Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Akwa Ibom is not about Akpabio, Udom and Umana – Eseme Eyibo

Akwa Ibom is not about Akpabio, Udom and Umana – Eseme Eyibo

In this interview, former member of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon Eseme Eyibo bares his mind on contemporary political and leadership issues, including the rise and fall of the PDP and why change may prove to be a mirage as General Buhari takes over come May 29.
The general elections has  been concluded, can we  have your evaluation of its conduct, what happened to your Party PDP?
Election is a process. It starts from the internal democracy of political party to the point of inauguration. So, I don’t think it will be right to say it’s over because we still have cases in the Tribunal which is still part of the fallout of the general elections and we still have the inauguration of the Legislature, inauguration of Executive. So those who may be declared today by INEC or received certificate of return may end up not being sworn-in.

There was a time I never had a certificate of return, but at the conclusion of electoral process, I was sworn in. So, there are several layers left to determine the end result of any election. So, election is not a political activity, it’s a political process. It has a beginning which is started well and we are still going through the process and when matters must have been concluded in courts; peoples must have been sworn-in and then the full process of governance begins. That is on one part, then the other part is that, you know that the instrument of the electoral process is not just to put government and an institution in place, it is also to make sure that the institution of government is in place, that is to bring to fore the fact that government is a different thing from governance. Like you asked what happened to PDP? I’m still a card carrying member of PDP, but I never supported President Goodluck Jonathan. I told those who were very close to me openly and privately that he will not win. It was a prophesy foretold. PDP went to the election against itself. APC never contested any elections, the difference between PDP and APC is just Buhari, Osibanjo, apart from that the two political party are the same. So, PDP went against itself with the elections. First, it went to elections with too many generals without fighting soldiers.

Secondly, PDP as a matter of fact, ruling for 16 years was breeding champions, they never thought about having the heroes and in any society that is busy breeding champions will always ruled the way champions rule. Remember Mike Tyson who reached the peak of boxing, but where is he today? Remember our Super Eagles that won the African Nations Cup and next round of it, they never reached the qualifiers. That is the character of a champion. The champion is always looking for a way of winning victory and all that and careless about the common humanity and the principle of the game. That was the character PDP carried on for 16yrs of democracy. They were falling the way they rose because their leadership recruitment process was faulty. They went round recruiting potential champions and champions to the detriment of creating legacies which of-course are hallmarked by the character of heroes.

From 1970s, after the war, the principle was of the three out which was reconstruction, reconciliation and rehabilitation. They were intended to be intangible acts whereby the nation will stand up one day and begins to believe in indivisibility that is the kernel of Nigerian Constitution, but has it worked? Children who were born in 1970s till date are over 70% of the present electoral constitution of this country. People who were born from 1970s till date, they constitute greater population of Nigeria. So they were born into corruption; grew up in corruption that was when cultism and trafficking started; that was when all manners of indiscipline, falsification of records started and all that. Those things were not prominent in the 60s. So, they (the children) were born and grew into corrupt tendency. So since then, there have been various incentives to drive corruption until we get to the pinnacle where we are today. The children are now reading about heroes, they are now reading about role models and they ask the question, when shall it be our turn?. 

They begin to see people keeping private jets in Airports, but they heard that there was a time in this country that we had Nigerian Airways in which as a student you could always sell your meal ticket and use the money to fly, but what happened to Nigerian Airways that you cannot fly, but private airlines are flying? while the number of private jets owned by individuals are more, that means something was going wrong. So people started looking for a change, the change people are talking about was not the slogan of APC, they only became a beneficiary. The change they were talking about was the change as a mantra to from one status of affairs to another. This country is running short of leadership. Leadership is a responsibility that must be accounted for. As individuals, we are leaders on our own right. To what extent have we been able to put that in practice? So, unfortunately we need a change, a change from where things are now to where things should be. The alternative to fit into that clamour became APC. So, APC only became beneficiary from the fight that the PDP was fighting itself.

You said the PDP caused is failure with too many Generals, can you elaborate on that?
I can tell you, the Governor’s forum where all Generals in their own right; the presidential campaigns leaders were all Generals; you have the First Lady, who was also a General in her own right, she went to war with other Generals and the rest of them; where are the armies? And then you have the PDP itself who were not actually looking for the victory of the President, they were looking for Nigeria as a franchise for them to feed on forever. Most of them, if you see their attitude and conducts in that elections, they were not even looking for victory, so, whatever was the outcome of that election was not their business. It was a prophesy foretold. Remember Julius Cesar and “The ides of March”, when there was that caution by the soothsayer and Julius Cesar never believed it until when he became a victim. So, Jonathan was a man standing there, what killed the PDP is inside the PDP and for anybody to believe that the departure of those five (5) governors was not an issue is telling lies because from 1970 till date, Kano and Lagos have never voted in one direction, this is the first time, go and check records.

