In this no holds bare Interview with journalists, Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem Commissioner for Special Duties, Akwa Ibom State Government opens up on the a number of issues concerning 2015, such as the G22, and Mr Umana Umana. Excerpts
Honourable Commissioner, we want to know what really is the agitation on the minds of the plaintiffs in this matter as it concerns the suit filed by aggrieved PDP governorship aspirants against the candidature of Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel?
Well, it is difficult to understand, candidly speaking you know the emergence of a governor involves a lot of process.
So, the entire process that led to the event of the 8th of December, started on the 1st of November, 2014 politically speaking.
On that day, the 36 states of the federation, including of course, Abuja, the federal capital city, went to ward centers and then elected 3 delegates per ward called ad hoc delegates. They were to join those that are called statutory delegates to form the electoral college or colleges that will elect or nominate people that would go to the House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate and of course governorship candidates of the party ahead of the 2015 general election. That was what the people were supposed to do.
So, in Akwa Ibom State the exercise was conducted on the 1st of November, 2014, peacefully and successfully throughout the state. And on that date, those that were delegates emerged in the different 329 wards of Akwa Ibom State. The results were made known that same day. The next day, the result was published by the committee that was sent from Abuja (The Primary Election Committee).
The list was published to the independent National Electoral Committee, INEC, Depart of State Security, DSS, and the Police in the state.
All these quarters had the result on the 2nd day of November, 2014. So, the process started that day and the committee that sat on appeal over issues that would have arisen on the 1st of November, was in this state for five days they sat from the 2nd of November till the 6th of November and then they returned to Abuja. There was no verifiable or any substantial complaint throughout the entire 329 wards in the state. So, they went to Abuja and gave a clean bill to the result that was obtained on the 1st of November, 2014. For me that was the foundation for every other processes that would follow.
Shortly before we had the House of Assembly nomination on the 29th of November, this result was published 7 days to that event. It was published at the notice board at the party secretariat. 2 days to the nomination on the 27th, it was published on the notice board and television and radio all over the state and no body complained; the same results that were obtained on the 1st of November.
So the delegates were used and candidates for the House of Assembly were all nominated. And some of those complainers, some of these G22 members were also at their different state constituency headquarters to vote for aspirants of their choice, and they did not complain about the list.
The result of that one was obtained and the next one was on the 6th of December, 2014, when the House of Representatives nomination was done.
The same list of delegates was also again republished for that purpose on the radio and television and there was no complaint. The process went through successfully on the 6th of December and nobody complained. This same people went and voted for people of their choices for the House of Representatives election.
The same thing was obtained on the 7th of December for the Senate primaries and they all participated. They all participated in the exercise during the House of Assembly and National Assembly Primaries, without complaining, the complaint came that the list that was used for the governorship election was manipulated, modified, altered and so on and so forth.
None of them could point out one name in any ward that was used for the governorship primaries that was changed even as we are speaking. But they went to court and made all those false allegations and then they obtained the order of the court that claiming that delegates were shut out of the process, the list was changed.
But there was no particular clear evidence as to the list that was changed.
I am a member of Akwa Ibom Community, and I saw in some local newspapers here, some names that were paraded as delegates, obviously from the camps of the G22.
I knew at that time and I complained to the party chairman, (Obong Paul Ekpo) in one of the instances of I saw him and I said, issue a press statement and he issued a public statement disassociating himself from the list that was published.
I remember that about 2 days to the governorship primaries, I also saw another list that was published in the Guide Newspaper (a local tabloid) purportedly signed by the National Organizing Secretary, and they said that the list was in favour of one of the aspirants.
If you read that newspaper, you will see as they also credited that it was in favour of one of the aspirants. So, the question you must also ask them is; how did they know?
Up till now, the Guide Newspaper, has not given us the source of that list. If the security agencies were doing their work they would have arrested the Guide Editor for him to disclose the source of that list they published. Nobody has bothered up till now. But all of these, cannot in anyway taint the authenticity of the list and it cannot deny its credibility. That is the list we have been using in all of the primaries beginning from the House of Assembly, National Assembly, and governorship primary.
So, whatever scheming they are trying to fabricate, cannot deny credibility of the result of the delegate election we had on the 1st of November this year.
That is how they went to court and obtained that false and discreditable injunction, which the same court rightly vacated few days ago.
