The Yoruba language is rich and considers even inconceivable things in its linguistic code. For instance, an old man with childish proclivities is called “agbaya”. The word is loosely translated as “childish old man”, implying that despite the man’s advanced age, his conduct is childish. It is not complimentary.
The actions and conducts of Dele Sobowale on many occasions tempt many young people to compromise the time honoured value of respect for elders as they are compelled to address him with lexical items that are reasonably unsuitable for his age but fittingly apt for his indiscretions. Whether these actions are geared towards pecuniary gains as there are obvious, they convey the fact that Dele Sobowale has no integrity or honour and so could pass for a man who has encountered old age but without the requisite wisdom to give him fulfilment. According to the celebrated Swiss writer, Henri Frederic Amiel, “To know how to grow old is the masterwork of wisdom…”
Has our elder statesman, (the word is only accorded his age, not his conduct) grown in wisdom? Any affirmative answer arising from this question is suspect and vacuous, Ecclesiastes 11:9 upholds and expatiates on this, “when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things”. Interesting! But has Sobowale put away childish habits? The answer is, NO! It is why greed is still an integral part of his life. It is also why he is uncompromisingly pecuniary without regard to self-respect, integrity and personal honour.
Sometime in 2018, he wrote a book entitled: ATTAH ON RESOURCE CONTROL, ostensibly as a public relations booster for his friend and contemporary, His Excellency, Obong Victor Attah, former governor of Akwa Ibom State. Again during Obong Attah’s 80th birthday, a biographical work on the one time governor debuted with the title “It is well with my soul” and Dele Sobowale was touted to be the spirit behind the book. As expected of his cantankerous self, he devoted his contribution in the book to slandering. He extended his calumniation to even persons that had managed to reach a convenient relationship with his friend and are currently in cahoot to boost an instinctive agenda of hate. His description of Governor Udom’s tenure as incompetent and a monumental failure and the obvious volte face upon his realization of the sizzling romance between Attah and Udom underscore Sobowale as a disciple of “your enemy is my enemy”. But is that the kind of conduct that one expects of a man of his age? In the book as expected, Akpabio formed the past time of the septuagenarian’s excoriation. He satiated himself in fabricating falsehood about a man he delights to hate.
Dele Sobowale’s recent diatribe against Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON, and published in Vanguard Neswpapers, a frontline national mainstream medium that should lead the ethical rebirth of journalism, further fuels the fear that Sobowale is a mere agent provocateur doing the bidding of some elements. But the shock is how a septuagenarian could lend himself and career to such behest and accept to be an undertaker against an innocent man, young enough to be his son, at worst, a younger brother.
To please his paymasters, Sobowale in the article, is combative, pugnacious and mischievous with reason and logic banished in the hate driven piece. Perhaps the heartrending part is the ease of liberty with truth which this grandfather exercises without restrain or compunction. The hate for Akpabio which Sobowale has inherited from his paymasters is eloquently manifest in his many descriptions of Akpabio in the article and the attempt to erode his legacies with shocking falsehood and barefaced lies.
Because Sobowale is ignorant of the politics of Akwa Ibom and lacks indepth knowledge of the person of Akpabio, he has made egregious false claims. The claim that the Ibibios constitute 67% of Akwa Ibom voters leaving other groups with a paltry 33% is false and deficit of any truth. If he conducts a more diligent study of our demography, he would realize that the margin of votes between the Ibibios and the aggregated votes of other ethnic groups is numerically superior in favour of the latter and against his spurious claim. Sobowale also noted that Akpabio in 2007 received total support from the State Government. Again this is far from the truth. Then governor, His Excellency, Obong Victor Attah, covertly supported the Action Congress (AC) candidate in the person of James Iniema, who lost the election to Akpabio with gaping margin.
Indeed, of many claims Sobowale has made, some are so strange and curious that they offend public sensibilities and agitate the minds of many, especially those who are eye witnesses to activities in the State. Sobowale, who has never lived in Akwa Ibom and who only used to come to the State to cart away our common patrimony, lied that Attah had done 85% of work at the airport and that Akpabio used only 4 months to complete the 15% level of work that was left by the Attah administration. This type of audacious claim is provocative and disturbing to those who saw the cleared site for the airport and professionally adjudged the amount of work done to be 10%. They also know that an airport cannot be built in 4 months as claimed by Sobowale. Perhaps for him, volunteering that time duration would support the claim that Attah built the airport having credited him with 85% of the work. As a veteran journalist that has been around, Sobowale should know that facts are sacred. Akpabio assumed office in May 29, 2007. The airport was inaugurated on September 23, 2009, meaning that two and a half years were used by Akpabio in the airport project. If Sobowale had done proper findings as expected, he would have known that DNYCORP, an American company that was engaged, confessed that they did only 10% of work at the airport before Akpabio reviewed and revoked the contract because of obvious irregularities.
Sobowale, in the article also made the unfortunate insinuation that under Akpabio, the hitherto peaceful Akwa Ibom State became the nation’s leading crime State – as kidnapping, murder and arson, etc. became common decimals. While kidnapping and other violent crimes had become a national malaise at that period, the Akpabio administration distinguished itself in pro-activeness by investing enormously in security infrastructure in the State. The truth is that the rate of crime nationally was at its peak but was curbed and controlled by the Akpabio administration with incomparable deftness. Today, the results of Akpabio’s rigorous efforts are seen in the investigation and arrest of criminals who have equally confessed to the crimes, especially the kidnappings and murder of some persons that Akpabio was directly alleged to be complicit. Yet none of them has indicted or incriminated Akpabio. Sobowale, who also wrote articles with damning verdicts of accusation of Akpabio is also yet to see the need to apologize to the innocent man.
Sobowale’s contempt for Akpabio lacks reasonable basis. His attempt to impute a presumed act of ingratitude on the part of Akpabio to his predecessor is untenable. For years, every of Sobowale’s writings about Akwa Ibom or his friend have always explored for ways to bring Akpabio into the equation for excoriation which he has stated is currently his past time.
The many fallacies contained in Sobowale’s article suggest that it was sponsored with the intent to calumniate as well as distort facts. The case of the dialysis centre built and equipped by the Akpabio administration and confirmed to be so by the hospital management points to an attempt to sacrifice truth for pecuniary gains. Knowing that this is done by a septuagenarian that should actually hold the pride of place of doyen of the profession makes it more heart breaking. To find a man of the standing of Sobowale abetting falsehood with such audacious gusto is proof that morality is actually in flight in our land.
Sobowale in the article erroneously alluded that Akpabio destroyed the legacies of his predecessor. Need he be reminded that Akpabio completed all of Attah’s projects with style and grandeur except the Science Park which cogent reasons were adduced. Apart from the suspected financial malfeasance noticed in the payment procedure which witnessed the swoop payment of NGN5.3billion of the NGN5.6billion contract value, ICT infrastructure are dynamic and have short life span. The delay had therefore made some of the equipment ordered obsolete. The Akpabio administration did not only complete the projects Obong Attah left behind, it added several others attracting the fitting sobriquet of Uncommon Transformation.
The present administration may have thought that naming the airport after Akpabio’s predecessor would irk him (Akpabio) forgetting that the same Akpabio as a parting gift built a brand new road to his predecessor’s local government. Sobowale’s penchant to stoke recriminations and acrimony in our State should be viewed with concern. He has been an unwanted interloper for longer than we can remember. It is time for us to collectively say, enough is enough.
* Sampson Sampson hails from Akwa Ibom State