Akwa Ibom Info Boss, PRP Chairman Speak On Conduct Of LG Polls
By Umoh-Obong Kingsley
The Honourable Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Charles Udoh, in this interview, talks about appreciation shown Governor Udom Emmanuel by school children, and other programmes of the state. With him is the State Chairman of Peopleâ€™s Redemption Party (PRP), an executive member of IPAC and a concerned citizen of Akwa Ibom State, Rev. Aniebiet Emmanuel, who also speaks on the conduct of the just concluded local government chairmanship elections by AKISIEC.
Good morning Honourable Commissioner. Itâ€™s good to have you here…
Good morning, God bless you
Honourable Commissioner, I saw you voting at your unit, yet people are saying that there was nothing like election in the state. Was your unit not in Akwa Ibom State?
Well, I find it quite ridiculous when people say there was no election in the state. The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) had the entire crew going round the state to monitor the elections and visuals all over the place clearly showed that elections took place. And you could see high-ranking members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) voting in their localities.
What I want to pass to the opposition is, if you think that your leaders are leading you right, why didnâ€™t they come out to vote? Why did they choose to remain in Abuja rather than come out to exercise their civic responsibilities? If you are at the other side of the divide, it is time for you to begin to think, if your leaders were sincere and trustworthy as the claim to be, why did they not come out of their backyards to vote? Why would they sit down and try to brainwash you?
It is gratifying to see that the people of Akwa Ibom State have began to reason in one accord and speak in one clear language that this is the way we are going and this is what we believe in. The government of the day, led by Governor Udom Emmanuel, is doing exceedingly well. Testimonies across Nigeria, West Africa and all over the world sign-post the fact that we have a Governor today in Akwa Ibom State who is leading us in the right direction and in the line of international prosperity.
Recently, the Governor was in the entourage with Mr President to represent the country for some international engagement, and you could see him in a handshake with probably the most powerful woman in the world. That is a clear indicator that we are in the right track and itâ€™s time we praised our own.
Yes, it is said that a prophet is not respected in his home, but this time, the prophet that we have here should be respected. He has meritoriously earned that respect by doing everything that he has done and other things he promises to deliver.
Rev. Aniebiet, did you vote in the last elections?
Yes I equally voted. You know Iâ€™m a member of IPAC and I was appointed to monitor the election in the state. I was also a collation agent in the state, so I had to rush down to my village after the incident at Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission (AKISIEC) on Friday evening when some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) went there to set the office ablaze. A lot of people talked about the PDP while some said we were supporting the PDP.
Why wonâ€™t we support a matured party? The PDP members were there and we were the political stakeholders who were there to inspect the materials. Members of the PDP were matured enough that even when the chieftains of other parties came in, they allowed them to entire the venue unhurt or molested. The APC chieftains started problem immediately PDP chieftains came in. Who is running a matured party if not the PDP? Because we donâ€™t like impunity. That was the first thing I saw that made me angry with the APC. That was not the polling unit where they were expected to go and vote.
As a stakeholder of my party and collation agent, I had to rush to my village that morning to exercise my civic responsibility before embarking on my duty at the state level. For someone to say that there was no election, I donâ€™t know where they got the information from. Some of them did not even go out to vote. They sat at home. I monitored the election, there was election.
They are asking that the election be cancelled…
They even called for cancellation even before the election. Remember there was a time that there was no money for election and I sued the governor to court where I challenged him to conduct local government elections. The governor said that it was not as if he did not want to conduct the election but for lack of funds. He assured me that he will conduct the election which he did. The APC ran to court to stop the election. So they did not start now. It is not the outcome of the election but because they did not want the election to hold.
Honourable Commissioner, you are now vindicated as someone who voted under another political platform has confirmed that there was election in the state…
I donâ€™t think it was ever in doubt because clearly in the whole of the elections, there was only one visible political party in Akwa Ibom State which traversed every nooks and crannies of the state from the state to the local government, ward, unit levels and villages. The only visible trace of opposition in the state was just one mocked up event that they had in the stadium.
To participate in a contest, you need to be prepared. Champions are not made in the ring but outside the ring. The true test of passing an examination is not in the examination hall but what you do before entering the examinational hall. And so, all the pointers clearly went to the fact that only one side was prepared.
In the run up to that election, you remember the government issued a press statement alluding to the fact that there were suspicions that opposition was planning to cause mayhem in the state and law enforcement agencies were put on a red alert. Low and behold, just a day to the elections, some miscreants visited AKISIEC secretariat in attempt to wreck havoc.
I was privileged as Commissioner for Information and Strategy to go round. I did not just stop in my vicinity; I went beyond the three units in my village to other parts of the state to also see what was going on over there. You could visibly see that people conducted themselves even though there were pockets of disorderliness by the opposition who attempted to carry out their threats, thanks to the law enforcement agencies that did nice job by not tolerating anyone. Even I was asked to identify myself which I did. It showed how serious they were. At some point, they even wanted to search my car and I asked them to go ahead because we needed to conduct a free and fair contest where nobody will have any reason to criticise.
Donâ€™t also forget that we have a government led by a man ordained by God who has consistently shown that he is led by the Spirit to be transparent and accountable, and to have peopleâ€™s conscience in his heart, and has clearly demonstrated that. One of his five-point agenda is political and economic inclusion. He has been ensured that this has been carried through all the lines and steps of the ladder across all parameter and segments of the state.
