Barr. Usenobong Akpabio has been described as a square peg in a square hole, by !r. Marvel Joseph, a Human Resources Manager and political stalwart in the area.
Mr. Marvel Essien is Managing Director of Spring Resources Consulting – a human resources and organisation development firm. He is a political Chieftain from Mbiaya Uruan, in Uruan Local Government Area.
In this interview with our reporters, Mr. Essien unravelled his journey from Political journey so far.
He also let us into his choice of candidates for the gubernatorial election, and Uyo Senatorial District Elections, the reason behind his choices and YPP’S chances of winning, and lots more.
Question: May we get to know you Sir?
Answer: My name is Marvel Joseph Essien, I am from Nung Essien Royal family of Mbiaya in Uruan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State. Currently, I am the Managing Director of Spring Resources Consulting Limited, a human resources and organisation development firm. Over the years, I’ve consulted for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
Some of which I’ve grown from small to large scale, example, Orange Drugs Group of Companies, where I was Head of Operations and Human Resources for several years, and significantly leading the human resources department of Eko Supreme Resources Nigeria Limited and its 4 other associated companies.
Their major brands being Delta Soap and Soklin detergents as their flagships respectively. Some of these companies, which I helped grow from zero staffing levels to staff strength of over five thousand staff placements in Nigeria. I am a professional human resources consultant, with special skills in organisation development. I
have a flair for politics, which I discovered since 1992, when I worked closely with Mrs. Florence Ita Etuk, of Ibesikpo Asutan, who was the then Social Democratic Party (SDP) State Women Leader in Akwa Ibom State and Hon. Imo Udoh, the then House of Assembly member, representing Nsit Ibom State Constituency in the then Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, before I veered off to build and develop my career in Human Resources.
I am a graduate of Sociology and Anthropology, from the prestigious University of Uyo. Also, I hold Masters of Science degree from the great University of Lagos in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management amongst other numerous professional certifications in the field of management.
Question: How do you see Akwa Ibom political Scene?
Answer: Political scene in Akwa Ibom is an evolving standard. How it was in 1992 to the build up of the 1993 Elections is very different with what it is today. So many changes, expectedly has occurred over the years. Today, campaigns for the 2023 Elections would kick off soon.
Issues related to party politics, socio-economic challenges, various interest interplay are on the burner at the moment for politicians and electorates to disect for the various interests and benefits. The political cloud has gathered. The game had since started.
Political consciousness in Akwa Ibom State has remarkably improved. These would impact seriously in the choice of candidates in the forthcoming Elections. Thus, at the end of political party primaries, as it were, you and I must have witnessed the battery of movements of politicians from one party to another.
Don’t forget that a lot of political pundits often argue that our memberships of political parties are not strictly ideologically based. Also, our Electoral laws does not recognise independent candidacy. So these movements of politicians were basically in search of Tickets to be on the ballot.
What has given the impetus to politicians to embark on these bold steps is basically the fact that the political landscape in Nigeria, and in reference to Akwa Ibom State, has witnessed a lot of positive changes. It is certain that it is no longer attractive to plan to hijack Elections through political thuggery.
Last General Elections, 2019, had shown us that votes do count. Especially, as reflected in the gubernatorial elections, when the people of Akwa Ibom stood their ground to say or vote for, please note, against distortion of zoning, vote for Uyo Senatorial District interest. Vote against one man imposing a candidate on Akwa Ibom State people.
I can emphasise here that, PDP did NOT win 2019 Elections based on performance, but that PDP won that Election because the people predominantly rose up to speak in one voice jjthrough their vote against godfatherism and imposition of candidate by one man.
I, for example, travelled with my family from over 700 kilometres distance to my village, where my Polling Unit is situated to cast my vote against imposition of candidate. That as much as I love that my Leader, I voted the interest of Akwa Ibom State.
My family and I were not alone in that school of thought, majority of people and their families, shared in that Akwa Ibom spirit. That is what gave victory to PDP in 2019.
The political scene, as it trends, in the build up to 2023 General Elections has elements of what happened in the build up to 2019 General Elections.
I see a much more multi party House of Assembly seats in Akwa Ibom State Legislative Arm in 2023. The current alignment and realignment of political interests and politicians are likely to produce a lot of political upsets, I mean, unexpected defeats.
Hence, the political scene is filled with so much uncertainty, so much hide and seek game seems to be on-going, some are overconfident, some are bringing so much comic relives to the scene. I would just tell you that current political scene is interesting in Akwa Ibom State.
