Akwa Ibom 2023 Governorship Race: How not to Disqualify Sen Effiong Bob ,Ors
This article has been on my mind in the last one month. Self censorship incidental to partisanship, the conflict of interest arising therefrom would try to keep it in the cooler for long. But Journalism wins politics and I am finally speaking up on a vexing slant that seeks to blur the discussion on who should lead us after Gov Udom Emmanuel as governor of Akwa Ibom State. The burden of being a Journalists and politician is that sometimes you gloss over what you should say and when you should say it if doing so will hamper your party’s interest. That is what I call self censorship. I set a task to overcome it and am doing well leading to this article in the series to come.
The idea to put up this article came when I stumbled on a certain prominent Akwa Ibom politician at a Lagos event with media managers from South South some weeks ago. After we greeted, he invited me to sit in discussion with him where we talked about Akwa Ibom 2023 Governorship politics and appraised some of the aspirants showing interest in the job. I don’t know him as a contender (maybe he is interested in running) but we exchanged our perceptions of each of the aspirants very freely. Senator Effiong Bob featured very prominently in the “gossip” and in a striking manner.
The content of the discuss as it concerns Senator Bob was a recgnision of his strength and clean record of service by the senior citizen but which got dismissed by the pedastrian, shallow and beer parlour talks which have been responsible for our backwardness as a people- He cannot want to be Governor when his son is in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. Where did we get that from? Has Bar Otobong Bob no right to aspire to represent his people if he has met the requirements of the law? I have seen that in discussing leadership recruitment processes, we care and give much attention to simpliton matters like zoning, generosity and the likes. We don’t always look at capacity, intelligence, experience and preparation and the utility each person can return to the people. Character and contents are hardly looked at in who we want should lead us. We rather look at the pecuniary and the mundane. The end? Our journey to self sufficiency becomes an endless wandering of a wasted generation.
My friend on the table had quickly dismissed Effiong Bob as a selfish individual on grounds that he sent his son to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in 2019 and wants to become governor in 2023. He wanted to sway me to his line of argument and given my role as a Journalist, he would love that I propagate that line of thought. I resisted it. It is the fundamental right of every man to aspire to actualize his life ambitions. If what he seeks to get is within the purview of what the public must decide, the rule is that it should be decided on grounds whether he is qualified to get it, what he will do with it and whether it will be for the general good. It should not be the primitive way round where a everything must be viewed from the lense of hate and personal aggrandizements. As I put this to my very elderstatesman, I asked further if having a son in the House of Assembly in 2019 can disqualify a father from seeking and becoming governor in 2023. Of course he answered to the negative on sensing that I won’t buy into any cheap talks with regards to the 2023 gubernatorial race. If we must compare and contrast, it must be on comparative advantage of political economy having regard to the peculiar nature of the politics of 2023 going forward in a Nigeria whose sovereignty and territorial integrity will be tested and shaken thus indicating that in choosing who governs us, his strength and ability to sail through the storms must be rock solid.
We copy our democracy and system of government from the United States of America. I have been of the opinion that we shall not be like America if we don’t copy well their salient approach to politics and development. In the United States, it is not about who you are or where you come from, it is basically what you can do (Capacity) what you have done (antecedents) and what you will do (prospect) if entrusted with state responsibility. It is immaterial how many people from your clan have been what and when. Zoning is immaterial. Relationship and connection does not matter much if it does at all.
George Herbert Walker Bush was the 41st President of United States of America between 1989 and 1993. He lost a second term in 1992 to Bill Clinton because his poor economic policies threw United States of America into recession with untold hardship. Many businesses and jobs were lost and as would be expected, George Bush lost a second term. While Bill Clinton who defeated George Bush was presiding over America as her 42nd President, George Bush jnr, son of defeated President Bush was doing great things in Texas and repositioning the state as her 46th governor. George Bush Jr had successfully sponsored legislations for civil law reform, put more money to fund education, set higher standards for schools, and reformed the criminal justice system so much so that a litigant is sure of getting justice and on time.
Under George Bush, Texas became the leading producer of wind powered electricity in the U.S. A combination of these achievements, the prospects in the younger Bush then as governor made him elected as the 43rd President of America four years after his father was defeated by Bill Clinton. It didn’t matter that his father left the seat just four year earlier. The failings of George Bush Sr had no ability to stop the successes and prospects of his son from taking the highest office in the United States. George Bush Jnr made America proud and secured two terms which his father could not make for a number of reasons.
I wish Akwa Ibom State can talk less of zoning, who is stingy and who is not and look at the antecedents of each of the aspirants and the prospects they hold for Akwa Ibom State. Is there anything wrong in a father moulding his son to standard, being proud of his achievements and supporting him to take elective position in government? What is the place of mentorship and succession in our political narrative? Burkola Saraki became governor of Kwara through the help and mentorship of his father. As Senate President, he help regulate Nigeria’s debt burden by most times denying approval for FG to borrow. A man who rules well his house putting his children in submission and path of achievements is fit to be a Bishop, say Paul. This too can be one of the yardsticks to measure who can run our state and not the other way round.
One of the few persons who have passed my test of leadership through their antecedents and demonstrated capacity with regards to who should succeed Gov Udom Emmanuel in 2023 is Distinguished Senator Effiong Bob. He is one of the very few aspirants we have who is cast in the mould of my Lord Temporal, Obong Victor Attah, the Akwa EduekEkpe Asutan Ekpe and former governor of Akwa Ibom State. He has paid his dues and contributed to the greatness, especially the financial capacity of Akwa Ibom State. He was Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State when we needed to fight in court and secure the right of Akwa Ibom State to benefit from the oil drilled in her backyard. He served under Obong Attah and was taught both in principle and practice what should be the priorities of government. He is calm and matured. He is deep and scholarly. He has ruled well his house and has prospect of repositioning Akwa Ibom State if given the chance.
In debating whether Sen. Effiong Bob should be given the chance, let us set aside the discuss that he has a son in the house of Assembly. It does not hold water in reasonable ears. That Sen Effiong Bob has a personal succession plan that has started manifesting while he is alive, should be a plus to him and not a disqualification as some see it. Bar Otobong Bob is Sen Effiong Bob’s testimonial as a disciplined public officer and father when we consider how many of our politicians are broke merely because the children they sent abroad turned out to be drug addicts living in and out of prison in the “whiteman’s land”. Most Politicians as of today hardly can boast of their children as being capable of managing their estates because they left them to “chop” and forget the future. Some will even be scared to put their children forward because they will misbehave and drag their name to shame. Here is a man with a different reality. Let’s look at his antecedents and the prospect in discussing his chances at our highest job in 2023. That’s will be my approach going forward.