Thursday, 22 January 2015

The 22 musketeers: “On united A’Ibom we stand”

The 22 musketeers: “On united A’Ibom we stand”

Forget the bravado of the Godswill Akpabio clan, the adamancy of PDP National Working  Committee, and the loud silence of the Presidency, if nothing else signals the transition of Akwa Ibom State from continuing to be predominantly controlled by the PDP to one taken over by the opposition, the G22 and its movement to free the State does. As described by one member of the group, it is God’s 22.

Heroes, they say, are not made of huge legs. Big as it is, an elephant does not have an answer to the bites of soldier ants. At the appointed time, Goliath bowed to a single pebble from the sling of David. Muhammad Ali was 22 years when he gave Sony (the ugly bear) Liston a bloody eye and snatched the world heavy weight boxing title. What has remained the unbeatable record in world sports started when Ali was mere 12 years. Faced with the frustration of his stolen bicycle and his subsequent efforts to search and recover it, he landed at a gym and in the hands of a policeman, Joe Elsby Martin, who was training boxers. It was there he was handed a form to register for boxing training when Martin heard the conviction in his boast to “whup” (beat) whoever stole his bicycle “even if he is an adult”.

One may say there is no similarity between boxing and politics. That while the former requires talent and training, the later is crockery and foxy manipulation. It is wrong. The similarity lies in the guts. Ali had it. The G22 have it. What spurs the gut is the criminal hijacking of the common patrimony by one leader who was in terrible error voted into power as governor in 2007 and aided, and abetted, by a system devoid of national conscience and without sincerity, honour and justice in its lexicon.

Just begin to imagine how the policeman, Martin, viewed Muhammad Ali’s vow to get back his bike no matter the age of the barawo and his later success in setting an unbeatable record in boxing, then one will understand how PDP’s indiscretion will turn its “Ides of March” (apologies William Shakespeare).
The symbolism of Jesus Christ’s 40 days fasting in the wilderness was not lost in the minds of the G22. They went searching for the fruit that would bear justice, equity and fair play in an arid land. Having been starved of their right, they were offered inducements if only they would shape in, eat the king’s portion of the meat and keep quiet. But the tormentors, who believe in the fallacy that what money cannot do more money will, met their match in a group of men and a woman whom circumstance brought together to confront the behemoth and rescue the ship of state which leadership has gone berserk. On Saturday, January 17, 2015, they returned to address their eager and ardent followers at a rally and world press conference.

Note that they also forewent their Christmas to pray, fast and wait for their return. And here they were in the warm embrace of their unsurrendering supporters. Obviously exhilarated, crowd was mammoth, tumultuous, and sufficiently wet to form the vanguard for the battle that lies ahead. This is unprecedented in the history of Akwa Ibom State where every politician is good at selling out once a little money is offered and where the followership run under the bed at the sound of a bazooka. They cheered, clapped and responded with unguarded enthusiasm and felt ready-to-go. There were no hired buses, no paid special uniforms, no transport fares. They were ready to make sacrifices if only to liberate Akwa Abasi Ibom State from the stranglehold of a family hegemony.

Almost all the 22 wounded aspirants were there, putting paid to spurious claims that they have gone their separate ways having been bought over by the paymaster. In an unparalleled solidarity, the flag bearer of APC in Akwa Ibom, the indefatigable and urbane Obong Umana Okon Umana, was there to add voice to the sad turn out of events in the State. These patriots were with one voice, bonded together in the cast-iron resolve to stand firm to the end and liberate Akwa Ibom, once and for all, from family dynasty, impunity and tyranny.

The leader of the group, Obong Nsima Ekere, was the first to fire the salvo. He said he is not likening the G22 to Jesus Christ, but as Christians we cannot help but draw from the experience of Christ when He returned from 40 days fasting. Satan tempted Him; but Christ, knowing that whatever he offered was stolen from His father, rebuffed the evil offer. In the same vein, Nsima said that no bribe, no blackmail, no intimidation, no scandal will be sufficient to veer G22 from the course of giving Akwa Ibom an air of political, economic, social and cultural freedom it deserves. 