Question: There’s this belief that PDP is a religion in Akwa Ibom State, what is your take on this?
Answer: Anyone that may say any political party is a religion is not a good student of political science. The only thing constant in this world is change. A collectivity of people may come together momentarily as a religion in one heart for a cause or purpose.
But you can never have any social or political group stay together in totality, permanently, for any particular cause or purpose as a religion. Even religion has sects.
So it won’t be appropriate for anyone to say that any political party is a religion in a multifaceted state as Akwa Ibom State, with multifarious interests. Except for mere boasting.
Sometimes, this kind of boast could be highly counter productive; it may generate a false sense of confidence. And may birth foolhardy actions from proponents of this kind of idea.
Things have changed. Change is constant. No political party is a religion anywhere in the world. Politics is dynamic. It evolves, it could also be revolutionary.
PDP has been in government in Akwa Ibom State since 1999. I have also shared my thoughts with you, about the reason PDP won the 2019 Elections. It was not about their performance. It was more about the integrity of the people of Akwa Ibom State and the overall interest of Uyo Senatorial District.
Let me emphasise here that if PDP did not get their Party Primaries right in 2019, PDP may not have won that Elections.
Did PDP get its party primaries right this time, in preparations for the 2023 General Elections?
The answer to this question is coming out at the 2023 polls in Akwa Ibom State. Thereafter, let PDP count itself again as a religion. I am confident about the fact that a political party’s performance, in terms of its democratic values, may be excellent enough for them to assume that the party is a religion.
However, when once the party gets it wrong, then the results at the polls would help members know that a political party can never be a religion in a democracy. No one man can think and act as a god in a democracy. It is the strength of a party’s internal democracy that brings oneness that appears as if the party is a religion, with faithfuls and loyal followership.
PDP may therefore be deceived by its past glory to consider itself a religion. Akwa Ibom State PDP can not be currently described as a religion. Take that to the bank for limitless transactions.
Question: Who is your preferred senatorial District candidate in the forthcoming elections?
Answer: I am from Uyo Senatorial District. I completely, and wholeheartedly, stand with Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Usenobong Akpabio of Young Progressives Party (YPP)
He was a two term Lawmaker at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, representing Uruan State Constituency. He is a practising lawyer of repute, with a good professional standing, and with a sound mind. I found him suitable to represent Uyo Senatorial District at the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Question: Why the choice of Barr. Usenobong Akpabio?
Answer: I guess you want me to explain further on my choice of Usenobong Akpabio.
Let me explain a bit. I have a PDP political background, same with Usenobong Akpabio. I was divided between who to support during the build up to the PDP’S primaries. Could you guess what my dilemma was? You can’t guess.
I was torn between supporting Prince (Dr.) Godwin Ntuk Udeh, my political principal, my mentor. The man I love and respect so much, because of his open hearted disposition towards everyone, not minding your background or status in life.
Let me leave that for another day. Or whether to support, Rt. Hon. Usenobong Akpabio, who has been in the race for Senate since 2013 or 2014, and 2018, who have sacrificed his aspiration and interest in order for PDP to unite for electoral victories in the past. My consideration to support any of them then, would have been as a gesture of my understanding and admiration of their love and passion for PDP, as our party.
However, my Principal, Snr. Apostle (Prince) Godwin Ntuk udeh (PhD) did not eventually declare to contest. Just then, the Speaker of AKHA, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey declared.
Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey is currently the highest political office holder, in Uruan, my local government area. He is therefore, my Leader. As a faithful PDP member, I immediately placed my support to the Speaker. And declared same in my private and public conversations. Mine was to work for my party. Recognise offices and be loyal to the occupants of offices in my party and government.
So I supported Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey. But was soon to realise that PDP is a closed party. I did not feel welcomed in the Speaker’s political team. So I stayed back in the party, supporting all the candidates of PDP as a loyal party member.
Then I came across what I call “PDP left me, I did not leave PDP” press interview of Usenobong Akpabio. That marked the turning point in my political party and its candidates support towards 2023 General Elections. It dawned on me that PDP is a closed party. What I mean by closed party is that PDP is full. They do not need members anymore. They are satisfied so far, and have gone to sleep.
