Obongiwaad Morgan Udoh is the International President of a foremost socio-cultural organization in Akwa Ibom state, Mboho Iwaad Ibibio( a.k.a. Ibibio Youth Congress, IYC). He and his group believe in the unification of Ibibio, the fourth largest ethnic nationality and the largest ethnic group in Akwa Ibom state. In this media chat with Journalists in the state, the Ikono-born Youth leader bares his mind on the need for Ibibio youths to promote their culture and tradition. He also speaks on some political issues as they affect the state in particular and the nation in general. Excerpts:
Sir, I like your traditional attires. Could you please tell us more about your group, the Mboho Iwaad Ibibio?
Thank you very much. Mboho Iwaad Ibibio, which is also known as Ibibio Youth Congress (IYC), is a socio-cultural organization with strong interest in the promotion and sustenance of the culture and tradition of our people. Apart from our interest in our culture and tradition, we are also interested in the welfare and development of all our members and indeed, an average Ibibio son and daughter. Again, considering our position as the largest ethnic group in the state, it is also our belief that the youths of Akwa Ibom should be empowered to be able to stand tall in the comity of youths from other tribes and states of the federation.
As a group, do you have any political inclination?
Well, you see, in my introduction, if you recall, I carefully introduced our organization as a socio-cultural organization. We are not a socio-political group per se, so as to have a political inclination, if I may borrow your words. But that is not to say that we do not perform our civic responsibilities. As Nigerians, we have the inalienable right to vote and be voted for. Besides, we have members from all walks of life including career politicians. So even if we are not a socio-political organization, we do contribute our quota towards the political development of our people in particular, our state and nation in general.
But why are you guys, as young men and women, interested in the culture and tradition of your tribe; don’t you think that should be exclusive preserve of the elderly people, especially, the traditional fathers?
That is how we fail; thinking that culture and tradition should not attract the concern of the youths. That is wrong. Besides, how long will those you call elderly, live? No matter how long they live, one day, they would join their ancestors. And then, who takes over from them? So you see why we as the fourth largest ethnic nationality seem to have lost our pride of place in the comity of ethnic groups in the country. It is because we have jettisoned our identity which is our culture; that leaders of other tribes and indeed Nigerian leaders, past and present, don’t take us seriously. Before now, our (Ibibio) mode of dressing was our identity. Our culture and tradition were the determinant factors of our character; our belief system was the apparatus that honed our societal behavior. But today, all those are gone. We now adopt the western culture in lieu of our much cherished traditional heritage. It is wrong. And that is why you see all manner of criminalities in our society today.
There is no longer fear and respect in the land because of some misplaced belief in some unholy civilization. People now eat whatever they like in the name of modernity, with its attendant cancerous diseases. Therefore, it is in a bid to curb the menace that the Ibibio youths came together to form the Mboho Iwaad Ibibio to encourage the rejuvenation and inculcation of our culture and traditions.
Let me quickly add that this step will also rekindle the much-needed unity within the Ibibio nation as we will all uphold the ancestral belief that “ ke anie ufok akood ufok amo ataha; mboho asin ikang…” (literally meaning that when you hate what you have your enemy will destroy it)…adue ukot akpa itong ( if you disobey the rule, you die)… We need to remind ourselves that we must love each other, cherish our food, our dressing and in summary, our way of life.
How do you, as a leader of an Ibibio youth group view the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel who is also an Ibibio man?
Well, even though I am an Ibibio man and a leader of an Ibibio youth group, I cannot be so ethnically sentimental to the extent of not recognizing that which is not in the best interest of Ibibio as an ethnic group in particular, and Akwa Ibom as a state in general, even though it is pretending to be as such. Nobody can disguise himself as an Ibibio man but working against its interest and then expect the support of an average Ibibio person. To say the least, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, with due respect to his current office, is not representing the interest of Akwa Ibom state, let alone Ibibio.
Perhaps it is due to the mode of his ascension to office. Udom is where he is today to facilitate and protect the interest of his godfather and political benefactor, Chief Godswill Akpabio and a few other members of their cabal. When you look at the nature and members of his cabinet and the way he goes about deceiving the people of the state on projects and programs that are non- existing, you will agree with me that he is only ‘Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio in Udom Gabriel Emmanuel’s clothing’. I think this is the only way I can best describe how I view him and his administration.
How did you arrive at your conclusion because… (cuts in)
Remember that Akpabio had promised to establish thirty-one industries but never did one till the of his administration and Udom is following suit. Again, when he (Udom) assumed office, he refused to genuinely tell the citizens the state’s real debt profile and why these debts are being owed. That is to say, the commiserate projects for which these monies were used. Yet, he is doing everything to cover up Akpabio’s alleged mismanagement of funds during his tenure as governor. Today, people are suffering because there is hunger in the land. We are starving in the land of plenty, yet a few members of an insatiable cabal are enjoying. The immediate-past administration superintended a state with the highest monthly allocation for eight years. Yet, it left behind a state with one of the highest debt profiles in the country. Even if other states could borrow, it shouldn’t be Akwa Ibom state and to such an extent.
Also remember that when Governor Udom was sworn-in and the issue of the state’s indebtedness which would have been part of the hand over note came up, he developed cold feet. He was reluctant to open up. He should have educated the citizenry on the position of the state’s economy but he didn’t , just because he was and is still trying to cover-up the ills of his predecessor. Therefore the popular view that Udom Emmanuel does not have a mind of his own is quite correct. And it also true that he lacks the capacity and the charisma to govern the state.
But Udom’s administration has been described as one of the most human-friendly…
By who? Is it not the same people in the PDP? It would be very wrong for someone to assert such. What human friendliness are you talking about when greater sections of the state are not being carried along in his administration? For instance, Ikono local government area where I come from does not have a Commissioner not even a Special Adviser in Udom’s administration. And that is how his godfather, Akpabio left after eight years without a single road construction in Ikono. So Udom is taking after his boss. He only confirmed the list of nominees that were sent by the former governor to him as commissioners.
How does your organization respond to the call by the state government to the citizenry for a rebirth philosophy through the DAKKADA initiative?
What do you mean by dakkada? Dakkada for what…should we dakkada for unemployment; or are we going to dakkada for hunger and starvation… do we dakkada for a government of deceit, who goes about telling the citizens that it has resuscitated the Peacock Paints Limited in Ikot Ekan, for example, whereas it has not? Or, do we dakkada for a government who takes delight in deceiving the Oro people that the Ibaka Sea port project would soon be completed when the same state government has not been able to secure the Federal government license for it? I think those who are promoting the ‘dakkada campaign’ should have a rethink because the only way the citizens could dakkada may be to hit the streets in wild protests, rejecting this very government.
It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.
Thanks for the opportunity.