By Andrew Obot
Going by the philosophical postulation of William Bennett, a foremost philosopher, ‘‘People of good character are not all going to come down on the same side of different political and social issues. Good people…people of character and moral literacy can be conservative and good people can be liberal. We must not permit our disputes over thorny political questions to obscure the obligation we have to offer to all our young people in the area in which we have as a society, reached a consensus: namely on the importance of good character and on some of its pervasive particulars’’.
As a round peg in a round hole, whose sterling characters can never be hidden, even in the darkest night, one can rightly say that Christ Ambassador (Dr) Andrew Unwanta, a man of the people, steering a greater role in the ship of the mother of all socio-political organizations in the state, Akwa Ibom Consolidation Alliance (ACA), was apt and a vision well-conceived.
As a body that was at the drawing board then for over six months, planning and carefully setting up its internal structures by the think-tank and frontliners such as Sir Emem Akpabio, Dr Andrew Unwanta among others, prior its official launch. ACA, as the earthquake mass movement, since then has remained an irrefutable body that does not lose sight from its vision and aspiration; especially as it concerns His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel.
No doubt, it could be recalled that the inauguration of this famous organization, ACA, the body that ensured the victory story of Governor Udom Emmanuel in the last general elections , took place at the Ibom Hall ground, IBB Avenue, Uyo, on Friday, June 6, 2014. The occasion which had in attendance the political stakeholders, great sons and daughters of Akwa Ibom State, both at home and abroad, was organised by the Central Planning Committee of the event, which witnessed the official swearing-in of Dr Andrew Unwanta as the international president of the group, as well as Sir Emem Akpabio as the chairman, Board of Trustees.
In his inaugural speech, Dr Unwanta noted that “the formal inauguration of the body marks the appointed time where history will become reality, a time when God’s will shall be done again and again, also a time that the people will witness a turning point to greatness.”While enjoining the Akwa Ibom people to shun parochial interest and join the emancipation for justice, he urged them to place the interest of the state above personal interest and ambition.
On his part, the special guest of honour, Senator Godwill Obot Akpabio, the then governor of Akwa Ibom State who was represented by his special adviser on Political and Legislative Matters, Hon. Emmanuel Ibiok then noted that “ACA is birthed out of the desire to ensure that power shifts to Eket Senatorial District in 2015 in the spirit of fairness, equity, and good conscience”.
According to him, “my administration will continue to deliver dividends of democracy to the people of the state. I therefore solicit for the continuous support from the people to help this administration succeed till the end. “
The then Governor vowed that his administration will support the organization to succeed in its mandate of delivering his successor come 2015 in the state, pointing out that “together we can consolidate and strengthen our democratic gains and ideals. Together we can lay a solid foundation that will move the Akwa Ibom people to the next level of development”. The chairman on the occasion, Sir (Barr) Bassey Dan-Abia, the then Managing Director of NDDC, represented by Prince Uwem Ita Etuk, the then Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, noted philosophically from the ageless law of ascetic that “discipline begets abundance and abundance, if not well taken care of, pulls down discipline and discipline in its fall pulls down abundance.”
“ACA is convinced that the right thing to do in the prevailing political circumstance in the state is to see that the next governor of the state comes from Eket Senatorial District”.
According to the then NDDC boss, “a real man must stand by his conviction which such conviction can propel him to the sky or take him to the grave. I know that the conviction of ACA will propel the state to its zenith in terms of infrastructural development and industrial renaissance”.
He admonished all well-meaning individuals in the state to join forces with ACA in order to take Akwa Ibom to its pinnacle for the betterment of all.
The Guest of Honour on the occasion, His Excellency Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom State, who was then the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), posited that ACA was born out of need to see that justice and equity is done in the state. He noted, “ACA is an organization which believes in the consolidation on the gains of democracy and on the continuity of uncommon transformation witnessed in the state through Dr. Godswill Akpabio.” According to him, “ACA is a body which believes that since government is a continuum, the good policy thrusts of the present administration in the state should be consolidated upon. It is an organization of like-minds who pray the believers’ prayer, “Let God’s will be done in the state again, again, and again”.
