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Akwa Ibom PDP Elders’ Town Hall Meeting Was A Fraud – Chief Nduese Essien April 23, 2014

Posted by Ibompulpit in News, Opinion, Politics.
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Ndueso Essien

 

Akwa Ibom PDP Elders’ Town Hall Meeting Was A Fraud – Chief Nduese Essien

Rt. Hon. Chief Nduese Essien is not a stranger in the politics of Akwa Ibom State, having served in the Federal House of Representatives for eight years, and having also the handled affairs at the Federal Ministry of Lands and Housing. In this interview, Chief Essien who is one of the State’s delegates at the national conference in Abuja, speaks on the ongoing conference, zoning and the 2015 elections in the State. Excerpts:

So far, what has been the experience at the national conference?

Well the national conference has been so far, so good, after the initial hiccups, caused by the suspicion which members came with, the fears of various groups, culminating in a very serious debacle on how to take decisions at the conference. Once that was resolved, we have been able to settle down and listen to members’ comments on the President’s address, it became very clear that a lot of members were thinking in the same direction, and that helped to douse the tension that had been building up at the initial stage.

And that is why by the fourth week, we were able to complete discussions on the President’s Address and committees have been set up. So on Tuesday, after the Easter break, we are returning to start off the committees’ work which is the main stay of the conference.

There is the suspicion that this conference is being used by President Jonathan to settle stakeholders for his political benefit in the next elections?

I cannot predict the intentions of the President, but what I know is that the President had very good intentions in setting up the conference. It was a result of the agitations by various interest groups that Nigerians should come together and discuss their future; particularly after staying together for 100 years there was need to review our co-existence. The President has told us that he has no hidden agenda, in fact his address has shown clearly the determination by a statesman to re-invigorate his country and reposition it fo the better.

From your informed background of experience, are you not worried that this conference may go the same way of previous conferences?

It is unfortunate that previous conferences ended up without properly taking positions that could lead to the greatness of Nigeria. Take for example the 2005 conference set up by former President Obasanjo, it was on course until the third term agenda crept in and took prominence over other issues. So because of the third term agenda, the national assembly threw away the report with all its recommendations. Some of the previous conferences led to the promulgation of some decrees that have helped this country during the military days.

What I have come to realize is that the military Administrations which have come up with a unitary system of government, never wanted to give up that Unitary system because they were expecting that once in a while they will come back. And I have realized that the bane of Nigeria’s development has been the introduction of the unitary system of government.

Up till 1966, with the federal system in place, the regions were progressing at a very fast pace; to the extent that the western region established the first television station in Africa, the east established a University of high ranking, the west also established the University of Ife, and the North also established its own. All these were done with proceeds from agricultural produce.

But the military intervention in 1966 which resulted in the introduction of the unitary system of government, creation of states, and the upsurge of revenue through oil exploration and exploitation, the federal government became overwhelmed with the powers it bestowed on itself and the wealth that became available to it. They found it difficult to manage the wealth and that is when corruption in Nigeria took a higher proportion; we went up from the 10% kick back to the level of 1000% or outright theft by public servants.

What was your reaction during the initial drama, especially when the Lamido made some threats on the country’s unity?

As I said earlier, people came with all sorts of ideas and fears, so the Lamido of Adamawa’s outburst was a result of his fear. What he actually told the conference was that he was sympathizing with the rest of Nigerians, that as for him, his kingdom extends to Cameroun and if Nigeria broke up, he would effortlessly just cross over to his people in Cameroun. That didn’t augur well for most delegates because no one was expecting to hear discussions on breaking away. In fact, maybe as a joke, I told them that if Nigeria should disintegrate, we in Akwa Ibom will go to the United States because that is the closest country to our state, and maybe more so because USA is already exploiting our resources. With such jokes we were able to cool tempers, and the Lamido is now the one propagating a hundred percent control of resources. So from the discussions on the President’s address, there is a near unanimity that we should start practicing true federalism.

But Sir the issue of Resource control caused a big rift between former Governor Victor Attah and the then President Obasanjo, do you think the current President will be disposed to such an idea?

This is one of the items that will be discussed and this will revolve around the committee on devolution of powers. At the time we propagated control of resources by the various states, you know we had a president from a military background, and he was looking at a situation where the state will be richer than the federal government. As a man from a military background, he could not tolerate that.

