Mr. Udom Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom State. Credit: Facebook – New media unit, Akwa Ibom GH, Uyo.

By Abasifreke Effiong

Many things competed for my attention last month such that so often I missed my 6:30 a.m tea time. I had kept a consistent routine of taking onion tea since last year after being diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia. Taking my tea consistently and keeping a dedicated check on my intake of high-fat diets have been very rewarding. Skipping the tea time last month has slightly leaped my C-level. Not to a worrisome level though.

Consistency is very important. In brand marketing, leadership grooming and mentoring, experts place greater premium on consistency than on perfection. Daniel Transon, author of the book, “The Leadership Challenge” in his contribution to leadership says “consistency is a key element without which a leader is incapable of getting respect, success or even developing confidence in others.” Transon is a consistent author. He has 27 books in different fields – investment, marketing, advertising, ICT etc., – published on Goodreads.

There is always a predictable reaction when we fail to be consistent. This piece is a reaction to two inconsistencies in the succession campaign of Governor Udom Emmanuel.Emmanuel’s administration has been inconsistent in its campaign against cultism and occultism, and excellence.

Before Mr. Emmanuel unveiled his preferred successor in January this year, I had written an article in May 2021 entitled “2023: What does Governor Emmanuel want?” – part 1. That article focused on successor and succession planning. Cases of succession planning were drawn from three global private leadership entities – IBM, Barneys, and Apple Inc, and one indigenous public leadership entity, the famous Bola Ahmed Tinubu leadership succession in Lagos state. The poser in that article was, “is Mr. Emmanuel interested in succession or a successor?”. In part 2 of that series which I embargoed for a future date, the focus was on cultism, occultism and succession. Part 3 of the series was entitled “Unmasking the man with the ‘internationally recognised e-mail'”. I would like to recap the thoughts expressed in part 2 of that article.

In August 2020 during a meeting with a group of prominent Christian leaders (Fathers in faith), the governor appealed to the clergy to ensure that a cultist should not succeed him in 2023. Mr. Emmanuel quoted by the Vanguard newspaper said ‘The only thing you can help us do is to ensure that no cultist is allowed to emerge governor of the state in 2023’. The governor’s appeal was seen as a follow up to his earlier executive order proscribing about 65 cult groups in the state and his reported attempt to cleanse his administration of persons with membership, ties and affinities to cult groups. He has back-tracked on the latter. Intelligence sources said why he abandoned the loud anti-cultism campaign is that his top and closest aides are known members. That was leadership inconsistency.

READ : Atiku has proven capacity to lead Nigeria – Prof Best

In the article I embargoed, I noted that “the governor in his appeal to the fathers in faith left out the siamese twin of cultism which is occultism”. That article recommended that, “the governor should not be seen to hinge his stance on cultism, ignoring occultism. Cultism and occultism are inseparable, the only distinction is that one deals more with physical oppression while the other deals with spiritual oppression”. “Even though they operate on different realms, both have a common nexus which bothers on group membership, secrecy, and patronage similar to what the governor described as ‘cabal government’ in his 6th anniversary speech”. The article added.

There are strong allegations of occultic entanglement against the Emmanuel administration and his 2023 succession. A respected, front-lead religious leader in the state, a former state chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, Archbishop Cletus Bassey, had publicly raised alarm that Emmanuel’s succession was reeked with occultic preferences. Archbishop Bassey said at a solemn assembly on 19th May 2022, that occults have gathered to take over Akwa Ibom state. In his words, “Occults have positioned themselves to take over Akwa Ibom state. The fight in Akwa Ibom is the fight of altars. Different altars are contending to take over and control Akwa Ibom state, but the altar of God will prevail.” In April, a televangelist and founder of Grace Family, Rev. Patrick Edet, had raised alarm that more people than ever were being initiated into occultism in the state under the watch of a Christian governor.

It is alleged that some key officers in Emmanuel’s administration are senior members of freemason. Presumably, the governor knows them and their open affinity with the occult group. Why has the governor not spoken against occultism? It has been noted that whenever the discussion on cultism and occultism in relation to the 2023 governorship is thrown up, media influencers working for Emmanuel’s administration are quick to condemn the former and attempt – unsuccessfully though- to whip sentiments and mirror the latter as a lesser ill. Is there something these influencers know that Akwa Ibom people need to know? The vigour with which these paid agents push the pro-occultism campaign is suspect. You cannot be rooting for people linked with occultism yet feel justified to condemn cultism. No! That is hypocritic. Hypocrisy is one of the characters that our Saviour Jesus Christ and Prophet Isaiah condemned and forbade. We must not confer righteousness and sanctify one of two evildoers. The public will vehemently resist such group righteousness and the sufferable search for ‘soft-landing’ for one group and not the other. If it is crucifixion, then it must be for Barnabas and Barnabas.