His Excellency, who himself is a philosopher and motivator, rightly quoted Martin Luther King (Jnr.), “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools”. He called on all Akwa Ibom people to continue to do things that will strengthen the peaceful co-existence of the state for posterity. As the then Guest of Honour during the event, Governor Udom Emmanuel used the occasion to thank the immediate past governor, Dr Godswill Akpabio, who is now the Senate minority leader, for providing the dividends of democracy to the state and promised to consolidate and even take the state to greater heights if at last the ACA project succeeds.
As an astute and committed ambassador of the body, His Excellency, Mr Emmamuel, enjoined ACA then to go out and fight a fight of justice, equity, and fair-play, stressing that individuals score points in a game, but that a team wins the race. He also appealed to all Akwa Ibomites to join ACA and do what is right, as well as embrace the philosophical postulation of John Wesley as stated thus, “which is to do all the good we can do, in all the ways we can do, in all places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as we can”. Finally, His Excellency directed all the scio-political groups and organizations that are supporting him to register under ACA for optimum productivity.
On his part, the national legal adviser to the Peoples Democatic Party (PDP), Barrister Emmanuel Enoidem, who was then the Chairman of Venue/Decoration Sub-committee of the ACA, pointed out that ACA, as the name implies, is a body of like-minded individuals in the state who thought it wise that the uncommon transformation witnessed in the state as demonstrated by the Uncommon Transformer, Chief (Dr) Godswill Akpabio, who was the governor then, should be consolidated upon and sustained by the next administration.
Also speaking during the event, the wife of the then Governor, Her Excellency, Mrs. Ekaette Unoma Godswill Akpabio, stated that in order to aid ACA in the actualisation of its dream, she has collapsed the socio-cultural/political women group, Uyai Iban Akwa Ibom, which she was the head, into the organization. The climax of the event was the swearing-in of the National/State Executive members of the group. Those sworn in were Christ Ambassador, (Dr.) Andrew Unwanta as the international president, Mr. Mike Sebastine as Deputy President; Hon. Monday Ebong Uko as Vice President I, Hon Victor Antai as Vice President II, Hon Enobong Uwah as Vice President III; Mr Eseme Udoka as Secretary, Mr. Mark Esset as Assistant Secretary General I; Pastor Tony Bassey Etim, as Assistant Secretary General II; while Hon. Aniekan Okon Akpan was sworn in as the Treasurer.
Others were; Engr. Otobong Ndem as Financial Secretary; Hon. Samuel Ekah as Assistant Financial Secretary; Frank Archibong as Organizing Secretary; Obong Ime Atakpa as Assistant. Organizing Secretary I; Hon. Uno Etim Uno was the Public Relations Officer and others.
Members of the Central Planning Committee of the organization were, Rt. Hon. Anietie Etuk – Chairman, while Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Akpan, Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem, Hon. Monday Uko, Mr Nsentip Akpabio, Prince Idongesit Ituen, Mrs. Glory Edet, Hon Felicia Bassey, and Hon. Victor Udofia were all members.
As a detribalized and visionary leader, within few weeks, as the arrow-head of the organization, Dr Unwanta ‘s doggedness to duties was gradually giving ACA the edge which gave birth to the inauguration of its chapters in Manchester, California, South Africa, Cameroon, Italy, Lagos, Abia State, Bayelsa State, Cross River State, Rivers State and others too numerous to mention. While in Akwa Ibom State, the home of ACA , with the popular slogans such as, “Udom is Right”, “Udom is Correct”. “Udom is the best”.
The organization was deeply rooted in all the political wards across the state and its chapters well established in all the 31 Local Government Areas with people employed to carry out its daily activities which later culminated into the victory of the Divine Mandate, the people are now enjoying today.
It be could be recalled that ACA was the first organization that agitated for the release of His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel, then from the former government as SSG so as to enable him yield to the demands of the body, which was for him to declare officially the intention to run for the governorship. That was why they massively stood at the gate of Government House on that fateful day while the valedictory session was ongoing. Despite the heavy rain, they waited just to carry their principal on their shoulders and showcase him to the masses as the man capable to steer the ship of the state. When their first mission was accomplished successfully, ACA went ahead, mobilised across the state and organised the mother of all political rallies at Uyo Township Stadium. The rally which witnessed the formal declaration of His Excellency as the Governor of Akwa Ibom, was indeed first in history in this part of the region as the event had an overflow of crowds who came in from all the wards of the state to attend the ceremony.
