Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel, has threatened to unleash militant youth on opposition elements in the state who would dare to criticise him and his administration in 2017.
Mr. Emmanuel made the shocking remarks on Monday during a state-sponsored religious ceremony – the Annual Akwa Ibom State Solemn Assembly – meant to usher in peace and unity in the state for the New Year.
The immediate past governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio, the president, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Olasupo Ayokunle, and several other Christian leaders were present in the ceremony which took place at the Ibom Hall grounds, IBB Avenue, Uyo.
Several youth groups and women groups also attended the ceremony.
“In 2017, any Akwa Ibom son or daughter, if you have been given appointment anywhere, thank God for your appointment,” the governor said.
“If you use your appointment to come into the state and cause disunity, I can reassure you I have the full assurances of the youths, any idiot who will come forthwith to make any nonsense proclamation in the state, the youths will not let him go.”
The crowd, mostly youth, immediately went into frenzy, jubilating.
Ironically, Mr. Emmanuel, a former Zenith Bank director, has been receiving praises in the past one year for restoring peace and security in the state which was fast becoming notorious for kidnapping and assassination.
Under his predecessor, Mr. Akpabio’s eight-year rule, Akwa Ibom, a once peaceful oil-rich state, became known for high-profile kidnappings and unresolved assassinations. Most of the victims were known critics of the government. Mr. Akpabio is now the Senate Minority Leader.
Mr. Emmanuel said he was not happy that people were taking his humility for granted.
“As a good leader you must show humility, but let no one take that for granted in 2017. It shall not be tolerated,” the governor said.
“Youths, do you agree with me?” The governor shouted.
“Yeah!” The crowd responded.
Governor Emmanuel’s remarks appeared targeted at the leading figures in the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state like the Managing Director, Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority and the party’s 2015 governorship candidate in the state, Umana Umana, the Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the former deputy governor of the state, Nsima Ekere, and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang.
On Saturday, Mr. Enang, during a radio interview in Uyo, had accused the governor of blackmailing the APC-led national government and accusing it of being responsible for the economic woes of the state.
Another APC leader in the state, John Udoedehe, recently told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Emmanuel’s administration was a continuation of his predecessor, Mr. Akpabio’s government, and that the people weren’t free under the current administration in the state.
“We are not free. We have been strangled. We are under a snare, and we must get out of it,” said Mr. Udoedehe, a former minister of state for the Federal Capital Territory, and a former senator.
The governor, in his speech on Monday, repeatedly referred to himself as “the Spiritual Leader of the State” and “The Oracle of God”.
The governor wished the people a happy new year, and assured them that 2017 would be great.
“I know that God will show mercy to us as a people.
“Let me warn, those who perpetuate all forms of mischief in our state will not benefit from the mercy of God this year,” he said.
“Whether you say ‘amen’ or not, I am talking as the oracle of God.
“Any mischief maker will not participate in the mercy of God this year.
“Clearly, it could be raining here, but does not rain on the other road, which means to whom God will show mercy He will show mercy.
“All those that spread falsehood, let me warn you, if you don’t repent, the mercy of God will not reach you,” the governor said.
During the ceremony, a popular Calabar-based pastor, Emah Isong, prayed for the unity of the state.
Mr. Isong told the gathering that without the leaders and the people remaining humble, that the state would not be united.
He asked participants at the ceremony to hug one another as a symbolic sign of humility, peace and unity in the state.