A former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Victor Attah, has spoken of his regret at the emergence of Godswill Akpabio as his successor.
At a reception as the leader of the Ibibio ethnic nationality, Mr. Attah said his “one painful regret” was leaving office in 2007 with a “successor but without a succession”.
“Since leaving office I have frequently been asked if I have any regrets and my answer, without hesitation, has always been no, none at all. I have also been reminded that success without successor amounts to failure,” Mr. Attah said.
“So with the benefit of time, I must now confess that I do have one painful regret. The one regret I have is that, though I left with a successor, I left without succession,” the former governor said.
The remarks were Mr. Attah’s most direct comments about Governor Akpabio, who served as a commissioner in his administration.
The two men fell apart in the run-up to the 2007 election after Mr. Attah’s attempt at having his son-in-law succeed him, failed. Mr. Akpabio won the election instead.
Since leaving office, Mr. Attah has largely avoided the spotlight with his first major post-office duty being his participation at the just-concluded National Conference where he co-chaired the committee on devolution of powers.
The former governor’s reception Friday was organised by Akwa Esop Imaisong Ibibio, an umbrella socio-cultural group in Akwa Ibom State. The event attracted the cream of Akwa Ibom society across ethnic divides including first class monarchs, frontline politicians and groups.
In his acceptance speech after being installed as leader of the Ibibio nation, Mr. Attah, a former presidential candidate, opened up on his frustration with Mr. Akpabio.
He said his lack of succession plan has haunted him after office.
He also told the gathering how his ambition to become the president of Nigeria in 2007 was aborted, and how a “distinguished son” of the state openly claimed responsibility for the plot.
While acknowledging the individual lacked that capacity, Mr. Attah however questioned the benefits of such claim.
He advised Akwa Ibom people to forge as common front and support each other to gain the respect of other states and ethnic nationalities.
“If we do not want to continue to remain where we are and continue to have these insults and abuses hurled at us, we must learn to accept that, in a dark room, my candle does not burn brighter simply by my putting out the other person’s candle,” he said.
“On the contrary, the more candles we can light, the greater will be the brightness in that room. And in that situation, even the obscure one among us may become visible and recognised.”
In what he described as the renaissance of Ibibio nation, Mr. Attah advised the people to collectively choose a successor who will implement a people-based succession plan when Mr. Akpabio vacates as governor.
While he supported the call for the zoning of the governorship of the state to Eket senatorial district, the former governor however, noted that “certain other compelling determinants cannot be sacrificed on the altar of zoning”.
He reminded Ibibio people that in spite of their number, the tribe was in the past described as an ineffectual majority and challenged them to rise up, unite and face the common enemy of the state.
Continuing, he said, “We have shown righteous indignation at these insults but, undeniably, there is need for an examination of conscience, perchance we had provided the reason for the abuses.”
Also speaking at the occasion, the patriarch of Ibibio land, Essien Ekidem, thanked the people of the state for coming in large number to honour the former governor of the state.
Mr. Ekidem commended Mr. Attah for his contributions to the development of the state and the nation and urged him to continue to lead Ibibio people to greater height.
“You are all aware that it was Obong Attah who formed the coinage ‘Resource Control’ and fought for increased derivation for the Niger Delta region. Today, other people are using the derivation funds as they like,” Mr. Ekidem said.