Without any doubt, the leadership of ACA, through its hard work and inclusive administration, enabled the organization to gain more grounds, even in the rural areas, as a symbol of a detribalized group. The body, which consist of men, youths and women was made up of over 1875 socio-political affiliated groups and organizations; went into action. They mounted billboards then across the state at different strategic places with inscriptions and bold pictures of His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanmuel such as “The Real Deal” and “Udom is Right”, among others. ACA, the mass movement, also went into the mass production of T-shirts with caps, bangles, as well as uniforms, all with the elegant pictures of our dynamic governor, just with the intention to spread the message of justice and equity to the masses.
Aside from organizing football tournament between Akwa Ibom Entertainers then, which ACA won to signal the victory of their principal ahead of the poll, purchasing and branding of buses with the slogans of ACA; as well as consistent road-walks to keep the members of the public abreast of its ideology.
As days rolled into weeks and weeks rolled into months, ACA was strongly keeping faith in the Divine Mandate owing to the sterling leadership prowess they saw in His Excellency then, even when he was not yet a governor. Thus they did not keep quiet in preaching that “it’s wrong to think that Udom is not right”. “It’s wrong to think that Udom will not govern Akwa Ibom well.” “It’s wrong to think that Udom will not dine and wine with ACA after the 2015 election”. These and more were boldly carried at the banners of their hearts and faces each time they went out for campaigns across the state.
They consciously preached the message of His Excellency as their primary assignments house to house, ward to ward and local government to local government. This they all did as each day died and gave birth to a new dawn. This is because to go against the wish of the masses in terms of zoning will amount to a moral stain on the banner of fair-play, peace, equity, fairness and justice which His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel then was represented and is still representing till today.
After the domination of His Excellency as the governorship flagbearer then, under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party led by Obong Paul Ekpo. The Divine Mandate, a campaign organization of His Excellency, emerged with Otuekong Idonesit Nkanga taking over duty as director general while Dr Unwanta was appointed as the director of organizations and political groups, among other people appointed into various positions. The PDP in the state under the leadership of Obong Paul Ekpo, chairman, Board of Trustees of ACA, Sir Emem Akpabio and Dr Andrew Unwanta among others, no doubt deserve commendation for their steadfastness and abilities to focus their searchlights as well as championed then the victory story of His Excellency. Truly, the ship anchored on May 29, 2015. Mr Udom Emmanuel: behold the dream of ACA came into fruition when he emerged as an elected governor of Akwa Ibom. In fulfilment of the popular adage that the journey of a thousand miles often begins with a step, in a chat with newsmen then during the swearing-in ceremony of His Excellency, Mr. Emmanuel as the executive governor of Akwa Ibom State, Dr Unwanta described the exercise as a dream come true, expressing optimism that with Governor Udom Emmanuel, the state will witness a rapid turnaround in all spheres of livelihood.
Also, on the verdict of the Supreme Court then, which upheld the election of Governor Udom Emmanuel, Dr Unwanta in an interview with newsmen described it as total judgment for the masses. He noted that it was a clear testimony of the divine mandate which God and the people of Akwa Ibom had earlier given to His Excellency, the governor during the April general election in 2015. According to Dr Unwanta, then, the support of ACA to His Excellency is beyond 2019. While describing Governor Udom Emmanuel as a great leader with a large heart, Unwanta enjoined the opposition in the state to shun political blackmail and character assassination, stressing that as a PDP state, the opposition has no alternative than to sheathe their swords and join hands to support Governor Udom Emmanuel to actualize his plans for the overall benefits of the state, as the eight year’s tenure of the governor is not negotiable for the sake of justice and equity.