Nsima went further to state that it does not matter to them who gets the ticket for the governorship race. That what matters is extrication of the State from Akpabio dynasty. He thanked the mammoth crowd for the show of comradeship, the patience, and their resolve to stick to principles away from the vogue of running after hand outs. He ended up saying that they will be meeting with their supporters, elders and sundry interest groups to plot the next strategy before getting back to the public in the next few days. 

Senator Helen Esuene, a woman noted for her industry, organizational skills, swerve, simple but firm, one who several years after the death of her respected and adored husband is holding the Esuene clan together, came on the microphone and did not mince words when she said that in this collective responsibility, there is no retreat, no surrender. That it is not about which party, not about which person, but about justice, about the soul of Akwa Ibom, about the welfare of the people which must take precedence over everything else. You could hear miles away the rapturous shouts and response of the audience: NEVER AGAIN! NEVER AGAIN!! NEVER AGAIN!!!

It was on that note that the ebullient lawyer and former Nigerian envoy to Russia, Ambassador Assam Assam, SAN, took the rostrum and asked: “is it right for one person to appoint the governor, donated to him by his wife to the State?” The answer was No! “is it right for the same person to appoint the deputy governor?” The answer came No! “is it right for him to produce three senators, including himself, for the State?” No! was the word. He went further to ask: “is it okay for the same person to produce the 10 members of the House of Representatives,  26 members of the House of Assembly, appoint the next Minister, the Commissioners, special advisers, etc? Would it be right for the same person to give us the 31 local government chairmen?” As he went on to reel out more audacious actions of Governor Godswill Akpabio, the crowd was ever more forthcoming in their negative responses. Assam concluded that the course which they are fighting is the stoppage of these impunities and enjoined the people to stick to them all the way.

The audience couldn’t help but laugh, despite the feeling of despondency and political alienation wrought on them by Akpabio, when Ekpenyong Ntekim described  the G22 as pilgrims and Internally Displaced Political Persons (IDPP) in apparent allusion to IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) made popular by the scourge of Boko Haram that has devastated Nigeria’s North East. Ntekim said they were back home to dispel all the lies heaped on their supporters and are determined to make indelible political statement and remain indivisible allies in the struggle to free Akwa Ibom from the claws of Godswill Akpabio and his family.

Larry Esin concurred that they will stay all the way through until the State is free from this political rascality and this banditry is sent to the guillotine. Then came Ime Ekanem who thanked all Akwa Ibom sons and daughters who are standing by them to prosecute this battle for the soul of the State.

You could see the anger written all over Anietie Uffot, the last of the G22 who spoke saying let nobody cast the stone in blame of him as an Onna son as this fight transcends the narrow confines of one LGA. That it is to take Akwa Ibom away from the deceit that is being perpetrated. 

All members of the G22 thanked generously the patience, support and solidarity of their followers, promising to return shortly to announce their next strategic action.

The APC governorship candidate, Obong Umana Okon Umana, took on the stage and saluted the resilience of G22, the support from the public, and enjoined everyone to give all what it takes to deliver Akwa Ibom in order to justify the struggle of our forebears who sacrificed their time, resources, and energy to fight for its creation. 

Senator Ita Enang, Otuekong Sunny Jackson Udoh, Obong Rita Akpan, Dr. Maurice Ebong and other prominent politicians in the State were there to lend their support. 

As I was fighting my way through the sea of people who thronged the venue of occasion, I could hear one lady asking: “how much did Akpabio pay to buy Akwa Ibom that he wants to take everything? Couldn’t he be satisfied that we are hungry and leave us alone? Must he remove our intestines for sale before he knows that we are famished?” With words like this, it is not far to find where the heart  of the people is. Only time will tell if this will be converted to votes in a free and fair election come February 28, 2015. But it serves an early notice to the PDP that in Akwa Ibom State things are not the same again.

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