By Ukeme Obot
Tuesday, January 25, 2022 was not a very good day politically for some 2023 aspirants in Akwa Ibom State. In less than 24 hours, my State saw over four different press releases issued, to either deny or debunk something that has to do with 2023. But the controversy was law abiding and observed federal character and zoning so each of the three senatorial district had its fair share of press releases.
Eket was represented by the Chief of Staff to the Governor’s press release, Ikot Ekpene with Commissioner for Agriculture’s and Uyo with Umo Eno’s rebuttal. Before I could get to my house in far away Lagos to sleep, the state government issued one through the Commissioner for Information. The press statements came so fast that you wonder if January 25th of every year should be declared “Akwa Ibom Press Release Day”.
Ephraim Inyangeyen opened the floor with his Re – 2023: EPHRAIM INYANG RESIGNS? DECLARES FULL SUPPORT FOR OBA. Before I could finish reading it Mma Glory joined with her Re – IKONO/INI HOUSE OF REPS RACE: DR. GLORY EDET CHICKENS OUT. Just when I was about to rest from the stress of Lagos traffic, Umo Eno came with his Re: 2023: Why I Denied Nursing Any Guber Ambition At Lagos Retreat: A Rebuttal and to complete the circle, Comrade Ini Ememobong, Commissioner for Information landed with his own titled ‘THE VANGUARD REPORT ON AKSG EXCO RETREAT IS FALSE”.
Ephraim swore that the story on the cover page of The Post Weekday, (a newspaper which circulates locally ) dated January 26, 2022, is wholly fictitious, patently false, spuriously fabricated and exists only in the imagination of the purveyor whose unpretentious intent and purpose is to create confusion and political mischief.
Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Glory Edet swore that the Ibom Informer Newspaper Publication of January 25, 2022, is a “spuriously fabricated story, concocted, blatant lies that exists only in the imagination of desperate politicians, intimidated aspirants and their paid media urchins whose unpretentious intent and purpose is to create panic and political mischief in Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency and the general public.
Pastor Umo Eno swore that Vanguard’s story against him was a spurious, fictitious, false and blackmail-laden story which represents a new low in the morally repulsive industry of blackmail.
Comrade Ini Ememobong swore that Vanguard’s story on Umo Eno was ‘tales by moonlight’…false, misleading and capable of tarnishing the image of the entire Executive Council of Akwa Ibom State, painting them as those who use public resources to create an environment for the discussion of personal or group interest.
But here is where Umo Eno got it wrong and Ini Ememobong followed. When Vanguard published it’s story on Umo Eno that ignited these flurry of press releases, the report did not say Pastor Umo Eno granted an interview to Vanguard. The report said he confided in his core loyalists. See link (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2022/01/2023-why-i-denied-nursing-any-guber-ambition-at-lagos-retreat-pastor-umo-eno/).
The report read….Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, Hon Pastor Umo Eno has denied nursing any ambition to contest the 2023 Governorship election. Eno stated this when accosted by some of his core loyalists on Monday in Uyo, after the Lagos retreat hosted by the State Government for members of the Akwa Ibom State Executive Council in Lagos.
“Defending his decision to have not lifted up his hands, Pastor Umo Eno said he did so because the Governor’s step brother, Mr Gabriel Nkanang had hinted him that such a question will come up during the retreat and warned him not to lift up his hand when asked because those who signify interest for any elective position in 2023 will be asked to resign from the cabinet.”
“I belong to the inner cartel of the Governor. Those who lifted their hands are not members of the inner caucus and I know about four Commissioners who are contesting elections in 2023 who did not raise their hands”.
It is therefore out of place for Umo Eno to say he never granted any interview. Vanguard never said he did. What the paper reported was what he was alleged to have told his core loyalists and the fact that when the Governor asked Exco members interested in 2023 to raise their hands, his courage failed him while Ephraim Inyangeyen, Rt Hon Ekpolum Etteh and Hon Akan Okon all raised their hands but Umo Eno refused to do so because his Chief Sponsor and Promoter, Mr Gabriel Nkanang, the Governor’s Step brother asked him not to raise his hands so as not to told to resign from the cabinet.
Umo Eno showed the coward he is when asked during a phone in programme on Akwa Ibom Mandate on Comfort FM anchored by Mr Sampson Akpan, if Exco members eyeing any elective position in 2023 were asked to raise their hands and if he did. Rather than answer the question, he shamelessly said he does not have the power to answer the question. Really? How shameless and cowardly can a Governorship aspirant be.
One question Umo Eno is evaded is; Were Commissioners vying for offices in 2023 asked to show by a lift of hand? Did others raised their hands and he cowardly did not? His lack of courage to “rise to the faith of greatness” when the moment came is enough danger sign to warm Akwa Ibom people of the dangers of entrusting him with public office come 2023.
But since Umo Eno himself by his action is saying he does not want to contest for Governor, the god of Gabriel Nkanang should allow him be. There is this popular proverb that says you can only carry a horse to the river but you cannot force the horse to drink the water.
