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OPINION

[Opinion]: Killer Herdsmen and Akpabio’s Scathing Message By Kenneth Jude

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There is little doubt that this year has a lot stuffed in its belly. It is a year with a bulging tummy that will birth several issues that will make and equally upset the apple cart.

Already, some clerics have given us a glimpse into the year with earthshaking prophecies, most of which border on doom and gloom.

For politicians, it’s a busy year. It’s a pre-election year. There’ll be horse trading, defections, character assassination, friends will turn foes, there’ll be accusations and counter accusations, blackmail will find a good space, there’ll be newspaper rejoinders, open letters, unsolicited advise, and, of course, many will morph into emergency philanthropists.

At the federal level, President Buhari and his party appear to have lost it. By appointing dead people into boards give a clearer picture yet that the Daura born ascetic general has lost touch with the times. When he said he belongs to everybody and belongs to nobody, was the dead included?

In the outgone year, he spent more time in the hospital than Aso Rock. One holds nothing against him in this regard because anyone can fall sick irrespective of age or gender, but at 75 even when he said he thought he was 74, he is prone to giving in to one health challenge or another. It is an age concomitant with health issues. Add this to the rigours of presiding over the affairs of a large multi-lingual, multi-ethnic and multi-religious country like Nigeria; it’s a knotty nut to crack entirely.

Even when many Nigerians have queried the change mantra upon which they rode to power, plans are already afoot for the re-election of Buhari as president in 2019. Whether he has the mental wit and age supported by sound health and mind for another shot at power matters little to his acolytes so long as he can breathe.

Under Buhari’s watch, herdsmen have turned parts of the country into killing fields. They maim and slaughter human beings with beastly impunity. All we get is condemnation of their actions, their dastardly acts and all that crap. But when IPOB ‘sneezed’ in the South Eastern part of the country, all hell was let loose. All manner of dance found a home in that region. While we were only used to Azonto, Etighi, Skelewu, ‘one corner nonsense’ and the rest, the military launched a new dance code-named Operation Python Dance.

Naturally, pythons don’t dance. Do they? So, when the military left their base and decided to stage a dance in the South Eastern part of the country, not a few people were startled. “What kind of dance is that?” many had asked. While Nigerians were caught in the web of wonderment, the Python dancers, displaying not the dancing skills like those we see in the casino and owambe parties, danced in a manner that sent IPOB agitators and their lieutenants into oblivion. It was not a dance of peace but war. It was a special dance from the stable of the military. Nnamdi Kanu, the ethnic entrepreneur, who described Nigeria as a zoo, bolted. To date, no one knows where he is.

At the end of that dancing expedition, the military had succeeded in sending IPOB members away with their cutting edge dancing steps and war-ridden drumbeats. Since then, IPOB and all what they stand for has gone underground. Will they crawl back to life? The passage of time will tell.

As Commander-in-Chief of the armed Forces, it is not impossible that President Buhari had given the milliary marching orders to hit the Southeast with that peculier dance. That was commendable – even though some persons frowned at it. Pronto, IPOB was branded a Terrorist Organisation. Whether that was apt in the circumstance or not is not the focus of this piece.

Today, Herdsmen have held the nation by the jugular – killing, maiming and slaughtering innocent Nigerians with murderous glee. And it is startling if not unsettling that Buhari has yet to deem it fit to  declare these ratag gang of murderers, TERRORISTS nor ask the military to, again, take up their dancing gears, head to these troubled parts of the country for a dance.

Any dance, it must be stated, will do. Crocodile had Smiled in the South South and South West regions – there was a semblance of order in those parts. Mr. President, send the troops to go and dance in these troubled areas. If the president or the Army have run out of ideas on what to tag the next kind of dance. As a patriotic Nigerian, I suggest the following dance styles for the North.

Operation Snake Dance; Operation Lion Dance, Tiger Dance, Hippopotamus dance, Monkey dance – and every other dance. This, to me, is a task that must be done with military dispatch. Those in support say aye!

