Just before my brief trip to Accra about twelve weeks ago, I had met with him to discuss several pressing issues, chiefly, his self-punctured goodwill. He was known to be meek but now his character is not sleek. He has become as slippery as a serpent, with slipping words from his tongue. A perfect chameleon, that is what he has become. If he speaks today, whether as Ukanafun politician or education commissioner, he speaks not the truth. The magnitude and consistency of the untruth is staggering. That is the recent verdict of Ukanafun people. Recently, a reporter with Insight newspaper, an Akwa Ibom based weekly, had posted on his facebook page Commissioner Akpan’s witless and rustic response to an official enquiry. The reporter, through a phone call, sought to know if the state government was responsible for direct intervention in an overly dilapidated primary school along Abak Road in Uyo. The school which had become a relic was an eyesore. Akpan reportedly retorted: “you are a journalist, you should do investigative journalism”. And that was all! How the commissioner understands “investigative journalism” is left for conjectures.
Not demoralized, the reporter furthered his probe, but this time elsewhere and his efforts paid off as the school eventually got immediate attention from whoever was responsible for it and now wears an appealing look. While the reporter won in that battle of good conscience, Mr. Commissioner failed himself and his employer. Instructively, he failed the innocent kids of that school whose dreams of a great future could be twisted by his prideful attitude. The sum total of Akpan’s demeanours as the state education chief is reflective of a conspicuous fact: This is one appointment that Mr. governor got it wrong. With his background as a former school principal, one had rightly thought the ministry would brim with effectiveness and admiring efficiency. But the man has crumbled and crippled any expectations to that line of reasoning. Six months after on the job, he has spurred up thoughts on why it should have been at best, one of Science and Tech or Culture ministries; and at worst, Department for Adult Education. The media has been awashed with the inefficiency and reactive approach of the ministry under the present commissioner.
How Aniekan Akpan has squandered within six months, the enormous goodwill and fragranced reputation he enjoyed particularly over the last four years in parliament defeats rationality. But that is the “animal called man”. It wasn’t for nothing that his supporters stoutly defended his return bid to parliament. The people saw in him some “virtues,” or so they thought. In the media, we absorbed the heat and provided calm. Zoning, I had argued, is a political expediency and welcomed in a developing democracy but parliamentary office is too important to be reduced to a game of round-robin. It is perhaps why we have a kindergarten parliament under Aniekan Uko, whose notable achievement so far is innumerable selfies taken by members, grinning sheepishly and posted on social networks. It is necessary to remind that Akpan didn’t lose his re-election bid. He couldn’t have. The present Ukanafun Assemblyman is wholly a product of that process
If Aniekan Akpan was high up as a lawmaker, as a commissioner, he is sinking deep in mire and may eventually go down the abyss. If he held any prospects then, he is a hovering disaster now. If he acted up his days as elected representative for the purposes of continuity, then he deserves an Oscar for the thespian that he was. Perhaps Akpan’s positives were overrated. Whether in elective or appointive capacity, Akpan should understand he is serving on the springboard of Ukanafun, though there is need to remind him that he is not commissioner for education in Ukanafun Local Government Area. Nevertheless, he can continue to exhibit his abrupt breathtaking arrogance bred of ignorance.
No argument, after emerging with a flash of political potentials, he is about to wither away, like a scorched rose into perpetual oblivion. From a model political specie, even if feigned, to a rough-hewn opposite. What a sad narrative!
Nigeria’s democracy is evolving, and soon, godfathers and their roles would become zero-determinism as the one factor in political advancement. Aniekan Akpan should know better. He needs to get his acts back and break down the wall he has erected to shield away those who stood by him and worked for the emergence of Udom Emmanuel. There is considerable dismay, a sinking of the spirit among his men. Discontent is high and growing, and is spilling against the governor. Political leadership goes beyond adorning the robe of mr. nice only during electioneering. He is losing both his ability and judgement. He should immediately embark on a conscious endeavour to re-establish morally-recognized standards to guide his public attitudes. Else, he will find himself locked into a political endgame from which survival would be blocked and the exit would be a trapdoor to oblivion.
2019 is still far yet too near. Definitely, Mr. commissioner would need more than the expired pact he entered into with Emmanuel Ukoette, incumbent representative of his federal constituency, to get the baton for federal house. A virtual leader he is today with detached followings. With the ruthless competitiveness of politics, unless he finds his way out of the dark labyrinth soon enough, his sudden descendence is an inevitable development.