Triumphalism of trivialities in Akwa Ibom
Sir: Between the last week of September and first week of October, the Man in the News in Akwa Ibom was Umo Eno, the state’s commissioner for Lands and Water, who is also a founder and pastor of All Nations Christian Ministry International. Owing to the significance of September 23, the date the state was created, and October 1, the date Nigeria got Independence from the British colonialists, the period under consideration is always jam-packed with festivities by the state government. It would be noted in history that in 2021, a commissioner stole the show from a governor.
The brilliant entrepreneur-turned politician became the Man of the Moment not because of any monumental or miraculous making in neither his political or pastoral ministries, but through a one-day personal event held on September 25. The event was a three-fold appreciation to God on what the commissioner, whose surname means gift, considered special gift from God: the death of his mother a year ago, 35 years of being in marriage and appointment into the Akwa Ibom State Executive Council. Announcing the event on his Facebook wall, the state government’s spokesman, Ini Emeobong, who is always at his rhetorical best, aptly dubbed it “a three-in-one thanksgiving.” Indeed, royalty was really the character of the ceremony.
Boosting the morale of a disturbed Eno over criticism trailing him in recent time, Governor Udom Emmanuel had inspiring words for his commissioner. The governor, who was a special guest of honour at the event, is quoted in Vanguard newspaper to have admonished the commissioner that “as long as you are in the position of leadership, you must be blackmailed, misunderstood, misquoted and misconstrued.’’
Does being in public office deprive one from embarking on a personal thanksgiving, even a thousand-in-one thanksgiving in any matter under the sun? Certainly, the answer is no. After all, the flesh of private life is not cut off from a person occupying public office. However, keeping certain personal undertakings at bay while serving the public is a burden that must be borne by a public servant in order to justify confidence reposed in him and satisfy public interest.
The fifth schedule of Nigeria’s Constitution, which dwells on “code of conduct for public officers,” stipulates that “A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.” If the supremacy of power lies with the people as it ought to be in democracy, it behooves the governor and the commissioner to explain with facts to the people of Akwa Ibom that they did not abuse public office in more than a way in the course of the private event.
All hands of those desirous of good governance must be on deck because if the triumphalism of trivialities is allowed to thrive, it offers a bleak future for Akwa Ibom. Where is the civil society community in Akwa Ibom, including the news media? Where are the learned and vocal Senior Advocates of Nigeria?
Nsikak Ekanem sent this piece from Lagos through firstname.lastname@example.org