PRESS RELEASE -
MOSES ESSIEN AND THE CRADLE OF IBIBIO NATION
A Popular Traditional Ruler in the State recently made an illusion to the fact that Moses Essien, PDP Gubernatorial aspirant, is a direct descendant of the founders of the Ibibio Nation. Scholars and Historians have described Ikono Local Government Area where the aspirant hails from as the cradle of the Ibibios who are said to be the fourth largest ethnic group in the Country.
The import of the Traditional Ruler’s statement was fully felt by all present. And although the aspirant who described himself as coming from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District where the gubernatorial ticket is presently zoned to, has always tried to avoid adding an ethnic coloration to his quest, as most aspirants from the Annang Stock are presently doing, it was obvious the point the Traditional Ruler was raising may have a role to play in the outcome of the Governorship Election in the State next year.
The role of the ethnic factor in Nigeria’s politics cannot be wished away with a wave of the hand, being a factor the Colonial Masters had themselves encouraged and exploited in the bid to rule the diverse people of Africa. The effect of this on the Nation is far-reaching as it has beclouded the reasoning of otherwise enlightened people and reduced our politics to a contest of trivialities other than ideals.
Bringing the focus of this piece back home to contemporary politics in the State, we can see the ugly face of ethnicity peering straight at us. And as the countdown to the next general elections begins in earnest, things may really go awry for ardent proponents of ethnicity in our state politics unless something is done urgently to stem this ugly tide.
Today some believe the Governorship ticket should be zoned to Ikot Ekpene senatorial District, one of the zones that are yet to occupy the office of Chief Executive of the State, which is not a bad thing. Others believe yet that it should be zoned exclusively to the Annangs, the second largest ethnic group in the State since they have never produced a Governor in the State.
Where one supports the call that power should shift to Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, to give the people of the area a reasonable sense of belonging in the Governance of the State, one stoutly rejects the call that the prerogative to aspire and be Governor in the next dispensation should be enjoyed exclusively by any ethnic group in the State.
For one this call will not aid the emergence of a most credible and competent leadership in the State. It is only a keen competition of political wits and leadership ideals amongst a reasonable number of credible aspirants that can bring about the emergence of a Leadership we would be proud of.
A competition amongst persons of similar bloodlines as the gubernatorial campaigns may yet become if we allow the current trend to continue, may only throw up a Leader of less worth. For what do you make of a situation where cousins are contesting against cousins, and uncles against nephews as it is? When has power become a commodity so cheap as to be competed for amongst family members by the casting of lots? This trend has to be stoutly rejected before it reduces us to objects of ridicule in Nigeria.
Indeed, as some have observed, it is because we have unwittingly trivialized the office of Governor of the State that so many pretenders have emerged to dance naked before us. The present occupant of the exalted office, Obong Victor Attah, could not have agreed more when he said he is partly to blame for the anomaly.
This point may, in the real sense, be more apt than the Governor thinks if the rumour making a dizzying round in the State is to be believed that he is the one egging on his son-in-law to seek to be his successor in office.
We, however, find it hard to believe this rumour knowing that the Governor is father to all and has consistently shown himself to be a fine statesman of high integrity.
Be that as it may, we think the ethnic factor should be discountenanced in its entirety as we seek to elect new leaders for the State. If this is not done, and the Annangs in their ploy to gain power continue to shout political marginalisation , the Ibibios will equally encourage their brothers in Ikono and Ini Local Government Area of the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, to shout marginalisation too under a political arrangement where they have been forced over the years to be heard and not seen. If this becomes the case, the Annangs will be the biggest losers in the end.
It is in this vein that we encourage the style of Moses Essien, one of the gubernatorial aspirants of Ibibio Stock in the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, who, even when he knew he stands to be a beneficiary if the Governorship race in the state is reduced to an ethnic skirmish, has decided to downplay the ethnic factor in his campaigns. Moses Essien is thus indirectly imparting to us a good lesson on how to seek political power in the State.
Akwa Ibom State deserves the very best in Leadership, and it is only in a keen and open contest that this can come about. So let all who believe they have what it takes to make a difference in our lives tell us what they have for us, and we will elect whom we want based on his merit. For the task to make over our lives is great.
It is thus for this reason that we savour the allure of the statement to wit: “in the greatness and difficulties of our task, lies the probability that only the best will step forward (boldly) to struggle for it”.