Ex Governor Godswill Akpabio recently stirred the hornet’s nest recently when he aimed a new year dig at his ‘student’ and governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.

Akpabio, Nigeria’s Senate Minority Leader and ‘great teacher’, hit out at the banking mogul turned politician for marginalising Ikot Ekpene senatorial district and abandoning some of his cherished projects, prominent among them being the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene.

Said he: “2018 is less than one year to election, all is not well o; don’t allow anybody to deceive you that all is well. If the hotel in Ikot Ekpene (Four Points by Sheraton) rots after so much money had been expended, would that be a good thing?

That road from Uyo to Ikot Ekpene, is still the way it was (when I left office). In the 2018 budget, what is the percentage for Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District? My job is to say the truth because if at this level I cannot say the truth, then I am not doing well. So please I want us to start the hotel because when the Commissioner for Works addressed the youths in August, he assured them that the hotel would be opened in December, it will soon decay if urgent intervention is not given to the  facility.
Please, let us check the budget to know what has been earmarked for that place. I am not interested in what I did and what I did not do, I am only interested in what I am going to do.

“The truth is that Godswill Akpabio expects us to set our path straight so that we can take one route. Even when you are going for communion, you must be in a state of grace, so let us have something from the Senatorial District to use in talking about election; to use in convincing the people to stand by us. We are in opposition, we don’t have government, we don’t have Police, we don’t have INEC.”

Understandably, Akpabio’s comments has set off a firestorm of reactions from across the state with many holding the opinion that both men are no longer having the best of relationships.

Some observers have questioned Akpabio’s moral standing in saying that his area is being marginalised, pointing out that he, the great teacher, set a grand record in this respect hence had better kept mute.   Others insist that Senator Akpabio would have devised a better way of passing the message to Gov. Udom since they are mentors and mentees without bringing it to public consciousness.

All said, for the politically conscious, it is not overly surprising that such issues are beginning to arise. It’s expected that as the next election gatheres steam, diverse issues will certainly crop up – some of which shall border on interest and all that. It is now left for the governor to, if he is truly in charge of his government, take the bull by the horns and see to it that as much as he can, some interests, especially those that concerns his mentor (Akpabio) and his people aren’t treated with levity.

Of course, the governor need not be told of the influence the Senate Minority Leader wields in Akwa Ibom politics. Having lumped him to the number one seat singlehanded despite the groundswell opposition at the time,  Udom, having benefitted immensely from the Ukana political czar is condemned to remaining beholden to his benefactor if he must keep his seat in peace.

But people should not be carried away by Akpabio’s submissions. That he has said his mind does not mean that both men are at loggerheads. Though, it would have been wise to have done that in the closet with the governor. Akpabio certainly had reasons for his actions hence one should not get overly agitated. If their once rosy relationship has hit hard times, as many have suggested, let’s keep our gazes on both men and see how events will pan out in the coming days, months.

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OPINION

[OPINION] Abak State Constituency 2019; Right of a Seat

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By Adede Emmanuel Ibok

It is true that democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment and where there is a debate, there is a solution. A society that is not well informed is completely deformed.

For sometimes now, there still exist in some quarters question of where the pendulum of Abak state constituency seat will swing to. Anyone who knows the history of Abak state constituency seat in particular, do I think recognizes that domination of an elective office in the local government by one bloc is never a happy arrangement for the people. It baffles me to discover that as far as the Abak state constituency seat is concerned comes 2019, there is unanimous conspiracy of silence in the political spectrum in the local government. It is pertinent to mention here that in a room where people unanimously maintain conspiracy of silence, a word of TRUTH always sounds like a gun shot.

