EPHRAIM INYANG-EYEN: HAND OF ESAU, VOICE OF JACOB
By Sampon Sampson
Governor Udom Emmanuel, the much touted totem of peace in Akwa Ibom may just be a stealth war monger who prefers his foot soldiers and attack dogs to attack, bark and bite while he ensconces in anonymity and dubious innocence. It is a case of dubiety and pretense which arguably are the hallmark of this administration.
Recently, Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, the Commissioner for Works, an intimate ally of Governor Emmanuel known to be drunk with power, took to his swashbuckling style by pillorying the people of Ekid and describing them as anti-development. Eket Local Government Area which is indisputably the headquarters of Eket Federal Constituency that has Onna, the home local government of Governor Emmanuel and Ephraim Inyang-Eyen as a part, is also home to prominent indigenes of that Federal Constituency.
These persons are in every sense and ramification accomplished people. But Inyang-Eyen ignored and cared less about the sensibilities of these people as he proceeded to disparage and deride them in despicable terms. His utterance amounted to an affront; an unwholesome denigration of a people and calumniation of their collective sense of value.
But it was not the first time the Onna born commissioner would be up in arms against Eket people. The remodeling of Eket City which is still in the drudgery had earlier spawned a controversy between the Paramount Ruler of Eket, His Royal Highness E. C. D. Abia and the tempestuous commissioner.
The matter that ensued reportedly bordered on the payment of appropriate compensation and other sundry obligations which the commissioner decided to spurn despite explanations and appeals by the paramount ruler. The matter which was in public domain drew the ire of many and protracted until good sense prevailed for truce to be reached.
His Royal Highness, Obong E. C. D. Abia is no doubt an accomplished man. A one-time Accountant General of the defunct South Eastern and eventually Cross River State, he left the civil service to start a career in business where he became a success story in the then southern part of Nigeria. Obong E. C. D. Abia, a pathfinder was the spirit behind the bottling company DR PEPPER which Inyang-Eyen most likely relished as a child. But power, the aphrodisiac brought them into equation and warranted exchanges that the man’s age and standing never deserved.
As a reflective leader who desires the best for his people, HRH had to let the sleeping dog lie. It is an accepted premise that Obong E. C. D. Abia is the mascot of Eket people being their paramount ruler.
Can one therefore say that a man who took DR PEPPER Company to his community of Eket, when business initiative was hardly conceived by anybody from this clime, does not love development? Was Ephraim Inyang-Eyen’s assertion of Ekid people sensitive and sensible?
In his recent ill -intended comment, Chief Nduese Essien, a two term Member of the House of Representatives and former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was forced to respond to Inyang-Eyen’s reckless insinuations and innuendos.
Known for outspokenness, Chief Nduese who is the political leader of Eket had risen to the occasion to condemn Inyang-Eyen’s harangue of Ekid people. No leader worth his onions would have kept quiet and allowed such unwarranted insult against his/her people to pass without a defense.
The political leader as characteristic of his person, took a swipe at the Works Commissioner’s utterances, warning him to be more circumspect of what issues from his mouth as a public officer.
The matter, minor as it may seem to many, is a disturbing issue in the polity. Apart from the fact that it concerns two notable gladiators from the same federal constituency of the governor, it was also perhaps to test the grit of Emmanuel in the handling of sensitive matters, bereft of emotions, clannish tendencies and sentiments.
Public expectation was that the governor would wade into the matter to ensure a truce, especially between the political chieftains as a father of the State and an impartial arbiter in matters of conflict. So far, it does not appear that the governor has acted nobly and justifiably in this regard.
Rather he has demonstrated eloquent partisanship, fuelling speculations that he supports Inyang-Eyen’s serial public misconducts which are today a norm in the Udom Administration.
This growing public fear is encapsulated in Governor Udom’s shocking and dubious reward to Akparawa Ephraim Inyang-Eyen a few days after his public denigration of Ekid people. Instead of calling his commissioner for works to order, the governor proceeded to appoint him as chairman of a five man Projects Verification Committee with majority of the members from Onna Local Government Area where the governor and Inyang-Eyen hail from for a responsibility that is expected to enjoy all needed neutrality.
There could be no better way to spite the people of Eket and the political leader of Eket, Chief Nduese Essien. Rather than mediate and bring peace to the warring sides, the governor has openly shown where he stands in the matter. He has also successfully put the public on notice that Akwa Ibom people are choiceless when it comes to Inyang-Eyen’s indiscretions and contemptuous public conduct.
The action of the governor is everything but salutary. While many have always blamed the attitude and conduct of Inyang-Eyen on the latitude provided him by the governor, many have also consistently absolved Emmanuel of any responsibility construing him as a gentleman who cannot support such belligerent and irascible conduct which the commissioner for works is known. When the governor recently ordered for a cessation of interviews by appointees except the Commissioner for Information and Strategy and the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, many hailed the decision, believing that it was targeted at curtailing the excesses of the likes of Inyan-Eyen.
But this is obviously far from it. With the recent development Inyang-Eyen is clearly the untouchable, the alter-ego of the governor. When he vibrates and howls, he is responding to the body language of the governor suggesting the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob.
Sampson Sampson hails from Akwa Ibom State.