Gabriel Omonhinmin’s piece, “INEC needs to prevent bloodbath in Akwa Ibom” fits aptly into a known adage of “an outsider who weeps louder than the bereaved”. He neither resides in Akwa Ibom nor hails from there but has taken more than a cursory interest in the State. Well, if the interest was honest and sincere, one would have considered it to be an overflow of his nationalistic instinct. But Omonhinmin’s piece was riddled with falsehood and couched with innuendos. The treatise was specious and fallacious narrowing the writer into a mercenary that is on the prowl and quest for cash. He can be summed up as a hatchet man.
The intention of this work is not to rejoin his specious piece but to locate the many pitfalls that inundate it and proceed warn Akwa Ibom people, INEC and other relevant agencies to be wary of desperados who are relentless in their evil contrivances. The disingenuous picture Omonhinmin painted about Akwa Ibom is untrue of what Akwa Ibom was during the election and what it is post the election. His stratagem is a simplistic ploy to give the extant agencies INEC and security agencies the impression that if the election is not cancelled, then there would be mayhem. This cock and bull story is as hollow as it is untenable. I refer him to the Election Act where he would be availed with knowledge of who has authority to cancel elections.
If anybody should be heading to break a record in the Guinness Book of Infamy, it should be Gabriel Omonhinmin for his capacity for incorrigible falsehood, exaggeration or hyperbolism. His comparison of the elections conducted by a former Liberian President, Charles Kings and that of Akwa Ibom which he described as “the most bizarre and fraudulent” is not only misplaced but done in bad faith with all the worst intentions. Omonhinmin has not bothered to cross check the number of accredited voters we had in the State. If one looks closely at the number of votes that President Jonathan recorded in the State and the number scored by Udom, one could judge the veracity through the closeness of the figures. And so the electoral heist he is trying hard to underscore is far-fetched and incorrect.
Omonhinmin attempts to sound sanctimonious by saying that his fear is the “cataclysmic breakdown of law and order after the swearing in of Udom Emmanuel” according to him, “at the expense of Umanah Umanah” whom he said many claimed to be the preferred candidate”. No observation can be more spurious and bereft of facts and logic. What makes Umana Umana the preferred candidate? What cataclysmic backlash is Omonhinmin expecting and from who? Is it the ever joyous Akwa Ibom people who have continually expressed their happiness at the emergence of Udom Emmanuel? Is it the women who thronged Wellington Bassey in their numbers and even Government House after the election result was announced? Is it the people who held Uyo to a stand-still with a mammoth crowd on the day of the victory party? Who are the people that Omonhinmin is saying are in incensed mood thus leading to tension in the State? Is it the people of Eket Senatorial District who are happy that justice has finally been done to them after 27 years? Is it the people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District who are pleased with their son, Godswill Akpabio who has done them proud and whom they are ready and willing to go any length with? Is it Uyo Senatorial District where men of impact like OBA, Effiong Bob, Ambassador Edem, Onofiok Luke have joined cause with Akpabio to do justice to all components of the State?
Omonhinmin is not sufficiently informed about the politics of the State and should have been more circumspect about penning down what would largely be viewed as inanities that can not stand in good testimony to the PAN African University where he obtained a Diploma in Journalism. For instance, his assertion which states: “I have just spent three post election days in the State and the pervasive feeling is all gloom and doom as the people are bitter and ready for a showdown”, is more a work of fiction than truth. In which area did he identify the “pervasive feelings of gloom and doom” as this certainly cannot be the general pattern in the entire State, assuming there is even such feeling in any part of Akwa Ibom. Is it the people who celebrated Udom’s victory so effusively the ones ready for show down in the State?
Omonhinmin’s desperate efforts to earn his pay led to gaps in his submission. In one breath he said the Akwa Ibom election was the most “bizarre and fraudulent election Nigeria has ever witnessed” and in another he declared “In Akwa Ibom, elections were never held” comparing the exercise with that of Imo and River States. Of course he had to say so because he knows where his payment is coming from. At-least it is not Imo or Rivers States. It has been difficult for Omonhinmin to run away from the fact that election actually held with the difference being that his benefactor did not win. His candidate was against the tide of justice and equity and could not have won. He had too many odds stacked against him in that election to the point that it would have taken a miracle for him to win. And so Omonhinmin’s postulation that in almost all the LGAs he visited in Akwa Ibom State, the indigenes were bitter with Governor Akpabio and his supporters for deliberately denying them of the right to exercise their civil right in the just concluded polls is a blatant untruth not expected of a professional of Omonhinmin’s standing. APC is not such a dominant party in Akwa Ibom State to the extent where people in all the 31 LGAs would express similar sentiments and share a common mood in its favour. It is a fringe party that is struggling to find its root. Its members are a few aggrieved PDP people who jumped ship recently when their inordinate quest were not met by the party which seeks to uphold the cardinal duties of justice and equity.