Without prejudice to the political reality of Abak state constituency seat and the players therein, the conspiracy of silence existing in the house must be broken. For I see this conspiracy as engineered by reason of greed and selfishness. The breaking of this conspiracy of silence which is triggered by ingenuity of a peace – loving Abak man is not aimed at any individual or group. However, if the bullet hit your action, take it in good faith. At a point like this, every Abak person should try and develop an over-riding loyalty and love for the peaceful co-existence and integration of essential bloc in order to preserve the best in the society. This is because I am seeing oceans of our political history been made more turbulent by the ever-rising greed and selfishness of our political players. Our political history is cluttered with wreckage of greed, political myopia and chronic selfishness.

Adede Emmanuel Ibok

Adede Emmanuel Ibok

Political players in the local government cannot deny the fact that there exist two political blocs in Abak namely; THE EASTERN ANNANG BLOC AND THE URBAN BLOC. There is also no denying of the fact that we as a people with common ancestry, culture and heritage are bless with two elective offices in the local government, an executive chairman and house of assembly member. With these two offices, there is a room for fairness and equity, hence unity and progress. The two offices give us a clear trajectory to move Abak forward in her quest for political development. In the recent history and political tradition of the local government, those elective offices are always spread to accommodate the two blocs in every political dispensation. Delineation of political wards which is an element of modern democracy makes it further easier for evenly spread of these elective offices. With abundance of opportunities offered by democracy, Abak people must have an unquenchable spirit of fairness, unity, common interest and patriotism. When the needful is done by putting on this unquenchable spirit of love and unity, there will be a famed resilience to work for the rapid growth and transformation of Abak. There must be a dream of hope, aspiration and commitment to a greater future for our people. To get to this level, we must start somewhere. We must gain the trust of our people. There must be sincerity of purpose in every action. Abak political players must demonstrate their ability to lead the people by projecting trust into them which will eventually trigger love and obedience from the followers. This is the road that we must travel as 2019 elections draw nearer.

Without any blind sentiment whatsoever, the analysis below gives a clear evidence of my point. From the analysis, Elder (Barr.) Imoh Williams is the present elected chairman of Abak local government area. He is an Eastern Annang son. It is therefore empirically evidence that the remaining elective office which is the House of Assembly seat is a reserved right of the URBAN BLOC. Also looking critically at the analysis below,  there is a shocking revelation that out of the four wards making the urban bloc, two out of the four have taken their due slot remaining the other two. The analysis  shows that in 1999, Hon. Imoh Ibokette was elected from Abak Urban ward 1. In 2007, Hon. Uwem Udoma was elected from Abak Urban ward 3. This therefore implies that in 2019, the seat of Abak state constituency in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly is mainly for Abak Urban 2 and Abak Urban 4. Any arrangement outside this is borne out of perpetual tendency of subjugation and suppression of proponents party which will eventually cause a very serious political volcanic eruption in the local government.

CHAIRMAN

BAR. PAUL UBOM – (Midim 1) Eastern Annang.

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY  

HON. IMOH IBOKETTE(Abak 1) Urban 1999 – 2003

CHAIRMAN

REV. DR. INNOCENT IDIONG(Abak 4) Urban

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY 

HON. CHRISTOPHER UDOFIA (Afahaobong2) EASTERN ANNANG 2003 -2007

CHAIRMAN

ANIEDIABASI UDOH (Otoro 3)Eastern Annang

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY 

HON. UWEM UDOMA (Abak3) Urban 2007 – 2011

CHAIRMAN

HON. JOSEPH IKPAISONG (Abak1) Urban

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

RT. HON. FRIDAY IWOK (Otoro 1) EASTERN ANNANG 2011 – 2015

CHAIRMAN APPOINTED

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

RT. HON. FRIDAY IWOK (Otoro 1) EASTERN ANNANG 2015 – 2019

CHAIRMAN

ELDER (BARR) IMOH WILLAMS (Afahaobong 2) EASTERN ANNANG

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

(ABAK 2 OR ABAK 4) Urban 2019 – 2023)

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OPINION

Tell Me Why Oro Union Shouldn’t Have Visited Obong Nsima Ekere – Omen Bassey

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Look at how educated and knowledgeable we are. If an Oro institution visits the Governor, it’s patriotic but when another Oro institution visits another equally important government functionary, it’s partisan. There’s every reason to question either the education or sincerity of today’s youth.

