By Sam Etuk
For weeks I have been contemplating writing this letter, but discarded the idea 12 times. But since Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka says ‘The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny’, I think I have seen enough tyrannies to force me to speak up because I don’t want to die. Yes it is not in my character to die as a coward, though all of us in Akwa Ibom state are being forced to take that option, we should see and speak not. When you speak friends desert you and declare you a no go area, some even blackmail you for pittance just to satisfy their bandwagon fear of the unknown, but I will opt out of the spineless crowd and differ from such idiosyncrasy, because I know cowardice is a devastating weakness, for the sake of myself, my children and their future, I will speak up today.
The truth must be told. I have not compromised my integrity, no, not yet not within the labyrinth of lies and confusion, elevated by threats and stock piling of ammunition for their perceived craving for power. In the past months, I have had to defend some gubernatorial aspirants from Akwa Ibom , who are angling for the 2015 ticket before my very cerebral children. They believe venturing into politics in our clime is a waste of time, they are not interested in the dubious financial gains, because they believe their parents’ antecedent is worth dying for or protecting forever. They are always proud and keep reminding me of their great grand Uncle cum father, Sampson Udo Etuk, the Ibibio Union icon, who denied himself overseas scholarship, whereas he was in charge of the funds and administration of the educational award, to allow others, who did not have the wherewithal like him to proceed abroad under the scholarship scheme to further their education, why he sponsored himself and later his children. Today’s politicians would rather pilfer the money to build mansions for themselves and their siblings, and rape the society of such a great opportunity.
The likes of Sampson Udo Etuk have long gone; even his colleagues at that time were very much undecided about issues that favoured others. One is proud to be chiselled out from such honoured and celebrated stock. These kids yearn to keep the legacy. I read Assam Assam’s letter to Udom Emmanuel with stoic calmness that was why I chose to read it around midnight to about 30 minutes past midnight. I needed that serene environment to enable me digest the letter. I know he wrote it and did not need to pay a letter writer to do it for him. He may be a cantankerous person as his critics claim including Udom Emmanuel, but he intelligently marshalled out his points, forget his so called antecedence, but his language were civil, although he flew off the handle in few places, it was logical. He did not dissipate his energy trying to lie to tell the truth or malign personalities, he focused on issues of import.
Days after, my loquacious human right activist colleague, Clifford Thomas, woke me up from sleep and dropped a printed version of the Udom Emmanuel’s reply on my lap. I was not disappointed because as most replies (advertorials) from the Akwa Ibom State present government connote, so many innuendoes were used to convey his message. Although Udom made his points, such submissions were beclouded by the personal attacks on Assam, which made the letter amateurish. The art of discrediting your adversary before correcting any perceived cuff could work in a court room, but Udom can bear me witness that as a boardroom player that he is like me, it is usually counterproductive rather bare facts and truth work. Udom disappointed me and others of that class. He might have made his point but it was not very convincing for a man who hopes to rule us.
Politics is a different ball game, one slip can affect the mindsets of your supporters. Forget about the executive rascality which is a Nigeria power forte, but when the time comes, the true supporters will be revealed based on your words. While contemplating writing this letter I stumbled on my friend, Fani Kayode’s article and this quote attracted me: ‘”why should we speak out? Why should we bother? What difference will it make? Why should we risk our lives? Why should we swim against the tide? Why should we bother fighting against the government or the authorities because we can never win?” These are deep and difficult questions but thankfully Dante Alighieri provided answers to some of them when he wrote, ”the hottest place in hell is reserved for those that remain neutral in times of great moral crisis”. This is not only true but it is also deeply profound.’ It emboldens me and I just let off a wry laughter because most of us have been hounded into the pit, and our mind is seared, without feelings.
Those who perpetrated the 2010 hideous crimes are still around- The threesome. Therefore when those mean men arrogantly want to break every bone to triumph in a democratic set up, don’t forget we had been watching your back for years. The office of a governor is respectable and should be treated as such. No amount of provocation should make a respected governor lower his esteemed position because he wants to trade words with a mad man on the street or show the public that he also has guts. Such brash bravery is not expected from anyone who aspires to such an office, this is why like many respected Akwa Ibom people, I am disappointed.
The diatribe is a reflection of what we should expect if any of them becomes our governor. I also wonder what we mean by backdoor; even the one expressed by our governor, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio was vaguely presented and if one reads meaning into it now, stones will start flying from all cylinders including the unintelligent passersby. This is one area we have not defined as we try to reinvent the story of Absalom. This is why we should succinctly present it before I write my own definition, which I have the journalistic license to do because for two good years I studied interpretative reporting, before they start accusing me of quoting Absalom out of context. I have the poetic license to be vague too.
Dr. Sam Etuk is on linkedIn