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Ephraim Akparawa Inyang-eyen: Our politics of subtraction

by Michael BUSH*
1.0 Last night out here in Abuja as I contemplated this piece, some troubling, godforsaken news filtered in. I rejected it, and being too confused to write thereafter, I went to bed. This morning, Facebook messed me up: check out almost every Akwa Ibom timeline. Why do we celebrate death more than we do life, Akwa Ibom?
2.0 Akwa Ibomights play politics with everyone and with everything. We play politics with blood, with relationship, with the powerful, with the rich, with the poor. We play politics with money, with poverty, with excellence, with mediocrity, with emotions. We scream ‘Abasi akan,’ every time but we play politics even with God, even with Jesus, even with the Holy Ghost, even in the Church, even as Christians.
3.0 Every time I remember Gov. Udom Emmanuel, the First Family and all the value they have added and all the beauty they represent, something leaves me. I shudder at how we have greeted their role and style and, even more, at how thanklessly we shall discard their post-tenure memory. This is not a prayer. This is what I know: we did it to Obong Akpan Isemin (may his soul rest in peace) and Chief Etim Okpoyo; we did it to Arc. (Obong) Victor Attah and the two men who served him as deputy governor; we are doing it to Sen. Godswill Akpabio and the trio who variously served as his deputy.
4.0 It is in our character to dishonour even our helpers and such other respectable people, the moment we suspect they have fallen out of favour or power, or both. No one knows whose turn it is tomorrow, but today everyone knows whose it is. However, hate him or like him, Akparawa Ephraim Akparawa Inyang-eyen, Gov. Emmanuel’s immediate past Honourable Commissioner, Works, who now serves as his Chief of Staff, is someone you should have on your side. On a good day, he’s the go-to man, your Man-Friday, the friend the Bible says sticks closer than a brother!
5.0 To be clear, he and I don’t enjoy what I call a good relationship (He recently warned me never to say that again; so I won’t). He comes across, sometimes, as brash, impatient, inconsiderate, etc. I remember once calling him out on live radio, because on three consecutive occasions the all-powerful Works Chief gave me a two-hour-on-air live appointment and neither showed up nor … But, at the end, his warts and all, the man is still best as a teammate rather than as an opponent.
6.0 For example, there’s not one person living or dead -other than this Ikot Ebiere, ONNA man- with the record of the most vocal public support for both this governor and this administration. Until politics happened, he was on this or that radio or television or newspaper house every other week selling our governor, our state, our people and our government. Please, show me, who else has had and displayed this much energy and love? From the foregoing, even if he has made any mistake whatsoever (by the way this is not about the recent viral video; I found nothing incriminating in it), no one should privately let alone publicly cast any stone at all.
7.0 Furthermore, those who have been in trouble and ever had the privilege of speaking one on one with Akparawa Inyang-eyen say that he can’t be the same man we all talk about the way we do. They say he is the king of listening and of help. And, he’s businesslike. Above all, that he never brags about help that he has given.
8.0 He’s one of a few people (they don’t number up to five, statewide) who truly love and defend Gov. Emmanuel day and night. He’s first man standing; he’s middle man standing, and he’s last man standing. Every man needs an Ephraim Inyang-eyen in their life, I swear. Over 100, as a clearinghouse for this governor, he was excellent; 80/90: he intervened in the governor’s name; without first seeking approval or first getting money from him.
9.0 Having said that, the Chief of Staff must realise what authority means -especially in Nigeria. He should, in spite of and despite what so-called blackmailers have already achieved on his head, understand that a man under authority is not and can never be the same as THE MAN IN AUTHORITY. A man under authority has nothing to prove; except, perhaps, to wait for his own time. Being Akparawa to power two, he should henceforth show more tact, more restrain, more honour; even as he goes about within the constitution searching for a future spot in Abuja.
10.0 On the other hand, the world must not miss the lessons inherent in the Ephraim Inyang-eyen saga. One: God truly gave Akwa Ibom a governor in Mr Udom Emmanuel. My God, what a leader, what a man, what a governor! So patient, so long-suffering, so tolerant!
11.0 Two: People only stand with you when your going is good. Three: (Even your) people who never applauded your good deeds would call for your head once you open the window. Meaning: Everybody is timing and watching and praying against everybody. Everybody is praying for everybody to fall (down) and die so they could rush to Facebook and post crocodile tears, while subtracting the fallen from the list of their enemies or those they envied.
12.0 Four: Anything can happen to anyone, anytime. The few good men can lose out while the many evil people continue to multiply. And, five: in Politics Nigeriana, NEVER EVER LOSE THE BALL or you’d find yourself defending forever! The best strategy, therefore, is: while doing everything you can to keep the ball and your eyes on it, watch your back, watch in front, watch the flanks and no matter how green the other field might be, play here until the whistle goes!
13.0 Finally, and directly, I pray and believe that as things stand now, our governor shall break one jinx that has tormented Akwa Ibom State Government since the second term of Obong Attah. Two of the latter’s aboriginal foot soldiers (Chief Idongesit Udokpo -may his soul rest in peace- and Obong Emmanuel Obot) were unceremoniously sent out of government. In the second term of Attah Successor, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, the lot unfortunately fell on his two best loyalists-from-the-beginning, Mr Umana Okon Umana and as he then was Bishop Samuel Akpan. I move that our tongue-speaking Gov. Emmanuel shouldn’t fall to the temptation that bedeviled the former house and certainly not with this one utility player who can change the game even in injury time such as now.
God bless Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria!
* Akparawa BUSH, a media chief, who sits on Akwa Ibom State Primary Healthcare Board, writes from Ekpene Ukim, Uruan LGA of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

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