Pastor Bassey James is the Chancellor of the Akpabio Centre for Leadership Development based in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State. In a brief chat with Sani Tukur recently, Mr. James said he set up the institute to share the philosophy of Akpabioism with the world. He said the world needs to know about the Governor of the oil rich state as an example of good governance, adding that people like Mr. Akpabio comes once in a life time, as such efforts must be made to preserve his legacy just like that of first republic leaders such as Awolowo, Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa.
Q. What is your institution all about?
A. We want to use that institute to promote good governance in Nigeria. Governor Akpabio has become a face in the demonstration of good governance in Nigeria. He has done so much in the last few years so we thought it wise to have a legacy centre for him. We want to use the institution to alert the nation about the kind of good governance we enjoy in Akwa Ibom today. That is the real meaning of Akpabioism.
Q. Is it like a school where people can enrol and study the concept?
A. It is not a school, although we are building a centre which will be used in spreading the ideology of Akpabioism. For instance if you talk about Nkrumaism, it is an ideology based on good governance in Ghana by Dr Kwame Nkrumah, when you talk about Zikism and Awoism all epitomises good governance as championed by these people. So Akpabioism as a march to demonstrate this good governance and has proven that where there is a will, there is always a way. Akpabioism is an ideology, but we are building a centre for people to come and get an understanding and teaching that is based on this ideology.
Q. Are you collaborating with any institute within or outside Nigeria?
A. So many institutions and Universities are coming, in fact by November/December we should be signing MOUs with some foreign bodies. However, they are coming purely for academic activities. We don’t collaborated on any scholarship, funding or any other thing. What we do is to show the world that there is a man who God gave to this part of the world that has been able to proof his worth beyond reasonable doubt.
Q. You have been mentioning world, and you even mentioned Ghana, so are you saying what you intend to do goes beyond Nigeria?
A. What we are doing in Akpabioism is a global philosophy. When you mention Awoism and Zikism, they are known as respectable leaders across the world. Kwame Nkrumah died several years ago, but his ideas are still lives on. The same thing with Mahatma Ghandi of India. That is what we are trying to do. We want him to be known and remembered for the wonderful work he has done for Akwa Ibom state.
Q. In specific terms, apart from mentioning good governance, what are those legacies you want the world to remember about Governor Akpabio?
A. He should be remembered for his excellent infrastructural development; his uncommon transformation that he has given to the people of Akwa Ibom. He has also developed the Human capacity in the state, he has transformed the landscape and has added value to governance. He has opened the eyes of the people; he has been able to build a bridge of love, hope and understanding between the ethnic groups in Akwa Ibom state.
Beyond that, he is the Chairman of the PDP Governors forum, he has demonstrated in very strong terms that there is a man from this part that is sent by God because every leader is sent by God for a purpose; he has come to lay the foundation for the uncommon change to Akwa Ibom state today. Nigeria has already keyed into this ideology because every week, Akwai Ibom hosts the world, host the nation. That is why we have decided to put a legacy because this kind of people don’t come all the time. So we don’t want him to come and phase out without somebody putting an enduring legacy for him. That is what we have been able to do. He has done so much. I stand to be challenged, but he is the only governor in Nigeria today that has won almost every award, and these awards cut across all the areas; economy, banking and all that. For instance, the CBN for the first time gave a serving governor an award, so also the Nigeria Defence Academy, the United Nations, etc. Everybody that is doing well in the world today wants to identify with Akwa Ibom state today; even the media because, the media has played a major role in promoting what God is doing in Akwa Ibom state today. The SUN, Nation, Daily Independent, in fact almost all the papers have given him an award. The electronic media are also not left out because of what God is doing in Akwa Ibom state.
Q. Are you part of the government in the state or you are independent?
A. We are not part of the government, I have never worked in government before. Our institute has no business with the government. The place called Akpabio Centre for Leadership Development has no any member of the Akpabio family in either the board or management level. There is also nobody from his local government, in fact I did not consult him to do this. He always express surprise to see what we are doing.
Q. For how long do you intend to continue running the institute?
A. Ideology does not die. The ideology of Awolowo, Zik and Kwame Nkrumah are still in practice today. These are people that God used to add value to the life of the people. I know we will sustain it and the beautiful thing is that the government is not part of it. We have brought Professor Jerry Gana to Akwa Ibom to give lecture on good governance. This year, the former governor of Abia state, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu will be the one presenting our annual lecture. We are bringing people across the world.
Q. So how do you fund your activities?
A. It is our contribution because in the past, people don’t appreciate good leaders. We want to change that and ensure that anyone that comes after Akpabio will know that once he performs, his people will appreciate him. What we are doing is to build an enduring, enduring legacy that cannot be erased, and Akpabioism today is the most ideological evidence of good governance in Nigeria.
Q. I was asking you how you fund your activities, since you said the government is not involved.
A. It is not a small thing we are doing and it is working, we have been around since 2009. The idea is powerful and it is greater than money, once you have an idea, sometimes you don’t need funding from anybody. It is just a belief system. It is about what you believe in, what you have passion for. Nobody is funding Awoism in Yoruba land, the average Yoruba person is an Awoist, and at the same time nobody is funding Ziksm. What we are trying to do is to generate the interest of the people to believe that leadership must be appreciated. We want to have a role model, someone that can be a rallying point for us all.
Q. How acceptable is the Akpabioism philosophy to the generality of the people of Akwa Ibom state?
A. Just go to Akwa Ibom state and ask anyone if they know Akpabioism, in fact not just Akwa Ibom state, but anywhere you go in South South region…
Q. I am asking because he is first and foremost a member of the PDP, and he is a governor under the platform of the party, don’t you think this Akpabioism will over shadow the PDP?
A. Akpabioism will not over shadow the PDP in the state because Akpabioism is an ideology, even if Akpabioism over shadow any group it is because it is an idea, and ideas are stronger, it is sometimes like a revolution. An average Yoruba person believes that Papa Awolowo was sent by God to impact the life of the Yorubas, and that cuts across all political parties. If you meet any of the former governors or serving Senators, they will tell you they are members of the Awoism family, which is an ideology.
Q. Apart from the name, do you have any symbol or insignia that is readily identified as belong to the ideology?
A. No! The name alone is Super! When you talk about ideas and concepts, you don’t have to have a symbol such as you must raise two fingers; we cannot be part of that, we are just trying to build something into the heart of the people we don’t have any symbol for Akpabioism, it is built on love. You are from the north so you people have leaders such as Sardauna, Tafawa Balewa, Aminu Kano, and the Yaradu’a dynasty, those were great and powerful leaders that came to Nigeria through the north to impact the lives of not just the northerner.
We have had leaders in Akwa Ibom, our brother was a governor of the Central Bank, we had a Chief of Air Staff, IG of Police but they all left unsung. So we felt this one cannot just go like that. Leadership must be appreciated, it must be revered and have a rallying point.
Tafawa Balewa died several years ago, but people from that part of the world still look at him as a hero. He still lives in their minds. So this is what we are trying to do in Akpabioism.
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