Admittedly, the history of Akwa Ibom State today can never be complete without a page dedicated to Dr Unwanta. As a great achiever, his leadership qualities in all spheres of human endeavours exude like diamonds in the sky. Thus his name, apart from ringing a bell at every nook and cranny of the society; means different things to different people. To some, it means a 21st century icon of hope, while to others; his name refers to a seasoned technocrat with a magnetic zeal of stabilising the Divine Mandate for the betterment of the human race. In the philosophical dictionary of Dr Andrew Unwanta, as a leader who has been at the helm of various notable political organizations; there is no victory that cannot be achieved and there is no war that cannot be won in the rivalry of life. His tenacious commitment and dogged zealousness to duties are often the impeccable demonstration and attestation of facts that he is a devoted and hardworking man. These of course have portrayed him as a contemporary protagonist in the exceptional script inscribed by God for the advancement of the society.
Apparently, as it is widely known, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, came into power as Governor of Akwa Ibom State at a time when our country, Nigeria, was into severe economic recession. As opined by an African proverb, “Don’t discourage the other man’s plan unless you have better ones to offer”. Just like a skilful pilot is always known in tempest, no doubt, Governor Udom Emmanuel, within the period under review, has proven his worth to the people of the state and beyond as a world renowned financial manager, despite dwindling resources. His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel, whose passion is to upgrade the living standard of the people, is tirelessly working day and night to make the state a toast of the nation, hence his decision to embark on the meaningful projects across the state. There is a long list of them; from the vehicle assembly plant to the led factory, fertilizer plant, syringes, metering and pencil as well as toothpick industries, coconut refinery and even the resuscitation of some of the ailing industries including the Peacock Paints industry in Etinan which is currently producing all types of paints for the people of Akwa Ibom and beyond. With these on ground, the state is steadily being positioned as the industrial nucleus of the Africa, which the future generation would be proud to be the beneficiaries.
Apart from massive road-constructions in the state and renovation of schools and hospitals, the Udom Emmanuel-led administration is also constantly giving hope and greater prospects to children, youths, women and the elderly ones in the state. The youth have been sent on training within and outside the country to strategically position them for the demands of the 21st century economy and technology. Some went to Israel for training in agriculture while others were in Abuja for training in the power sector as well as other fields of endearvour. Other achievements are in sports, aviation industry and other areas.
Of course, in this present administration; Akwa Ibom people are witnessing tremendous achievements day by day, which the members of ACA today can beat their chests anytime, anywhere and proudly say that they supported a worthy course. Obviously, on the fact that reward for hard work is more works, Dr Unwanta, should rise and put the machinery in motion. As 2019 is approaching, he should know that he has no option than to complete the projects he had earlier started.
Although now, religiously and politically, various groups with different names, resemblance and slogans of ACA have emerged just as it was in the last general elections in 2015. Some were birthed with famous names but with rented crowds, while others came into existence with the sole aim of projecting the political interest of their initiators for commendation in one way or the other. With no doubt, Akwa Ibom Consolidation Alliance (ACA), the mother of all socio-political organizations, has been registered with the Bureau for Political Affairs as a mass movement organization. Therefore, any attempt by a person or group of persons to hijack the lofty programmes of ACA in whichever form is uncalled-for and uncultured. This is because in the medical field, panadol is panadol and it will ever be unchangeable owing to its well acknowledged responsibility in the human system.
Unwanta, a political scientist who by virtue and providence has what it takes to win the hearts of the masses for the achievement of a common goal, should also brace up ahead of the 2019 general elections, on the fact that to whom much is given, much is expected. He should know that ACA as a detribalised body that represents equity, fair-play and justice does not finish in its task until when the second term bid of His Excellency is achieved. This is because Obong Victor Attah, by divine arrangement had served the state as Governor for eight years from Uyo Senatorial District, and Dr Godswill Akpabio from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District also took his turn for eight years. Therefore, it is on this premise that our dear Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, must complete his eight years tenure so as to give the people of Eket Senatorial District a true sense of belonging and justice.
On the other hand, His Excellency, who in 2015 was the beneficiary of ACA, does not need to bother himself about his re-election in 2019, as ACA, the flagship organization and other affiliated groups, would come together as believers and do it again as they did in 2015. By so doing, the philosophical and golden dream of ACA, yesterday, today and tomorrow will come to fruition. It’s time for ACA to wake up and do what they know how to do best!