Chief Assam Ekanem Assam SAN is a study in political inconsistency. His condition has become very peculiar that even his good morning greetings require the receiver’s verification before reply. But since he is an intelligent man, a lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, there are still a few unsuspecting members of the public who are tempted to take him seriously when he puts his fingers on the keyboard to write a petition and or an open letter.
His recent letter addressed to the Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government, Mr Udom Emmanuel dated July 22, 2014 is one of his typical stunts culled from his old bag of political tricks. But since we are all students of history, we are obliged to cast our minds back and learn from the experiences of yesterday.
I recall in 2006, there was a paid advertorial by Chief Assam Assam in the Newswatch magazine published on March 20, 2006, therein, he raised allegations and a filed complaints to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) about the corruption in Obong Victor Attah’s government. It was the greatest individual media attack on the then governor. But since the petition was ill conceived, there were lots of inconsistencies in it. Interestingly, a list of contracts were enumerated by Chief Assam as having been awarded by Obong Attah’s administration.
In itemising the contracts, Chief Assam knowingly or inadvertently failed to include crucial contracts his chambers received also from the same government. A latter advertorial published in THE PIONEER Newspaper of Monday, 27th March 2006 however did. I chose to reproduce it here “We are in possession of an incontrovertible evidence to show that on 30th April 2004, Chief Assam Assam of the Lex Fori Partners (his law firm at 47 Ekpo Abasi Street, Calabar, Cross River State) COLLECTED the sum of N5 million from the Akwa Ibom State Government in connection with Suit No. SC/124/97 – Cross River State Vs. Federal Government of Nigeria and Akwa Ibom State . Also, on the 22nd March 2005 , just about a year ago, Chief Assam Assam had COLLECTED N10 million from the Government of Akwa Ibom State for Suit No. SC/124/99 and SC/28/2004.
Much earlier in the same month of March, ( 16th March, 2005 ) the same Assam had COLLECTED N15 million from the State Government for Suit No. HU/83/2005 (Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State Vs. Continental Trust Bank Limited). Much later, on 1st June, 2005, about nine months ago, the same Assam still COLLECTED from the same Akwa Ibom State Government, N40 million for Suit No. SC/12/124/99 – Attorney General of Cross River State Vs. Attorney General of the Federation and Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State . Chief Assam Assam, as far as we know, has so far COLLECTED N70 million from the Akwa Ibom State Government; within three months alone (last year) he collected N65 million. Except to say that we are privy to the fact that part of the above stated amount is what Chief Assam Assam dishonourably COLLECTED from the state government without fulfilling his part of the agreement of getting vital legal documents from the International Court of Justice in the Hague to advance Akwa Ibom interest, we are not bothered about how much money he acquired through the Government of Akwa Ibom State.
Our concern is simple. And it is encapsulated in the following questions; Assam Assam sees contracts awarded to several companies, both foreign and indigenous, as being a conduit pipe for Governor Victor Attah to siphon public funds. Was his own an exceptional case or what? Or was he part of the conduit pipe? Was the financial patronage he received from Attah’s Administration not inflated like all the others he has mentioned, because it’s him – CHIEF ASSAM ASSAM – that was involved? A leopard, they say, never changes his spots. The people can never be deceived. Assam Assam, this is your life!”. Of course, Chief Assam’s motivation to write that petition was his anger that having crossed over from the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he had expected a slot (maybe in form of an appointment) in the state government and since that wasn’t forthcoming, the learned Senior Advocate grabbed his pen and went to work.
