Thursday, 23 October 2014

Sustaining the intercourse with the hope-carrier

Sustaining the intercourse with the hope-carrier

History is both teleological and cyclical. The narrative of a society either evolves or repeats itself. With regards to the second term expedition of Elder Aniekan Akpan, it is teleological – albeit one waiting to evolve. 

Observers, even the passive ones of the representation formula of the cerebral yet self-effacing lawmaker would agree with this assertion. In every decent society where character and performance should be the decider in who wins the peoples trust, there would not arise a desperate bid by few to subvert a near-unanimous agreement. And Ukanafun is a decent society. 

In flipping through pages of history, there comes a time when old expedients as it were, can no longer serve its purpose and thus become unworkable and change sweeps through society and humanity consequently takes a leap forward. At such a time, there is absolute need to modify expedient so as not to stunt progress. For Ukanafun, society and moment have met.

I am pro-Akpan – very committed believer of his leadership principles. I am an advocate of his service pattern. I have no apologies.I don’t have to seek his consent to define who he is. I don’t need his approval to reflect my conviction of the virtues he represents or rise in his defense whenever falsehoods are manufactured against him. For Elder Akpan, I don’t write to get paid. For men like him, there will always be extravagant flow of my ink out of deep conviction. There is a dearth of his kind in politics. If someday, for any reasons, Aniekan Akpan returns to the classroom as a teacher, I will gladly help fix teaching notes for him. He would have been great as a leader while he lasted in active service of his people.

Among our leaders today, Elder Akpan easily stands out as a refreshing illumination in exemplary leadership. Focused. Disciplined. Visionary. Courageous. Humble. Honest. Decent. Godly. These are extinct traits not found in contemporary Akwa Ibom politicians (nay Nigerian politicians). Am I painting of him the picture of a saint? No. Akpan himself has never attempted to live like one. But you will have to be robed in a long – white flowing garment of a sinless saint to nurture a grievance against him. The reason is simple. His good deeds rain in torrents that it is near impossible to see through his mistake when he slips in rarity.

Let’s face it. The language of “effective representation” here is well known. It is not in speaking good grammar on the floor of parliament. Raising motions and debates count. Oh yes! So does sponsorship of bill especially if it flies. Lawmaking is the primary and most important function of a parliamentarian (legislature by extension). We all know. It is an element – a concept of universality.Certain. But this is no Britain. It is not America where opportunities are even and fair to all. This is Nigeria – Akwa Ibom. Our system requires a fundamentally altered approach if a representative isn’t to be considered ineffective. It isn’t just lawmaking and oversight here. What you give back home – the tangibles – the deliverables is as important, if not more important than the activities in parliament – all down to the social structure.

 It is why a lawmaker’s performance is almost always solely rated by constituents on the number of lives that are direct beneficiaries of the representative’s touch – the number and type of cars he/she gives out, the frequency at which he responds to their needs (mostly finances, employment placement, etc.), the number of students whose education is his responsibility, the people he has established to become self-reliant and the impact of constituency projects executed at home.Until things change, this is the reason the prayer of an average Nigerian to God will always be different from that of an average American. Juxtaposing these with his prime responsibility, Akpan has not only resuscitated faith in political representation, he has “contributed” credibility to his party – PDP. He joggles both effectively with amazing dexterity and sublime calm. This is one credit even his challengers who are singing a feeble hymn of zoning to answer to personal obsessions cannot deny him. With his kind flying the party’s flag in general elections, electors can keep trusting PDP to be a party that cares. Like Mae West, I can say “I don’t know a lot about politics but I can recognize a good party man when I see one”.

It was no surprise then that mid-term into a four year course, there were nudges from Ukanafun in its virtual whole for mandate renewal. The people couldn’t wait any further to give their approval. They were saying; “Yes, we are aware there is an arrangement. We made it for a reason. We can also adjust it for a reason. We have decided to adjust it because the benefits that will accrue to the constituency eclipse any other considerations. We are not “taking” away the concept of rotation but let it rotate on the basis of two terms – subject to performance”. Sound decision. Isn’t it? This trust level could only exist for a man who has been faithful in political intercourse and consistently exemplary as a leader and representative.

Itoro Columba of Bride TV, in apparent fascination during a recent media interview with Akpan echoed the silent question that has been asked by many when he reflected thus – “How do you manage to attend to so many of your constituents on a daily basis…Is it because you have too much money than others? With a smile, Akpan had given an answer to Columba’s probing question. Let me add what I think has been his secret – PASSION TO SERVE – THE ABILITY TO FEEL THE PAINS OF OTHERS – THE DESIRE TO SHARE IN THEIR NEEDS. It can’t be the other way round as wondered by Columba else the man wouldn’t be driving the same personal car more than three years after as a lawmaker – a “small” car he could barely afford then.

But Elder Akpan isn’t one to be inebriated by wines of words even when such are genuine compliments by all standards and coming from independent assessors. Instead, they raise the service adrenaline in him because public office is a privilege given in trust and never a right. He is more determined to raise the bar further.

As the present administration at the state level winds up, there are innumerable signs that scramble for relevance in the next order of things has begun. Every section of the state is engaged in strategic positioning – all for the benefit of its people. Members of parliament (the legislature) in every democratic government are one sure influencers of the decisions and policies of the executive especially on the basis of attracting “project goodies” to respective constituencies or districts. For any constituency/district with a fresh member as representative, the odds are never high. Apart from a near impossibility of getting a ranking office in parliament – one which gives additional strength of negotiation to an occupier, the fresher would also need time to find his “parliamentary rhythm”. This is usually a valuable lost time. For anyone who has already served double terms, a change may be understood in a society like ours even though it is not in the interest of the larger society. 

And what more can a people ask for with a man with premium performance in his first four years as their representative? Ukanafun constituents after weighing both options have agreed to the imperative of adjusting the zoning time-frame to allow Aniekan Akpan another term. The reasons are pretty glaring. Other than his performance, it is a necessity if the area is to be visible in post-Akpabio era and consolidate on its present gains.

“Politics,” according to Charles de Gaulle “is too serious to be left to the politicians”. If his background as a schoolteacher has indeed influenced his approach to leadership, maybe it is time society adopts teachers to fill public leadership offices. If I were to describe him, it will be that he is an extraordinary politician, matched only by few in integrity and always ready to subject himself to the demands and inconveniences of public office. A man of moral absolutes; A honest broker of the gains of democracy. Society needs leaders who can inspire hope and build faith in those they lead. It needs men who can clean up politics. Aniekan Akpan is a rare and hopeful phenomenon.

Otobong Sampson—-Head Consultant, O’al-Kachi Media and PR,

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