Akwa Ibom is getting very hot, right now, and I’m not just talking about the weather. The first sign at every entry-point into the state is that a number of people walk about top-naked. Some chant war songs. With clenched fists. The fists are not in liberation salute, though it has to do with, well, “liberation”! But this is not South Africa, my friend. The people are just feeling “worked up” and well, hot from a defensive work.
The team, if you call it that, has no specific membership. Groups, individuals, youths – mostly male, though. They brandish poorly written media statements, “press releases”, placards and well, communiques. Some turned upside down. Plenty communiques! If you can’t write, talk. Doesn’t matter what. But like the MCs like to say, “make-some-noise”! Just do/say something to show you love the governor more than oxygen. And every other thing shall be added unto you.
Surprisingly, according to one busy-body reporter, on the frontline of this defense are some elders. Some have developed thick muscles both on the arms and on the tummy. Those who have eyes can see that years of intensive work-out is “working out” for them. They’ve been on duty for years. Believe it or not, some have been defending governors since 1832!
Busy-body Reporter: Excuse me, Sa! What’s the occasion?
Elder: We are the defenders of the universe, I mean, Governor Udom Emmanuel. We want Udom’s “liberateion”. Senator Godswill Akpabio, former governor of the state dared to echo his people’s concern. He represents Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District in the Senate. His people felt they’ve not been smelling the fragrance of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s perfume. Not to mention “perceiving” the governor’s projects in three years. We believe Akpabio is threatening Udom’s second term bid. And our pockets!
Busy-body Reporter: Really? So what is the solution?
Elder: Akpabio must shut up. He must die!
Busy-body Reporter: But Sa, isn’t that too harsh? Shouldn’t you as an elder be working towards peace, instead of making inflammatory statements?
Elder: What do you know, you bloody reporter?
The Akpabio-Emmanuel feud or no-feud isn’t my problem. Afterall, when they settle, I wont know. The governor is an in-law in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District. And Akpabio is his mentor/benefactor. Akpabio was called names for daring to promote a political neophyte to succeed him. Today, the two leaders have so much in common. They’ve been governors. Both are tall in complexion, sorry, fair in height. I mean, they are both fair in complexion. They have Trump’s mouth – and can talk! Though Udom’s lips are redder than Akpabio’s. They’re both handsome and one idiot even said the women love them. I no know book o. Anyway, they’ve delectable wives and are well known within and outside the nation. Me? Who sabi me? Very few – just my wife, my kids and my co-tenants which include Mr and Mrs Rat; the lady cockroach; the chronic bachelor named Gecko and the girly mosquitoes!
Some things are clear from the matter, though. If Akpabio never knew that Udom (as the governor is commonly called) has people, he now knows. Real people and fake people. Who give real support and fake support. If Akpabio thought he was the only one people “loved”, the elders have now shown him that his time has passed. In fact, the “respect and support” are attacked to the office of the governor. With indirect link to the pockets. The same loyalty that was “shown” Obong Attah when he was the governor, was equally loaded in 911 and emptied at the doorsteps of Akpabio, while he was in that office. Today, Udom is enjoying it. Well, Akpabio was always conscious and used to say that one day, soon, he’d an ex-governor! He is now. He should remember that. But those berating him for speaking the minds of his people are wrong. He’s doing his job for the people he represents – specifically, Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District!
Truth is, loyalty, support, respect, defence and even communiques have expiry dates. And price tags! If only Udom would remember that. The same people goading him on today, would abandon him when the times comes. Some of those elders hardly go out to vote. And many of them cannot influence voters in anyone’s favour, for they haven’t inspired any yet. On election days, they watch TV in their sitting-rooms with legs crossed on the centre-tables. Yet, they’re very respectable men. Very honorable. Udom should “kwantinu” to trust them. With money, appointments, contracts and, well, government-sponsored hotel suites. He should trust their boasts very well. But not with his life. Or hope of getting votes from them. If he doubts, let him view their unit’s results for the last governorship election, first. And if Udom is as smart as they say, in this era of voters-card reader, he shouldn’t joke with the touted 500,000 votes in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District. Or even the people who can win those for him!
Come, what are elders turning into? When the young ones err, elders are supposed to calm nerves, give advice, guide and give direction. But do they? Personal interests and benefits have taken over. The other day, a “holy war” war was reported in Qua Iboe Church in Uyo as elders exchanged blows. The fight was against the ordination of more elders. But did they have to fight to desecrate the temple of God? And if gold rusts, what shall iron do?
Elders in the North are also desecrating our shared humanity. Led by Elder, sorry El Rufai, the governors in that region are more interested in power, money and influence. To them, the hundreds of lives taken by the notorious herdsmen mean nothing. So, a day after the mass burial of 73 innocent persons massacred by gun-tooting malam “cowboys”, Malam El Rufai and his kind went to beg President Buhari to recontest in 2019. At the bottom of their visit, like he admitted, was a selfish intention of their retaining their seats as governors. Imagine! Political intentions watered by innocent blood!
Years back, in the Daily Times of Nigeria (DTN), Mr Peter Enahoro, our MD then, shocked us with a definition of an elder. On his 50th birthday, a nosy-reporter asked what he considered the privilege of that golden age. Peter Pan said at 50, he had become an elder. Hence, he had the privilege of talking to anyone as he liked without batting an eyelid. That was in reference to us, the unionists. Perhaps he meant he could say the truth, no matter whose ox was gored. But it could also be interpreted that such an elder would not be interested in objectivity, by the privilege of attaining a certain age.
How can there be an elder in the house and a pregnant goat would die on its tether? An elder is expected to pour water on the fire, not fuel. In a moment of difficulty, he is supposed to use wisdom to avert crisis. Does a sensible elder order the demolition of his only house, just to expose his family to the weather? Why should an elder play the Nero, fiddling while Rome burns? Today’s Rome is Akwa Ibom and Nigeria, by extension. Lai, lai! It doesn’t make sense to wear the tag of an elder, and stoke the embers of discord, conflict and acrimony. God forbid!