To the present administration, despite his obvious opposition to the emergence of Chief Godswill Akpabio, the Governor still co-opted him to serve in his administration as Honorary Special Adviser and later Attorney General and Commissioner For Justice. As long as the going was good, Chief spoke glowingly of the government. He was further recommended by Chief Godswill Akpabio to Mr President for the ambassadorial job to Russia and the Belarus, which he gladly took. And since Chief Assam Assam is never satisfied, he nursed a governorship ambition and expected the governor’s support and when that wasn’t forthcoming, the learned Senior Advocate once again raised a false alarm claiming that Governor Akpabio engineered his being appointed an Ambassador in order to take him out of the Akwa Ibom polity and checkmate his gubernatorial ambition. He even made an assertion that Akpabio sent him to Russia as a punishment. Was he forced to the Senate Chambers and the security agencies for clearance? Did he honestly pay his way his way to Abuja and lobbied to be cleared so he could embark on this punishment?
Interestingly, an ambassadorial position is not jail – he could have turned it down and the heavens would not have fallen. A thousand and one persons would willingly have taken his place. He took it willingly without any coercion and celebrated it. He thanked Governor Akpabio effusively before setting out to Russia – one of the most important countries in the world. I was the Master of Ceremonies at Sheraton, Abuja that night when Senator Ita Enang organised a reception dinner to congratulate his new ambassador friends on their appointments. I remember Chief Assam spoke last of them all. I adjusted the microphone stood a step beside him. It was one of my best dinners on the microphone. I couldn’t forget it. I remember the glow in his voice, his praises on Governor Akpabio and President Jonathan. His excitement to go to cold Russia and his promise to buy Ambassador Ojo Maduekwe a bicycle to take to Canada. But little did I know, the learned Senior Advocate was on his way to be severely “punished”. A renowned advocate that discovers that he was being punished, yet decides to submit himself to the punishment, leaves a lot of vulnerable ones like us in a dilemma of confusion. Obviously, Chief Assam’s initial salvo did not attract the level of attention he needed, therefore, he chosed to write an open letter to the SSG, an outstandingly favorite aspirant for the top job in other to leverage on Mr Udom Emmanuel’s popularity.
Chief Assam claims he is one of those who worked for Governor Akpabio and one of those who “campaigned and spent their time and money for him to become Governor, those who salvaged his Government and laundered his image, those who stood by him when he was wearing the garment of cultists, those who gave him hope when he was hopeless, those who faced the difficult times with him…” Chief Assam’s reference to cultism is nothing short of self-indictment. As the Commissioner for Justice in Akwa Ibom State how many cultists did he prosecute? What did he do about crime? Obviously, Chief Assam is using this medium to attract attention and this he betrays in this lines, “Speaking for myself, I can assure you that no threat can deter me from the pursuit of a goal I have set for myself and no coercion can force me out of a match”. Nobody is forcing the learned Senior Advocate out of any match. He is entitled to aspire for any office. A recent interview he granted the Insight Newspapers shows Chief Assam is seeking everything but the Governorship position, “I want to tell you all that the only person I will contest the governorship with is Akpabio and the day he withdraws from the race I will have no opposition. Akpabio is the only obstacle to a free and transparent party nomination and election but I am glad because the People’s Democratic Party has started the process of a free and fair nomination and election”. My question is, Is Governor Akpabio also one of the aspirants? However, he (Chief Assam) does not need to use blackmail to try to ascend to any office. Even as young people, we understand Chief Assam’s popularity is on a downward slide and even stunts like this open letter will not help his situation. I am only concerned because of all people, he chosed to direct his letter to Mr Udom Emmanuel. I will be glad if Mr Udom does not dignify that letter with a reply. The Udom we all know is a savvy , purpose-driven, value-maximizing, and thoroughbred professional whose driving force hinges on the fundamental need to make a difference. His magic wand is his commitment to excellence which derives its finer stuff from hard work, dedication, and recourse to endless prayers. He is God fearing, resolute, dedicated, competent, creative, visionary, efficient, highly adaptable, disciplined, career minded performer, strategist and a richly experienced private sector player. A man who is prepared and ready to mobilise all strata of the state. A man who doesn’t feel insecure to assemble the best brains and experts in the state
. A man who will harness ideas from all and sundry through public consultations and participation to govern the state. He is competent and qualified and nothing, not even this letter will stop him.
-Aniekeme Finbarr is a Public Affairs Analyst