PDP Will Never Fail – Barr Ini Ememobong
March 26, 2017

PDP Will Never Fail – Barr Ini Ememobong

He isn’t a journalist, but, he has been in a long working relationship with the media community and over the years has built friendship, and trust with the media to be able to relate well as a party spokesman. The lawyer cum media activist believes that the supremacy of the party should be sacrosanct. “The party is the living and political unit of a government”. In an exclusive interview with The EdgeNews, Ini Ememobong Essien, the publicity secretary of the Peoples’ Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom state speaks on far reaching issues affecting the party, the challenges facing the industralisation policy of the PDP led government in the state, and the policies of the APC led national government on national development.


So far the PDP in Akwa Ibom State seems to have come alive, and people have attributed the liveliness in the party to you. So, what’s the magic?

The magic is in time and clime, you see in everything there’s time and there’s a season. And when the head of an organization is forthright, when the head of organization is purpose driven, everyone would have to follow suit the leader of the party at the moment, which is the governor of the state is purpose driven. The state chairman of the party is very purpose-driven and that’s how things follow. You see people are wont to say that in times part that some things did not happen, the times determine what happens.

Like Jesus Christ said to his disciples, why would the servants stay on fasting when the master is around? The servants can only fast when the bridegroom is not around. The development of the party, the metamorphosis of the party at that time suited the circumstance of the moment; you had a party that was totally in control at the national, in control of many states, in control of the national assembly, in control of every facet of the Nigerian society. So, you may not have expected so much activism at some levels, but now that the party is an opposition at the national, and you have our former members, people whose umbilical cords are still buried in the PDP across the divide and these are the people leading war charge against as, we must come alive, we must be able to re-examine some things and prepare conscious that you are not in charge of everything. So, it’s simple, a combination, of a community effect of the current leadership available in the state through His Excellency the Governor, which you know that the governor of the state is the leader of our party, the current dispensation of the State chairman and other members of the State executive committee of the party and the circumstance of the moment, and handling my job as the party’s publicity Secretary, we must be able to think ahead, we must engage sufficiently.

People don’t seem to bring together that you as a lawyer have been able to marshal out a kind of communication strategy that’s driving the party?

Well, life is about passion, that’s why the president of a country is not a professional of all the fields, all that you need for a very true leader to excel is passion and strategy. Immediately you have passion for something, you’re able to do that thing effectively, and you have the strategy to run it, because, when you have the passion and you have the strategy, it makes your job easy to deliver your goals, because you must sit down and ask yourself what do I hope to achieve? You know it was the late Awolowo that said, a good lawyer should know a little of everything, and because when you have to cross-examine a journalist in court, you must know what the duty of a journalist is if you have to cross-examine a PR expert, you must know. But in my own case my history cannot be clearly ostracize from the media, as a young child of about 5 or 6 years, I led my colleagues in Holy Child to a television interview.

Elsie Udofia in still alive, then she was Elsie Ita, they played Holy Child’s interview several times, over and I was the leader there, I would not say I did so well, but, I think we made it interesting, they kept repeating it, so, Elsie Ita then now Elsie Udofia kept watching out for me. When we went to school, that’s secondary School; I was the chairman of the editorial board in Saint Mary Science College, even as a student, I think I was the first student allowed to MC/moderate the press day. I think it used to be corps members or teachers, but, when I became, the chairman of the editorial board, they allowed me to do it, and I did it, I think they were also happy. When, I went to the university, in the department of Linguistics, I became chairman of the editorial board. I’m always fascinated about writing, journalism and how people perceive themselves, and don’t forget that I was a pioneer staff of Bush House Nigeria, I am one person who can tell the story of that company from start to end. From Bush House, I was dispatched to write a column “This and That” for the weekly update Newspaper with Emman Effiong. as far back as 2002 – 2003, then I left back to the Bush House and from the Bush House, I went on secondment to the Bridge TV.

When I was serving, I was chairman of the editorial board CDS. All of that, I have been in the press. I have a father who enjoys media attention, though as a psychologist, I think he did more media work, then media people, at some point, I was the chief press secretary to Onofiok Luke as Speaker of the Nigerian Youth Parliament. The media environment is an environment I have been used to, and I have cultivated a lot of friendship with the practitioners. So coming back here, but it’s a very challenging environment if you ask one, because no matter how much friends you have, you cannot control the media, and if you don’t have supervisors or bosses that understand, in fact there’s nothing you can do, I think it’s the Bible that says woe unto a man whom every one speaks well of you, who are those speaking. It’s the media; you cannot totally satisfy everybody no matter what you do.

