By Ubong Sampson
I have been around the forefront of political developments in Mkpat Enin, my local government area of origin for a reasonable time– and enough to speak or write from a well informed position. I have seen election seasons succeed one and another, as well as transition of governments and tenures in office. In these seasons I have advocated the consideration of credibility in candidates above imposition and favouritism, but though the outcomes have not always gone the way of my wishes, virtually all of the few positive ones that brought a flash of hope, end up as disastrous as the rest– from the ones who got easily swallowed by the disabling system, to the ones like the incumbent chairman of council whose disaster looks to have been premeditated, preplanned and professionally executed. Hence, the abundance of reasons to conclude that Mkpat Enin is just cursed with bad leadership.
As usual, my area has been making front cover headlines in the recent past weeks, and characteristically for bad reasons. It is always self-seeking leaders battling for political supremacy. And of course, the youths will always be available to either throw themselves in the mud or expose themselves to physical harm or death in the fight for what will in no way benefit the collective, except for a few who will have the opportunity of financial gains from the battling power seekers. So when will these youths wake up to fight for themselves, since majority of their parents rendered poor by the avaricious character of these leaders have already lived out the meaningful parts of their lives?
Scores of serious issues begging for leadership attention abound in my area, but they have been reduced to the least of things that matter to the leaders. The reason is simple and clear– these are issues affecting the ordinary Mkpat Enin people the most. For instance, there is presently no direct access road into Mkpat Enin. The road through Mkpat Enin urban that has the council secretariat, to Ikot Akpaden hosting the state university is an eyesore and a nightmare to motorists. The only roads Mkpat Enin got from the last administration were the ones linking the then governor’s village, and were poorly done. Mkpat Enin as a whole was insulted by the then works commissioner when the then House Member, Victor Ekwere spoke on it, but none of these leaders fighting for power today had the courage to rebuke Ephraim Inyang. The all went mute feigning deafness and dumbness.
For last weekend’s event that sparked the ongoing media and political war between (what my friend and fellow Mkpat Enin brother, Edidiong Udobia had coined as) the People of Mkpat Enin and Mkpat Enin people, the concern for remedial measure on the road was only the part that led to the council secretariat where the event was hosted. The rest of the road is of course the concern of the common people. The common people will, as usual, face their problem. Funny as it may sound, it is ridiculous that one of the spots that posses 90% chances of having a car stuck in the mud is where the council chairman places his revenue boys to sell tickets to road users.
But to what extent can we blame these leaders when the citizens who should be asking them questions have rather availed themselves as ready tools in their hands for use in their self-seeking political supremacy fights? The youths who should lead revolts to seek a change in narrative would rather mobilise and constitute 70% of the crowd at the fanfares organised by these leaders to seek validation for their political and social status upgrade. The women too refuse to be left out. Despite being aware of how the irresponsibility of those who preceded these men in positions of authority contributed largely to the bleakness of their children’s future, they will adorn themselves in uniforms to cheer and encourage the present ones to continue preparing another bleak future for their grandchildren.
These men are exposed to job openings. But those are for their children and relatives. Where they have none available, they pass it to the children of their allies at equal political/social status. They would rather see the graduates and even post-graduate graduates of poor parents waste away in their political hallelujah jobs. Come to think of it… if the youths are made to be gainfully engaged, who will be idle to stand under the sun for several hours at their rallies? Who will be so jobless to make a living out of defending their greed and amoral leadership predispositions? So the plan is simple: keep the youth jobless, but entice them with peanuts to ensure them nothing more than a subsistent living. That way, their liberation is far, that is if they don’t live and die as mental slaves.
Sadly, neither this piece nor the writer has any advice for Mkpat Enin youths. The last time Ubong Ekefre attempted that path, he earned insults and abuses as reward. That typifies a set of slaves who mysteriously got to find love in their chains. If neither Ekefre’s grey hairs nor his status as former leader of the local government could give them reason to restrain, what would become of me– a common man with no record of former or present anything? Your guess is as good as mine.
At the end of the whole facade, one would wonder what they have been able to prove or what they left behind to justify all the fight and monies thrown around. Why waste so much resources to validate the obvious? If Eno Ibanga is already a leader in the polity of Mkpat Enin, doesn’t that make him a political leader in his own right? Is it until he becomes the alpha and omega, author and finisher of all the lists of Mkpat Enin people to be favoured with political privileges?
Let us assume Prof. needed that validation of political leadership, how did he see Aniekpon Ekpo as one to be at the front of that quest? A council chairman whose only achievement is making history as the worst of bad leadership to hit my people? That is, in an area where bad leadership is normalcy, Ekpo’s bad leadership is sen as abnormal. You may try to resist that urge in your mind to say he is the leader of bad leaders. But if you can’t, that didn’t come from me.
If Prof. claims he has done enough for himself in Mkpat Enin to deserve his recently assumed status, embracing the council chairman is antithetical to that claim. Like social media users joke about Kanayo O Kanayo’s attempt to get Nigerians to separate his famous movie role from his reality, it will be an endless explanation without evidence for Prof. or anyone else to convince Mkpat Enin that the chairman is doing anything for collective interest. What business does collective interest have with a man who attempted to pocket the entire local government area and run the council like a personal “kabu-kabu” business?
Ending, it is a wailing shame that while the Ita Enangs and leaders of other local government areas are out at the national space struggling and taking institutions and private investments to their areas, Mkpat Enin leaders are gaining local fame in fighting dirty for political power, just as they’re always in the news exposing their chronic egocentricism and desperation to the world. This would have been a perfect time to ask when the fight will be between Mkpat Enin people of Mkpat Enin and the government or other external forces for refusing to channel a share of development to the area. However, since it is both constitutionally and traditionally offensive to see Mkpat Enin leaders unite to fight external interests to bring development to the area for collective benefits, the common man should be sensible enough to know each time they come disguisedly robed in collective interest, just to lure the citizens they do not really care about into their self-seeking fights. But who will liberate the minds of the people and have them enlightened to such level of discernibility?
Ubong Sampson (08021419939) writes from the untarred road axis of Ata Idung Minya in Mkpat Enin LGA.