It was Tuesday night in Lagos. The organizers referred to the event in honor of Christiana Essien-Ibokwe as the “Red Carpet Tribute Night.” In plain English, it could be translated to mean a wake-keeping by the rich and powerful in honor of Christiana Essien Ibokwe. Attendants were only by invitation. Invitation messages were sent to several but highly selected dignitaries. Those invited included the who’s who in the world of music, entertainment, business, academia, and politics. Godswill Akpabio was also invited, an invitation which turned out to have been a big mistake.
After all the usual protocol of jaw-jaw, he-he, and ha-ha, invitees were given the opportunity to heap whatever opprobrium they could muster on the late lady of music. Then it was Akpabio’s turn. Rather than console Christiana Ibokwe, something else, which was never expected, filled the air, which ended up ruining the event for the family of the late Christy, to the consternation of everyone.
What the family of Christy did not know was that one of the planners of the vigil night had accepted money from Akpabio to promote his propaganda messages. After the speech presented by a well-known University don (name withheld), Akpabio was supposed to be the next in line to speak. When Akpabio stood up to speak, he was still standing when all of a sudden all the light-bulbs in the room were dimmed. At the time, everyone thought maybe the family was going to show a documentary film on the life and career of Christy. But, no; it was nothing even close to the what everyone thought.
Appearing on the wide canvass screen was a documentary film showing roads in Akwa Ibom State. The documentary also showed the prison in Ikot Ekpene, the Police Station in Ukana, the Airport, the Governor’s Mansion, and, of course, Akpabio himself. The narrator extolled the accomplishments of Akpabio and all his virtues for Akwa Ibom State as if the night will never end. What it did not show was the blood-soaked body of Edidem Robert Obot as he slumped on the floor when Akpabio ordered him murdered on a mere suspicion that he was going to defect to the side of those Akpabio in his warped mind perceives as opposition.
What the documentary on Akwa Ibom State did not show was the naked body of Mama Udonwa, which was dumped by the road side after she was murdered simply because Akpabio couldn’t kill her son (Iniekong Udonwa), who was contemplating on challenging Akpabio for the governorship of the State.
The film did not also show the bullet-ridden and blood-soaked body of Chief Paul Inyang when he was gunned down on the orders of Godswill Akpabio over a mere suspicion that the late Chief was planning to dine and wine with those Akpabio refers to as opposition.
No, the film did not show any of that. It did not show all the kidnappings sponsored by Akpabio in the State. It did not show incidents of armed robbery, which has now become an institution in Akwa Ibom State. It did not show the young girls that ply the streets of Akwa Ibom and roam the brothels just because Akpabio has refused to create for them the opportunity for gainful employment.
While the film was extolling the lies of Godswill Akpabio, it covered up the hunger among the people and all the hardships that now seem to be part and parcel of the culture of Akwa Ibom people. It did not even mention that workers have not been paid since the beginning of 2011. It did not mention the sufferings of the people as a result of banning the only means of available transportation for the people. Rather, all the documentary showed was Akpabio this and Akpabio that.
As would be expected, the attendees were fumed with anger when it finally dawned on them that Akpabio was exploiting the burial event of a prominent and an outstanding lady to promote his ill-gotten wealth, a lady who, until her very last days on earth, used to write petitions upon petitions complaining about how Akpabio was engaging in a secret plan to kill her and other members of her family. While the documentary about Akpabio rolled, nobody laughed. Nobody clapped. And nobody raised any voice of objection. Instead, people, one-by-one, began to walk out of the room (including yours truly, who was also among those invited). By the time the husband of Christy ordered the so-called documentary stopped, no one was left in the room, except, of course, Akpabio and his team of entourage.
What a way to promote and revamped a bruised self-image! I think Godswill Akpabio’s mental illness has reached the level of uncontrollable proportion. Maybe Doctor Essien (his personal physician) needs to reduce the dose of his medication. If Akpabio’s behavior is not bordered on pure psychotic, how else can anyone justifiably explain broadcasting of a propaganda film at the funeral remembrance of a loved one? Especially if the person remembered, while alive, used to complain that the man disseminating the propaganda was her enemy? It is very clear that Godswill Akpabio is increasingly becoming the embarrassment of Akwa Ibom State. How Akpabio’s foolishness and stupidity is rubbing on every Akwa Ibom person can only be summed up in the words of a none Akwa Ibom person who said this to an Akwa Ibom man that offended him; “You Calabar people de craze like una governor.”
Essien writes from Portland, Oregon,