In fact, even if Jesus Christ was to live now, the press would write evil things about him, if you have 60 media in your state and 45 write good about you, you should be able to cushion the effect, you should have a thick skin to cushion the effect of the 15 that are writing against you and when there’s clearly a case of people being maligned or blackmailed, you should seek redress in court. It’s not possible to have all the media write good about you, and even if you happen to get everyone to write good about you, one person will just start a newspaper for the purpose of attacking you. The media community is one community I have enjoyed, I have grown with them, I know the practitioners, some are friends, some are people we have done a few things together. so, I think that my historical engagement with the media also has been of help, because , I need to let people know that it’s not everything that is money, there are some principled people who would do a lot of things for you because of relationship.

So, when people talk about media relations, it’s not sharing money, yes, money is part of it, but primarily, its not about sharing money, it’s about cultivating friendship, it’s building trust, because even the media man as a human being, away from being able to take care of his basic needs, he has career goals, when you’re talking to him and all you think about is a brown envelop you’re going to give to him, he feels bad about it, but, if you’re genuinely interested in his career progression he feels good about it, so, also he’s interested in your own career progression because like Mike Angelo said people will never care to knew how much you know, until they know how much you care so, we must be able to let a journalist in media relations understand that, look, I also care about you, I care about what I think you’re going through, I don’t think that I should corrupt you, but, I think, I should be interested in you. Immediately you become interested even in an animal, that’s how wild animals become domestic, because human beings became interested in them, the same dog you have today that is a domestic animal, leave that dog in the forest, it becomes another thing, because you don’t care, the dog doesn’t also care about you. When you care about the dog, the dog also intrinsically cares about you. So, people do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care, so, for me I think that my history and past with the press have been of a great help.

You are talking about media relations and money, is it that your party is being well funded now than then, because people may think that you couldn’t have been able to do all these things without a little bit of money?

Well, it is not money, when you see people give you good space on their medium, you can’t attribute that to money. The Bible says money answers all things, but, so, why doesn’t money buy salvation?

When you say it’s not money, how then are you able to get the PR tools and fund the party media programmes, like the Umbrella Radio show and stuff like that? All these things need money?

It’s simple. Let me show you how. That’s why Governor Udom Emmanuel says when the passion is right, nothing is impossible. The greatest asset that a young and upstanding entrepreneur needs is a not money. It’s the idea. Immediately, the idea arrives, you’ll begin to discover people who will partner that idea to come to pass.

Every social need and service is driven by someone who provides solution for them, that’s why you’re carrying a phone, the person who brought the idea of the telephone didn’t have the money to produce it, but he had the idea, and therefore since some people insist that God does not give two things, ideas and money to one person, so the person who has the idea doesn’t have the money, the person who has the money doesn’t have the idea. So, when the person who has ideas believe in his ideas enough he would look for the person who has money and convince the person who has money to invest in his idea. Remember the person who has money is not investing in this idea because of the carrier of the idea; he’s investing because of the expected returns on investment.

Let’s pause there. In this situation, who are your partners, is it the party members or non party members?

Well, I will clearly state for the records that we have huge support from within and without. Because some people just see your idea and they appreciate it. For example the idea of the calendars that are going round, people are longing for it, people say we want to be part of it, and so, we can have a party calendar, we can have a party diary, we can run a radio programme, and people say are you sure? Because people were tired of hard core, interview, as you open to the progamme, you are starting with questions from start to finish, some people tune to the radio and they want to enjoy themselves while you are passing a message to them and we say to them, look we can run a show on radio, and very soon by God’s grace, we’re still looking for partners, we’ll start the television show and before you know it we will be on the internet, we’ll run an internet Tv, all these are possible and many more. Immediately you believe in your idea enough, people will begin to believe in you.

And for me, I believe that there’s nothing absolutely the mind of man can conceive and his hands cannot achieve. We have great capacity and there are people who are willing, including journalists. I have people who are not rich and wealthy, but they’re happy with the party, and they are happy to say, look this is the thing I want to see happen. People who are well traveled, they say, I went to South Africa, this is the band ANC gave me, can I also hear the PDP band? Those things motivate us, and we push ahead to see how we can make that happen. Another person comes and say look this is a flyer from the Democratic National Congress in America, can’t you guys produce it, because people love what is good. We have a newsletter today that’s running monthly, and we’re making sure that we make people know that things happen monthly.