PDP do not care who supports or who leaves. PDP has no need for membership “caliberation”. They engage more in ceremonial, ritualistic, semantic, lip service, relationship with members. As exemplified in their reconciliation committee that people see as a joke. While breeding a very arrogant, wild and sarcastic media team, especially in the social media space. Even those in high offices, desecrating professional ethics by bringing official letters to the social media for cheap political points.
Political Public Office holders see themselves as demigods, without listening to the cry of the masses. The PDP government in Akwa Ibom State are busy embarking on certain projects, that the majority of Citizens see as a waste of public resources, yet, government carry on with those projects as if those in government are all-knowing demigods. Even Kings and Emperors listen to their subjects.
Sorry for the digression.
My support for Usenobong Akpabio is about support for competency.
You see this coming 2023 polls? It is not going to be about political party. It is going to be about individual competence. I am only following the positive trend. I would campaign and vote for Usenobong Akpabio of YPP.
Question: Are you not worried about the fact that Usenobong Akpabio and the PDP Candidate for Uyo Senatorial District are from the same Local Government Area?
Answer: (Laughs) I am from Uyo Senatorial District. I am from Uruan. Zoning favours Atai Uyo,which was micro zoned to Uruan for Senatorial Seat. Just like it is most appropriate for the next Governor to be elected from Itu/Ibiono Federal Constituency.
I am not worried because I am going to support and vote my conscience. Both contestants, Usenobong Akpabio and the PDP Candidate, are my beloved brothers, whom I may consider I have a personal relationship. But when it comes to choice, both of them are matured, intelligent, and sound in mind enough to search their deep conscience to justify my choice of whom to support between them, if they must credit me with a sound mind of objectivity.
Also, both of them are aware of the advocacy for a ballot revolution in Nigeria and the impending Ballot Revolution in Akwa Ibom State.
Question: What does ballot revolution entail?
Answer: Ballot revolution is about a third force. We’ve had the 2 major political parties owning the political space for a long time. A third force has emerged in Akwa Ibom State. It is about political upsets. It is about progress. Changing the way we are used to doing things and adopting a fresh and new approach to our political landscape.
You can not grow by doing the same thing, over and over again. Change your approach, if you are not satisfied with your present circumstances.
Ballot revolution is about voting for candidates like Usenobong Akpabio, OBA and not necessarily political parties. Ballot Revolution means vote out PDP from Government House. Vote competent candidates, not necessarily candidates seemingly selected by one man. Vote YPP.
Question: Apart from Usenobong Akpabio, what is your perception of YPP’S chances of winning the gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State?
Answer: The leadership of the ruling Party in Akwa Ibom State has made it necessary, easy, and convenient for YPP to take over Akwa Ibom State. No man can play God. Democracy is about the people, not one man.
The internal democracy/politics of other parties, which may make some of them not even have gubernatorial candidates on the ballot paper, is another advantage of YPP.
Most importantly, the popularity of the YPP gubernatorial candidate across party lines makes YPP win a sure bet.
Now, back to the real issue.
If you listen to the humane plans OBA has for Akwa Ibom State, then no citizen of Akwa Ibom State would fail to vote YPP.
Is it about compassion on retired teachers/civil servants Pensions and Gratuities, or human
capacity development, or Agriculture and food processing or his plans to uplift Akwa Ibom people through a well laid out plan for skill acquisition, and creating enabling environment for SMEs?
OBA of YPP is ready for the governorship position. He has a detailed blueprints. His knowledge of governance is excellent.
I am not surprised at his competence, and mass acceptance by the electorates. He has been in government long enough to garner the necessary experience required for such high office.
He joined government at a young age, good enough for fast learning. He has sufficient Executive and Legislative experience. Akwa Ibom State needs his varied experience.
As an organisation development consultant and an expert in human resources practice of international standards, I am willing to tell you for free, that OBA’s age and experience, or call it career exposures makes him a total fit for the governorship seat of our dear State.
Akwa Ibom people should pray not to miss this opportunity of having a man of the YPP Candidate’s qualification occupy the Hill Top Mansion.
OBA would understand how to blend the old brigade and fresh brigade to achieve superlative results in governance. OBA would not shy away from new faces, and would not keep old brigade for 8 years, without having the political will to rejig his EXCO for better performance to the benefits of Akwa Ibom State people.
His plans for the State are such that, people would not experience current level of unemployment. I heard him talk about a workable employment Bureau, human capacity development, development of SME’s, and other employment generation initiatives expertly.
Distinguished Senator Bassey Albert and Usenobong Akpabio are set to take Akwa Ibom State to great heights .