Let me show a huge sense of political inexperience by sticking my neck at this time.
Everybody says, “Wait for His Excellency.” Until His Excellency takes a position, one will now be taking his time, keeping everybody in suspense while engaging in interests that would be obviously closer to his than the general interest of the people in taking a final decision regarding our fate in the coming elections.
I do not believe that, and I even think this dispensation should put an end to such despotic control of our lives.
As Chief Obasanjo walked into my session last weekend, he jokingly said, “Edgar, who is your man for your state?” I did not even take a breather when I mentioned Akan Udofia and Baba Smiles.
After the session, I call Akan and tell him what transpired and why I am making this decision. He is quiet and does not say anything. I don’t know what was going on in his mind, but at this juncture, I do not care.
The simple truth in our state is that the government can no longer do it. The notion of a grassroots leader should be killed. It remains myopic, outdated, and self-serving as it allows for the continuous entrenchment of rent-seeking patronage, which limits total development and stunts growth.
The grassroots leader is only versed in sharing collective resources amongst contenting interests for self-serving goals and that has been the bane of our state since its creation. This is why we are all waiting for one man to show direction before we now move like herds of cattle towards that direction.
I had a conversation yesterday with the MD of a state parastatal and he said, “Edgar, I know who the next Governor will be and if he emerges, you will enjoy it.” It looks like Udom is going to select him.
A cursory look at the person’s pedigree, background, and outlook is depressing. This person will not even understand the emerging economic dynamism that Akwa Ibom is well-positioned to enjoy.
Our state of fewer than 10 million people, but with one of the highest internet penetration rates at over 7/10, with one of the highest literacy rates, and above national average infrastructural endowment, and abundant natural resources, cannot continue to be a cap in hand, waiting for national revenue, rent-seeking, patronage dispensing bowl in the South East.
The State must rise up to the mandate of private enterprise, foreign direct investment to galvanize the economy and create wealth that the government would now use in form of taxes, dividends, and the rest to provide essential amenities for the people.
The government can no longer arrowhead economic growth. It does not have the capacity, nor the people, to do it. This is why its IGR pales into insignificance compared to states like Lagos, which have multi-door IGR windows.
Akwa Ibom must open itself up to the strong winds of independent business. It must create a willing environment for it to thrive, and it must support it with needed infrastructure and laws that will guide and protect the private enterprise. If we are to have a chance in this generation, the government must PULL BACK.
Speaking with so many people in and around the government and some prospective candidates, all I hear is mobilization. The Governor will soon mobilize. When he does, we will know who will win the elections. I remain sad.
If the governor mobilizes his driver, will we follow him? Well, that is what we will do because that driver will have control of all the resources to engage an electorate that has been weaned off the hubris of patronage.
This is why I am supporting Akan Udofia. Akan, in my various discussions with him, understands private wealth and its uses in job creation and poverty alleviation.
He understands the need to pull back the government and enthrone a private sector-led invasion of the state economy. He understands the role of FDIs for this purpose and also understands how to galvanize these huge private and international resources to create unique opportunities in the system.
When I become Governor, I will spend every weekend in one village, and if you want to see me, you will come into the village. When they come into the village, they will build guest houses, build roads, open up hospitality, and other such primary businesses to make their stay in the village with the Governor a little more bearable. That way, jobs will be created and wealth redistributed.
It’s that simple. That is it. Let the people be free to develop themselves, let the environment encourage us, let’s not wait for one all-important governor to dish out collective resources driven by whatever reason, and we now lie on the ground in gratitude like slaves that we are not.
I don’t know if this treatise will help Akan’s chances, but truth be told, I don’t care. I have just said mine because I would love to see a virile Akwa Ibom in my lifetime. I will love to see an Akwa Ibom live up to the true meaning of its calling in my lifetime. I will love to see the people of Akwa Ibom take a serious seat at the national table and not only be seen as comics who speak in funny dialects to be mimicked as national clowns, and I believe Akan Udofia will do it.
I’ve said my piece.I am off to bed.
The Duke of Shomolu