On Thursday 11th August, thousands of Akwa Ibomites celebrated Master Valour Mbre Inyang, a school leaver who scored an exceptional A-parallel in WASSCE and 343 in UTME. The unanimity in celebration of that piece of academic excellence and talent was soon torn between the supporters of Mr. Umo Eno, the governorship candidate of the PDP who is standing trial for alleged forgery of a similar academic credential and others. The same people who celebrated Valour’s excellent result defended with such unashamed audacity the contentious two credits result and a testimonial filed by Eno as part of documents to qualify him to run for governorship of the state. Dr. Nestor Udoh, a retired Permanent Secretary in the state in utter surprise at their double standard exclaimed on his Facebook timeline, “What a generation!!! People present parallel A1, they applaud. Others present F9, they still applaud!!!”. One of those surprised at their folly, served up a collage of students like Valour who had A-parallel and wrote “with this result you can’t qualify to be governor in my state”. This is the height of mockery the governor has rubbed on Akwa Ibom! If the governor was running his private enterprise, would he appoint a man with questionable credentials to run his business? The question of love for the state, consistency for excellence and integrity beckons here! To insult public sensibilities further, the governor issued a statement through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Ekerette Udoh celebrating the genius, Valour Mbre Inyang. According to the release, ‘we will strive to leave a legacy of functional, quality and affordable educational opportunity for our children that places emphasis on technology and entrepreneurial skills development’. The questions begging for answers would be: how can the scandalous result of his preferred successor encourage excellence – a scandal where even the very poor result bears a different name which is one of the subjects of contestation in court? A scandal of dual identity? What legacy would he be leaving for Akwa Ibom in his preferred successor?

Akwa Ibom has an array of renowned, top-brass stars in academics and all other sectors. Sadly, the current brand of politics in Akwa Ibom is tinged with religious manipulations. Some leaders – even the ones who profess excellence – feel right to bring up people who are unqualified to lead a people. The governor is always quick to quote and erroneously interpret Romans 8:30 “…whom the Lord calls, He qualifies”. Jesus Christ didn’t call his disciples and just sent them on to preach. He kept them, taught them, allowed them see how he performed miracles, told them to wait and receive the gift of the holy spirit before their dispatch. The disciplines were equipped before they were commissioned. Following that sequence, the disciples in-turn taught their congregations before appointing leaders from among them. It wasn’t the other way round. So, “calling” does not precede qualification. The intrinsic lesson in that homily is that before God calls you, He qualifies you first, not calling before qualifying. It is unimaginable how the fathers in faith could be hoodwinked to accept the Enogate in the name of Umo Eno being “their own”. It is shameful that they could allude to the Buhari’s certificate scandal as being akin to Eno’s. It is instructive to notify the fathers of faith who by their “spiritual standing” should guide the governor in doing right and also guide the state to attaining right, that Buhari’s case was about not having the qualification to vie for the office of president. In Eno’s case, it is that of “forging” the qualification. And one wonders if their position on Enogate should be the benchmark of forging a new Akwa Ibom, a state named after the God of truth.

I had restrained myself from making comments on Governor Emmanuel successiongate, especially the grades in Eno’s controversial result. I will continue to resist the temptation of calling it Enogate, rather I will insist on calling it what I have chosen, Emmanuelgate, because it’s Emmanuel’s mess. People have abilities differently at different times. In leadership selection, security studies, journalism, public relations, and marketing, profiling persons of interest, clients or products is important and non-negotiable to avoid reputation damage. Digging up history, reports of performance, weaknesses, unrealistic claims contained in products information and anything which might impugn the image of the product is intrinsic to the process. Did the governor and his team overlook due diligent check on Eno? Did they gloss over it in the same manner they glossed over the wasteful modular classroom project? Could it have been deliberate so that the preferred would be held by the balls mindful of the successor-predecessor betrayals? Mistakes are inevitable but don’t leave the things that man should do to God. You don’t leave it to prophecy to reveal forgery. Could all of these be part of the game plan of a continued grip to power? Could it be true that this is perfected to deliver on the speculated “60:40” percent agreement for the control of government between the governor and his preferred successor?

No matter the outcomes in the court, Umo Eno’s CV has no longer given my beloved governor the oomph and air of pride to keep up the talk about “internationally recognised e-mail” successor. The part 1 of my article earlier referenced had strongly advised the governor against throwing up an unknown quantity as his preferred successor. The governor’s team overlooked that piece of advice – they saw a “beautiful prose”, albeit an “amateurish attempt to goad the governor into divulging his mind”. Hence, they replied pointblank “it would be implausible after working with the same team for six years, a leader of Udom’s stature could be scratching his head to identify who his likely successor will be”. I hope the governor is not “scratching his head” over this excellent mess?

For a moment, those who cannot speak against occultism must keep quiet. And those who defend abysmal academic performance for whatever reason and at whatever level must hold their peace. At least everyone has found a ‘soft-landing’. The landing point is called “flexible consistency”.