Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Urue Offong/Oruko PDP Stakeholders Parley: What manner of reconciliation?

Urue Offong/Oruko PDP Stakeholders Parley: What manner of reconciliation?

Obong Paul Ekpo,the Akwa Ibom State Chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party PDP, at the outset of the Tuesday April 25, meeting with party faithfuls who thronged the large canvass tent at the Four Lanes Avenue state office of the Peoples Democratic Party in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State Capital, emphatically named the meeting that brought Urue Offong/Oruko people to Uyo,  a courtesy call. 
As the meeting progressed into an interactive session, it dawned on the writer that the actual essence of that political gathering was to reconcile aggrieved party members and interests towards getting victory in subsequent elections, notably the forth-coming Local Government polls. It is, therefore, mind-boggling why a meeting as momentous and significant as one to mend fences and build bridges of unity and brotherhood was negligently tagged a courtesy call in the first instance, by a serious-minded party official.

 A courtesy call,to my mind,is a mere formal or official visit,usually by one important person to another,just to be polite,not to discuss important business.Obong Ekpo skillfully choosed a word that inflated their usual and chronic ego but played down on the important business of the day.As it was at the said meeting,it still pummels my mind why a meeting with such important goal as reconciliation at the top of the agenda, was so described.

 If political parties remains the channel by which political power is obtained and democracy is essentially about the people and their betterment,naming the meeting a courtesy call was more or less insulting the feelings of already exasperated people.A people who have been ignored by  the party,a people who have been ignored by the government formed by this same political party as revealed by the Urue Offong/ Oruko people in their interactions with party officials at the said meeting.

 Again, it brings to the fore a pertinent question severally asked of the once reputed and self- styled biggest and largest political party in black Africa.Is the Peoples Democratic Party PDP,people  or centered?

A lack of irrevocable commitment to the peace and welfare of a people as demonstrated by the state leader of the Peoples Democratic Party underscores why the All Progressives Party, APC, wrestled and forcefully retrieved power from the Peoples Democratic Party at the federal level. Everything about the Nigerian people was politicized and trivialized. The government of Goodlock Ebele Jonathan paid a lip service to every national question while tax payer’s money was carted away in Ghana-must-go bags by corrupt party officials and supposed statesmen.

At the said Urue Offong/Oruko stakeholders parley with the state chairman of the party, aggrieved but steadfast party elders and youths took the floor in turn and enthusiastically expressed themselves on what they felt was wrong in the party and why it suffered defeat at the last state Assembly election, of all the Local Government Areas in Akwa Ibom State. The people had brought their problems and grievances to the centre to be addressed and redressed by the state party leaders, alas, they were disappointed. 

As an independent observer, I was taken aback when the startling revelation was made,that the Princess at the helm of affairs of the council was  at daggers drawn with the man steering the ship of the PDP in Urue Offong /Oruko Local Government Area, and all Obong Paul Ekpo could say was,”go and resolve your differences.” 

The same difference[s] they could not resolve before approaching the State echelon of the party. Rather than probe into the issues, circumstances and differences which brought about these differences and make a stringent attempt to resolve the Impasse, Ekpo urged the people to go fix their house.

The question is, why then were they brought to Uyo if they were able to resolve their impasse? PDP plays , as always, politics with everything  including the peoples welfare and even its own welfare, which explains why as a sitting government, it was forced out of power in 2015. A caring party would not wait for aggrieved members to come on courtesy call –apologies to Obong  Ekpo but would have visited to reconcile and inspire its members.

In utter disappointment, a chap who sat by the writer in the large canvass tent at the PDP office in Uyo, seeing attendees rise for a closing prayer exclaimed rather rhetorically, “why were we brought here and what has been achieved ?”  Obong Paul Ekpo did not painstakingly engaged every aggrieved faction in the said reconciliatory move . He hastily discharged the people who brought their problem to him as a father . He enjoined them to go put their house in order. 

