By Patrick ALBERT.
THE great city of Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State’s capital has a traditional ruler, whose sense of judgement on issues are deeply insightful, philosophical, thoughtful and weighty.
For His Royal Majesty, Edidem Sylvanus Effiong Okon, Paramount Ruler of Uyo Local Government Area, “justice makes room for peace, and peace creates the atmosphere that enables development to flourish.”
Keeping to such disposition in his approaches to life, has earned him the respect, love and cooperation of his people – cutting across the four clans of Uyo being Offot Ukwa, Etoi, Ikono and Oku, and residents alike.
These appealing traits have seen the first class monarch being vastly cherished since his sojourn into the traditional institution as Village Head of Eniong Offot, later Clan Head of Offot Ukwa and now Paramount Ruler of Uyo. Uyo, apart from being the seat of Government of Akwa Ibom, is the most populated local government area in the State.
When Edidem Okon speaks, he does not wink or blink his eyes. The royal father readily says the truth or offers judgement on any issue, no matter whose ox is gored.
On Friday, October 19, 2018 in his country home and palace in Eniong Offot, not far from the city centre, the royal father recreated these characteristics known of him as he appraised various issues of concern – the 2019 General Elections, prevailing peace in Uyo and Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel’s governance, et cetera during an exclusive interview. It was vintage the monarch who have an enterprising experience in the transport sector or other areas.
Without mincing words, Edidem Okon bared his mind on who should occupy the Hilltop Mansion in 2019. He thundered, “As far as I am concern, I believe we should employ justice into our political consideration come 2019 General Elections. And this means that Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel has to be re-elected for another four years, to enable him complete his eight years.
“This is the procedure since 1999. Obong Victor Bassey Attah from Uyo (Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District) had eight years as Governor and likewise his successor, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio from Ikot Ekpene (Akwa Ibom North West). So Governor Udom Emmanuel’s case cannot be different.” He must be allowed to fly the flag of Akwa Ibom South for eight years.
“We have to allow this course to run successfully. When Governor Emmanuel completes his eight years, we can sit down as a family to decide whether governorship should continue to be on the basis of one tenure for a senatorial district or not.” Besides, four more years will enable Governor Udom Emmanuel to complete his lofty projects and expand our investment frontiers.
On the spat of violence which erupted, particularly during the primaries of a particular political party to select candidates for various offices, towards the 2019 general elections, the Paramount Ruler called on indigenes of Uyo, other residents and the entire people of Akwa Ibom to carry out their political activities in a way and manner that will not jeopardize the peace so far enjoyed in the State.
“We have to appreciate the prevailing peace in Akwa Ibom State, which is made possible by a God-fearing man that we have at the helms of affairs of the State, I mean Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel. We can recall that it was not like this before his tenure. Today, people are free to go about their businesses unmolested. No kidnapping and other forms of crime. Governor Emmanuel is a man of peace. He preaches and practices peace and tolerance. We don’t want crises again. Let there be no problem. Politics should not be a do or die affair,” he added.
He abhorred outburst expressed by some politicians, threatening to resort to violence or use federal might in a bid to take power come 2019. “It is God that gives power. Politicians should rather appeal to the conscience of the electorate to vote for them and not to threaten mayhem. This is not what we expect and we should resist it,” he said.
He reasoned that since Akwa Ibom State is named after God, coupled with the fact that absence of peace does not engender development, it will be a wise course for the people of Akwa Ibom not to allow issues of politics like elections to divide them nor engage in actions that will lead to violence.
The traditional ruler advised politicians to stop sponsoring youths for electoral violence and called on youths not to allow themselves to be used for political thuggery since they may ruin their lives and spoil the good name of Akwa Ibom as the most peaceful State in the country.
“Any time violence erupts and takes the lives of someone, it is not a son or daughter of a political chieftain. It affects the ordinary people. Political gladiators have their children in foreign schools, lives in comfortable homes, but keep enticing other youths into violence. Parents must caution their wards not to yield to this acts of brigandage.”
Speaking pointedly on the issue of ‘federal might’ to win the forthcoming elections in Akwa Ibom come 2019, the Paramount Ruler retorted, “Although some persons may rely on federal might in their bid to take power in Akwa Ibom come 2019, I believe that such plans will not prevail since God gives power to whom he wishes.”
On his assessment of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration, the Traditional Ruler stated clearly that he is impressed by his performance so far. “We have seen what he has achieved in various sectors since he came on board despite the dwindling economic fortunes of the state. He inherited huge debts, which he is quietly repaying, done significant improvement in the health sector, power, road infrastructure, attracting investments and building of industries, creating employment opportunities for our jobless graduates, et cetera,” he outlined.
On whether Uyo has benefited from Governor Emmanuel’s governance, the royal father enthused, “Uyo has fared well. I had agitated for two Commissioners in the State Cabinet but what we have so far is still good. We have some strategic appointments given to Uyo sons. Also, I’m glad to witness notable projects in Uyo and I believe that more projects will be executed as financial resources improves in the State.”
According to him, one of the endearing factors why Governor Udom Emmanuel is garnering wide acceptance is his ability and commitment to keep to his campaign promises of industrializing the State.
“All these achievements, and his ability to unite the people of Akwa Ibom,’ he said, ‘attracts more support each day for him and give credence to the fact that he has what it takes to lead the State to greater heights.”