About five months ago, precisely on Monday March 16, 2020, Governor Udom Emmanuel signed the state’s Cultism and other Violent Behaviour (Prohibition) Order 2020. This act by the governor, which was reportedly part of the government’s commitment to put an end to the incessant cases of cultism and cult related violence and other activities in the state, attracted encomiums from different quarters within the state and beyond, and also endeared the governor to many, including his sworn enemies,the opposition and cynics.
Similarly, the report of the Post Covid – 19 Economic Reconstruction Committee set up in May 2020 by Governor Udom Emmanuel and headed by Prof. Akpan Ekpo, specifically recommended among other things that, “the government must continue to fight cultism. The law against cultism is in order. Government must ensure that cultism is made unattractive for everyone in the state. Specifically, government should wield the big stick, by prosecuting cultists; government should not appoint any known cultist into any office in the state, government officials who are known members of a cult group should be given the opportunity to openly denounce or be removed from office, and the reason for their removal made public.” The governor gladly received this recommendation and pledged to implement them to the letter.
However, recent developments have placed question marks on the Governor’s sincerity, vis-a vis his anti-cultism crusade. For instance, it had been alleged that some of the State Executive council members as well as some aides to the governor were cultists. Be that as it may, the forthcoming local government election in the state, slated for October 31, presents a veritable avenue to assess the Governor’s sincerity to his oath of office (to defend the law of the land) and the future of Akwa Ibom State.
It has been alleged that some of the incumbent chairmen seeking re-election as well as other contenders, under the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are members and even Capones of one cult group or the other.
This alleged involvement of a certain local government chairman,in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district in cult activities, according to analysts, was responsible for the different cult clashes in that local government,and others, across the state.
It is on record that some local governments in the state, including Eket and Ikot Ekpene have within the last two years, suffered the consequences of violent cult clashes, one of which was a dusk to dawn curfew imposed by the state government. Although for security reasons, members of the public may not outrightly declare or name those who are cultists, there is no doubt however, that the Governor, as the chief security officer of the state knows or should ask to know the status of all the aspirants in the forthcoming elections.
Good enough, some local governments have made moves, protesting against aspirants who are known cultists, or are perceived to be cultists in their areas.
In Oruk Anam Local government Area for instance, some political gladiators including the serving Assembly member, Rt. Hon. Udo Kierian, supporting the second term of Hon. Ubong Sampson Idiong, have vowed not to allow a cultist take over Oruk Anam. They were reportedly collating signatures of some key stakeholders for a communiqué, to be issued against the aspiration of the alleged cultist, who according to them, should not be entrusted with the leadership of the LGA.
Although, it is reported that most of these aspirants, irrespective of their affiliations with cultism, made great contributions to the election and re-election of Governor Udom Emmanuel in 2015 and 2019 respectively, it suffices to say that the Governor would have failed in his anti-cultism war, should any of these cultists be given power again, particularly at the local government level.
While it is good to reward loyalty and sacrifices, and also to fulfill promises made to followers during electioneering, such should not be considered at the expense of social morals and security. The future of Akwa Ibom youth and the generation yet unborn should not be sacrificed at the altar of selfish political gains and promises.
It is therefore advised that Governor Udom Emmanuel, cognizant of the fact that the local government election is an acid test for his anti-cultism crusade, should keep to his oath and weed out cultists in the government of Akwa Ibom State