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THE nation is in malaise. Our State of Akwa Ibom is not spared. The undercurrents for 2015 are gathering storm just as Nigerians are set to decide the fate of the Country and Akwa Ibom people ready to deepen
democracy in the State using the enduring elements of justice, equity, fair-play and good conscience. The year 2015 is therefore a watershed that would once again define the nation, its history, its union, its people, its strides in development and most importantly our continuous co-existence. For the State, it would be a period of exchange of goodwill with failure portending the fear of mistrust, besotted bigotry and a ruin of our collective efforts of putting in place a machinery that would uphold our unity.
And so as the year approaches, everything becomes politics. Actions and inactions are interpreted politically. Leaders are demonized by opponents for cheap political gains. Nothing is sacrosanct as falsehood and blackmail become commodities of trade. The untenable culture of "the end justifies the means" is once again creeping into
our culture with its attendant collateral damage to our value system. Indeed, we are steadily walking into frenzy with the risk of imperiling peace.
In our State, the drums of ethnicity are once again tingling the ear. Politicians are cashing in on every situation to deepen ethnic cleavages and build fury across the divides. The politics of tribe and tongue since eschewed has returned with all its infamy. Our age-long co-existence which stretches into various shades of relationships including intermarriages is at the threshold awaiting sacrifice. The question is, at what cost and whose gain?
A fortnight ago, yours truly ran into an old friend whom I had the privilege of sharing early childhood as secondary school students. Even though, he was a class or two ahead, we were able to strike a
concord even then. The relationship which spans decades has also enjoyed other points of confluence like the university which he preceded me and Lagos where we both took up residency. My friend is noted for sublime thoughts. And so each time we meet, there is always something to brainstorm about. If it is not politics, it would be the collapsed value system, the declining standard of educations and sometimes the culture of mediocrity that has crept into the various facets of our leadership structure. My friend is always a delight to share conversation with.
But a fortnight ago, he was not. My friend who still resides in Lagos had launched discussions into the politics of 2015. With a mercurial temperament that bordered on brazenness, my friend who hails from the famed majority ethnic group ranged his submissions only along the lines of ethnicity. He laid claim to their ownership of the State asserting that every other group exists only at their mercy and grace. My friend stated that it is an insult for anyone to contemplate that the majority ethnic group can afford the patience of further staying out of power beyond 2015, warning that they would take power back by any means including violence. He accused the present administration of conducting ethnic cleansing since it came into power, maintaining that the Annangs had squandered the goodwill extended to them by the majority ethnic group. His submissions were incendiary, brutish, baleful and incoherent.
For once, I wondered whether this was the same man I knew from Secondary School and through the University. At a point, he no longer spoke as someone who had the benefit of education. He sounded more like an ethnic warlord, a demagogue on a mission of mobilizing people for a conflict. He refused to listen to superior submissions and disagreed with any fact that would interfere with his conclusion no matter how valid. As he continued with his exertions, I was grinded in shock and mortal fear of what these incendiary views would do to the less educated, to the undiscerning mind who look up to my misguided friend as a role model. As I mopped at this graduate of almost three decades, I was numbed with fear for our youths who see him as a counselor and a big brother that can chart a path for them. With the median connecting the old generation and the new generation lost in fury and lacking in restraint, hope dims for the future.
Our youths need role models, not charlatans and demagogues. They need chivalrous men. They need men of character, restrain and decorum. They need intellectuals that advance discussions that are premised on superior logic. They need men who preach peace and prosperity. They need people who can inspire hope with strong prospects of translation. They need models that would through their action and utterances promote love and unity across the ethnic divides. Indeed, our youths need men of depth, men who have the fear of god, men who uphold noble values to stand in the gap of mentoring. This is the only way to rescue them from the perditious course the likes of my friend are canvassing.
As 2015 beckons, there is likely to be a bourgeoning industry of thuggery with our youths conscripted as personnel to serve the ill-intentions of the so called politicians and the likes of my friend who are in the practice of use and discard. I warn the youths not to lend themselves to their ill purpose. It was the renowned Mahatma Ghandi who said that no one can ride on a man's back unless it is bent. Our youth must be discerning and circumspect. They must not bend their backs for these merchants of ill wind whose selfish agenda can
only regress our society. They must not surrender to the instinctive demands of these power mongers who are bent on bringing implosion to our society while their families are ensconced in safe havens abroad.
Let them know that the children they are brainwashing with the intent to deploy as thugs also belong to families. And that such families would be deprived of joy if anything happens to such youths. Do unto others what you would like others to do unto you, is a timeless maxim we must all imbibe.
We must integrate the youths as partners in governance rather than appropriate for them a place of thuggery. We must engage them in matters that are noble and inculcate in them the value of peace. We must work at reducing tension in the polity and avoid matters that would inflame ethnic passion and engender ethnic mistrust. An instance is the recurring discourse and the undercurrents generated thereto in the matter concerning the location of the newly approved Federal Polytechnic. There have been claims and counter-claims in respect of that additional federal institution to our State. Recently these claims have been pitted in a cloud of ethno-colouration that border on bigotry. Senator Ita Enang has claimed that he got the Polytechnic from Mr. President for his community of Ididep and that Governor Akpabio forcibly took it to Ukana. But when the minister for education, Chief Nyesom Wike announced the approval of that institution and its siting in Ukana, he gave reasons for the choice of that area and never mentioned that any location was previously considered. The undercurrents therefore going on which seem to be an invitation to an open fray that would stoke the ethnicity ante in the State is unnecessary.
Perhaps some development in Ondo State would suffice in addressing these needless undercurrents. A highly placed government functionary in the Presidency from Ondo State was able to also influence the approval of the establishment of a federal polytechnic in Ondo. He went to his home State and informed the governor of the development and where he wanted the institution sited. The governor rejected his site and proposed another site. The man from the presidency returned to report to Mr. President. The President advised him to return and
work with the governor. The matter had since been rested with the governor having his way with Heaven still in its place of majesty and glory.
But here it is different because we have a culture of disrespect for our leaders. In our case, the flanks are opened and everybody is in the fray. Everything must be politicized for 2015. And so the political class, the traditional institution, the elites, the keke riders etc struggle to be part of the fray that is fast becoming cacophonous, bereft of the luster of logic, truth, sincerity and only seeing the exigency of 2015 and the need to reap political capital by fulminating Governor Akpabio over the location of the school. Let us reason together. Does the hunter deserve a good portion of meat for his family? I charge you to answer with a sincere heart.

Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst

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