovah’s witnesses, and no one complained. Latter, they came for communist supporters and nobody raised an eyebrow. Thus, by the time they come for you, there will be nobody to offer any form of resistance”. The continuous spate of sponsored, wanton, mindless and callous statements intending to destroy prominent and illustrious indigenes of Akwa Ibom makes the above analogy applicable to present day Akwa Ibom State. Inspite of the fact that Godswill Akpabio had made the state the model of democratic governance in Nigeria during his eight years as governor, that image seems to be going down the drain vis-à-vis the diabolical actions and vitriolic behaviour of some children of darkness. Instead of keeping the spirit that propelled our forebears to agitate for a state of their own in the Nigerian configuration for over six decades, a live, for greater achievement and development, they are hotly pursing the very antithesis of that spirit, blowing the political whirlwinds of revolt and antagonism that is shaking the very foundation of the State.
If we are to promote, protect and preserve Akwa Ibom as a race for development and growth which of course we must, then all well-meaning people of Akwa Ibom ancestry must rise up now and vociferously condemned the necessary, unwarranted, incessant and dastardly backstabbing of any Akwa Ibom son or daughter serving and or representing Akwa Ibom in any Socio-political front and in any setting. In this state as we speak, there is a crisis culminating form the “Pull him down” mentality. The ultimate tragedy of wittingly pulling an Akwa Ibom indigene down does not only harm the victim physically, it also injures spirituality. It scars the soul and distorts the personality. Therefore it inflicts the culprit with a false sense of superiority while inflicting the victim with a false sense of inferiority or ‘nobodiness’. This problem of pulling our people down has remained our greatest moral dilemma. When you consider the negative effect it has upon the state internally and externally, its resolution by us “HERE AND NOW” to put a stop to these nefarious phenomena is what will determine our destiny. This ugly experience has thrust upon our generation an indescribably onerous task to reorder the process of self-acceptance which ultimately is our most powerful weapon for unity, strength, respect and exemplification. How we are going to deal with this hopeless situation will determine our moral health as individuals, our cultural destiny as a group, our political destiny as a people and our prestige as a people with integrity and industry in the socio-political sphere in Nigeria.
The all-round situation in Nigeria today does not afford us any luxury of anemic brotherliness, the price we will pay for continually “destroying our own” is the price of our very destruction. We have to awake, rise and refrain from it now before it is too late if we must bequeath to our future generations a greater prosperous and unified Akwa Ibom. We do not have to wander too far before we see the pernicious effects of the pull him down mentality. It leads to physical proximity without spiritual affinity. It gives us an Akwa Ibom society where men are physically desegregated but spiritually segregated, where hands are linked together while hearts are apart. It deceives us of special togetherness whereas it is a spiritual apartness. It leaves us with stagnant useless quality of sameness rather than a constructive equality of oneness.
We in Akwa Ibom must drop the “if not me, who” mentality and recognize the sacredness of human personality. Deeply rooted in our social, political and religious heritage is the conviction that every man is an heir to a legacy of dignity and worth. Our Hebraic Christian tradition refers to this inherent dignity of man in the biblical term the image of God. This innate worth in reference to the image of God is universally shared by all men in equal proportion. In fact, there is no graded scale of essentials worth; there is no divine right of one people which differs from the divine right of another. Every human being has etched in his or her personality the indelible mark of our creator. The very idea of the dignity and worth of human personality is eloquently and unequivocally expressed in the axiom that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the creator with certain inalienable rights which include life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Nowhere has any socio-political document proclaimed more meaningfully or loudly, so the sacredness of human personality.
Frederick Douglas (1817-1895) established the same truth in his lecture son the constitution of the United States. I quote him: “Its language is we the people, not we the white people, not even we the citizens, not we the privileged class, not we the high, not we the low, but we the people… we the human inhabitants… and if negroes are people; they are included in the benefits for which the constitution of America was ordained and established”. The pull him down attitude resides diametrically opposed to the principle of the sacredness of human personality. Indeed, it lowers personality in character, quality and value to nothingness. Bear in your mind that hate begets hate and toughness begets greater toughness. It is a descending spiral and the end is total destruction and could mean destruction for all Akwa Ibom. In the course of existence, particularly in view of what dirty politics has caused us as a people, someone must summon up enough courage, enough sense of reasoning and morality to cut off the chain of hate by protecting the ethics of love into the very fabric of our lives. Love here does not mean sentimental or affectionate emotion. It means to grasp goodwill for all men as expressed in the Greek word agape. It is spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless and above all, creative. It means an ever-owing love which seeks nothing in return.
The pull him down effects has wreaked serious havoc on Akwa Ibom. The physical and psychological wounds have penetrated the deepest entrails of the Akwa Ibom fabric. Nowhere either on the grounds of morality, justice or religion can one withdraw the life-equality of the Akwa Ibom because of where his mother comes from or where his father comes from or the family he comes from or the educational institutions he attended or God knows what else! Believe me, nothing can be more diabolical than a deliberate and desperate attempt at destroying any man his will to be a man and attempt to withhold from him that “thing” that constitutes his true reserve. The pull him down madness had inflicted a social leprosy on Akwa Ibom.
The primary goal of any well-meaning people should be a thorough examination of its own peoples’ operational behavior and the development of a rigourous programme to wipe out with dispatch every vestige of sponsorship of the pull him down activities. Such a programme would serve to educate and influence the entire Akwa Ibom positively and will also be a step in the evolution of Akwa Ibom leadership towards sound democratic goals for positive development. Progress and perceived progress of Akwa Ibom have stagnated because of this recurring decimal at every turn of each century and I venture to say without any possible fear of contribution that ever since the founding fathers of Akwa Ibom achieved their noble and lofty dream, the average Akwa Ibom has been something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against his or her self, always at war with itself. On one hand, we seem to proudly profess the principle of oneness, yet on the other hand we have sadly practiced the very antithesis of that principle.
The dream of our forebears will never become a reality that is devoid of a larger dream of a world of brotherhood, peace and goodwill unless we refrain from this unprofitable wantonness. Since the world in which we live is a world of geographical oneness, it behooves on us to challenge the Akwa Ibom to bring our founding fathers dream into reality and the generation that will strive to implement that dream shall be the true savior of Akwa Ibom ideal. As in words of Martin Luther King Jr., it may be that the greatest tragedy confronting Akwa Ibom at this particular point in our history is not the glaring nosiness of the so-called bad people, but the appalling silence of the so-called good people. Certainly, the current generation of those who call themselves leaders and stakeholders of Akwa Ibom must repent not only of the diabolical actions an vitriolic behavior of the children of darkness but also for the crippling fears and tragic apathy of the children of light. Therefore, let us begin to cherish one another, see something good in one another, respect one another and show great sense of support and concern for one another. Let us learn to live together as brothers and sisters, or we will all perish together in extreme foolishness.
Comrade Ifot N. Ifot is a Civil Society cum Human Rights Activist and the National Chairman, People’s Right to Life Development Foundation. He writes from Uyo – 08036836608