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Ray Ekpu And Dictatorship In Akwa Ibom State, A Response, By Godwin Utit Ekom

Last weekend, at the funeral of his late Mother, Alice Ekpu, veteran journalist Ray Ekpu deviated from the norm, by turning an otherwise solemn ceremony into a political Soap Box.
Speaking at the event, Ray Ekpu was quoted to have said the following “I am told that somebody has been anointed to be the governor and I think that is dictatorship, which must not be accepted.”
Even though he may not have explicitly expressed to whom he had fired the salvo, to any discerning mind, he was referring to the unveiling by Governor Udom Emmanuel of his preferred Successor, Pastor Umo Eno, his Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources.
To many of Ray Ekpu’s fans, the choice of the phrase ‘’dictatorship’ was a little confusing and out- of place. Dictatorship is the act of using the instruments of coercion by a state to instil fear, stifle dissent, crush opposition, limit assemblies and associations not sanctioned or approved by the authorities and the deployment of the tools of violence to ensure total and unwavering compliance to the needs, desires and vain-glorious wants of the maximum ruler.
 A few cases here would illustrate this:  Jean Bedel Bokassa was the ultimate dictator in the Central African Republic, whose words were law, same with the late Mobutu Sese  Seko of Zaire, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini of Italy, Augustino Pinochet of Chile, to a mention a few. These were leaders who imposed their will through the instrument of state sponsored violence and got their needs and demands executed to the letter.
Describing a decidedly democratic act by Governor Udom Emmanuel in identifying who, in his considered and informed opinion was best suited to carry on with his legacy and all that the foundations for growth and economic prosperity the Governor has painstakingly laboured to implant in the last almost seven years of his leadership should not and cannot be described as an act borne out of dictatorial flourishes.
All over the world, incumbent leaders aware of the need for continuity have played critical and key roles in anointing their successors. Would Ray Ekpu, going by his logic, describe Ahmed Bola Tinubu, as a dictator, who, whether you agree with his politics or not, cannot be faulted in the succession plan he carefully put in place in Lagos State?
Today, because Tinubu identified people he felt would carry on with his legacy and take Lagos State to higher level, the economy of Lagos State is larger than many African countries combined.  I ask again: Would Ray describe Tinubu’s act as dictatorship? If so, I am sure there are many Lagosians who would tell Ray to his face that they prefer the dictatorship of Tinubu to any other approach.
In the same vein, I am sure the people of Akwa Ibom State who in the last almost seven years have enjoyed peace and security of lives and property would tell Ray Ekpu that if enjoying peace and security is akin to dictatorship, then they will rather live under such a dictatorship than have a State where violence, kidnapping and politically motivated deaths walk on four legs. If the Governor felt his preferred Successor would ensure the continuity of peace and security, I think we can live with the dictatorship of peace and security over the freedom of the graveyard.
 If the Governor felt all the successes he has recorded in Aviation Sector, Industrialisation, Commercially Viable Road Infrastructure, the investment in Ibom Deep Seaport, Healthcare, Education, Youth Empowerment, Human Capacity Development, Power etc. should be deepened and continued, and Pastor Umo Eno is the one with such capacity and humility to do so, then I am sure the people of Akwa Ibom State would rather agree to live under such a “dictatorship.”
Ray Ekpu is one of the most admired journalists in the Nation and indeed the world.  We believe his rather confounding reaction, turning his late mother’s funeral into a political Soap Box may be one of those rare moments that the respected journalist, in his private moments of refection, would be full of regrets.
The Ray Ekpu the world celebrates is beneath such an act.
Godwin Utit Ekom wrote from, Uyo
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