By Emmanuel Ndon
In the last few days, Governor Udom Emmanuel’s proclamation of his possible successor has generated so much heat and dominated discourse, particularly on social media. By extension, in a bid to express inalienable rights of commentary, some people have dabbled into the dangerous path of unwarranted criticism to defame the revered elder statesman and former governor of the state, His Excellency, Arc. (Obong) Victor Attah.
According to critics, Attah was reviled for “actively and blatantly participating in a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) meeting and facilitating the emergence of Umo Eno as the governor’s preferred successor”. Viewed from the critic’s perspective, Obong Attah had “retired” from partisan politics, so would need to take his deserved rest.
However, it is pertinent to dismiss such negative misgivings and understand that his scenario for involvement envisages “a disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together”, which is the hallmark of a statesman.
According to A. E. Samaan, “the difference between a statesman and a politician is that a statesman is versed in the history behind the policies, thus rooted deep into bedrock beliefs that are not easily swayed by party politics or financial gain”.
For someone whose name rings a bell in anything Akwa Ibom – from his significant role in its creation to the laying of a solid foundation as governor – Obong Attah has assumed the status of a deity that should be consulted for his inputs on important issues, let alone the selection of a leader for which the destiny of over four million people would be entrusted.
It particularly would have been heartwarming for him to be involved when the nominee is someone he knows over the years to be competent and had made significant contributions to his successful career during his term as governor.
Obong Attah has passion for Akwa Ibom State. He craves good governance, effective leadership, and a listening government for the overall development of the state. His love for the state ensured that development projects were evenly and strategically distributed across different parts of the state.
That apart, it is a common practice for statesmen to give counsel and useful contributions to steer the direction of the state. The age-long tradition is to tap from the rich tapestry of wisdom, knowledge, and foresight of reputable leaders who have made lasting impressions in the art of governance. This perhaps informs why he is seen to be involved in the emergence of a good leader for some time now.
It is a wrong narrative to think that he has failed simply because his preferred choices did not sail through in the past. This is the first time that the elder statesman has joined forces with a sitting governor to present a candidate for election. It is left for the people to appreciate his efforts and commitment to institutionalize a good governance structure for the state.
Obong Attah must have felt sad about the undeniable alterations and distortions that tended to bungle the foundation originally laid for the state.
For instance, the Akwa Ibom University of Technology (AKUTECH) was envisioned for specialized marine and other courses and not a conventional university with multiple campuses. 20 years after, Ibom science park would have lifted thousands of our youths who are still roaming the streets now, among others. Any statesman worth its name would be interested in whoever will actualise the dreams and vision that birthed the state.
While it is within the rights of individuals to chose which candidate to support, it is advisable for everyone to resist the temptation to denigrate our elder statesmen from whose goodwill and benevolence we owe a token of gratitude, in the name of politics.