Barr Emmanuel Enoidem is a recurrent decimal in the politics of Akwa Ibom state. He had held several public offices in the state. He was the Dean of Commissioners while in government. He supervised the construction of most key projects of the Senator Godswill Akpabio’s administration. Enoidem in this no-holds-bared interview with the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Radar Newspapers, Otuekong Franklyn Isong, speaks on state and national issues.
Good morning Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem, it’s been a while you have been out of the scene. You have not been seen active, how has life been after government?
That is not true; I have been everywhere. First of all, when I left government, I went to London Business School from October – November. I’m back and since then, I have been around.
I still work with Deacon Udom Emmanuel. I don’t need to be a Commissioner to work for Akwa Ibom State. I believe in the growth and prosperity of Akwa Ibom State. If I see somebody who is working assiduously to make Akwa Ibom better, I will work with him and I don’t need to be in any public office to support Akwa Ibom State.
I have been supporting the government from the sideline. I’m bringing in investors to come in and work with the governor, we are still discussing. There is no way I will not support Udom’s government, and I will support it till the end.
Therefore, apart from the fact that I’m not in government, I’m working for the government and I manage my time now because I’m no more in government. I can say that for nine years plus, I worked for Akwa Ibom State without leave of any sort.
Apart from immediately after the election in 2011 that my body shot down and I asked the governor then, Senator Godswill Akpabio to give me one week leave. That was the only time I had a leave and it was a sick leave.
Every other time, I have been working for Akwa Ibom State in and out of the state. Now I have time to manage and be closer to my family and also to go back to my first call which is the Legal profession.
So I’m here in Akwa Ibom State, I have handiwork here and I’m not going anywhere because this is my state.
You have actually been in government for nine years; can you point out to the achievements you have made so far? I’m not even sure I can remember some of the achievements, I have made in government. It was a very impactful time and I can look back into the history of this time and say yes! God thank you for the opportunity you gave me to serve Akwa Ibom State.
I want to begin from the projects I personally supervised from the design stage to completion. I can name them; the Government House -the project is an unbeatable project and as God would have it, I was given the responsibility to supervise it; and today, it is the pride of Akwa Ibom state. The place where you have the Government House was once a semi forest that was only occupied by one hotel called Metro.
But through the responsibility that was given to me by Senator Godswill Akpabio, you can see that the place has been transformed.
Now go to Babangida Avenue, very close to Ibom Hall, you will see an edifice that is standing there, which is the Ibom e-library, it was supervised by me from the design state to the completion.
We used indigenous contractors to do it. It is the only standard e-library we have in West Africa.
If you go to Ikot Ekpene, you will see the Mobile Base, which was a project that was supposed to be done in eight months but I finished it in six months.
From there, if you go to Essien Udim, you will see the Police Secondary School, the Police Secondary School was supervised by me. The Ibom Sheraton by Four Points was supervised by me.
The day the Governor did a ceremonial breaking down of the Prison, he asked me, what do you think should be constructed in this place? I told him Sir; let us have a hotel at this location because that place is a conference town. Sometime in June, 2013, I was moved to the Ministry of Special Duties. In the Ministry of Special Duties, I was given the responsibility of completing the Ibom Quaternary Hospital and as God will have it, we had that hospital commissioned.
These are major land marks that anybody who is from Akwa Ibom State will know that Emmanuel Enoidem was associated with land marks of these projects.
I was given a privilege to also serve under the government of Deacon Udom Emmanuel in the Ministry of Investment, Commerce and Industry. The first thing I did was to reposition the Ministry. Go to the Ministry today, it is wearing a new look.
It was also while I was there that the Governor brought back the Peacock Paint. Peacock owed 241 million naira by the time the Governor came and the Governor instructed me to go and meet with First Bank and negotiated the debt and that was how peacock paint was brought back.
We did a lot of things even under Udom’s government that we cannot be forgotten. We put in all our time, sincerity, energy and effort and history will judge us for that.
Are you not worried about the Ibom e-library, the state it is now. The other day I did an article drawing the attention of the state government to it. I had to fault the structural design, after I visited the Building, and discovered that there was no ventilation and no illumination while outside, I saw some fallen Solar lighting poles that were used by some JAMB students as their seats?
Maybe the project is undergoing some negative phase now. But I can be sure that if anybody that is superintending that project goes back to the manuscript of that project and the design, the person will understand that this project can stand on its own without any money coming from the state to maintain it. Why I’m saying so is that, the capacity of the e-library is such that, if the internet is turned-on, anybody within 5 kilometers in radius of that vicinity will be able to receive direct WIFI.
If you imagine 5 kilometers, that is the entire of Uyo as a city will be able to receive responses from that e-library. And therefore, anybody within this radius will be able to have access to the library.
It also means that you can stay in your house or the University of Uyo and benefit from the library; and that can only be if you register.
This registration will service that library without anything coming from the government; that is what the library was designed to do. So I believe that the managers of the library should be able to go back to the manuscript to understand the capability of the library.
It is not just the library but the e-commerce of the library is what will generate fund.
All we need to do is to make sure that all the agencies that were part of planning of the library and the relationship has to be reactivated. That is all we need and then the library will pay for itself.
So I don’t think that anybody will allow that e-library to go down because it has a capacity to service itself.
Away from the e-library; as somebody who had been in several public offices, do you have any regret being outside and seeing what is done? Given another opportunity, what would you have done differently from what you did?
It is a good question, but I don’t want to answer it. You see everybody has his/her own style. I have my peculiarity as Emmanuel Enoidem.
I’m sure Franklyn Isong has his own peculiarities different from other Journalists in Akwa Iboom State. So when you are given a responsibility you will also want to do it differently and in accordance with your style. I don’t want to say that anybody who is doing a work differently from the way I do it is doing a wrong thing, no! So there is no regret at all! I can’t begin to sit outside and say that, that person is not doing well. It is a very wrong judgmental attitude.
Towards the end of last year, it was rumoured that you have resigned your office to contest for the office of the national legal adviser of PDP is it true and how far has your ambition gone?
Yes, very true. I was in the public domain. I resigned in August 2016 to contest for national legal adviser of the PDP.
The election was aborted on account of a court injunction where the party was demoralised. We had the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff’s group.
From that time till now, the parties are in court trying to sort out legal issue concerning the legitimate national chairman of the party.
But my ambition is still alive! Once the legal issues are resolved, I’m sure the national convention will be held and then elections will be conducted. I will still be the available candidate for that position. I will still contest for that office. And there is no controversy about it.
Talking about the crisis in PDP, which faction are you?
Off course! The Senator Ahmed Markafi’s faction. Markafi’s faction is the soul, the body and the spirit of PDP; it is the faction that means well for PDP. It is the faction that has the largest collection of PDP members with not less than twenty-nine states; so that is the party. That is the faction that has good intention for Nigeria and that is where I belong.
As a lawyer, now that the Appeal Court has said that Sheriff is the national chairman, what is your feeling about this?
Well, I don’t envy him that is why we went to the Supreme Court which is the final court to take a final decision on the matter. The Court of Appeal has the right to decide what they want, but the Supreme Court also has the right to say; ‘Court of Appeal, you were right or wrong’. We are waiting for that moment.
Since you are supporting the Markafi’s faction, in an event where the Supreme Court upholds the Court of Appeal’s position, would you still remain in the PDP to support the Sheriff’s faction?
Ali Modu Sheriff cannot send me away from PDP, what we will do is that, we will ask him to do the national convention. And we will use our majority to remove him. That is the strategy. You can’t shave a man’s head in his absent. We are dealing with democracy and in democracy, it is the majority that has the way.
The minority will also have their say because it is their right to freedom of speech. But in democracy, the day majority cannot have their way then that is not democracy. So if twenty-six states say Modu Sheriff you are not our chairman, they must be allowed to have their way because that is democracy. So we will use our majority strength in the party to tell him you are not the chairman.
Let us still look at the PDP crisis, recently you have had some couple of defections; first it was Senator Nelson Effiong, the Senator Representing Eket Senatorial District – the Governor’s zone- and soon after, the member representing Oruk Anam/Ukanafun Federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Emmanuel Ukoette defected to APC. Again, are you not worried for the future of PDP in the state?
It is not a big blow. They are people who do not understand the dynamics of politics, they are opportunists in politics.
Let’s take the case of the Senator Representing Eket Senatorial District, he is an opportunist. You know that he has been in many parties before he was given the ticket in PDP, and he is a man who lacks capacity to be grateful because, if he has the capacity to be grateful he will be the last person to leave PDP, the time he left.
To me, there are some politicians who are driven by greed. In politics, the kind of party politics I understand if I want to draw reference from America or UK, it’s such a party politics that somebody who has risen to the position of a Senator cannot be found to defect from his party. Because in those places, every member of a party knows why he is in that party; so it is very difficult for you to have an occasion of a man who has risen to the position of a member of the House of Representative or congress as it is called in the United States to resign from his party, it is very difficult. So in Nigeria, it is greed. We are driven by greed, lack of principles and lack of what we represent, that is exactly what is happening.
Every house has its own problems but it will take the owners of the house to take care of the problem. You cannot just come and say because there is crisis in the leadership of the party; therefore I’m running away from the party. That is not a man, anybody who reasons that way is not a man.
As a man you must sit down and face trouble. For me, those are not politicians but opportunists and self-seeking individuals and they do not believe in the growth of the society that they are supposed to represent.
If you had listened to Senator Nelson Effiong’s letter of resignation from the PDP when it was read on the floor of the Red Chambers, the senator blamed it on the PDP crisis and when he granted an interview to a private radio station in Uyo, he also blamed it on the taking away of his political structures even at ward level. What is your take?
I’m not saying that the fact that the structure of the party was taken from him at the ward level was right. I have also been told that no structure was taken away from him; because every list from the local government was authenticated by him. Another thing is that, at the time, he was given nomination, what structure did he get in PDP to enable him get the nomination? Apart from the benevolence of leaders of the party at that time and that is the same benevolence that he now spit upon. He does not have the character of the person that deserves to be in that kind of position.
Still on Senator Effiong, he raised a lot of issues which I believe you people will be able to clarify it. He said that as far as he is concerned, there was a secret pact between him, the former Governor Godswill Akpabio and the Governor Udom Emmanuel, that Mr Udom Emmanuel will go for only one term as a governor and it will return to Oron nation afterwards?
(Cuts in) I’m not aware of that. There is nobody that can decree against somebody’s future. I’m not aware of that pact and I was secretary of the Udom Emmanuel governorship campaign organisation. So that kind of pact was not in existence. The constitution allows every governor to go for one term and then if he still wants to go for a second term, that is the right of every sitting governor. So nobody can go and contract that out because it is a constitutional right.
I am sure you must have read a report on twitter and other social media platforms that you have dumped the PDP?
(Cuts in) I will be the last man standing for PDP in Akwa Ibom State. I’m a founding member of PDP in Akwa Ibom State. The first meeting we had for PDP was in the Akwa Ibom State library, Udotung Ubo in 1998. So who am I leaving the party for? And who am I joining in the other party? Those are political prostitutes. I can never leave PDP to go and carry broom. Broom is a sign of servitude even for no other reason; I cannot go and carry broom for APC.It is not possible, instead of doing that, I will go back and continue my practice and forget about politics.
I am a very principled person. Anybody who did not know that should know. I’m not a political prostitute. I can never leave PDP even if everybody in Akwa Ibom State, were to leave PDP, I will not leave PDP.
There are reports that the Ahmed Markafi’s faction is planning to form a new party if the Supreme Court favours the Sheriff’s faction, if this happens, would you still remain in PDP or join them to form another party?
I’m not of that school of thought that we should leave PDP. I’m of the school of thought that we should go and uproot Sheriff. My reason is that, we should not allow Sheriff to come and destroy the PDP.
Are you not worried about the state of defection from the PDP in Akwa Ibom state, being that it is the ruling party in the state?
(Cuts in) My brother, I’m not worried because those who are going are not politicians. Anyone who defects from one political party to another is not a politician, but a political jobber. They are going to APC because of NDDC, forgetting that NDDC will end next year. Why didn’t they go to APC before the appointment of Nsima Ekere? They are there because of contracts from NDDC and not because of anything. Okay, let me ask you, where has APC taken us to for over two years of governance? What positive change do we have that will motivate anybody in PDP to leave PDP genuinely? There is nothing that can move a reasonable member of PDP to APC. The issue of defection is not just limited to PDP; the traffics are both ways.
How do you see the fate of PDP in 2019?
Akwa Ibom State is PDP. Let me start from Akwa Ibom State. If they do election in 2019, we will keep PDP in Akwa Ibom State; there is no calculation, except there is a political tempest.
Please can you define the tempest?
Political tempest means if God is not involved in a thing, the only thing that can take Akwa Ibom from PDP is God’s will which is what I mean.
We will not depend on INEC to help us; anybody who depends on INEC is a joker. We must take our destiny in our own hands, work and protect it, INEC or no INEC. Talking about the national, PDP has the power to take over. We made a mistake in 2015 because there was an agreement that power should go to the North in 2015.
What PDP could have done could have been to ask former President Goodluck Jonathan to stay away from the contest, then go to the North to bring somebody, even if it was a goat that we brought, we could have won.
So what happened was a protest to the party and not on account of wrong doing but for failed promise. If we work to reposition the party, definitely, we will have a good show in 2019.
Are you seeing where votes will count in 2019?
Definitely, votes will count because the National Assembly has amended the Electoral Acts to include electronic voting. I’m seeing a possibility of a lot of grassroots mobilisation across the country, not just in PDP but also in APC.
But don’t forget the biggest and the most massive party in Nigeria today still remains the PDP, despite the fact that APC is at the centre.
On May 29, 2017 Governor Udom Emmanuel will be marking his second anniversary, what would you say are the achievements of the government in two years?