The party is not an association where it’s forgotten. After every four years people come around for nomination, no, it‘s the greatest error someone should think of. So, the party is alive, if you go to the secretariat every blessed day, people go to work there. It’s the living unit, the political unit of a government. It’s the party members that form the government, we donated them to government and we must be able to check them. It’s the party that can call government into partnership, this is the party manifesto, I think you’re not doing well, you’re not following the manifesto, if we are not alive and active, we cannot correct them. So, the party that the governor envisaged, which is the party Obong Paul Ekpo is trying to entrench where we’re members, is a party that comes alive with its responsibilities.

In some developed democracies, many people prefer to stay in the party than stay in the government, because, there’s party supremacy, people in the party sit down and check every unit of government, because if that government fails, it is the party that fails. The party people in government can always move on, look at the Labour Party in UK failed, Gordon Brown is now a global ambassador, UN ambassador for education, but the Labour Party in the UK suffered. Democratic Party, Hilary Clinton has failed, but very soon she’s going to relaunch herself, she’s already a brand ambassador. Her husband is into global development. So, personally, the people who flew the flag of the party may not suffer sufficient injury as the platform. Goodluck Jonathan has become a democracy advocate all over the world, he’s now a global ambassador going round everywhere, but the party suffered. So, we must not allow public officers that we produced to become bigger than the party. We must permanent keep them in check, because their failure from the individual idiosyncrasies would now become a collective problem for everybody.

Apart from forming government, the party is also expected to drive the vision of the government it has formed and one of the cardinal points in the vision of the PDP government is industrialization. Is the party satisfied with the way the government is driving the industrialization mantra?The party supports. Immediately you form a government, the resources of government become the resources to run the state. The demarcation should be there, so that people don’t form the impression that the resources of government are used in running the party. The party becomes an interested observer in what you’re doing and calls your attention from time to time; that look this is what the electorate are saying.

Now with industrialization, the concept of industrialization on its own is a movement, it’s not an event, you don’t walk into a shop and pick it, industrialization is a process, the creation of industries alone isn’t industrialization. Industrialization starts from the mindset, accepting it. So, let’s examine government how far have they have gone with industrialization, people talk about ground-breaking, we must put to context the fact that there are processes of setting up an industry, and you are dealing with foreign partners in a country whose Fitch rating has nosedived, in a country that has left being the fastest growing economy in Africa, left number one, and at this point, the growth rate indices is struggling in the minus. So, it’s not about Akwa Ibom State.

Akwa Ibom does not have an independent economy when you go outside and you’re selling Akwa Ibom, they you ask, where’s Akwa Ibom and you say, Nigeria and they’ll bring you the economic report of Nigeria.That’s why when we go to Rotary meeting, you hear people say, how are you managing, we here Boko Haram has finished Nigeria, we say no,It’s in the Northern part, the people don’t understand, even the very enlightened people don’t understand the North is far from the South. All they feel is Nigeria is in flames; Boko Haram has killed 1,000 people. Now when you look at industrialization, the governor has done well andI’m going to defined that.

One, when you sign an MoU with a firm and the people say look, you’re not bringing in money, we expect equity participation, so, we expect you to have land, and you say, I have the land, I’m going to develop that land, I’m going to give you C of O and you calculate the value of that land and it becomes a percentage of equity in that investment, and when it becomes percentage equity in that investment, the people say how do we know, you own the land, because, you have a land tenure problem in your place, you now must be able to produce a certificate of occupancy, and the people say can you take us to see the land, that’s the ground breaking, and the people present you their own model, and say since you have land, we’re going to take you to our shop in Israel for you to see what we are doing to show that we own this.

Now, as a matter of commitment that ties the foreign partners to the investment and even the communities and the ministry of lands that must have coordinated the acquisition and the engagements, so, that’s the ground breaking. It’s so difficult for people to bring their one dollar to Nigeria, you know why? Because the current system does not allow or provide sufficient means for people to repatriate their resources, and one of the things investors insist in any country, is, if we bring our money, how do we take it back? For example now, take some 500 dollars to do a transfer to your friend in America, it will take you five to six days to get to your friend; simple 500 dollars, I don’t know why. In the past it wasn’t so, now you’re talking about transfer of huge sums of dollars, 100 million dollars, 200 million dollars, 1 billion dollars and the people want to be very certain that whether they make profit or not, if I want to take my money, can I take it back.

Does it mean that these factors you have enumerated are affecting the well intention of the industrialization drive of your government?

They’re affecting maximally, but even with that God has shown himself mighty in Akwa Ibom. That is why I’m going to ask you, take the 36 states; including Lagos and find out how many states are able to attract new investments.

Now, let me show you for example, as at the time the feasibility studies were done example for the armored vehicles’ facility slated for Itam, you’re importing 85% of everything needed, now consider the cost of dollars at the time these negotiations were done, it was about two hundred and eighty something naira to a dollar, today dollar is above N500, the people must think again. When you see the lull in the system, it’s not that the governor is not working; it’s not that the partners are not sincere. Before, you see any ground breaking taking place in Akwa Ibom, trust that a government delegation has gone there, one, the Embassy or Consulate of that country in Nigeria has endorsed that this is a clean business, because there are so many dirty monies around where people are looking for countries to put in, so that, they are can clean out. There are monies that are being tracked, but they exist in cash, these people are looking for where to put it, so you must clear the source of income of an intended investor so that it’s not dirty money they want to come and clean out in your system. Two, officers of Akwa Ibom State government through the office of the foreign direct investment technical committee must have visited their location wherever they are.

Like the governor himself had to go to China again to renegotiate, because when the cost of dollar goes up, the percentage equity of that value of your land in the investment can no longer hold. The land you gave has value and the value can also increase. So, you have to go renegotiate your equity participation, yes, dollar has increased, there are other variables, I’m providing security. I’m already building a road to that site, which if you had, had to build yourself, so, you begin to renegotiate and add things.

But, these are things the government isn’t telling the people, and the people are feeling so disconnected.

You did not elect the government to give excuses. The government takes exception to give excuses.

But, information becomes very necessary and vital in the system. Accurate and definitive information.

Beautiful, but positive information is different from negative information, there’s the information you give to people and it drains their energy. We’re clearly different from the federal government that complains about everything. The governor is a person who personally reward results, not efforts. If you work with governor Udom Emmanuel and you’re to buy this remote, don’t tell him stories how you could not buy the remote, buy the remote and receive reward. That’s his personal disposition, he would work till the very last moment to create solutions to those challenges, rather than come back to give excuses.

When they retreat into the Exco meetings, the meetings are turned into a boardroom meeting and they tasked themselves on how to create solutions, the governor was elected for four-year tenure at the first instance to provide results, not excuses. As a party we’re invited him severally, and he’s sat down with us, and he continues to tell us issues. He says, look, these are the challenges and by the grace of God, we are going to surmount. You must understand clearly that every development, and everything that happens, manifests from a spiritual manifestation before a physical manifestation.

It depends on what people believe, but the governor is a believing Christian, positive or negative comes first from the spiritual before it manifests in the physical and that’s why while he’s also fighting the physical forces of underdevelopment, we’re also undertaking a spiritual attack on the spiritual forces of underdevelopment. The church community, CAN and the governor himself are also undertaking a spiritual attack on the spiritual forces of underdevelopment. He will give his report card, things are sprouting up. After a while we decided not to be talking about things, we live in a global community, he drops one idea, the next thing you see a state that was not even planning to do the thing which is in the other political party, you see them swarming, packaged reports quickly and go and obtain approval and you laugh about it, so, he now has a strategy of keeping quiet and working. Like the pencil and tooth pick factory, he never mentioned it, but it’s running, so the question at the end is, do we want result or we want talk?

They are investors the governor went abroad to bring and immediately they landed some other people hi jacked them, and if you have an offer, Etoro, even for you, if you have an offer in Akwa Ibom, and you have another one in Abuja or Lagos, you’re most likely going to take the other one there, because the level of development in Abuja is higher than the level of development in Akwa Ibom. Almost everyone would want to do something in Abuja or do something in Lagos, so, that’s why we are now into critical information management for development. Developmental information management is different from propaganda.

Propaganda is when you promised you were going to pay N5, 000 to the poorest of the poor, and you now say no, we’ll pay only a percentage, but that was not the promise, and you have not even started paying, the scientific indices for identifying the poorest of the poor, you have not even stated in an unarguable terms and you begin to make noise about it. You said, we’re going to give every child a meal a day, you now come and say no, I can’t do it, I’m going to only do if from primary 1-3, then any state government willing to join, but you said every child in primary schools a meal day. And which food can you prepare for N150 a plate. We cannot, and we are not playing politics about development. We don’t have any place after Akwa Ibom, and, I must tell you the place of the Akwa Ibom man in Nigeria today has not been ascertained. The Yoruba have taken over technology and education.

There’s no technology that you are going to bring, you must employ a Yoruba man, whether you like it or not. The Easterners, the Ibo people have taken over trade, you cannot talk about import and export you’ll find the Ibo person dominating there. The Northerners have taken over security and national civil service and general administration; they always have more than enough to be permanent secretaries, more than enough to be directors. If doesn’t mean they are better than us, but, the problem is where is the Akwa Ibom man, where is our place in Nigeria.

So, we are trying to reinvent ourselves. We are not going to play politics, if some other government in some other places can afford to play politics, we cannot afford it at all. We must be able to ask ourselves a few questions. The question that we should ask ourselves, is if at the beginning of time, the natural depth of Ibaka, what we have now as the Ibom Deep seaport project was deeper than Lagos, why did Nigeria go there? We must understand the politics of minority suppression within a majority circumstance.

So, we must be able to come closer and help ourselves. We must not, we cannot play politics with development. In the circumstance now, the industrialization policy is clear out, now you have a Professor with international connections as a Commissioner, and you have the Governor driving it himself, you have a technical committee headed by Mr. Gabriel Ukpeh. Gabriel Ukpeh has been a partner in Price Water House Coopers for over two decades. You have practical people with hands on experience coming on board, they’re not test running, they’re pushing, but the truth is, the policy where you have different dollar pricing regime for different things is affecting the moves. So many factors beyond the control of Akwa Ibom State government, the ones that are within our control, we treat with dispatch. Akwa Ibom State government had to create a module fashioned after OSCE, one stop investment centre where if an investor needs a C of O today, the entire process can be finished in two weeks. How else can someone prepare his place for industrialization? That’s why you see consulates and embassies coming over here, they see what the governor is doing, they appreciate and they want to be part of it. And another thing is the transfer of technology, there are certain technologies that the owners have placed embargo on, you can’t import it no matter what.

By the time these things come to fruition, like the coconut refinery it will take time. It’s a step in the right direction, it’ll take time, and again communities where these projects are sited, someone brings a project to your community, you ask for compensation, he pays, they employ your people to farm, and you go and vandalize it. So, may be for a project that’s to be sited on 30 hectare of land, government should spend sufficient money to fence it round? Should the community not partake in the protection? There are the issues.

Etoro, we’ve come to a point where the mindset of industrialization must sink into the people for industrialization to grow. Government is forcing industrialization on the people, because it is a critical element for development. The people themselves must accept voluntarily the concept of industrialization. They must.

Sir, there are still issues your government is grappling with. Issues like payment of pensions and gratuities to teachers, civil servants and local government staff?

Which year, which year is those gratuities

You said government is a continuum?

No, I just want to know the year.

It must have been a backlog?

You’re ascertained it’s a backlog.

The government has already accepted responsibility for that?

No, we’re not arguing with responsibility, but we need people to understand that the federal government of Nigeria that pays judges, and justices of the Supreme Court has not been able to pay them salaries for four months. Their salaries, verifiable. Four months. Federal civil servants get salaries in percentage. Akwa Ibom State government has never since the inception of His Excellency, Governor Udom’s Administration fail to pay salaries, let alone pay in percentages. Governmentt is a continuum. A man that came in and paid gratuities since 2002. In 2002, he was still in the bank, and you know who the governor was, and paid a decade to clear that backlog. You see he has shown good faith that if the resources are available and sufficient, he can do it. Now there’s need for balancing. When you strive to pay salary as at time, strive to pay pensions as when due, when the resources come.