Some of us have never and will never contribute anything to Oro. Not even an ordinary attendance in the monthly meetings of Oron Union. Our stock in trade is to peddle falsehood and engage in name calling. I have never seen a generation which loves falsehood and thrives on ignorance and mischief.

Why shouldn’t Oro Think Tank visit the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC)? The Commission is unarguably the most important interventionist agency in the Niger Delta Region. Imagine how partisanship has robbed people of common sense. Besides, NDDC is almost eighteen years old. And there’s absolutely no argument about the fact that Oro Nation has been allocated more projects by this Obong Nsima Ekere led management than its predecessors.

Despite that, a lot still needs to be done for the largest oil producing community in Nigeria. A community which was forgotten, neglected and abandoned for decades. And the speech of the erudite Chairman of Oro Think Tank didn’t spare any efforts in drawing the attention of the Managing Director and indeed, the entire world to some of these pressing problems. Was the Think Tank on a picnic?

Don’t these critics and their families walk or drive on roads constructed by the NDDC? If the Commission helps to install a 132 KVA Power Station in Oro, won’t they and their families benefit from it?

A reasonable man asks questions to get clarifications on issues for which he lacks adequate information. Many times, we assume that everyone on facebook is deceived or impressed by our hypocrisy or ignorance.

We talk carelessly about 2015. We idolize the man who robbed Oro of the opportunity to produce Governor and blackmail Oro leaders who fought hard for the actualization of that dream. We echo the voices of betrayers who were ready to do anything to stop that dream just to please the oppressor and achieve their selfish interests.

We are daily entertained with false stories of how Oro leaders sold out. But because we are obviously brainless and thoughtless, we can’t ask how. What should the elders have done which they didn’t do? What were the roles of those apportioning blames to the elders today?

Good education is an emancipator. I can’t understand a graduate who swallows infantile falsehood line, hook and sinker; a graduate who is carried away by the fact that he sat with a big man to drink beer. Just that and he loses his sense till further notice.

Tell me why Oro Think Tank shouldn’t have visited Obong Nsima Ekere, the Managing Director of NDDC? Tell me if the work done by the Commission isn’t relevant to the well being of Oro people.

Who in that delegation is your mate in any area of life? In age, education, exposure, service to Oro etc. Maybe Omen Bassey because he was the least member of that team. Who else can you talk to? Was it a mistake that Mark Zuckerberg invented facebook? Must we use it to destroy Oro before we rest?

I thank God for certain discerning and knowledgeable youths like Alfred Lazarus and others who have demonstrated a rare capacity for objectivity and thoughtfulness. Please show me anybody in Oro who bears either PDP or APC as his/her surname. Must Oro go down because of our obsession with partisanship?

How can we destroy Oro Think Tank and claim to love Oro Union? Haven’t we realized that what makes Oro are the people and the institutions. If we can’t use the social media constructively and sensibly, nothing says we must make posts and comments. There are millions of subscribers on facebook who write better English than some of us, who have better things to say than us but who rarely write on facebook.

We must start our own journey before we criticize and demonize those who have paid their dues.

Imagine the number of phone calls I have received in commendation of the speech presented by the Chairman, Oro Think Tank at the visit. Yet, a few professional critics and party fanatics said Oro people shouldn’t have made their case known to the right person and to the World. I’m concerned with Oro people of this generation.

Oro is older and bigger than any political party. It will likely outlive the parties. So, we must know where to draw the line between Oro interest and party interests.

 

Omen Bassey is the Secretary, Oro Think Tank.

