Imagine running for governor in 2023, you won’t like it (would you?) if someone serves you from the Ita Enang book of insults.
I don’t do this, always. In fact, I never do this, and you know it. But, I know because you know me, you would understand why I have elected to bring this matter of urgent state importance to the national marketplace. I trust that your wonderful family and you are doing great.
This open letter is compelled by a potpourri of disappointment, frustration and holy anger. I am angry because the last edition of your every-other-weekend ritualistic radio outing has forced me to change the focus of this space today. Less than seven months to the very crucial presidential vote and with most Nigerians decrying the near-dearth of nationwide popular candidature, I had hoped to dwell on my own shortlist of compatriots who have a drop of presidentialness in them. But now, that has to wait because your insults on Gov. Udom Emmanuel last Saturday rankle off limits.
To be sure, I do not write this to defend the governor after all he’s your governor as well. Plus, the way he has done his work and carried himself hitherto, I don’t think he needs to be defended. Rather, I write to express how disappointingly ridiculous this comedown mannerism is to many of us who grew up admiring you. I cannot raise my frustration with you privately anymore as three ad hoc Abuja meetings (late 2016, mid-2017 and early 2018) didn’t deliver the goods!
I’m desperate to evade the second leg of the treacherous expectation of the court of public opinion for me to explain my interest in this matter and to give examples of these aerial insults. Repeating even one out of the truckloads let alone the vilest and most recent would be tantamount to helping spread those unprintable insults. I won’t. And, Chinua Achebe didn’t have me in mind when he described Enoch, the son of the snake-priest in Things Fall Apart as, ‘the outsider who wept louder than the bereaved.’
My concern is bolstered by our personal relationship. First, the governor and you and I are Ibibio. Furthermore, it may not be worth anything but as you acknowledged publicly at a cultural event at 23, Kigoma Street, Zone 7 in Abuja, two years ago, I played a role or two in your enviable political trajectory. For instance, in my 26-year media career you remain the person I have promoted the most!
I remember in the wee nineties when I would come as early as 6, 7am to your home (at the time on Gibbs Street or thereabouts) or your office then on Ikot Ekpene Road to interview you using a midget recorder. I recall that since I was on the state-owned Radio Akwa Ibom at the time coupled with the fact that the military were in power, you and I had to carry on like Chi- nua Achebe’s Eneke the bird. I flew without perching asking afghanistanised questions. You shot without missing with intelligently diplomatic bold answers!
You were so good that at some point, the military administrator appointed you into AK-Ruwatsan, I think. I also recall how I used to sit there every evening watching you with my mentor, Messrs Eddy Ekpenyong, Nyong Ekwere and other journalists and friends as you discussed life over beer at 16, Udobio Street, Uyo. You bought me so wholesale with your work rate, brilliance and simplicity that in my twenties then I nursed following you into law!
The return of democracy in 1999 saw you in the House of Representatives stylishly completing your legislative cycle (having served variously as councillor at your home local government of Ibiono and state assemblyman). After three monumental terms as well as a performance record which might never be equalled, you left to become a senator in 2011. Those four intervening years and the footprints you left are an eternal cherished invisible entourage and bragging rights not only to you but also your children and those of us who know you. Alas, I cannot say the same of your time as President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate)!
I find that especially troubling, my dear Sen. Ita Solomon Enang. Ours being a society which remembers a 10% mediocrity but forgets a 90% excellence, I fear that at the end, you would be archived as a presi- dential lieutenant who formed a one-man riot squad against his state for all of four years rather than as a five-star legislative generalissimo who gave us a national voice and face for sixteen years. If you don’t mind such horrific political epitaph, we who know and love you do. Sir, please stop the insolent pastime: it is an unpresidential, ungovernorship, and unsenatorial fatal shot in the foot!
Imagine running for governor in 2023, you won’t like it (would you?) if someone serves you from the Ita Enang book of insults. Secondly, if these unbecoming insults are to even out the (non-existent) insults on the president, the Christian thing expected of your position is to intercede both ways. Vengeance is ungodly and puerile. Nobody can make heaven with this much bitterness in his heart!
Finally, Obong Owo, Nigerians in high offices shouldn’t downgrade their status by relating so lowly. A leader who spews hate should know sane members of his kitchen cabinet despise him. A man in power who mints insults should know his children could pick up this gutter language and end up as good-for-nothing school bullies seen as feeder team raw materials for political thugs and touts. While thanking you for your attention and wishing God’s blessing on family, state and country, I sign off wondering what the political function of insults really is!
Your younger brother & junior friend Michael