Omonhinmin’s desire to constitute himself into a law court, select the case of his interest, arbitrate over same and prescribe judgment also signposts his emotional involvement in the skewed analysis. According to him, the “dangerous act” which perhaps is his client’s electoral misfortune “must be seen as a heinous crime that is equivalent to treasonable felony” Mr. Omonhinmin in his infamous piece proceeded prescribe very harsh punishment for the returning officer whom he duly chided for failing as an academic, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner and other top management of INEC, calling on authorities to ban them from holding public office after the punishment. It is obvious that Omonhinmin did not watch or observe the elections in the State. He never also visited the State pre the election. If he did, he would have been circumspect and less partisan in his analysis. If he was in the State post the election, he would have saved himself the absurdity of being railroaded into describing a demonstration by a pocket of paid miscreants as “heavy protest that immediately followed the announcement of the governorship polls on Sunday, April 12 in Uyo”. The said protest involved a collection of hired hirelings who left the house of an APC chieftain but were dispersed by rain because they were actually non-committal. Videos of the size of the crowd which was sparse are available for assessment. Can one compare such ill populated group with the unprecedented crowd that came out to celebrate Udom’s victory?
Omonhinmin has admitted that March 28 election was bitterly contested. With his quality of exposure, he can not be unaware of the use of under age voters which was widespread in the North. In that election which was interjected with such anomaly. Buhari of APC won. Omonhinmin has lauded President Jonathan for conceding even though his morally bankrupt analysis failed to comment on the advantage that accrued to APC and Buhari in the use of these under-age voters. He has not only failed to comment on this electoral perfidy, his warped mind has not convalesced enough for him to tell his benefactor that he should also toe the same path of honour by congratulating Udom. What is good for the goose is also sauce for the gander. Or is APC allergic to conceding defeat and congratulating the winner? We are still yet to see any APC contestant accepting defeat gracefully as President Jonathan did.
It is also sad to note that Gabriel Omonhinmin obviously from the legendary Edo State where the colonial masters met stiff resistance during their colonial adventure in West Africa could be fawning at the mention of the same people who exploited his grandparents and forcibly sent his foremost traditional ruler Oronmiran into exile. We must not allow this servile behaviour of being dictated to by the so called West to continue to prevail. We must assert ourselves and pursue even our enlightened self interest without their interference. How many times do we go to comment on elections in their countries which as other human contraptions are yet to reach perfection?
Let me take the liberty as one familiar on the politics of the State to educate Mr. Gabriel Omonhinmin on why PDP won that election in Akwa Ibom. The first reason is that the election was predicated on the noble anchors of justice and equity. Akwa Ibom in his 27 years so far has been ruled more by Uyo Senatorial District with Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District trailing having had a shot at that plum office through Godswill Obot Akpabio who would complete eight years amounting to two terms on May 29, 2015. Eket Senatorial District in all of the 27 years is yet to occupy that position. Between March and April, 2014, a town hall meeting across the Ten Federal Constituencies was conducted to gauge the mood of the people in respect of the zoning of the governorship slot. All of the ten federal constituencies were unanimous that power should shift to Eket. The APC candidate who is from Uyo Senatorial District was therefore walking against that tide. It was a tight rope.
The Second reason why PDP won the election was that the party has been on ground with a formidable structure for the past sixteen years. The structure has been well nurtured and entrenched. The party on its own has proved its mettle in performance. It was therefore difficult to supplant such a structure with a party that is even peopled by a few aggrieved people from PDP. APC is relatively new in the State and so not capable of springing any surprise.
Perhaps one of the most credible reasons why PDP won is that the party has a strong leadership in the State. Governor Godswill Akpabio has proved beyond all realms of doubt that he is a strong leader with capacity to lead the people. A leader may steer the ship but it takes a visionary leader to chart the course. And so working in close tandem with the party chairman, and imbuing into the process his electrifying personality and magnificent eloquence, he led the people to that grand victory for PDP. Let nobody befuddle anyone, that victory was expected even by Akpabio’s arch enemies.
Another reason that has come into the mix is Akwa Ibom people’s understanding of the emerging political dynamics and reality. The people were quick to observe that they have no stake in APC and that it is better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond. With this realization, they decided to sink and swim with PDP. The people had understood that APC as configured and with the regional gang-up can not protect their interest. And so for them it is better to seek self development than be swallowed by those regional marauders that would not care a hood about their interest.
With the adduced reasons and many more, APC lost that election as was predicted by honest pundits. The APC candidate himself was dogged by many inherent hurdles. Apart from the issue of justice which was cardinal, he was also seen as part of the administration which he was relentlessly disparaging. The people thought he was taking them for granted and therefore rejected him at the polls. If he had not permanently dwelt on condemning the Akpabio administration, he perhaps would have had some sympathy. Also, the APC candidate did not cultivate any political structure to guarantee electoral triumph in that governorship race. The presence of the likes of Bassey Albert and Onofiok Luke in PDP and within his catchment area also impinged strongly on his electoral fortune. There was also nemesis from his real and imaginary enemies who saw his entry into the race as due time to even political scores with him. And most importantly, APC spent more time dishing out propaganda than campaigning. They could not make clear their intensions for Akwa Ibom people rather they preoccupied themselves with vilifying Akpabio and wife.
Mr. Gabriel Omonhinmin must do a more balanced study of the politics of the State before rushing to make comments. The asinine comments contained in his analysis of Sunday Sun would easily pass for misinformation, disinformation, outright deceit and deliberate ploy to railroad the State into implosion. While we are not averse to his means of making money, he must not make our State and endangered specie in his obnoxious quest for pecuniary recompense.
Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst.