As we begin a countdown to the much anticipated 2023 General Elections, political activities have gone into overdrive. The frenzy of politicking is gathering momentum by the day with the attendant deception and ills that have bedevilled the process. Governor Udom Emmanuel has however laid a template as an advocate of clean politics to entrench a paradigm shift.
The day was on Friday, August 21, 2020. Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel administered the Oath of Office to Mr Nsikak John and Mr Sunday Isokobo as chairmen Eketand Ibeno Local Government Councils and inaugurated members of boards and commissions.
As part of his remark at the occasion, he tasked politicians to desist from fetish practises such as swearing to diabolical oath, known in local parlance as ‘Mbiam’, as precondition for political appointments or to secure endorsement to contest in election, arguing that such practises do not end well.
The warning was hardboiled and stern. Repeatedly, Governor Emmanuel dared aspirants and stakeholders that the party would disqualify anybody who gave, or swore to mbiam for the election. Here are his exact words:
“Akwa Ibom, please the era of mbiam is gone. I stood here, I promised the stakeholders, once we hear even as a rumour (that you have made people swear to fetish oath) we will disqualify you. It is the governor’s election. You can take me to court that I have disqualified you because you swore an oath or gave someone an oath to swear.
Let’s take these things away, I don’t know what people benefitted from it. Why should you give someone mbiam, are you God? Mbiam over what? Loyalty? Even you, are you loyal? Even to your own maker, God Almighty. You give people mbiam so that if he does not do what you want him to do, he dies. What will you gain from it? If you like go and swear mbiam, if that person was not meant to be, he won’t be.”
Guess what? The plaudits were high. Accolades and applause poured in from the people across party lines. The consensus was, Governor Emmanuel has done well in his war to eradicate that sordid misnomer from our local politics. However, beyond politics, the abnormal culture of resorting to applying mbiamalso surfaces in other aspects of our socio-cultural life. Let’s be sincere in answering these questions. Is mbiam an extant material of our sub culture? Is the resort to mbiam as a judicial, restraining injunction, arbitration strategy an established practice in our society? Is mbiam used to picket blue chip companies, oil servicing multinationals by host communities? Do our traditional institutions deploy mbiam as an enforcement action to assert their decisions and authority? If the answers to these posers are in the affirmative, Governor Emmanuel’s advocacy is worthwhile and should extend to these areas beyond politics and politicians.
As a state named after God, there is indeed something that doesn’t sit well if we condone the infiltration or prevalence of administering oaths to supporters by aspirants or politicians who are seeking the people’s mandate. The sad thing is that there are some misguided people who are leading the scoffing against the governor, insisting that he cannot stop the administration of oaths or eradicate mbiam in politics. These persons insist this is the only way they extract ‘loyalty’ from supporters, delegates and party officers.
On the flipside, these same people who are mocking the governor for waging a moral war against mbiam would flee their ancestral homes, land or heritage at the suspicion of any of these being defiled by mbiam and not dare touch anything associated thereto with a long pole. But they will not hesitate to cajole or coerce ignorant or vulnerable people to subscribe to taking devilish oaths they administer for political ends.
In this state, we have also seen host communities use juju(Mbiam) to stall government road projects. We’ve seen some invoke it on corporate entities to register their grievances. Have we not heard of communities demanding huge compensations for sacrifices to relocate deities, tombstones and shrines without which the government was not to go ahead with land acquisition or project execution? Governor Emmanuel should be commended for initiating this campaign to rid our society of mbiam. This is a moral rebirth, attitudinal reorientation and social change crusade, which is commensurate and complementary to the Dakkada philosophy of his administration. It should be reinforced as we close in on the processes leading to the 2023 General Elections.
As the governor has promised, none of his ongoing projects will suffer incompletion by the time his administration comes to a close in 2023. In my estimation, ridding our politics and society of the mbiam syndrome is a social and moral project that must be completed too. For this reason, we can afford to give him total support, abstain from unproductive criticisms and allow him deliver on his Completion Agenda for the good of Akwa Ibom State.