Governor-Udom-Emmanuel

…I hope that Governor Udom Emmanuel will be man enough to look himself in the mirror, admit to his poor judgement and woeful choice of word, and proceed to offer an unreserved apology to his critics, the good people of Akwa Ibom State and the generality of Nigerians at home and abroad. Additionally, he needs to tender another apology to all those who were subjected to that show of shame on TV. That will be most apropos.

Late last year, an online publication broke the story of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s multi-billion naira mansion in his Awa community of Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. As was expected, Udom’s media handlers were swift to rise in defence of their principal, describing the story as “unfounded and “the height of mischief”. The house in question, his team claimed, was only a refurbished 60-year old family house of the Udom’s. That we thought should have been the end of the story.

It was not to be. Only last week, in a live television interview which has since gone viral, Governor Emmanuel took on his critics in one of the most unguarded outbursts ever to emanate from any person in or seeking high political office since the advent of Donald Trump. He not only castigated, cajoled and made a mockery of his perceived political enemies but launched a no-holds-barred assault on his traducers whom he called illiterates, ignorant and satanic. And the following are excerpts from his tirade of January 26. Reader discretion is advised: He said: “Some of them are just ranting. They are failures – they failed humanity, they failed their families. So the only way they can vent is to come to the radio and insult a governor.

“When you see those people who are sitting on the radio to rant, rant and rant, they have failed their generations. They are a total failure. Most of them cannot feed their families. Go and ask them, what you have done since you were born. Most of them are 50 years and above and they can never boast of managing a trust. When you see people who through God’s grace and their personal sacrifices have actually risen to the peak of the whole world, you can’t bring those people down.”

The obviously teed-off state chief executive was not done. He bombarded viewers with his accomplishments in life, denoting that he was no poor man in comparison to any member of the electorate who dared question His Excellency’s source of funding for the lavish mansion in question. “Look at somebody of my status in life,” he thundered. “I was already sitting on the board of profit-making companies at the age of 35.

…if his Supreme Court appeal to stop the re-run of the elections in the 31 local government areas of the state is ruled against him, I am prepared to wager a bet that a good chunk of the electorate, even his most ardent supporters will have a hard time casting a vote for Udom Emmanuel after watching that TV interview.

“At the age of 40, I was already sitting on the board of 12 corporate bodies, including a group. At the age of 40, I was on the board of one of the best banks on planet earth(!) And there is nobody at that level that will go home with a salary of less than $1million per annum.”

As if that was not enough, Governor Emmanuel boasted to his audience and the two overwhelmed interviewers (who were giggling sheepishly at His Excellency’s outbursts) that his father’s house was one of the best houses in his homestead. “The question there is that as at the time some of us built one of the best houses in Ewet Housing Estate, how many houses could be compared to our own.” Wow!

Listening to His Excellency, I had no doubt that Udom Emmanuel is a good and accomplished man who does not know how to manage his successes. As a political officer holder, he eminently qualifies to run for the high office in his state. It is his God-given and constitutionally guaranteed right. But I beg to submit that His Excellency’s unguarded utterances of January 26 did him and his brand great damage. From his lofty heights, he came across as a Lilliputian – a scarred little boy. I can understand that he probably has a lot on his mind these days as the Court of Appeal’s unfavourable judgement against him December 18 hangs like a dark cloud over his emergent political career. Add that to the avalanche of defections that have suddenly hit his party, the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) in the state, and you can begin to understand why the exercise of such poor judgment by Governor Udom Emmanuel before the whole world is what it is, but obviously inexcusable.

And if his Supreme Court appeal to stop the re-run of the elections in the 31 local government areas of the state is ruled against him, I am prepared to wager a bet that a good chunk of the electorate, even his most ardent supporters will have a hard time casting a vote for Udom Emmanuel after watching that TV interview. To most informed voters, the shameful act of brinkmanship, arrogance, immaturity that was put on display by His Excellency is enough put off.

Common sense and proper upbringing seem not to be part of the governor’s profile. Truth be told, Udom Emmanuel failed woefully at the litmus test required for such a high office, if his condemnable display of braggadocio is put in context.