So, for me those were their issues. One thing I keep asking is; if you are an aspirant to the seat of the governor, and you are standing election in a state that has 31 local governments, and you are a member of 1 ward in a state that has 329 wards, and you are living among these people in this state in your ward, in your local government, and we have a list of delegates for more than 30 days, you cannot make contact with any of those delegates from your own ward, from your own local government area to vote for you then I doubt your credibility, I doubt your capacity to lead your people, I doubt the quality of the person you have as a politician, if you cannot convince people form your own ward, people from your own local government to come and vote for you.
You will discover that most of the 22 aspirants for the governorship position, some of them did not have one vote in the entire process. I believe that these are the people that should go back to the drawing board and begin to re-address their rating.
If they want to be politicians, they should get involved in the real politics because strangers cannot be politicians. As a stranger, you cannot win election if you are a total stranger to a process, a total stranger to a party, because most of them were only known at the stadium as governorship aspirants.
As an active politician, you should know that if you are contesting an election to govern me I should be able to know you. You cannot shave a man’s head in his absence. You cannot govern me if you don’t have my consent.
So, I wonder what kind of governor they want to make. I believe that instead of parading themselves on the pages of newspaper going to the press and court to make untenable noise, they should go back and do their appraisal, reposition themselves, become real politicians, mix up with the people and support the winner of the primary that is how to be a good sportsman. That is what is expected. When that result of the election came, it was overwhelming, more than 98% of the votes cast was earned by one person.
That was overwhelming. I expected my brothers and sister on the other side to congratulate the winner of the governorship primary election. For me that is a fair contest because that election cannot be challenged logically anywhere.
There is this argument in some quarters of a recent meetings in Lagos and Abuja. Some local tabloid have even alleged that His Excellency, the governor has agreed with the G22 aspirants and that a decision in process is in place for the production of a consensus candidate from among them. Are you sure they are not doing this behind the back?
Enoidem: (general laughter)… My brother, it is only in Akwa Ibom that this kind of a thing is discussed. You will not see this in other states where election was successfully done in a live telecast, and then 22 people out of 1,316 delegates will sit down and say they want to do consensus arrangement against the will of the people who participated in the governorship primaries held at the Ibom International Stadium. It can never happen because that would not be democracy. Even in a military government it won’t happen. Whether in military or civilian government, any government must enjoy some level of support and popularity from the people.
Even a military government must have some level of support by the kind of life they bring to bear on the people.
But when the will of the people is expressly clearly and willingly exercised, you cannot come and talk about consensus. What consensus?
The people are already consensus on who they want as their governor on the 29th of May. There is already a consensus of the majority of Akwa Ibom people on that. So, you cannot talk about a minority people (22) coming to form a consensus. That cannot work because it is inapplicable. But let me talk about the meeting the governor had with the G22 in Abuja. I had a priviledge of being in attendance.
That day we were returning from the court on Friday 18th December and we were expecting to go to the lodge to go and celebrate the judgment. So, the governor was supposed to wait for us in the lodge. As we were heading to the lodge, we were told the governor was going for a meeting and we said which meeting, they said he was going for a meeting with the G22 at a certain location in Abuja.
For me, I didn’t understand what the meeting was for. But I knew that we have an uncommon governor who does uncommon things, because, he is the only governor in the whole country that would go to where those guys gathered to meet with them.
So, for me there are so many things to learn from the humility of our governor. There are so many things to learn from his style of politics. He has given politics a new colour; a positive one for that matter. There are so many things that this man has done, which no politician would do.
So, we went there because when the matter was taken to court, you cannot talk about it because it would be sub-judice to do so.
At the meeting venue, the PDP candidate Udom Emmanuel was there, speaker of the House of Assembly, Sam Ikon, PDP Chairman, Paul Ekpo and Sir. Emem Akpabio were there. All of them were seated at Benjamin Okoko’s house. Only about 20 of the 22 aspirants were present.
The governor told them that he couldn’t talk about the matter since the case was pending in court. He appealed to them that since the injunction has now been vacated by the court, he was of the opinion that as leaders in Akwa Ibom State, they should return to the state so that we can build the state together as members of our party, not just for the governorship election, but that they also join hands to work for the success of all other elections including the presidential election as party members.
He advised them that whatever matter may have arisen from the governorship primaries should be discussed at home. He also asked them to fix a date for a meeting at home where he as the leader of the party and other elders of the party in the state can sit down and iron out any disagreement that arose from the process.
So, for me that is uncommon. It shows that the governor is a man of peace. Instead for them to see the wisdom in the entreaties of the governor, a man who is seeking for peace, it is now reported in our local media that the governor went to beg the G22 people.
For me it is very funny, bizarre, and the most unreasonable thing for anybody to report that the governor went to beg them.
