By Imo Ben
To champion agitation for good governance demands a whole lot of selfless sacrifices to achieve positive results. Actions any true advocate for positive change must be such that would impact outstandingly on the lives of citizens. But it is not an easy task to undertake because beyond identifying problems, it requires passionate commitment and dogged practical actions to subdue impediments usually met in the course of seeking change of order. Hence, true advocates for common good do not back out of struggles for fear to dare challenges or compromise for selfish reasons. They push on no matter the odds until success is achieved.
It is why any advocate for justice, equity or whatever positive agitation must be resilient, sometimes even confrontational to get worthwhile results. Most times, advocates defy adverse conditions set by orders, rules or even laws to succeed, changing existing status quo for the collective benefit of the society.
For instance, in politics where conflicting interests readily come to play because of selfish interests, to achieve positive impacts takes uncommon audacity and will power on the part of representatives advocating for positive change. They must possess certain positive leadership attributes to conquer opposing forces.
However, the leadership quality required to enable them to shun enticements, confront oppressors and dare odds is rare to find in leadership approach of contemporary politicians. The character of most representatives in growing democratic environment like in Nigeria is not moulded strong enough to challenge forces of suppression, of greed, covetousness and victimization amongst other vices which are common practice amongst leaders. Only very few are dependable to rely on to cause transformational change.
Among politicians aspiring for elective offices in 2023, one obvious personality who has proven to be a dependable and dogged advocate for good governance is Mr Akan Eyo, a former member of House of Representatives between 1999 and 2003. The state, his constituency and beyond have examples as proofs of his contributions to advance citizens’ collective interest. He is a true advocate who never accepts that the interest of others should be subdued while seeking to advance one’s personal interests.
Though some politicians are indeed oppressors who are comfortable taking what should be for others, or victimize others out of crass display of leadership rascality and treat people based on biased sentiments, Mr Eyo is a compassionate politician who is ever ready to come to the rescue of those suffering from suppressive actions not minding what he has to sacrifice to get positive results.
Of course, as we know, to confront negative and counter-productive forces which impede good governance and deny citizens benefits of dividends of democracy provided for them is not a task for political weaklings. Challenges of this nature are best tackled by someone who is people-friendly and resolute about seeking for the betterment of the downtrodden. And he must be propelled to act whenever the principle of fairness, equity and justice is threatened.
Unfortunately, only a few leaders possess the desired good conscience to respond to challenges outside what concerns them. The philosophy of life that the collective interest should be pursued selflessly and honourably is practised by a few. This limited category is where to find Mr Akan Eyo, who has demonstrated many times over that he is a dogged advocate for good governance and a fearless fighter for justice.
He is a politician who believes that when holding any elective office, the position should be treated as a mandate entrusted to be used principally for the interest of the electorate who made it possible through their votes for any representative to occupy the seat. This is why during his tenure as a representative of AbakFederal Constituency he made selfless sacrifices and exhibited capacity to dare odds to get benefits to his constituents.
In fact, to stand out outstandingly as he did between 1999 and 2003, most times Mr Eyo mortgaged his own interest, even risked his neck to get justice for the oppressed and dividends of democracy delivered to his constituents.
The former representative in his era was regarded as a true symbol of hope for the emancipation of the people of AbakFederal Constituency. He was used as an example to correct the nonchalance of other politicians to the wellbeing of the electorate. Whereas, after victory, many elected representatives showed lack of commitment to uplift the people as promised during their campaigns, he was an inspiration to upcoming politicians who never thought that at the age of 30 years he could pursue collective interest above personal self-aggrandisement. Really, it was expected that all his attention would be to amass personal wealth and push the interest of the electorate to gutters like many others, but he did otherwise to stamp his footprints on the sands of time as one of the most dependable representatives in the era.
To justify why he is regarded as a dogged advocate for positive change, let’s recall particularly an event which his effort to rescue Ediene Abak, a clan in Abak Local Government Area,remains indellible. The clan was blacklisted by electricity providers through the order of relevant ministry in charge of power at the national level because it was alleged that an official of the electricity providers was killed in the community. This was a very serious issue which made the people of the clan to live in darkness for many years and with no hope of finding rescue.
However, after using his personal funds to carry out survey of where transformers would be mounted in the clan, he was disappointed that his request for transformers to the clan was not treated alongside others he had submitted. So he challenged the officials responsible and found out that it was deliberately done as a punitive measure because of the alleged earlier mentioned incident. In fact, it was officially decreed that publicly distributed electricity should never be supplied to the community.
Others in his shoes would have condemned the act that happened in the clan and probably use that as an excuse to abandon the clan, but Mr Eyo is not a leader who abandons the collective interest of his constituents or shies away from challenges no matter how monstrous such may be as long as it would bring relief to the citizenry. So as the elected representative of the clan, he stormed the ministry to challenge top officials who insisted that the status quo would remain.
That the clan would remain in perpetual darkness was not accepted by him though they were adamant. So, to their surprise within a short while of exchanging words, they realized he was a hard nut to crack because he was ready to cause bigger commotion if the suppressive decision was not rescinded. The scene he created eventually attracted the attention of the minister of power who intervened.
The minister’s attention was drawn to his demand for the de-freezing of embargo on Ediene Clan, and in front of the minister he stated clearly that whosoever committed murder from the community should be subjected to the process of trial to face consequences of the law, but he would not tolerate a situation where a whole clan is punished in such an extra-judicial manner for the act of some individuals. He insisted that it was wrong and unjustified.
The minister who was so shocked to know that, it was not his own clan that he was fighting so gallantly for and moreover that he personally undertook expenses for survey of the electricity project, reasoned along with him, commended him and ordered that his request should immediately be granted.
On his return home to inform the then paramount ruler of Abakwho was an indigene of Ediene Clan, the entire community could not believe him when the monarch informed them what Mr Eyo said about delivery of transformers until they saw transformers driven in to be delivered to the clan.
The jubilation that followed has not ended till today because each time he is recognized by any indigene of the clan who knew or heard how the clan got electricity restored, such person recalls the past with joy.
This is just one instance of his doggedness in defence of the interest of the electorate. And it is amongst other leadership capacities that make him the most preferred to become the next senator of Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District in 2023.
Ben is a journalist and public commentator.