And for you to win elections in this country, you need electoral population of Rivers, Kano and Lagos; so for you to have allow the governor of Rivers State, whether he has political value or not, to go and form coalition with Lagos and Kano, that was poisonous, it was not a good political calculation. And when you now begin to look at the South-West, you now begin to think about the smallest South-West State, Ekiti and the next one is Ondo, so it was like “a drop” and all that.

And, another strong point is that Buhari has a cult personality. No matter the evil of Hitler in Germany, he was a very ugly man, very short, but whenever Hitler said, “the Great Germany”, whatever he said, that was final. So Buhari is a cult personality, he is the hottest Presidential candidate anybody can project in modern Nigeria. And he was the only presidential candidate that they needed to use to defeat PDP. So, the moment Buhari emerged as presidential candidate, all PDP needed to do was to be constructive, but they were not constructive, they were only making documentaries that were attracting public sympathy to him. So, the PDP’s modern communication strategy was faulty because people who were managing the communication were not strategic, they were not modern and they are not thinkers; they don’t read. They went and brought people who were able to fight at degree examination and have the privilege of working somewhere or going to in England. This thing is not so.

In today’s modern world, is a world that is triggered  by the content of mind, not content of the pocket. So, when once they lost that, they lost the election. What they are talking about now is a forgotten story; and can PDP come back again? PDP can only come back again if they now begin to introduce thinkers into the political organisation; they don’t have thinkers; they are loaded with people with bad accounts; people of old names and all that.

It is like football. If you go and bring J.J. Okocha and Kanu Nwankwo now to come and play for Flying Eagles; they’ll make sure that, they don’t sustain injury. If you come to our village now and meet one of these fantastic footballers and invite him to the camp, he will make sure that he will die on the field and score early. So people like you, who are now using the internet very effectively, you need to introduce these people into various levels of political management because the way it’s going now, very soon, we are going to have independent candidates and political parties are going to be undermined because of the absence of professionalism, you know, we now begin to have garbage in garbage out. So I don’t see PDP coming out of it, because of what election have introduced.

Now, the South South and South East constituting Eastern Nigeria, the South West constituting Western Nigeria and look at the trend of APC in the North, it’s no longer North Central, North Eastern; it’s now the entire Northern Nigeria. So, Nigeria politically right now is on a tripod. When once, One of the legs is defective either by circumstance of destruction, instability or any of the circumstance, the whole nation suffers the shocks.

Your assessment of the April 11th governorship election in Akwa Ibom State?

Well I want to start first from the internalization of the democratic process. People got interested in the race and at the end of the day, somebody is going to win. So, you must have grievances and the grievances as expect may not be directly from the people who voted, it may be from the person(s) who contested. But if you put Umana and Udom(the two leading candidates) on the table and if you ask me; they have credentials in their own right. Udom, for example went and work with a bank; it not an Akwa Ibom State bank. It has no relationship directly and rose to the rank of being an Executive Director, meaning that he knows the onions and knows the game. And what the state needs for now is some level of incentive to trigger our common prosperity. And this common prosperity is not a function of political chauvinism. It is a function of idea, a function on initiative and that must not come from the content of a character that understands how to galvanise social influence with economic leverage.

If you look at Umana the order way, he has a background in the public service and all that. But my sadness is that Akwa Ibom State has turned into the theatre of clannishness which is very unfortunate and we may not know what we are doing to ourselves now because it is like blood sucking.
Ten years ahead, we may need a united Akwa Ibom because it has virtually turned into more or less like a stock exchange that majority of the players are becoming stakeholders. So, by the time we begin to create insensitiveness in the status; and at the level we are, by the time we will need that our unity, we may not be able to see it. So, my appeal clearly is, regardless of how we feel, it has gone to the level we should be able to down-play and minimize political sentiment now and begin to look at some of these things either as a consequence of providence or we begin to yield to the call of nature as it where. And by doing that, we will now begin to encourage competitiveness. But the situation we are now is that we are creating a culture of engaging in tar-brush because, I need to come and tell you that this guy is a bad guy to win your favour and she needs to come and tell this guy that you are planning to kill him, so all the energy will be dissipated in the two of you trying to make sure you have spoilt the other.

And at the end of the day, what is going to be the consequence, this guy and I, who are in the fight will now either choose to seat on the fence and face the consequences of take sides and see what is going to happen afterward. So, it like HIV, if HIV infects somebody in your household, it affects everybody in that house. That is the situation we have found ourselves in now.

