The Barr. Edo Ukpong Philosophy
IBOM KIET: THE BARR EDO UKPONG PHILOSOPHY By Ime Silas One thing that has come to be the desire of any leader- formal or informal – is to see his constituents, fellow citizens or subordinates remain united. The import of unity in any society cannot be overemphasized. The idea behind a united people has been explained and analyzed in many ways, one of which is the popular illustration of the broom which, if in a bunch, can hardly be broken, whereas it takes no effort to break into pieces a single broom stick. Circumstances abound in the past and even in recent times, where collective vital goals could not be achieved because those concerned could not pursue same with a united and collective mindset. They ended up sacrificing their aims on the platter and altar of disunity. Their failure is traced to lack of unity. This is perhaps the driving force behind the IBOM KIET philosophy currently being speaker-headed by an Akwa Ibom-born Abuja-based lawyer, Barr Edo Ukpong and other likeminds. IBOM KIET, according to the erudite activist cum philanthropist-unpublicized though-, is an ideology seeking to canvass that the people of Akwa Ibom State should remain united. It is a philosophy that seeks to promote and project ‘we’ rather that ‘I’. In midwiving the IBOM KIET agenda, which may also be referred to or interpreted as ‘ONE IBOM’ unity Project, the promoter(s) may have taken into consideration the immeasurable benefits accruable thereto. It is a fact that the fight for the creation of the present-day Akwa Ibom State was fought and won because the pathfinders realized the inherent benefits of pursing a communal course in unison. It may have started like an idea deposited by divine in one man’s brains. He may not have had the wherewithal to draw up the needed processes towards its attainment. But just because he believed in the sincerity of the next Ibibio man, and his ability to contribute towards the development and actualization of the idea, he may have discussed it with him. They both, having been convinced based on mutual trust, may have sought to expand the number of people needed to hone the idea into a proper and workable form. Gradually, the initiators kept expanding in number until they became a forum of sort and later a community of like-minds, projecting a common ideology, philosophy and goal, whose time had come. Town hall meetings were held. Deeper consultations undertaken and alas, an idea, which originated in one man, became a movement that birthed the now defunct IBIBIO STATE UNION… …and in 1928, history was made and it remains in its annals that Ibibio became the first socio-ethnic group in Africa to seek, fight and demand for a state of their own. This happened just fourteen years after the amalgamation of Nigeria into the Southern and Northern Protectorates in 1914. So it is on record that before Nigeria became independent in 1960, an ethnic group – Ibibio – had begun the search for a common and distinctive identity. Yet, the idea was not fully accomplished until 23rd September, 1987, when some of the original agitators and the descendants of the departed some, heaved a sigh of relief … the creation of AKWA IBOM STATE! This could not have been achieved if they- Ibibios- did not work in unison. Recall that after independence of Nigeria, Ibibios had continued agitating. South-Eastern State created, they remained undaunted, continuing the struggle because the creation of South Eastern state did not represent their collective goal. The later creation of Cross River State did not deviate their focus either. Rather, they saw it as a sign of closeness of the manifestation of their collective optimism but not their destination. They kept on the struggle. Everybody was ‘Ibibio’. Annag, Oro, Obolo, Ekid and other sub-sets were subsumed into the major, stronger and distinctive umbrella ethnic group-Ibibio: an identity they all bore with pride! The fact that the historic Oversees Scholarship Scheme, sponsored with the proceeds of sales of palm fruits, communally harvested from across ‘IBIBIO LAND’, had beneficiaries from the present-day Ibibio, Annag, Oro, etc- is a clear testament of selfless unity. What about the significant siting of the famous IBIBIO STATE COLLEGE at Ikot Ekpene, which has today been dubbed ‘Annangland’? Researches have shown that IBIBIO was stronger, enviable, unique and pragmatic during the pre-Akwa Ibom era. There was no clear distinction of Annang, Oro, Ekid and so on. Everybody was Ibibio. Ideas were initiated together. Fights were fought together goals pursued together, which was why the successful birth of Akwa Ibom State in 1987 heralded a humongous ecstasy, typical of an innocent victorious army, who see their victory as ‘our’ victory! But today, can it be said that the bond of unity, love and sincerity, is still in existence? Could it be true that the later realization by some people that they are ‘Ibibio’, others ‘Annang’ others ‘Oro’ and so forth, has dealt a huge blow on the collective existence? If this is the right question of the problem, then the answer lies perhaps in the New Movement to wit: IBOM KIET. As enunciated recently during a media chat with some select Media Executives in Akwa Ibom State, by the Progenitor of IBOM KIET, Barr. Edo Ukpong, the philosophy is to re-ignite the oneness that pre-existed Akwa Ibom State creation. He noted that the losses orchestrated by disunity outweighed the gains. As if he could forcefully drive into the consciousness of an overage Akwa Ibom person the unity homily, considering the immeasurable benefits accruable therefrom, Barr. Ukpong passionately enthused: “…we must begin to reject and jettison the lies peddled by the agents of disunity. Their fight against our unity is because of their knowledge of what we stand to benefit if we remain united. Out of their sheer selfishness, they planted amongst us the discord apple and thereafter, turned round to benefit from the aftermath of our disunity”. Seated at the comfort of his country-home in Ikono, one could glean passion from the ‘Obong Ifiok Ikono’ when he said: “What does it take for our people to become Merchants: trust. And this can only be achieved if we come together to foster a common goal. We can become big-time dealers in palm oil, palm kernel and so on. What ‘I’ cannot do, ‘we’ can do. For example, if ‘I’ cannot establish a Palm Oil Depot, ‘we’ can. If ‘I’ cannot establish a Cassava Processing Factory, ‘we’ can. You can name them. So this is why it is too important for the people of Akwa Ibom State to come together to preach the gospel of “IBOM KIET”. “An Ibom Kiet, where the problem for one is a problem for all. Ibom Kiet, where success of one is a success of all. We must re-ignite the oneness, love and sincerity, which were the ingredients that propelled the agitation for the creation of a state of our own. With Ibom Kiet, we can re-establish our collective prosperous goal and chart a part towards its attainment”. Sure, Barr. Edo Ukpong is absolutely right. What can’t a united people achieve even in political warfronts? Today, there are agitations from other climes within Nigeria, mostly based on collective interests. While some pursue Regional Interests, some put on the discussion table benefits accruable to their fellow kinsmen and when pursued in unison, victory is sure. Akwa Ibom can follow suit through the instrumentality of this novelty initiative: IBOM KIET! Won’t you rather join the train?