I was there from the beginning of the meeting to the end.
Did you by any chance listen to what they had to say as reply to the governor?
Enoidem: The governor asked them if they could reduce their position into writing, so that he could see the ones he could address and the ones he could not and so that elders could look into it.
They said they had already written down their position and promised to give it to the governor on Sunday, I don’t know whether they have done that. Assam Assam volunteered to say that they have agreed on a consensus, and that they don’t want Udom. For me, it is not possible for 22 people to impose their will on the entire Akwa Ibom people and 1316 delegates.
Sir, from that report we read that Barr. Assam Assam was engaged in a fist cuff with the governor. How true is that story?
Enoidem: (laughs). No, that never happened. I didn’t see that. There was no reason for that. I am sure, Barr. Assam is not a mad man and so he wouldn’t insult the governor.
Sir, recently a former colleague in the state executive council and currently the APC governorship candidate for the 2015 election, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, did attack the governor, saying he is running the state as a private estate, and said he was going to put a stop to the impunity and alleged mismanagement of the state by his former boss. What is your reaction to his statement?
My brother, I have always turned down every attempt to make comments on the attitude of my brother, Umana Umana. But I don’t think I would resist making comments on this one. If it is true that he made those outbursts, it will be very unfortunate.
Because, I had a great respect for him up until this very moment that this utterances are coming from him, I expected him to be one of the great leaders Akwa Ibom State has – politics or no politics.
I expected him to behave better than he is behaving, because of the level of confidence and trust himself and the governor shared. I expected him to act otherwise than the way he is behaving because of the benevolence of God upon him and the kind of privileges he has enjoyed right from his civil service days and up till his political appointment. His latest outburst shows that human beings need to be feared.
Our brother, Umana Umana was part of this government for six and a half years. And if you go back to history and do a research on all the interviews he has granted the media up until the time he and the governor disagreed, which resulted in his being relieved of appointment as secretary to the state government.
You would see that he was very consistent in his credit to the governor as the best thing that has ever happened to Akwa Ibom State. In terms of what the Governor has done in the area of project execution, in terms of appointment which resulted in his being made the SSG, from Uyo Senatorial district for six and a half years.
So, for him to now do a summersault is something that is very regrettable very unfortunate, it is very unthinkable of a man in his character to be promoting ethnic politics.
Any man who has occupied any public office either as a commissioner, SSG and any other position should not make such utterances.
Any office that has a state character such as SSG, any issue of ethnic sentiment should be far from your lips. So his latest outburst has betrayed the character of UOU that we used to know.
I believe that politics can be done in a cleaner way than he is currently carrying on.
I have never seen a government that is so detribalized as the government of Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio. If you do your research, you will recall that he, Umana used to attest to that.
So, I challenge you journalists to go into research and bring out the kind of character Umana Umana is parading.
It is very important for Akwa Ibom people to understand the kind of character that we have in our state. There are some people who are not qualified to occupy government house as governor. The oneness of a state cannot be contested on the altar of ethnicity.
I have seen several past government and I can attest to the fact that this current government has performed excellently.
Apart from being SSG, Umana was chairman, FGPC (Finance and General Purposes Committee) and I was privilege to be a member. He sat on the clearing house recommending contracts award to the exco for approval.
A man who cannot take personal responsibility for every action, decision, and inaction of his at the age of 40, is not worthy to live.
So, I would not say anybody had corrupted his mind, I would say he, Umana was an actor and he was pretending for six and a half years.
You can’t pretend forever, no matter how smart you think you are. There will be a moment in your history that a turning point will bring out the real you.
God has a way of orchestrating a moment where the real and true person in you must come out and God is smarter than all of us.
Now that the coast is clear on who is flying the PDP governorship flag in Akwa Ibom State, do you have any cause to lose sleep over February governorship election in Akwa Ibom State?
I don’t have anything to fear. And I believe that Udom Gabriel Emmanuel is another will of God for Akwa Ibom. It is a choice well made by Akwa Ibom people, because heaven has endorsed him. People were saying they don’t know him, but today he is a word on the lips of every Akwa Ibom person. Udom has been a household name in every home in Akwa Ibom. Nobody is powerful enough to stop the will of God and not even the opposition party.
If you conduct a random sample on the number of people who attended Umana Umana’s defection rally at Asan Ibibio you will discover that it was not up to 5,000.
So, there is nothing like opposition party in Akwa Ibom State.
I cannot lose sleep, because I know that come May 29th, 2015, Udom Emmanuel will be the next governor of Akwa Ibom State.