Unfortunately, we have lost opportunity to create leadership cluster around the state. We have high profile potentials, but some of them are hiding, they don’t want to come out because the atmosphere has been smoked with tar brush. Some of us will come back and hide in the state and go to Abuja and shine, participate in international engagements, join international development partners. But it will be a surprise that if they want to come to the state, they will enter the aircraft and land quietly and enter the car to their home. But we believe that Akwa Ibom State is a land flourishing with human talents and all that. But where are these talents? They are hiding because there are some who are promoting destruction so that they will be able to live. So any society where there is no competitiveness is not models and cannot grow and I don’t see Akwa Ibom growing.

Ok Sir, if I’m to interpret what you said, Umana should not go to the Tribunal or court to challenge Udom’s election as Governor?
Umana has a constitutional right to seek redress, when he feels aggrieved. He has the right to do so. But all I’m saying is that, the state is not all about Udom and Umana or Godswill and anybody else. We should first and foremost begin to look at the state were we are ready to grow opportunities. Opportunities are not only found in the political leadership, we can still find opportunities in other spheres of human endeavours. We can create opportunity in various level, but I’m saying clearly that as a state; as a people, we lose more because the drum of war is at the crescendo and as we talk now, the talents we have now we may not be able to know how much destruction we have caused to human development of this state, until that day when there will be that measurement, and when the measurement is taken, you realise that you are running short.

Do you think General Buhari will make a difference?

Don’t expect miracles. Buhari is coming with just two things on the table, his austere lifestyle and his perceived integrity and that does not drive national leadership. On the other hand, Vice President-elect, Osibanjo is coming with his professional integrity, humility and above all, he is a prayer warrior. And then Buhari comes in here with his own lifestyle and he has that discipline but that is not what we are talking about. We had a discussion the order day, they said APC are going to fight corruption. Corruption in this country is not a political party affair. It’s a national concern. So, it’s not APC or PDP or any other party that would fight it. Corruption can only be managed. All over the world, nobody fights corruption because it’s a generic word. But the only thing which can save this county is ethical and attitudinal reorientation, everybody would have to buy into it because it’s a function of depression, exchange rate and interest rate, so if we don’t change our attitudes, corruption will remain. Meanwhile this people who defected from PDP to APC, is it all about the elections? Have they changed their attitude? They don’t change.

Sir, are you going to still remain in PDP?
It’s a function of personal conviction. I want to stay inside PDP and tell the PDP leadership that they got it wrong. There will be three parties, very likely in 2019. There will be APC, PDP and another party. APC will witness implosion.

The incoming government of Udom Emmanuel, do you have any optimism he will perform?
The government is in function of initiatives. And initiative of government is derivable from communication. I’m sure you must have heard something they said “every society begets the kind of leadership it desires”. Have you heard something like that or am I quoting out of context? In the Bible when God created man, he started by saying “let there be light”, it was just a command, and when it comes to creating man, He said “Come let’s make man”. That was introduction of partnership. Who did He say to, ‘come let’s make man?’ That is the simple principle in leadership. You don’t do it alone you must function along with functioning partners. So Udom or whoever must have to function with others. He will only succeed with other people and who are the other people? His own role as a governor will be in leadership recruitment; that is where he will fail. So, if whoever becomes the governor doesn’t head-hunt, but retires into submitting himself to rehabilitating people, then he will join them in the colony when the time comes because colony remains for rehabilitations.

Your last word to Akwa Ibom people and Nigeria?
I’m telling leaders, whether at state, local or community level, everywhere that there’s always a stone for every Goliath. So, if you want to be a champion, you want to be a Goliath because you are a governor or chairman of a party or a community leader, there’s a stone for every Goliath. One day you must be stoned. Then, for the community, champions are usually meant for competition, the community cannot compete against itself. The heroes are meant to represent legacies which influence and form a common humanity. So every community should now begin to create its own cluster of leadership modelling. If you don’t do that, you lost it.

Agenda for incoming legislators?
There’s going to be an inter play of two forces, the majority political party, APC and the independent Legislature because the difference between democracy and dictatorship is the Legislature.
Section 4 of the Constitution explains that there shall be the National Assembly Constituted by the Senate and the House of Representatives and section 60 of the Constitution says that no person(s) even the court shall have influence upon them. Therefore the leadership of the National Assembly is not representing a political party, it represent the institution. So, if you are the Speaker of the House, you should represent all the political parties as long as there are members of that Legislature. So, for those of us who used to be there and now we are outside, we have our own little way of contributing to them and the process is ongoing. So whoever wants to influence them, it not going to work.

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