Umo Eno’s cowardness is something Akwa Ibom people must take note. The report said he was asked by Gabriel Nkanang not to raise his hands so as not to be asked to resign. It therefore means if Umo Eno were to be Governor in 2023, he will have to taking permission from Gabriel Nkanang whether or not to go to the House of Assembly and present the State’s budget. Gabriel Nkanang will be the one to decide if he should receive people during courtesy visit. Gabriel Nkanang will be the one deciding if workers salaries should be paid or not. Gabriel Nkanang will be the one to accept or reject which contract is to be awarded or not. Gabriel Nkanang whose only business in his over 60 years history is Signature by Royalty, a hotel managed by this same Umo Eno will be the one to vet lists for appointments. So Gabriel Nkanang wants to install his Chief Cook as Governor? So the fate of over 7 million AkwaIbomites will be determined by Gabriel Nkanang, a man who has never had any legitimate job or business till his Half brother became Governor in 2015?
Umo Eno’s cowardly act has opened up the floodgate for sarcastic throlling by AkwaIbomites on the social media. To Edidiong Udobia, Akwa Ibom people have seen in Umo Eno, a certified true copy of a coward. “Una don see cowardice finish, but una wan use crayon colour am. Tomorrow, una go still come here with that “we were deceived yen yen yen”, he wrote on his Facebook page. He sympatised with Umo Eno for refusing to indicate he is running for office for fear of being asked to resign. “You want to be a governor but you want to stay in the cabinet and win election. Orr Comrade, ake mfo afon” he wrote.
For Ita Benedict, …”that singular act of instinctive leaning, of raising their hands when the call for those interested in elections was put across, has saved some the embarrassing moments of having to reel out press releases in defence of their actions and inactions. Leadership is a sacred call and you must have the required courage, character, zest and competence for it. Sneaking and snitching can never be an attribute of leadership”.
Again he asked, “Could he have granted this interview? Could he have been quoted out of context? Is the governor no longer waiting to hear from God? Is the governor’s eldest brother the one speaking for God? Has he the Commissioner already received the message from God thereby transmitting same to the governor? Could he be dropping the governor’s eldest brother’s name in vain? Is the whole essence of the MPM about him? Could it be that the governor had confided in his sibling what would transpire at the retreat? Is the governor considering imposing a dynasty by proxy in the state? Was the governor setting others up with the question? Could it also be that an insider whose not at home with the seeming plot be out to mess the Commissioner and embarrass the governor with this near leak? Would a medium such as Vanguard publish an unfounded story? These and many more are the puzzles running through my mind while reading this. Please folks, read along and conjecture for yourselves as well. I have a strong inkling that 2023 succession game may throw up plots never read in the history of our democratic experiment. So far the governor has held on to his chess game and whether this thriller will unsettle the ”plot ” can be left to time. I can’t wait to see how the king will ultimately emerge”.
I only hope that Governor Udom Emmanuel will now realize that the Umo Eno project was a bobby trap for him to fall and fail. I only hope that whatever spell Gabriel Nkanang used on him would have fallen. I only hope the Governor will guage the mood of the electorate on Umo Eno and realize that with Gabriel Nkanang calling the shot it is almost a repeat of how the people revolted against Obong Attah in 2007.
I hope the Governor is conscious of the anger of the people to know that Umo Eno is bad market. I hope the Governor is feeling the pulse of the people and can see clearly that if he makes the mistake to mention “Umo” as his preferred successor, before he even add “Eno”, Akwa Ibom people will line up with “rotten eggs” to stone his Lands and Water Resources Commissioner. I hope he can on his own, sit back and realize that he and not his step brother, Gabriel Nkanang was voted into office as Governor and so therefore must not allow his step brother ruin his legacy by actions capable of inciting the people against the Governor.
I hope the Governor realizes the general resentment the state has against Umo Eno for not being a man of courage, integrity and character. I hope he realize that the state do not want a successor who will be deducting tithe directly from workers salaries as he does with his workers. I hope the Governor knows by now that the people will never accept Gabriel Nkanang’s Chief Cook as Governor and will rather want him remain Chief Cook of Signature by Royalty Hotel than as Governor.
I hope the Governor will rescue himself from any attempt to fall into this Umo Eno bobby trap and Prophet Gabriel Nkanang. I hope he will not allow his step brother mess up his Completion Agenda. I hope he will pick any aspirant who has less baggage. I hope he will not allow any spell to cloud his sense of judgement for his own sake. I hope he knows that the longer he delays showing the way, the longer things will continue to fall apart. I hope he knows that the 2023 election will be no joke and that the APC is waiting in the wings to take over the state of he miscalculates.
Before you say PDP is a tradition in Akwa Ibom State, know that the APC is watching and that Igini will not be INEC Commissioner in 2023. So Mr. Governor, listen to what the spirit is saying and advise yourself, not whatever the spirit of Gabriel Nkanang tells you because it is nothing but FAKE.
Finally, as Pastor Umo Eno continues to lie even when the state and country knew what transpired in Lagos even before he arrived Uyo, what then did he tell his supporters? Since he has persistently lied that what Vanguard published is false, what then did he tell his supporters since under a normal circumstance, supporters will always ask their principal how the trip and retreat went. So dear Pastor, if you are still saying you never said what was said you said, can you tell us what you told them on arrival? Speak now or forever remain silent.
Ukeme Obot, an Indigene of Awa in Onna LGA of Akwa Ibom State, is a public affairs analyst based in Ikeja, Lagos.