Don’t forget that a time was in this state when the state would get N25 billion per month, Udom has not gotten half of that since he became governor. Sometimes when the derivation coming to Akwa Ibom is N1.3b, so, it is not as if he’s swimming in the midst of plenty, and not want to pay. We’re not denying, the government produced by the party, the PDP is not denying owing responsibility, because, incidentally all the people that have governed Akwa Ibom have come from PDP, but we’re also reminding that there’s need for patience, if you sat from 2002, and you were not paid gratuity and you probably said nothing about it, and a gentleman comes in 2015 and, he says look I have pity because, I know we must have been so much groaning and begins to pay, you should give him time. He has shown good faith. There are states in this country that are owing eight months salaries, their pensioners are now called IDP’s, Internally Displaced Pensioners, and you know and they are not PDP states, and so, we should thank God that at a time like this, a man that’s prudent in managing resources came, and he has shown sufficient good faith to pay. He’s not saying, I won’t pay, but the truth is you cannot give what you don’t have, if the Federal Government that takes 53% of oil revenue, the oil facilities are within the federation, but the effects of those facilities are borne by states and communities, yet the federal government with 53% the highest share of oil revenue cannot pay justices of the Supreme Court, justices of the Appeal Courts, and they are owing them salaries and you know how critical the justice sector is, that is the part of government that should not be owed. You should know that the country is in crisis. Look at the exclusive legislative list, and you will see that the federal government of Nigeria is an extremely powerful federal government.

So, if with all its powers, it cannot meet up with its obligations, and Akwa Ibom state with its lean resources, and the ongoing huge development, we’re asking for patience. We’re not denying, responsibilities, we’re simply saying people who waited since 2002, and didn’t shout then, didn’t protest them, should give us some time, it’s not too much to ask for.

What’s your take on the teacher recruitment debacle in the state?

Not having teachers in school to teach is better than having unfit teachers. You remember, the late Fela Sang a song, “Teacher, don’t teach me nonsense”. The worst thing to happen to a person is to be taught be an unfit teacher. Teaching should not be a dumping ground for people who are frustrated in life. Teaching should be a noble profession for someone who’s clearly prepared. You must not only be intelligent, you must have the capacity to withstand pressure. Children bring a lot of pressure, so, it is not a job for people who are frustrated. I have never been taught by a frustrated teacher. C. M. Asuka was my Principal, C. C. Ichio was my vice principal, Rev. Offiong Idiong was my principal. I have been taught by people who were very happy to be teachers. I want my children to be taught by people who are not just happy to be teachers, but by people who are qualified, because the entire future of the state is dependent on that.

Did you see the video of Governor Oshiomoke interviewing a school teacher, if you saw that video, Etoro, no reasonable person will kick against revalidation. I’m for it, whether it is politically correct or not. In fact, I’m of the opinion that if there is any set of workers that should constantly be revalidated, it should be teachers, and I am also of the opinion that if there’s any set of civil servants that should be properly paid, it should be teachers. We hear a lot of stories, that some people had forged results, some people had good results and they couldn’t communicate. I don’t want a dumb teacher teaching my child. Education is extremely very important. I will insist, I will support, if need be I will protest that teaching is an honorable, and noble profession not just for anybody.

They must be psychologically, and educationally prepared. Some people can be intelligent, but cannot transfer knowledge. The essence of teaching is to transfer knowledge. So, if you claim you had a letter from whatever source, people are saying come and revalidate, even if is six times, go. The future of Akwa Ibom would not be allowed into any funny hands, no, it would not. Because the failure of the public schools is the reason you now see very poor parents struggling to send their children to private schools, that private school screen teachers every now and then, and if any teacher is not doing well, he is dropped. So, because public school is paid from public money, so anybody can go and teach? I differ, whether they’re 10,000, whether they’re 5,000, whether they’re 16,000, they must, and this is from the party insisting that the state government must maintain the highest standards, to become a teacher is not a joke, we should be a serious about it as anything. Why would you want certification of lawyers and medical doctors?

As a lawyer, the matter has already been taken to the Court. What’s your mind in that?

It’s a matter before the court and the issues would be canvassed, that’s the beauty of the law. When people say they should not go for revalidation, with respect to them, I think it’s infantile, they should note that there’s offer and there’s acceptance. If you’re carrying a letter that reads offer of employment, has the person accepted you, even in the civil service, there’s a probatory period. All of them are part of the rules, there are part of the rules. So, when you say someone is owing someone salary, you should be able to know when your letter has been confirmed, and when your salary begins to run, even if it is a backlog. So for a valid contract to exist, there must be offer, there must be acceptance, there must be consideration, there must be intention to create legal relations, all those things would be tested in court. The labour laws are there. So that someone gave you an offer, the question is, were you qualified to obtain the offer? There are qualifications, ok, let’s take it up, if there are qualifications that you should have at least been three years post-graduation, and you were one year post- graduation, either by commission or omission and you think the government would not tender that part. Whatever, you held was void or voidable in the circumstance. So, the court will pronounce on that. It would be an interesting case and we’ll be monitoring.