Honourable Commissioner, with the popularity of the PDP, it still went down house to house, ward to ward, unit by unit and village by village to campaign. Why did your party go to that extent?
It is about people orientation. It is about not taking your electorate for granted. It is about being sure that you want to get down to the grassroots, every nook and cranny of the state to take dividends of democracy. It also provides you an opportunity to get feedback on how well the government is doing. If it is being appreciated and how well it has gone 30 months down the line. If you donâ€™t do that, you wonâ€™t know what to do.
Also, if you are aspiring as counsellor or chairman and you donâ€™t visit every nook and cranny of your locality, how are you going to govern? How will you know what their problems are? How will you be able to anticipate and solve those problems? Donâ€™t forget that they have their peculiar needs. You canâ€™t lead a people you canâ€™t connect with.
Because of the credibility of PDP in Akwa Ibom State, the state PDP chairman is also the chairman of PDP chairmen in Nigeria. That shows that we have well-setup structure. Donâ€™t forget that the State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, is also the Chairman of South/South South/East Governorsâ€™ Forum comprising governors from different parties. That is a huge responsibility and a clear pointer to the fact that we have a leader who is leading us right, and people beyond the shores of Akwa Ibom State appreciate his leadership quality and the strides he has brought into governance.
You recently said that the capacity of Governor Emmanuel has given you less responsibility. What were you referring?
A few weeks ago, we received a copy of midterm report Mr President published which encompassed achievement of the federal government over the period that the president has been there. The interesting thing is, it supposed to be the midterm report of the president. Over 40% of the achievement listed on the voluminous document had 30 pages of information about Akwa Ibom State achievement of Governor Udom Emmanuel as part of that document.
In that same document, there are states led by opposition having two pages of achievement over the same period of 30 months. Governor Udom Emmanuel has 30 pages, and people are still asking and wondering what direction to go.
Thankfully, the people of Akwa Ibom State, last Saturday, rose up to the occasion and said truly this is the direction to go. We are led by a government that is firmly focused. Akwa Ibom State is the fastest growing economy, has more industries than other states; attracts the largest volume of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Nigeria today, Lagos and Abuja apart. The state has built more roads than anyone else despite the challenges of dwindling economy. It is one of the few states that civil servants donâ€™t have to worry about salaries, payment of school fees for children, medicare and WAEC fees for their children.
Just yesterday (Monday), the children of Akwa Ibom State gathered in great numbers to say thank you to the Governor. That is in appreciation of the many things that the government is doing. Government has continuously invested in the future of children, women, elders and youths. That is why people are being to tag the state as Nigeriaâ€™s emerging football capital. Everything is working in the favour of Akwa Ibom State, pointing to the fact that the state is getting to become the centre where development around Nigeria is being propelled.
Donâ€™t also forget that in this period, since Nigeriaâ€™s Independence, we have been battling with power supply. Today in Akwa Ibom State, we have proven that it is not rocket science to have constant electricity supply as some parts of Uyo have an average of 18 hours power supply. That was practically unthinking of the past.
The issue of people dying as a result of suffocation from generator fumes is history in Akwa Ibom State because the government has taken the bull by the horn in setting the pace.
It was talk of war when Nigeria tried looking for well-maintained plain pitches with grass to play football. As we speak, the National Stadium in Abuja is in the state of disrepair due to poor maintenance. Today in Akwa Ibom state, we have two of the best playing turfs in Nigeria â€“ the main board of the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium and the practice pitch â€“ better than any other in Nigeria. Other states are moving from natural grass to artificial turf. In Akwa Ibom State, it is doable. Those are just basics.
Today, we are becoming agricultural food basket of Nigeria where food is being processed. We are coming into the mainstream of everything in Nigeria. I donâ€™t know what they are waiting for at the other side of the divide.
Iâ€™ve gone round to see things for myself. Iâ€™ve been to Etinan and saw the Army Command College at Efa, ongoing construction of Nigerian Navy School in Ekparakwa, and the redesign refurnished General Hospital that had been in a dilapidated state for years in Etinan, as well as other road constructions in the state, yet people donâ€™t seem to see the passion of this government. What would you say, perhaps, is responsible with an average Akwa Ibom person who doesnâ€™t want to see anything good in the state.
I wouldnâ€™t say it is the average Akwa Ibom person. It is just a negligible minority. The typical Akwa Ibom person is vibrant, passion, hardworking, peace-loving and accommodating. But the minority few who, out of personal selfish interest, canâ€™t see beyond the short term, have continuously put themselves at the disadvantage. I would say so with all sense of responsibility that it is very sad when you have an Akwa Ibom citizen who has traversed all levels of electoral offices within the state and the National Assembly, and then condescends to become an office assistant, and then comes back to spit to try to demonise the government of the day.
Donâ€™t forget that he rose through the ranks on the platform of the party, and then when it doesnâ€™t favour, he turns against that system thinking the natural law of justice will favour him. They could not even come out to vote for their so-called parties and party candidates.
Like the Governor rightly said that he cannot be distracted. The government of Akwa Ibom State cannot be distracted. The ruling party in the state, PDP cannot be distracted by the minority. The majority of Akwa Ibom people have risen in one voice to declare their support for Governor Udom Emmanuel. The clergies have risen in one voice to declare their support for the Governor likewise the women, children, youths and the elders. That is all that matters to the Governor, the blessings from the clergymen, children and everybody in the state. A few minority cannot derail the vision and mission of Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State.