The story of Gamaliel found in the Acts of the Apostles is the perfect precedent on how to response to persecution and blackmail. According to the full account, When Peter and other apostles were persecuted; they never wavered in their faith and never succumbed to the pressure of the Pharisees. And at one of such occasions, “Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead–whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honoured by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. (Acts 5:29-40). Gamaliel was the son of Simeon and grandson of the great Jewish teacher Hilel the Elder according to a tannaitic tradition. He was a highly respected teacher of the law. Even Paul the Apostle was brought up “at the feet of Gamaliel”. Despite the pressure to convict the Apostles, Gamaliel brought his wisdom in the present case to bear knowing that the genuine work of God will succeed.
If Gamaliel was alive in Akwa Ibom State today and saw the uncommon unification of strange bed fellows to frustrate the Governorship ambition of Udom Emmanuel, not on account of superior ideas and a better work plan but based on very selfish and ethnic reasons, he would certainly have answers to them. Gamaliel would have looked them in the face and told them, “Leave (him) alone! Let (him) go! For if (his) purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop (him); you will only find yourselves fighting against God”. Gamaliel would have told them to rather focus their energy, time and resources to pursue their individual ambitions. The folly of the aspirants who are contesting the 2015 elections in Akwa Ibom State is to think that by fighting Udom, blackmailing him and his supporters to submission, that it translates to victory. The millions of Naira expended in sponsoring false and malicious publications in several national dailies and bulk text messages would have served a higher purpose.
The other reason why the gangup against Udom will not work is that their persistence and energy has further made Udom more popular. Their attempt weakens their ranks. It makes their supporters switch camps indiscriminately under the same pretext that they are together-in opposing Udom. As someone with an ear to the ground, I have observed that those who oppose Udom do not necessarily have a candidate they support. They attend all meetings and consultations of aspirants who oppose Udom. They give the aspirants a very false sense of popularity and when the chips are down, their votes will be split or some will be left without a vote. The race to 2015 will be a journey of superior ideas. Beyond mere politics, the people are listening attentively to see who has a better grasp of the challenges at hand and who will proffer long lasting solutions to the problem at hand. These cannot be achieved via blackmail and pen killing. It is an utter waste of precious time trying to cow a firm footed man to submission. It has never worked and it won’t work this time.
Udom’s past record of great achievements and integrity endears him to many while others are simply enraged that his entrance to the race would negate and expose all forms of mediocrity and arsy-varsy attitude the old war horses have paraded over the years. This is expected in any case as only very few people are comfortable with change. Migrating from the psychology of your comfort zone to a realm of novel challenges requires enormous faith, optimism and courage. The feeble-hearted, selfish and easily intimidated snarled to the camp of blackmail.
The fear of Udom Emmanuel has driven many to prate in unprofessional manner, thinking their attack can destroy the person and character the SSG has built over the years. People should know that a man who has passed through that level of training and global exposure must have adopted resilience as second nature. Why are they afraid? Lack of knowledge is what births fear in most situations: a better approach would be to show an open minded acceptance of this illustrious son of the soil and getting to discover what he has in stock for his kinsmen. You cannot fully appreciate people/things until you understand their value, purpose and inclination. How do you understand what you are unwilling to learn about? Being repulsive is only a cheap way to express and accept defeat. Striking Udom with strident tones cannot make him deteriorate or shrivel, raising prevaricators against him will only unearth the corruption of angry men, mudslinging or insulting him moves people to ask potent questions that elevate his position and conspiring against him is a complete abuse of resources.
Udom has not yet declared for the race but the tide is high and gallinippers are having a field day trying to assassinate his character with the slightest opportunity. The accusations and insult just keep coming; are they building or destroying the land? If you truly love the people why not give them the privilege to experience the benefit of having a technocrat like UGE at the hem of state affairs.
When fear meets faith, it’s only natural that faith, as the positive force wins. The ones who have chosen to reel in fear have a chance to join the rest of the people now to support this good cause but if they refuse, faith will soar. It doesn’t matter how many people are fearful, ignorantly angry or jealous, those who see far have positioned themselves to be instrument of change in support of Udom Emmanuel. Monarchs have spoken, youth have declared their stand in favour of him, women desire change and men want a role model. The leads are clear and the people are willing to let their faith materialise.
Those who do not want to have Udom as their Governor spend their time and energy insisting that he is an object of imposition. There is a volcanic balderdash that Udom is an imposition by Governor Akpabio, and by extrapolation, his stooge. The farce is further stretched by the reasoning that Udom is largely unknown. Bullets like this are expected and in the absence of any other thing to leverage against Akpabio’s collaborative train of transformative continuity, it makes sense to throw up such hallucinatory spells.
It is incorrect to even imagine Udom as a stooge. A stooge is someone used by another to do unpleasant and dishonest task. A stooge is one who plays a subordinate or compliant role to a principal. A stooge has no real hand or say in any matter under consideration. He is a lackey, with no mind of his own. He sees and understands things the way another wishes him to. A stooge is a spineless bulldog which can neither bark nor bite without approval. A stooge is simply a yes man, what the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti will call a zombie! Can it still be said in the light of the above that Udom Emmanuel is a stooge? A young seasoned professional who has excelled in his field of endeavour without stain or scandal?
One of the major reasons the gang up will fail is that the Apostles of blackmail and ethnicism believe that electoral success is hinged at making so much noise and causing disaffection and ethnic tension. Winning elections is not about street popularity. It is not a hip hop show or the Grammys. It is not about parading around town with young men who should be seriously engaged elsewhere at work. It is about performance possibilities. Udom need not be as “popular” as any other person but it does not detract nor diminish Udom’s towering academic, professional pedigree, firm plans for the state and his honest disposition to turn Akwa Ibom State to a busy market place where the teeming youths can be constructively engaged.
I will not rehash the profundity of his credentials here, except to mention that Udom could not have functioned as an Executive Director since 2006 at Zenith Bank PLC and contemporaneously one of the first three in command in the financial institution if he lacked the competency. He was judged based on merits and competence and that front line financial institution is most certainly missing his magic wand.
With over 25 consistent years of experience at the highest level in the private sector, it is wrong and disrespectful for anyone to think of him as a stooge. And the argument that he is not a politician is watery because Udom has a deeper understanding of the challenges at hand, the demands of the future of the state than his more ‘experienced’ contenders.
Interestingly, the obvious desperation of 2015 contenders to stop Udom Emmanuel by all means appears to be working in his favour. The people are not interested whether he is tagged a stooge, a neophyte or anything. In fact it is believed that the strong campaign to halt him is indicative of the fact that he would make a great leader when he assumes office. The people are impressed with his silence and his demonstration of a higher grace by not shouting back at his hecklers. The growing feeling is that Udom has conducted himself as a serious leader, preferring not to descend to the gutter to bandy words with career politicians except to respond to those who engage him in his official capacity as in the Chief Assam Assam’s case.
We know the buccaneering tendencies of do-or-die politicians who would stop at nothing to score cheap political points. As long as Udom’s co- contenders continue in this inglorious path, they will continue to unwittingly make themselves accessories to Udom’s potential soar-away victory.