The fascinating yet thought provoking article with title “2019: Another Ibibio Misleader-ship” is what was streamed into my WhatsApp mail recently by a contact in my phone list.
The literary piece written by one James Abang who probably hails or merely resides in Urue Offong Oruko, not only stressed on the need for Ibibio to provide leadership but also gave some specific salient details of the relationship between the Ibibio’s and other nationalities in Akwa Ibom and Cross River. The thrust of his exposition which aligns with the title is that Ibibio should wake up and provide leadership. He suggested that Ibibio’s should queue behind their leaders so that other nationalities in the state could follow their example.
And upon tracking and digesting the conversation, I did my own independent assessment against the backdrop of the present state of affairs in Akwa Ibom. My appraisal reveals the need to go back to the fundamentals which bothers on the foundation of the relationship.
I now want to put an analogy to the discourse, some perspective in context while making effort as well to establish its rationale. The political land scape in Akwa Ibom at the moment is in a sordid state. There is palpable tension, confusion, apprehension and general uncertainty. The interesting thing here is that since the Ibibio’s who are expected to offer leadership have reneged, scavengers have advanced which is the scenario now playing out in the state.
At the moment what is trending and making news headlines in the polity is the defection standoff in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and subsequent declaration by the speaker of seats of the decampees vacant. The after math of the pronouncement is the sealing off of the assembly by police and the Senate ordering probe of police action. Already, courts, high and appeal are replete with cases emanating from here. The ripples is continuing and is certainly not abating soon even as concerns swell over anticipated backlash with the tendency to embolden already existing fault lines.
Unfortunately, these scavengers are offering mediocrity for performance and with pleasure we swallow and digest it hook, line and sinker. I recall here a teaser posed in one of our editions titled “Does Akpabio have the national footprint to represent the face of Akwa Ibom people”. This teaser was apt then and seemingly so even at the moment, going by the emotion and seeming helplessness of the people over his defection to the APC. My interpretation is that Akpabio was and may still be seen as an alternative to fill the void of leadership in the state.
An earlier standoff for instance between the incumbent senator representing the North West Senatorial District and the incumbent governor is another among the multiple frictions requiring leadership. At the heart of this impasse is one of the formers inconsistent but controversial statement which has become a by phrase “Warsaw saw war and war saw Warsaw”. These happenings in the state has already stoked political and tribal anxiety which is unhealthy for the polity as an entity. This sidetrack issue which is not going away anytime soon makes it’s festering a luxury that is capable of derailing our collective existence in statehood if we don’t stop doing the dumb things and start doing the right things. The Ibibio’s in my reckoning, should provide the adult voice in the room to quiet feuding parties and stabilize the polity.
The scale of disintegration of the state may be unclear at the moment but I foresee post 2019 elections revealing the monster if unaddressed properly prior the polls. Against the backdrop of this bleak picture, shouldn’t the Ibibio’s and indeed the other ethnic nationalities in the state, close ranks and be genuinely concerned about the chaotic political rift brewing presently with enormous potential of escalation in few months down the line to the general election.? Shouldn’t they turn the page from unhealthy competitive posture as is presently the case to complimentary stance. Ideally, the different nationalities constituting the polity in the state should be partners in politics, security, economy et cetera. The inescapable reality for the people as at now is that they are in a race against time. The essence is time which must be seized without further delay if we are to avert untoward incidences in 2019.
Indeed, the Ibibio’s can no longer allow this time out to fester as they got to this low point because of the long period of neglect, coupled with the fact that things converged together in a rapid pace to make this tremendous decline.
I align my thought with that of the writer because in my view, it has generated the appropriate narrative for this discourse. The drive for this conversation is the urgent need for the Ibibio race to not only take charge but provide the much needed leadership for the people of the state.
It is clear that the inability of the Ibibio stock to take charge and offer the much needed leadership in Akwa Ibom has polarized the state along several fronts.
The general apathy of the Ibibio’s particularly in the political sphere is worrisome. It makes absolutely no sense to be indifferent now with 2019 around the corner. The vacuum created by this indifference has opened the window for desperados to exploit existing fault lines to sustain their divide and rule antic.
This laxity of the Ibibio’s, I could vividly recall, was the reason for the uncomplimentary comment of Prof. Ayandele in the erstwhile Cross River State that the state was an atomistic society perpetually at war with itself. Also, the more contemporary insult of mfang ukana for example, hauled at the Ibibio’s by Akpabio is one of the tantrums issued for her failure to provide leadership in the state.
There is need for renaissance on this issue because it seems to me there is a systematic infusion of indifference or lukewarmness among the Ibibio’s as an ethnic group. People should write and talk about it to reawaken the minds of our people and for the institutions representing the interest of the tribe to act. Because once there is no public discourse on it and people are not talking about it, the image may get blurred and gradually the topic may drift until it is forgotten.
Our polity is homogeneous which ordinarily should be a plus. The writer attested to this from historical perspective in his literal piece where he offered some coherent explanations about the nexus connecting these nationalities to Ibibio race.
Drawing from his earlier article said to have been published in August 2013, titled “The Ibibio as the Tower of Babel” he referenced the work of Robert Mckeon which held that the Ibibio’s are probably the indigenous natives from whom most sub nationalities of Qua Iboe and Calabar are descended. The early settlement of Ibibio’s in the area according to the source, had led to the development of a number of sub – clans, notably the Anang, the Efik and the Oro.
And continuing, he cited from the work of Talbot, an historian who did intensive research on Ibibio history and suggested that by 7000 BC permanent settlement of some of the ethnic groups in Ibibio land had already begun, noting that the Ibibio language is probably the most ancient of all the semi Bantu languages.
This much in his excerpt was corroborated by Ford and Jones who posited that available evidence indicated that the original homeland of Ibibio was Usak Edet (i.e. Isangele) in the Cameroon. These works opined that the Ibibio settlement of Isangele now forms a small tribe in the Kumba division of Cameroon. The itinerant Ibibio blocs arrived at their present locations through two major directions. To be continued in part two.
The scale of disintegration of the state may be unclear at the moment but I foresee post 2019 elections revealing the monster if unaddressed properly prior the polls. Against the backdrop of this bleak picture, shouldn’t the Ibibio’s and indeed the other ethnic nationalities in the state, close ranks and be genuinely concerned about the chaotic political rift brewing presently with enormous potential of escalation in few months down the line to the general election.
Published in edition, Lens Newspapers Vol. 1 No. 15.