In this case, those that gave out those letters with error of commission of omission are statutory civil servants who conducted the interviews. Why is it that you government, the PDP government is not interested in meting out punishment commensurate with the magnitude of the scam, but it’s now taking it on the receivers of the appointment letters?

I’m not sure you’re totally correct. On raising this issue, the former commissioner of police told me, and I believe him that the people who undertook the cartel that led to the current crisis were paraded and are currently facing prosecution. So, you can cheek that up with the police, but the truth is that wouldn’t make news, what would make news is Udom sacked, can you sacke, when you were not employed? The processes of employment are extant. That you carry a letter inviting for an interview for example, does it mean you’ve taken the interview, you must now fulfill the succeeding steps.

Let me take you some personal issues, there’s this Ini Ememobong foundation. It’s been widely speculated that the foundation is politically motivated, would you want to clear the air on that?

Well, they say man is a political animal, so anything man does is subject to political interpretation, but, I wish many people would join for political reasons and do good to humanity, wouldn’t humanity be better? I believe in the principles of Abraham Lincoln, that, Man owes humanity without question to leave every environment better than he met it, and for me, if I have food to eat, I’ll continue to share with someone. It starts from a personal life. People who know my father can attest to the fact that he’s a giver, he can give out his last money, also my mother.

I was born into a house where we lived in a shared compound. For me giving is not show. I went to the university, and as the time I went to the university, ask those who knew me in my first degree, I was driving a car to school. I come from a position where people around me give, so, it’s a culture in my family. We must give, it keeps us happy. Look, we are not rich, but, we give, that’s the difference. When I was studying in the Faculty of Law as a Second Degree, go and ask my classmates, I have never bought a book, any textbook one, the least I bought was 10 copies, ok, I was also doing for political reasons. Was I contesting SUG? From year two, I can’t count the number of people I paid school fees for all through university. I set up some friends and I said who do you think needs help, and we gave the books out. So whatever I’m doing today. I’m still not rich, but I still find a way to see that we give, and look, we cannot give from abundance, we will never have abundance.

Until, you remember how hard it’s when you did not have, you will not give.Mine is simple, students in SS3 who are writing WAEC and JAMB must have external exposure, especially if they’re going to public schools. I went to Saint Mary’s Science College, despite the fact that we had extremely good teachers, my principal used to pay JAMB examiners to come and give us lessons, and that’s why in Saint Mary’s Science College, we had more than 80 people out of 356 who took exams had nine alphas with further math, so, if a principal whose children were properly not among would continue in that practice of hiring WAEC examiners, that’s why Saint Mary’s children take WAEC with ease, they pass JAMB with ease. I have taken JAMB in my entire life just once in the whole of my academic exercise, because people gave their own lives to prepare you, so, is it too difficult for me to put a centre in my village, which is Use Ndon, which I don’t need to pay for the venue, put out posters for children who are about to write WAEC and JAMB, and I get people whose duty is to prepare children for public exams to coach them. Pathfinders is already a known name in exam preparatory classes, I partner them, and I have created additional jobs, some of the teachers screened and used for the programme are from Ibiono.

So, we have created additional jobs, because we’re paying the teachers. We’re not reducing the standard, go and see the test we gave to them, they did extremely well, and we’re pushing them hard enough, and I have told pathfinders, look if you produce for me one of the best results in JAMB, UTME, that they used to put candidates pictures on the form, I will give you one million naira. I will be happy to find an Akwa Ibom child’s face there. If you motivate these pupils they will score 399 for you, if you motivate them properly, and I tell the children, look, if you have above 350 and you have admission to the university, I will sacrifice myself and send you to school for all the four years or five years you are going to spend in the university. Is that too difficult? The only reason our children can go back to the village without a sense of jealousy is if you empower the children in the village. I think that while the private schools are doing well, we should encourage the public schools to do well. I sponsored a math quiz in Ibiono, please find time and sit with those children, those children will awe you. So, for lack of money, we should allow them not get opportunities, I sponsor students all over this state. No, I will not stop. So, if it’s for political reasons this is an invitation to say for political reasons, please do it in your place.

Thank you!