Need we have to remind the governor that his statement was not only offensive and unbecoming of a State Chief Executive but grates on the festering sore that his party – the PDP – had inflicted on the soul of the Nigerian people, including the good people of Akwa Ibom State in the last 16 years? Common sense and proper upbringing seem not to be part of the governor’s profile. Truth be told, Udom Emmanuel failed woefully at the litmus test required for such a high office, if his condemnable display of braggadocio is put in context. Not too long ago, there was also another round of equally troubling stories of the same governor who went about telling off a gathering of elders in his state who dared to make their grievances known to the almighty Governor. If that is the case, I suggest that Mr. Governor has an urgent need for a lesson on anger management.

Let me remind Governor Emmanuel what the good people of Akwa Ibom State expect from him at this critical stage of his endangered tenure. They would want to know what His Excellency’s will do to alleviate the effect of the crushing blow dealt the fortune of the people of this oil-rich Nigerian state. I believe that the electorate will be better served to be told how Mr. Emmanuel plans to diversify the state’s economy and wean his government off its over-dependence on oil revenue. The people would want to hear of Governor Emmanuel’s blue print for returning a state that could so easily become one of the nation’s bread baskets back to agriculture, manufacturing, and positioned as a hub for the development of IT jobs and services.

Available statistics show that despite the rich natural resources of the state, youth unemployment hovers between 18 percent to 20 percent for a state that in the last eight years has taken in much more income and tax revenue than most other states in the federation. That is why the governor needs not remind the people of Akwa Ibom of their poverty. The governed already know they are poor and have been forced by the likes of Udom Emmanuel to live with the grim reality of poverty every day of their miserable lives.

It is therefore the height of insensitivity on the part of Mr. Governor to throw in the faces of the people tales that remind them of their pathetic existence. That is why His Excellency’s response to the query about the source of funding for his palatial country home will remain a blight on the resume of the governor.

I believe that the ranting on radio of which Governor Emmanuel accused his critics is also as inexcusable as his own show of executive rascality on TV. However, as a firm believer in the biblical axiom that states that to whom much is given much is required, Mr. Governor emerged in this duel a damaged product.

Perhaps, Governor Emmanuel forgot for a moment in his fit of executive anger that this is the same state where his predecessor, Senator Godswill Akpabio owed salaries of workers while he traveled the world in his state-of-the-art Bombardier jet. That alone is enough to have the people of Akwa Ibom worry. Both men (Akpabio and Emmanuel) they reasoned, are cut from the same cloth. It is equally no secret that Udom Emmanuel is a protégé of Godswill Akpabio who unilaterally handpicked the former to succeed him. And if you ask me, I don’t think that there is anything shabby about that at all, except for the fact that it beats me hollow how and why Udom Emmanuel cannot understand why any citizen of Akwa Ibom, including the opposition, reserves the right to query him on how the incumbent spends their money.

In summation, let me say that Governor Emmanuel’s latest show of impudence mirrors the servile relationship that exists between the ruled and the rulers in Nigeria, and between the elite and the citizens. More often than not, Nigerians on the lower rung of society are forced to bear the blunders and poor judgment made by persons in position of power and authority.

As much as I was disgusted at what I saw with Governor Emmanuel, I was hardly surprised. That is the way of most Nigerian “big men”.

Therefore, I believe that the ranting on radio of which Governor Emmanuel accused his critics is also as inexcusable as his own show of executive rascality on TV. However, as a firm believer in the biblical axiom that states that to whom much is given much is required, Mr. Governor emerged in this duel a damaged product.

Emmanuel owes himself that honourable act as the only honourable path to redemption. After all, we all have lost it at one time or the other.

On that sober note, I hope that Governor Udom Emmanuel will be man enough to look himself in the mirror, admit to his poor judgement and woeful choice of word, and proceed to offer an unreserved apology to his critics, the good people of Akwa Ibom State and the generality of Nigerians at home and abroad. Additionally, he needs to tender another apology to all those who were subjected to that show of shame on TV. That will be most apropos.

Emmanuel owes himself that honourable act as the only honourable path to redemption. After all, we all have lost it at one time or the other.

That is my story. And I stand by it.

Charles Anyiam is Editor-In-Chief, The African Times-USA.