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OPINION

Governor Udom Emmanuel is providing solution to global concerns

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...The Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company Example

By Samuel Ayara

 

A 2004 study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) puts the rate of injections given worldwide at 16 billion. Of the figure up to 50% are reportedly unsafe; as 5% HIV infections, 32% Hepatitis B virus infections, and 40% Hepatitis C virus infections are transmitted through unsafe injections. That study sadly listed Nigeria alongside Mozambique, Ethiopia and Uganda among the four high-risk nations.

Extending the disadvantaged net beyond infected patients, frontline health workers who provide care are equally at increased risk of infection due to the unsafe practice of using contaminated needles and syringes reuse, which sometimes go beyond economic constrains to availability, mainly due to patients high demand for injections in developing countries.

As part of its study recommendation, the World Health Organization partnering the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) proffered support for financing, procuring and distribution of injection equipment as part of its strategy in curbing injections related infections, since discouraging preferences for injectable drugs in Africa has almost lost its steam.

Years after the WHO intervention, global disposable syringe market in 2015 was valued at 6.4 billion US Dollars; a size expected to grow by 2023 to 9.3 billion US Dollars (Transparency Market Research). With the increasing demand for injectable drugs as development of self-injection devices and long acting formulations with high efficacy and lower adverse effects takes prominence in the management of diabetes, hypertension and growing need for immunizations, an investment in syringe production can be the game changer.

Against this backdrop, one would agree with no equivocation that the decision of Akwa Ibom State Governor Mr. Udom Emmanuel in attracting an internationally reputed concern in syringe production to the state to give verve to his industrialization agenda was both well informed and timely.

What many saw as a political strategy when he promised to push a government agenda that will promote industrialization during the campaigns has become an article of faith and a sterling example for the rest of the nation, especially with the listing of the state as Nigeria’s second most preferred investment destination by the National Bureau of Statistics.

Marketing the state as a favourable investment climate in Africa could have been considered an ego trip, but everyone including the World Bank Country Director, Rachid Benmessaoud could not have been wrong in agreeing so, when he communicated his organization’s readiness to partner the Akwa Ibom in some key areas of development during his September, 2017 visit to the state.

Favoured by available socio-economic indices, the Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company (JSM) seized the window Governor Udom Emmanuel threw open to the world and settled in to produce syringes with a view to sparing Africa the burden of low availability of this most sought after medical consumable, and broadening the states Foreign Direct Investment profile in several ways.

Commissioning the built, equipped and ready-to-work facility on September 23, 2017, a year after its foundation was laid, Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, lauded the foresight of the state chief executive in considering such an investment at a time the nation was grappling with an economic recession. He agreed that the coming on stream of the company, with a minimum daily syringe production capacity of 1 million, would help Nigeria trounce the capital flight that saw the country’s health sector depend completely on imports.

Addressing an important gap in the medical consumable sector, the 400 million yearly syringes start-up capacity poses an ambitious prospect of creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs that will strengthen the nation’s economy and advance the state’s acclaim on Africa’s socio-economic rung, to make true Governor Emmanuel’s resolve to create a first world economy in a third world nation.

It is therefore gratifying to mention that of the over 25 containers of medical equipments recently procured by the state government to equip medical facilities across the state, syringes are sure not a part of the items delivered. This is a departure from past practices where some multi nationals in pretentiously keeping with their corporate-social responsibilities came with miserly quantities of syringes as their contribution to healthcare in the state.

The optimism of expanding to a 1 billion annual production facility by JSM; despite exceeding South Africa’s current 95 million capacity shows that the state has positioned to challenge leading syringe companies in the world. This optimism would sure without fail put the Akwa Ibom on the global map of medical commerce, where our technology and concept would become a pilgrim of sort to climes seeking economic renaissance.

Made from locally obtained raw materials, the syringes are produced with technologically advanced machines, where the plastic injection machines are gotten from Austria, South Korea makes of the packaging, serigraphy and assembly machine, while other components of the company are procured from Turkey and Italy. The product, which is of the highest quality, presents a clear as glass outlook that addresses error of parallax.

