By John Ekperikpe
Smart-thinking Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio was during the weekend thumping his nose at Udom Emmanuel, governor of Akwa Ibom State, in leering rhetoric of action, dripping with sneers and sneezing derision. Akpabio literally set Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District alight with excitement as he strode about commissioning projects that are relevant to the lives of his people.
Reports show that Akpabio commissioned new school buildings, markets, boreholes and so on, in the first set of 50 constituency projects that the Senate Minority Leader has executed for the district.
At first blush, inaugurating constituency projects seems pretty routine. Yes, it’s supposed to be routine, with no huge political significance. But this one is not, given the context of the roiling public spat between Udom Emmanuel and Godswill Akpabio.
At Christmas, Akpabio unexpectedly called out Udom Emmanuel with the now famous “All is not well speech” on his numbing failure to carry out the basic function of governing, either by completing inherited projects or executing new ones of his own. Udom’s response was to threaten to deal with Akpabio for “threatening the peace we have been enjoying in the state” (though Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo have been on the boil ever since Udom took office). Suddenly the PDP broke into two camps, the Udom and Akpabio camps, which have gone at each other’s jugular.
Akpabio uttered no further word ever since. Then he roared this weekend with action. Telling Udom, this is how we roll, action is louder than words!
This is the significance. Udom just talks, and promises utopia. Akpabio talks too, a big talker, but he does what he talks. Akpabio was by action telling Udom this last weekend, Look I’m not asking you for the impossible. I did projects as governor; I’m doing projects as a senator. Where are your projects, Udom? All is not well o!
The remarkable difference does not stop there. Akpabio was inaugurating new school buildings. Last year following a spate of criticisms by long-suffering Akwa Ibom people on his non-performance, Udom published an 11-page all colour advertorial in newspapers to advertise the repainting of primary and secondary school blocks as his achievement after two-and-a-half years in office. Have you seen the difference?
While Akpabio is doing projects in ISD that are practical and relevant to his people, Udom is planning a coconut refinery in a state that is rich in cassava, not coconut; rich in oil palm, not coconut. While Akpabio plugs directly into the need of his people, Udom is busy with experiment on how to make Akwa Ibom people tomato farmers, blowing executive man hours on how to import cows from Argentina for his dream ranch in Uruan. Udom is insufferably academic. A Lagos import, never earthed in the socio-economic fabric of his people, Udom can never be better than this.
Can we see why Akpabio—hate him or love him—was on point when he cried that all is not well?
Truly all is not well. Not just with ISD, but with Akwa Ibom as a whole.
Ekperikpe writes from Uyo