My friendship with Engr. Etido Inyang, Governor Akpabio’s Adviser on Technical Matters compels on me a responsibility to speak up honestly for him at a time like this when those who know him are well certain that he will, as usual, adopt a characteristic quiet which, admittedly, could be disturbing sometimes. My interest in this piece however lies not in putting up a defense to a recent media outing by a “youth activist”, a native of Ikot Ikpene Local Government Area in an Akwa Ibom-based tabloid in which Etido Inyang was virtually defined as an oppressor and land-grabber.
Instead, I will attempt to deconstruct the mischievous mis-construct of a man by a “youth activist” who for several years and until December last year was a most fortunate and consistent beneficiary of his victim he is seeking to prey upon today.
The business of journalism could be very tasking, hence, I have learned to apportion blame with caution and I do so only in extreme of situations. By reporting what it was told, the tabloid certainly did it job. But it could have done better. However, one didn’t have to dig a feet deep into the record or narrative description of past private and public lives of Engr. Inyang to know that the story and the man was like attempting to get a fusion of oil and water into a union. Both can never mix.
Reading through the comments of Ubong Etim – the situational youth activist – in the story, it wasn’t hard to spot a heart that was out to settle personal grudges with whomever he feels he has got one with. For a while now, it is a fact that the Ikot Ekpene chapter chairman of Akwa Ibom State Youth Caucus has been having lingering issues with Don Etim, his relative. For his neutrality, rooted in principles, against the wish of Ubong Etim who severally had attempted to get his backing, Etido – his age long benefactor suddenly became his adversary. He took his hate game further when he felt he should enjoy steady and unrestricted benefits from the large-hearted Etido at the expense of the other youths. So unthoughtful of a youth leader and “activist”!
December last year, Ubong Etim had met with Governor Godswill Akpabio and got a huge package. Only few days after he had met with the governor, he made another round of his regular requests from the S.A. on Technical Matters only to be told to defer his request to a later date. This was where the younger Etim’s activism began. Suddenly, he became a youth activist and began speaking for Ikot Ekpene people. Today, his memory has been reactivated to maximal functionality that he remembers how unhelpful and selfish Etido Inyang has been. Today, the Special Adviser has a “black” past: “The land behind Etido Inyang’s compound is the property of staff of federal ministry of works and housing. He entered into a deal to rob some young men of their plot of land that the inherited from their father who was a staff of the ministry”. And “when the boys resisted, Etido arranged with some uniformed men to arrest and dump them in prison custody, claiming they are [sic] kidnappers”. Moonlight tales indeed.
The land as rightly reported by the paper is a property of the federal ministry of works and housing. There was no way it would then have been forcefully cornered by one man as was stated in the report; and more so by a man who has always lived a remarkably modest, honest and simple life even in his blessed capacity and with no single trace of terror to his past. This is the most interesting contradiction in recent times. Also instructive was that throughout the report, the “young men” who were supposedly arrested on the orders of Etido Inyang remained anonymous as was the “prison custody” where they were held.
If Ubong Etim had come out clean on his personal grudges in the report and not masked, packaged and exported same as public dissatisfaction against Etido, it would have been brave of him. But now, I guess it was bravery at its nadir and cowardice at its zenith. Without contradiction, Engr Inyang is one decent character of the Akpabio era that has added shine to the administration both in character and performance. He has been without no real spot, no blotches or disfiguring mark in his almost eight-years of service as Special Adviser, Bureau of Technical Matters. Not ambitious, or rather one whose ambition is regulated by the Charter of modesty and Statute of sanity, he has been the archetypal loyalist and quintessential supporter of the present administration from its dawn to its present twilight stage. Beyond this, his quiet generosity and staggering impacts permeate through communities and to individuals with no attempts to deliberately erect frontiers. This is one fact the Ikot Ekpene “youth activist” would admit in any of his moments of genuineness and forthrightness. Not known for being loud, no degree of provocation would tempt Etido to hug the cameras or adopt other forms of publicity just to announce his generosity and strides to show his sublime contributions to the advancement of his immediate community and the larger society.
Like Tacitus, author of the annals of Imperial Rome once correctly noted, “Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure”.
Sadly, in this situation, the prey never did injury to the predator.