Unoma Akpabio: A FIRST LADY WITH IMPUNITY?
By THOMAS THOMAS (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ekaete Unoma Akpabio
Her Excellency, Unoma Akpabio was recently reported in one of the local tabloids to have attended the Child Dedication Ceremony of one of her husband’s aides. At the event which held at Insight Bible Church, Uyo, she is claimed to have made certain statements which are as undemocratic as they are inane. Apparently taking a swipe at critics of her husband’s administration, she reportedly said: “… I don’t have that kind of patience like my husband to take insults and abuse. Patience is something you cannot toy with, because it will explode. If you don’t like my face or his (the Governor’s face), manage us until we go… If you don’t like Akpabio or his style of ruling, have patience; he will soon go, so that you can come and rule. When you finish, we can compare notes…”
In the first place, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not provide for (and has never provided for) the office of ‘First Lady’ at any level of government (Federal, State or Local). The office is a mere creation of privileged ‘First Citizens’ who aim to invest the credit for some humanitarian, charitable or other endeavor on their spouses; and ultimately bring them in to the public spotlight. We never heard of Mrs. Tafawa Balewa, Mrs. Murtala Muhammed, Mrs. Shehu Shagari, Mrs. Ernest Shonekan, or Mrs Abdulsalam Abubakar, at least within the context of government, (or in a public capacity); yet they existed. Mrs Akpabio’s patience or lack of it therefore, is of no lawful and legal consequence to the people of a State she is not serving in any constitutionally recognized office. She is neither an elected nor appointed public official; and does not represent any constituents. Even if she was either, she would be advertising a gross ignorance of the workings of a democracy, by berating critics and opponents, when democracy requires that elected or appointed officials be accountable to their constituents; as well as be ready to face opposition and challenge. Even President Barrack Obama of the US faces scathing sustained criticism, racially motivated abuse, insults, slurs, even outright blackmail from his opponents (largely within the Republican fold). Because Obama knows that opposition is an integral aspect of any democracy, without which there would be No Democracy, he counters them with rational defense of his policies, or other subject under dispute. He never resorts to threats of ill consequences, which would earn him summary impeachment.
The question of whether or not Akwa Ibom people liked Akpabio’s face (to vote for or against him in the 2011 Elections), is still the subject of litigation in the many suits filed to challenge his valid candidature in the said elections. The salient point to note is that: In a proper democracy, no elected or appointed official should query any member of the electorate for action suggestive of misgivings towards the government. Power in a democracy after-all resides with the electorate (the people); and they give it to a representative to exercise on their behalf. It is therefore the people’s right to question, criticize or oppose a government which they feel is not fulfilling its obligations towards them. If notes are also to be compared, it is only the people, who can determine the performance levels of an administration, and not members of the administration.
Mrs. Akpabio reportedly went further to say: “…You cannot get to Akpabio without getting to me. If you don’t praise us, we will praise ourselves. We will praise ourselves, whether Akwa Ibom people like it or not…” The last sentence smacks of insensitivity; while the general meaning conveys nothing new. What else the administration has been doing since 2007 apart from its exclusive characteristic of self adulation (or self praise)? Nobody will forget in a hurry the horde of sycophants who were employed to establish leprous fingers (like ‘Ak