The contribution of this investment to economic growth of the State is unarguably massive, but same in the nearest future would leave some economic proponents jaw-dropped and in awe at why they never saw the huge opportunity of an investment in Syringe production, because then, Akwa Ibom would have grown a capacity to feed all of Africa with medical syringes. This move away from attract foreign earnings would strengthen the State’s drive towards attracting medical tourism through the Ibom specialist Hospital.

Abreast with the power red flag that has for been the bane of business concerns in the country for decades, Governor Udom Emmanuel in a bid to ensure the syringe company thrives beyond political ego, has moved into ascertaining its viability and sustainability through the provision of dependable power from Ibom Power Company, to help the company achieve efficiency.

Most impressive is the over 90 percent local content compliance of the Company, which has seen indigenes of Akwa Ibom trained in turkey for real time experience and exposure to the workings of the company, thereby equipping them with the required expertise to run the plants and save the state revenue losses associated with capital flight.

It is not for nothing that Governor Udom Emmanuel in attracting these investments to fulfill his promise of making the state the center piece of Nigeria’s socio-economic endeavours, is taking on infrastructural consolidation and expansion that seeks to open up the entire state to access by existing and potential investors. Little wonder that the governor has committed more energy and focus to building infrastructures and utilities that bear economic value on the state.

Favourable economic policies, stable political climate and security have also played key roles in climes that were able to achieve industrialization. Keeping pace with the social contract of seeing to the peace and security as panacea for development, has found expression in Akwa Ibom’s quest to create an economically viable enclave where everyone has equal opportunity regardless of class and background.

Leading on all positives, in Akwa Ibom State, the rest of the world would agree springs the required commitment to not only grow the economy of Africa through industrialization, but ensure availability and promotion of safe medical practices to enhance longevity and grow a healthy black continent.

It is unarguable that Charles Spurgeon thought about Akwa Ibom State in Governor Udom Emmanuel’s era in his submission, “some temptations come to the industrious, but all temptations attack the idle.” The Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company made possible by the governor’s commitment to industrialization has shielded our people from the economic downturn; it has also insulated us from unhealthy medical practices.

True, the temptation of industrialization is worth braving and the gains innumerable.

Samuel Ayara writes from Ibong Otoro in Abak Local Government Area.

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NEWS

Gov Emmanuel breaks 20 years jinx, appoints Oro man SSG

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Akon Eyakenyi, Okwong Udo, Jerry Okpo React

In what many consider as masterstroke, Governor Udom Emmanuel on Monday broke a 20 year jinx by appointing a foremost telecommunications genius, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem as the new Secretary to the State Government (SSG).

Dr. Ekuwem hails from Ofi-Uda in Mbo Local Government Area of the Oro Nation. It can be recalled that since the creation of Akwa Ibom State thirty years ago, only one Oro Nation man, Chief Okokon Antigha had served as the Secretary to the State Government. Chief Antigha served from 1996 to 1998.

“We are elated beyond words that Oro nation has every cause to be happy and this is a sign of great and wonderful thing to come from the Udom Emmanuel led administration. The office of the SSG is the engine room of any administration, to invest this huge responsibility to an Oro son, we are indeed grateful to the Governor Udom Emmanuel and we pledge our total solidarity and support to the governor and his administration”, a source who wished not to be known had enthused.

Similarly, Akon Eyakenyi, former Minister of Lands and housing, Dr Okwong Essien Udo, Chief Jerry Okpo have all echoed the same sentiment.

“We are very pleased with Governor Udom Emmanuel for this honour he has done us. We pledge our cooperation and loyalty to his Government. The governor indeed is practising politics of inclusion and we are very happy”.

Across the state, the governor continue to receive many encomium for ensuring that all tribes and entities are well represented in his administration.

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