The truth be told, they were unable to address these issues hence , their coming to Uyo to meet with party officials. They knew they had hurdles, a near insurmountable hurdles which has the capacity to rob PDP of victory in the yet -to- be conducted Local Government  election . The referees and linesmen in a football match serves as arbiters and does not allow the players in the field to settle their differences no matter how amiable they may be . The plaintiff and defendants in the court of law don’t preside over their own litigation but the Judge.  

What can one make of the party that has its chapter chairman in a squabble with the caretaker committee chairman? A clear war of interests, supremacy, power and relevance . Especially when the incumbent is nursing an ambition to recontest the next election,Ekpo turned a blind eye to these intrigues and situation and still charged them to go fix their domain . Probably the inability of the elders to speak with one voice  was the reason the PDP lose the election to the House of  Assembly in 2015, be reminded ,if you have suddenly forgotten. The political sphere of the area over time has been dominated by a renagade few. The welfare of the people does not, of a truth, make any meaning to them.

The elders of the party from the area came cap in hand begging fervently for contracts and patronages which given,may rest in the hands of  a few lords of the manor,rather than make a strong case for the development of the area in totality.To the elders,massive development means contracts and patronages.

In selecting a candidate for the forth-coming Local Government polls,the Peoples Democratic Party should come up with a steadfast party man,a grassroot mobilizer,a patriot generally accepted by the people.If the party’s candidate is not marketable,the PDP should forget it.Another annoying scenario was when the former National Assembly member who is alleged to have been unanimously chosen as the political leader of the area was introduced,there was a tumultuous applause.Again,one wonders why he ,with such massive acceptability as shown by the rapturous applause,could not reconcile the factions,on a broader perspective,the political feud in his domain.

You say you have a political leader chosen unanimously by the people,yet, you have a political score and then you say,the  political leader unanimously chosen by you has no capacity to broker peace,what an irony! Then, the said political leader took an issue in his own domain to another person’s house and there,introduced as the leader of the party in the area,he brazenly stood up to be figuratively jeered at, in the name of acknowledging cheers from the crowd.A timeless adage enjoins us not to wash our dirty linen in public.why have you,Urue Offong/Oruko people,with  a political leader,refused to adhere to this dictum?      

My people,since you have refused to learn,it means our area has become more or less,in the words of  Achebe,‘a lawless political fiefdom held captive by a clique of renagades.‘If the Peoples Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom have refused to give contracts and patronages to its members in Urue Offong/Oruko,it’s  not that message vivid enough that the party does not need you?Or since when did it become our tradition to beg for arms? Emphatically,there seems to be great misunderstanding and disunity in the land.Individual interest overrides that of the public.
Imagine a Local Government Area where a sitting Caretaker Committee Chair is not in good affinity with the Paramount Ruler,a Leicester College of Advanced Technology trained marine and aeronautics engineer.I once interviewed both and all l got was accusations and counter accusations.When the destiny of a people  is,owing to a widespread decadent political way of life,is entrusted into the hands of opportunists who are only interested in what they can get from the system,there is bound to be chaos in the land.In Urue Offong/Oruko,the situation cannot be different.Every Tom,Dick and Harry aspires to lead the people in Urue Offong/Oruko and supposed elders are playing to the gallery.
The PDP in Urue Offong/Oruko needs peace and stability,but not the peace of the mosquitoe and its victim.The victim wants to sleep whereas the mosquitoe wants to feast on it hence,there is bound to be feud,fracas and controversy.Obong Ekpo by his action,subtly intimated Urue Offong/Oruko people that he cannot build their own  house for them.Notwithstanding the name given to it,a courtesy call or a reconciliatory meeting,it was, on a whole, a bubble.
Urue Offong/Oruko happens to be the flagship of Oro Nation and indeed,it is very disheartening that our leaders are watching with withered hands and tight lips as we run into chaos, when  a roll call of attendees at Obong Ekpo’s courtesy call shows eminent political and cerebral leaders whose names we have since forgotten.It is our hope that this courtesy call will be the Bethlehem,Nazareth and Mecca of economic and political salvation.      

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