WAEC, INEC and Umo Eno’s big pictures
Until Udom Emmanuel propped him up to warm up to take over from him when his governorship tenure in Akwa Ibom expires on May 29, 2023, the pictures of Mr. Umo Bassey Eno were not in public places. They were confined to his privacies. Since, unlike some church proprietors, the founder and pastor of All Nations Christian Ministry International neither relies on political patronage nor outdoor advertising for promotion of the church, his pictures were hardly seen on billboards.
Now the photogenic face of the Akwa Ibom PDP governorship candidate is “everywhere you go” in Akwa Ibom. Undoubtedly, his natural look has all MTN could use for modeling. Although his biological lineage is that of a commoner with no trace of royalty, the glittering look of the proprietor of Royalty Group of companies has some closeness with those that have inherited residency in Buckingham palace.
Any type of attire he adorns give him resplendent look of a prince. He fits into the flowing gowns of Nigerian politicians just as he is with the English fashion designs. To cap it all, his outlook everywhere he goes shows that he knows that an handsome boy without fitting fashions makes one an ugly boy. His wrist watches are not all about knowing time but also for functions of fashions. Good enough, he never feigns having one wristwatch and a pair of shoes. Little wonder, he is nicknamed Golden boy!
Besides his facial look, except he faked his way through, Eno may be counted among the geniuses. Imagine being Group General Manager of then highflying Lagos-based financial firm called Norman Holdings, with college degree holders working under him, at a time his highest educational qualification was O’level certificate. Nonetheless, since the totality of a person’s picture goes beyond physical appearance, and entails abstract qualities mirrored to a wider segment of people in the course of inter-personal and general engagements, the allegation slammed by Akan Okon on Eno has what it takes to turn the latter’s glittering look to rotten face, if proven to be true. The investment banker and former commissioner, who is fiercely contesting Akwa Ibom PDP’s governorship ticket with Eno, is alleging that the immediate past commissioner of Land and Water Resources forged his WAEC certificates, permanent voter’s card (PVC) and date of birth submitted to INEC through the PDP.
Okon, who is one of the few public office holders in Akwa Ibom that have modest life style, is detailed, thorough and has intuitive passion for excellence, but frugal with words of mouth and wads of legal tender. He is also poor at war of words and knocking tables to have his way. Even when closed ones of his wreak some sort of wickedness on him, he closes his windows to fence off his wallowing of the wounds from ventilating beyond his inner room. That is why his decision to spend his resources and time in adversarial approach to get the PDP’s governorship candidate from the hand of his friend’s anointed candidate is not seen as the usual common route taken by Nigerian politicians, hence his foes and friends tend to take his words on the allegation to the bank.
But admirable as Okon’s attributes of measuring his words and works might be, they are not enough for his claims to be taken hook, line and sinker. It is salutary that after failure of PDP’s internal mechanism to resolve the issue, the pre-election dispute is before a court of law awaiting judgment before the end of November.
Forgery is fraud, and the face of a fraudster is despicable as it defaces any fleck of finesse. That is why anyone, except the culpable, needs not take accusation of forgery with a pinch of salt. Gratifyingly, notwithstanding grandiloquent postulation by Eno’s teeming supporters, the parties in the matter, particularly, Eno and the PDP are not taking things for granted. Imagine the defence team parading intimidating array of lawyers, including no fewer than seven Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SANs) led by topnotch Paul Usoro, a former president of Nigerian body of legal professionals.
Ideally, in the face of grievous allegation such as the one Eno is battling with, protection of personal virtuousness ought to be the big picture. But in our society, since seeking the kingdom of political power is often on first-line mission through which all other goodies on earth would be added unto one, Eno appears to be thinking far less about his image but more about the governorship throne. Again, since the Nigerian public sector is less of rendering services to the people but more on self-services, self-aggrandisement and, ultimately, accumulation of personal material wealth, the big picture of the pastor-politician remains the coveted Akwa Ibom governor’s office alongside its mundane accoutrements and not the protection of his name, which is on the prowl of perdition.
The adversarial system of dispute resolution in court is often full of deployment of legal gimmickries to obfuscate, and possibly, divert attention and decisions of court from the crux of the matter at hand to peripheral clauses, euphemistically called technicalities. What was Eno trying to avoid by shunning to appear in the court to defend his credentials? Granted, without alluding, that the evasion to appear in court has recorded some successes for him in the matter, has the avoidance not opened voids that could sink the momentary achievement to abyss?
Given the fact that its name and signatures have become embodiments of lives of hundreds of millions of people, particularly in Anglo West African countries, WAEC’s big picture ought to be its image and the holders of the certificate, including those in posterity. WAEC should at all times make sure that no one, whether accused or accuser, goes scot-free for using its name for what is not true. Unfortunately, while the fireworks between Okon and Eno lasted at the Uyo division of the Federal High Court, WAEC’s passivity and equivocation, regarding letting the world to know the authenticity or otherwise of Eno’s disputed certificate has also raised question marks on the 70-year old institution’s mission of providing “reliable educational assessment” and “moral excellence”. Why did INEC, the producer of PVC dwelt more on accusing Okon of hacking into its server instead of offering convincing defence for Eno over Okon’s allegation that Eno’s PVC is counterfeit?
The following questions will also remain ever relevant: Why did the defendants’ lawyers fence off WAEC officials from being cross-examined in the court? What harm would their oral testimonies have done to Eno‘s claim of submitting real credentials to INEC?
There are also street talks of “the Nigerian factor”, a pejorative insinuation of perverted system, hence fears in certain quarters that underhand dealings could have a hand to where the pendulum would swings to. If at all there is such sinister motive somewhere, the gratifying thing is that the presiding judge is widely believed of having recommendable dose of impeccable integrity.
Given the big pictures involved in this particular matter, including the larger image of Akwa Ibom people, all lovers of the state, who would bear the bearings or brunt of the court ruling, should pray in the court of the Almighty God, which is accessible to all anytime anywhere, that the court presided over by humans should not be hoodwinked by whatever gimmicks used to gloss over the gravamen of the governorship legal contestation, for, if it does, it could spell gloom and doom to the image of Akwa Ibom far beyond who occupies the governor’s office from May 29, 2023, just as it could also make Eno’s picture to become grim in perpetuity.
Ekanem sent this article through firstname.lastname@example.org