By Iboro Otongaran
There is no greater mystery in the affairs of man than communication. I believe the immortal James Joyce of the Ulysses’ fame was hinting at the apparent inscrutability of the written word when he told Time magazine many years ago that he was trying to secure for himself immortality by writing his epic, Ulysses, in a manner that would keep the professors wondering forever what he was trying to say. Joyce may even have presented a special case of communication as enigma because of the avant-gardist rendering of Ulysses at the time of its publication.
Very ordinary utterance can be just as hard a text to grasp. The holy bible, the world’s best seller, is not any easier to understand. The profusion of biblical commentaries and viewpoints on same innocuous passages in the bible can only point to one simple fact: word is hard of meaning! There are reasons for this, but this is no place to worry about them.
Except to say that the nature of the word, the mystery of meaning, which Professor I. A. Richards obsessed with in his book, Meaning of Meaning, is what explains the shrill calls by some Facebook commentators for help with what President Buhari, presidential candidate of the APC, said at his flag-off rally in Uyo. Those calls should not be dismissed. They need to be addressed with understanding.
The President said a lot, in both verbal and non-verbal messages. The most eloquent utterance the rally delivered is that Akwa Ibom State has scaled up dramatically in the national scheme of things. That Uyo was picked among all the cities in the country to host Buhari’s re-election campaign flag-off represents a sea change for Akwa Ibom. It means that the state that was readily given to the PDP in the strategic calculation of the APC in 2015 is now treated as an APC sure bet. And that is a lot of transition.
Moving from a PDP state in the calculation of the leadership of the ruling party through a toss-up status to a potentially APC-leaning electoral asset, calls for a special toast for the leaders of the party in the state.
They should take a bow: Mr Umana Okon Umana, who engineered the exodus from the PDP in 2014 and fought the most dogged political battle in the annals of Akwa Ibom State; Atuekong Don Etiebet, who gave up his founder-status and life BOT membership in the PDP; Obong Nsima Ekere, flagbearer of the APC for the 2019 election; Senator Ita Enang, the President’s Senate liaison aide; Engineer Ita Awak, the gadfly-in-chief; and others. They all deserve a special commendation.
In Uyo Buhari and his party, the APC, made it clear that Akwa Ibom State is the apple of their eye; that they will fight for the state and deliver it to the party in the next election for the good of the people.
They observed that all is not well with the state under the PDP. Buhari had noticed no positive change in the physical geography of the state since he was last here in 2015. The Victor Attah International Airport had remained the same, save for a change of name. The route from the airport to the stadium where the flag-off rally held had remained the same, besides a tomato demonstration farm by the airport tollgate. The unfinished portion of the stadium drive by Uyo-Nung Udoe Road is where the last administration left off: unfinished!
If anything in terms of change that the President noticed, the town has lost its spink-and-spank ambience with piles of trash vitiating its aesthetics every now and then, and major boulevards like the stadium drive becoming unkempt for want of care.
Moved by the stasis in the city in part and the decline in the rest, President Buhari and the rest of the APC leadership promised to bring change to Akwa Ibom. Nothing better symbolizes the promise of change than the ONE Manfesto which assumed a central place when National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adam Oshiomhole, handed Obong Nsima Ekere (ONE) the flag of the party, thereby officially anointing him as the governorship candidate of the APC in the state for the 2019 election, where he is expected to win the mandate of the people to implement his plan of a new vision for the collective prosperity of Akwa Ibom people.
It is a vision that will replace the PDP zero plan and hotchpotch spending of state resources with a well-articulated and practical plan for a comprehensive and inclusive development; a plan for infrastructure, human capital development and industrialization drive that pays attention to the inexorable links among infrastructure, industrialization, job creation and economic prosperity..
The Uyo rally was eloquent in pointing the way forward for the state. It brought in the crème de la crème of Nigeria’s political elite, demonstrating thereby that Akwa Ibom State belongs in the centre of the nation’s political life, and not on the margin.
Life on the margin can be quite limiting and lonely. This was graphically demonstrated at the Victor Attah International Airport on the day of the rally. While the political elite from across the nation that thronged the presidential wing of the airport to wait for the President shared and bantered, the state governor, being on the margin politically, was holed up somewhere at the airport away from the conviviality of humanity awaiting the arrival of the President, unable to partake in the bonhomie and the effervescent social intercourse that preoccupied his colleagues until the President arrived.
Akwa Ibom people were perhaps the most eloquent at the rally. They filled the stadium to overflowing, putting their love for President Buhari and their switch to the APC in full, unmistakable display.