Thursday, 16 October 2014

Etiebet: A press conference in bad taste BY JAMES ETUKUDOH

Etiebet: A press conference in bad taste BY JAMES ETUKUDOH
Political pundits assert that exiting from power could be more intricate, more burdensome than its converse side of ascension. At the twilight of one’s tenure, friends become foes as new vested interests begin to define their actions. The matter is made worst in our clime where morality is seen as an anathema in politics. And so duplicitous politicians waxing in their knowledge of the gullibility and malleability of the electorate engage in double speak and demagougy in their bid to procure/secure new interest and relevance. This seems to be what is playing out in Akwa Ibom as long standing friends of Akpabio take up adversarial roles after seven years of sizzling romance. 
The most disconcerting of this role was the one played by Atuekong Don Etiebet, a member of the Board of Trustees of the People’s Democratic Party; one time Presidential Candidate, 1999; one time Petroleum minister; one time national chairman of All Nigeria People’s Party; ANPP; one time governorship candidate, 2007; in a hurriedly arranged Press Conference at NUJ Secretariat on October 6, 2014. 
The text of the Press briefing conveyed in very distasteful language and many misrepresentations showed patently his discontent towards Governor Akpabio. The text was a potpourri of hate, blackmail, disgust, dislike, jealousy, envy, rivalry and perhaps pettiness to crown it. It was neither advisory nor reconciliatory as expected of an elder statesman. Many of Etiebet’s admirers have continued to ponder over what may have possibly rankled and miffed him to compel such condescension. It is hoped that he would someday find the moral courage to make this public as many are still in the lurch as to the real reason for the deepening altercation. 

Atuekong Don Etiebet is a chieftain of the Party. In the last seven years, he established himself as an ardent supporter of the Akpabio administration. He celebrated and spoke gleefully about the achievements of the administration. He was seen in toe everywhere with Governor Akpabio with the latter lavishing him with respects at every arising opportunity. He was always the number one elder the governor would mention either on his protocol list or to validate a point of national reference. Don Etiebet had at different fora been nominated to either give vote of thanks or state positions on matters on behalf of the elders. At no point in the last seven years did Don Etiebet register reservation or resentment towards the Akpabio administration. It is therefore curious how all the ills of the administration he isolated in the text of the press briefing became suddenly unraveled only short eight months to the end of his hitherto much celebrated Akpabio administration. Is this possibly the case of unwarranted and baleful anger taken out of context? 

Many argue that the allegations are products of bad blood and prodding by those who want to use what he, Etiebet had garnered as clout as a weapon of war against Akpabio. They submit that unfortunately, Etiebet is too innocent and preoccupied with hate to be discerning. Etiebet’s admirers seem to rue over the fact that a man who once led them as a front-liner in national politics has allowed charlatans to drag him into the small and murky pond of local politics. These renegades, they argue, who are street wise and devious have arrayed before him baits that would delude him with the semblance of heroism. 

They contend that if Don Etiiebet is seeking to make himself a champion by instituting an unwarranted war, he must know that such constitutes a mirage and an illusion that can only rob him of respect. They advise that he must resist their prodding which is laced with private and ethnic interest that would not accommodate him as usual. They also reminded him of what happened after the collateral sacrifice he made to bring Obong Victor Attah to power and advised him to know that Governor Akpabio is his young son that he can call to order using the advantage of his age. They further noted that the young man being of good breeding would at anytime concede and defer to him.

 Many are of the opinion that the resort to a press conference that carried with it a litany of fallacies can not serve the esteem of Don Etiebet or Governor Akpabio, neither would it advance the collective interest of the State, the party, which they all claim to be so committed to. If Don Etiebet had any genuine grievance with Governor Akpabio, privileged channels of communication abound for him to exploit and facilitate a peaceful and an amicable resolution. Even his membership of the Board of Trustee of PDP; a veritable platform that ought to have been deployed and which would have vouchsafed a healing process as well as promote the interest of the party seemed to have been ignored and discarded. There are also other internal mechanisms within the party that are in place to resolve party matters peacefully. Externalizing minor party differences through press conference and open protest can not be seen to be the best option for a true party man which Don Etiebet is known to be. 

But upstarts who are yet to pay their dues in politics and who have reaped bountifully from if through the benevolence of the man they are fighting today are not concerned about the journey of perdition they are goading Don Etiebet into. They have manipulated him to lead the charge on their behalf and take all the bruises and salvos that would come with it. They have literally put the man in harm’s way while patiently awaiting his downfall or to claim the spoils of war which are their vested interests including the governorship for Uyo Senatorial District if he succeeds. The intriguing question is, what is Don Etiebet’s interest in all these? Is he contesting election? Is there any office he is eyeing? What is the sum total of his interest that has merited this war that he has assigned himself the role of a generalissimo? 

Many who know Atuekong Don Etiebet accuse him of being intemperate in behaviour. They refer to the circumstance that led him to exiting PDP then and the difficulty he encountered when he sought to return, attributing the whole cause to his uneven temper. They also argue that once he sets for himself a course of action or harbours a conviction to identify with a cause of action, he does not allow room for counseling no matter how wise. This in every sense is not a virtue. He must submit himself to the concept that the older the wiser. Having ascended the septuagenarian status, his temperaments and reflections and even considerations of other opinions are attributes associated with that age. At a certain age, one cannot continue to lead a war, he/she must listen to wise counsel and conscientiously seek the path of peace. Leading protest over fears arising from minor elections are beneath our revered Don Etiebet who once founded the most acceptable party in Nigeria, National Centre party of Nigeria, NCPN and who but for late Sanni Abacha would have coasted home as Nigeria’s democratically elected president. 

Atuekong Don Etiebet’s achievements are too prodigious and precious to be wasted on the altar of local politics when the space at the centre is yearning for his likes. God had raised him as one of our nation’s leaders but erratic and intemperate behaviour may have hauled him down. But his pedigree can always catapult him with ease. He has the clout, contact and education. 
He needs the presence of mind that would not be tainted by the foibles of hate and pettiness that his new found friends of convenience are trying to introduce him to. He must know how to balance reality with illusion and chart a path of honour that would continue to endear him to his admirers. Joining today to kick at a party executive he alongside those charlatans freely endorsed and alleging that it was not properly constituted is more like crying over spilt milk. Such inconsistency would predictably lower their esteem in the eyes of right thinking people and cast them into a hall of shame. 
These renegade politicians who want to dance naked in the market place should leave Don Etiebet alone and jump into their train of shame without him on board. He is still an elder-statesman that we would need one day after his repentance.

James Etukudoh contributed this piece from Abuja.

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