First let me commend the Governor and the people of Akwa Ibom State for standing by the Governor and supporting Eket Senatorial District as observed during the town hall meetings. It was very apt for His Excellency the Governor to undertake that federal constituencies town hall meetings. We heard few people saying that he didn’t need to go round the state to consult, but you know, when you are elected into public office, you are required to go back to you’re your people, to tell them what you are doing, ask their opinions on various agenda for the future; that is apparently what the Governor did.Some people however got overwhelmed by the reactions from the various federal constituencies to the issue of zoning or rotation of governorship to Eket Senatorial District in 2015; but there is a clear indication that the common thinking of the people of the State is that for fairness and justice, the governorship of the state come 2015, should come to Eket Senatorial District- that is a foregone conclusion. The question now is who is that person? I love to advise the people of Eket Senatorial District no to antagonize each other, not to run down fellow aspirants. They should work with the intention of selling themselves and their manifestos to the electorates and seeking the support of the other two senatorial districts so that whoever among them emerges from any of the federal constituencies,will know that he is carrying the banner of Eket senatorial district and not that of a particular local government or federal constituency.

That is why I detest the level of bickering that occurred at one or two federal constituencies during the town hall meetings-that should be set aside. We should all work together to produce a governor that will make the state as proud as we have experienced in the last seven years under Chief Godswill Akpabio. Everyone knows why there should be rotation, it is not an imposed idea, it is a natural process that Uyo sen Dist had its turn, and at the end of the two terms of Obong Attah,he advised that the governorship should move to another senatorial district and it went to Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, naturally one senatorial district is left, and that is why there is the current overwhelming support for Eket Senatorial District. We thank the people of the State, and we look forward to them expressing these overwhelming support to Eket Senatorial District, through the election. It has happened before, even-though other aspirants from other senatorial districts contested, the emergence of Governor Akpabio through the support of the people.

So Do You Expect Other Aspirants From The Other Sen Districts?

Well we cannot prevent other aspirants from coming out to contest, the people from other senatorial districts have tasted power and they saw what they derived from it and so they are unlikely to let it go on a platter of gold, particularly when it is going to the people who produce the wealth of the State. They may think that the owners of the wealth will take it all, but I want to assure them that ESD will not behave that way, we will ensure that all parts of the State benefit equally from the government of Akwa Ibom under the leadership of someone from ESD.

Is there anybody pinned down already for this job?

No, we cannot pin down anybody, there are several aspirants who have shown interest. We are not in a position to select a particular person; I will continue to say so. It is the party that will produce a candidate from the array of aspirants from ESD. When the party produces a candidate from its primaries, then we from ESD will support that candidate in the general elections.

Some people under the aegis of PDP Elders or stakeholders came up recently to say there should not be zoning in the PDP and they are also members of your party. Is this part of the gimmicks in politics?

Well, that I will describe as a fraud, because you cannot call stakeholders of the PDP in Akwa Ibom and some of us will not be there, so that is why I call it a fraud. The State party Chairman was not there at the Stakeholder’s meeting, the governor was not there at the Stakeholders meeting, national assemblymen and other top ranking personalities of the party where not there, so how could they call themselves stakeholders?

They were just trying to cause some confusion through little gimmicks which the common people may misunderstand. And for them to go and bring someone from the Presidency who does not really have any influence on the government, a careless talker, to come and tell them that this is the person that the president wants. These are the same people who are accusing Governor Akpabio of imposition, yet they went and brought someone from Abuja to come and endorse an aspirant in Uyo. Between a stranger and the governor, who should be better placed to endorse a governorship aspirant in the Akwa Ibom State?”

We also have access to the presidency and no such decision has been taken by the President that I know. President Goodluck Jonathan that I know is not going to interfere on who rules Akwa Ibom State. He knows that he has been getting the highest support from Akwa Ibom and that our governor has taken a lot of risks to sustain this present democracy.

(Cuts in).. the president may not be involved, but the wife has been described as being very influential?

The wife of the President can be influential, but certainly not in Akwa Ibom. And in any case, you know that she does not even have a vote in Akwa Ibom, it is the people of the State that will vote; unless they are thinking that there will be no primaries, and that someone will just sent a governorship candidate from Abuja to come and rule in the State. But if there is governorship primaries and the people of Akwa Ibom State vote, then such erroneous thinking will not materialize.

Are you concerned about the attitude of Abuja Metropolitan Politicians from the State?

We don’t have Abuja metropolitan politicians from the state; I live in Abuja, and we don’t have meetings of ourselves in Abuja. We have all gone there to represent the State and we come back to report to the state. Gone are the days of Abuja politicians and Abuja fronts.

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