Democracy is one system of government that provides ample room for political criticism as an essential key in deepening its tenets, and holding government in power accountable through the promotion of responsible and reasoned debate, thereby moving governmental decisions to higher level.
The opposition are known to be major players in this regard, criticizing virtually every policy, decision and action of the ruling government. No misgivings with about that, since such is an essential component of democracy.
However, like in any game, criticising the actions or inaction of the government in power should be done with moderation, possibly constructively to bring about good governance and consolidate the democratic ideals.
Worrisome is the fact that in this part of the world, opposition instead of criticising constructively rather tends to base their subjects of criticism on personal grudge, bias, subjectivity and open attack on persons. The aim is not to promote the known ideals of democracy, but to distract, and defocus the government in power. Instead of criticising issues, the oppositions have turned to character assassination, blackmail and pull-him-down syndrome.
The recent interview by Senator James Akpan Udoedehe in The Nation newspaper of Friday, 2nd?August 2013, with the caption ?People are suffering and smiling in Akwa Ibom?, which the former Minister of FCT and governorship candidate of ACN described Governor Akpabio administration as ?a complete failure?, reflects the negative and malicious intention of the opposition.
Governor Akpabio led administration has within the period set records by transforming the landscape of Akwa Ibom State from a mere pedestrian state to a destination in Nigeria. The level of development witnessed in the State since 2007, has proven that the government is focused, visionary and determined. Labelling such result-oriented leadership as ?complete failure? shows personal grudge and offends the enlightened and civilized minds, who are knowledgeable in this regard.
Senator James Udoedehe as a citizen of Akwa Ibom State is entitled to air his opinions and views on issues but not to express such outright and brazen hatred and personal dislike of the Akpabio led government in the State in a manner that would make people perceive him as warped.
In a real sense, are people suffering and smiling in Akwa Ibom? Is Akpabio administration a complete failure? Yours faithfully is not within the political circle, nor a member of any known political party but would like to draw the attention of the distinguished Senator to the fact that Akpabio administration has done the people of Akwa Ibom at home and in diaspora proud. Akpabio has written the name of Akwa Ibom in gold amongst the Comity of States in Nigeria. That is not failure if there is a common understanding of meaning of failure with that of the distinguished Senator.
It could be that the distinguished senator is not aware fact that Akpabio has holistically transformed the length and breathe of the State. Holistic in the sense that, the transformation transcends both infrastructure and psyche of every Akwa Ibom person; giving them a sense of pride among people of other climes.
It is a known fact, that prior to the emergence of Governor Akpabio as governor of Akwa Ibom State in 2007, Akwa Ibom was best known as a warehouse for house-help for other regions in Nigeria. With the declaration of free and compulsory education in the State by the Akpabio administration and the concomitant efforcement toward compliance, the tide has been stemmed. Is that a failed administration?
The distinguished Senator may also not be aware of how many Akwa Ibom sons and daughters used to drop-out of school in the past because their parents or wards could not have the required amount to pay for their WAEC/NABTE examination fees. This leaves them with no other option than to go into the labour market at a very tender age. Imagine the psychological trauma a young lad has to go through, leading to loss of self-dignity. This may sound strange to many including the distinguished Senator because they belong to highest echelon of the society and may have been born with silver spoon in their mouth.
The Akwa Ibom State government has for the past years taken over payment of WAEC/NABTE examination fees for children resident in the State. This gesture, to many families is a great relief, especially those indigent ones that may not be able to afford the examination fees. On the other hand, it boosts morale of other indigent students by giving them hope.
In as much yours faithfully shares in the sentiment that no government can empower every citizen, Akpabio administration has empowered majority of people and created an enabling environment for development to thrive. When one considers the recent Women in Agriculture Development Scheme (WADEP), where women were empowered by the State government with the sum of N250,000 each to venture into agriculture; the Integrated Farmers Scheme, where young graduates are trained in any field of agro-allied business and empowered with N500,000 each; what about the inter-ministerial direct labour projects that are handled by many youths and stakeholders in the State? The list is endless. These are deliberate and passionate efforts of Governor Akpabio to alleviate and ameliorate the sufferings of every Akwa Ibom person.
On the contrary, the Akpabio administration is not a failed one. Governor Akpabio has conscientiously within the duration of this administration transformed the State to one of the best States in the Nation. One can not forget that before the advent of this administration, there was Ibom International Airport, there was no e-library, gas processing plant, dualised road networks across the State. Therefore labelling the administration that has brought all of these to bear can not be said to be a valid assertion.
In as much there is room for political criticism, it should be done objectively and constructively to galvanise public attention to issues d policies, thereby entrenching and deepening democracy. The idea of outright and pungent attack on person is not healthy for the polity.
It is certain that Governor Akpabio as a responsible leader does not bother about the criticism of the misinformed and he also knows that the price of success is to bear criticisms that arise large from envy. These pockets of criticism does not distract him from giving the State the best in terms of infrastructure and evolving policies that are capable transforming the State in all ramification.
Source: Nkime Uduenyin
a public analyst in Port Harcourt

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