If you go to any part of Eket Senatorial District, you will see a lot of road construction projects. From Etinan to Ibeno, there is a massive road construction. That part of Eket to Ibeno will be ready to be commissioned by May 29. If you leave Etinan junction while going towards the East-West Road, there is a massive work going on there. If you go to Mkpat Enin, Ikot Abasi area, you will see that the Coconut Refinery Plantation work is ongoing. If you go to the Ikot Abasi-Imo River estuary, where they are doing the International Jetty, work is ongoing there. So many things are ongoing and that shows that government is working in Akwa Ibom State.
A lot of Akwa Ibom people are saying that Udom’s government is a government of ground breaking, what is your reaction?
If there is no ground breaking nothing can happen. Deacon Udom Emmanuel is performing more than Federal Government of Nigeria under the APC. There are so many things that the government of Akwa Ibom State can pin point as being their projects in the last 2 years that the Federal Government cannot pinpoint.
What is your assessment of APC federal government of President Muhammadu Buhari in two years?
Appalling failure. The only thing that the federal government has achieved and I want to give them credit is for them to close down the Abuja Airport for six weeks and reopened it in six weeks.
That is the only achievement that this government is very visible and practical. Even though closing down an airport of that nature was a mistake because you don’t close down an airport of that magnitude in the federal capital of any country which made the people go three hours from the airport.
That was a very dangerous policy of the government. But the fact that they have reopened the airport on schedule is a credit to them. But if you look at every other thing, the promise to eradicate corruption; the promise to stabilise the economy has all failed. The corruption war is a one sided war and an insincere war.
Look at what is happening, why is EFCC the only one that would go to Osborne road to discover money and up till now, they don’t know who owns the money.
If it was a whistle-blower that told them about the money, why didn’t the whistle-blower tell them the owner of the money? That is not whistle-blowing. There are lots of things that need to be resolved in this kind of thing and it is a major embarrassment to the country. If you are talking about fighting militancy, I think, we have more dead now than in the time of former President Jonathan.
The Boko Haram people have spread into the country. Look at what is happening in the Southern Kaduna, where there is a plan to annihilate the Christian population in that part of the country. So there is a lot of crisis in the country now than in the days of Goodluck Jonathan. So where is the achievement? If you are talking about economic repositioning, what have we gained? In the days of Jonathan, naira was two-hundred to a dollar. We have seen the worst recession in the history of Nigeria. That is what we have experienced in the hands of APC at the federal government level.
Let me take you to the aftermath of the 2015 elections. You were one of those involved in the legal team that defended Governor Udom Emmanuel up to the Supreme Court. Why some of the PDP lawyers; some Judges and Justices are facing the EFCC investigation in Abuja?
That was the reason why I said that the anti-corruption fight is one sided. It is a political oppression. I’m not saying that the fact that they are probing judges is wrong. I’m not saying that judges are above the law, but there are ways and established parameters which judges can be probed in a more decent way.
But the way it was done is such that where PDP won the case, the judges were bribed but where APC won a case the judge is upright. That is not how it is done.
If you are probing judges and lawyers, probe those who were doing cases for both APC and PDP. If you are probing Nigerians, probe Nigerians across the parties.
Is Emmanuel Enoidem a controversial person? I asked because right from your days in government, there were always series of controversial reports in the media against you….
(Cuts in) Enoidem is a very conscientious person. Somebody can be controversial depending on what you want to make of the person. I can say that Enoidem is a goal getter. Enoidem is a very committed and loyal person; a very sincere and truthful person. You know, people don’t like a very truthful person. If you speak the truth, they will term you a controversial person.
A cross section of Akwa Ibom people especially from the Abak five areas believe you are eyeing the position of the Deputy Governor in 2019, meaning that Udom may not re-contest with Mr Moses Ekpo.
My brother, that is a beer parlor talk. Nobody as active as Emmanuel Enoidem will bath and sit down and wait for 2019 to come so that he can become the deputy Governor. It is not a contested position. It is the Governor who will nominate who he wants to be his running mate.
Talking about the Abak five, would the senatorial seat be zoned to the axis in 2019?
We are very happy with Godswill Akpabio as our Senator. If we were able to give second term to Senator Aloysius Etuk who did not even perform. He did not call even one constituency briefing for four years and we gave him a second term. How much more a man who works for the senatorial district? So nobody will contest that position with Godswill Akpabio. Anybody that will contest will be from APC and not from PDP and we will win that person.
What is your view about electoral violence?
I hate it. There is no type of politics that should give a man opportunity to commit crime. The long arm of the law must catch up with that person. Politics is not a criminal thing; it is a means to develop the society and human beings.
What is your advice to the youths in terms of crime and thuggery?
My advice to the youths is that it takes decent people to build a decent society. The youths should desist from crime and anything that has a potency to put them in criminal rings. People should desist from thuggery. Thuggery is not an acceptable way of doing politics.