Cross River State has been in the front burner of national discourse in recent times occasioned by the defection of Governor Ben Ayade from the PDP to the APC. The Governor’s defection is a novel milestone in the political history of Cross River State. The aftermath of that is the ongoing political realignments, reconciliation and reconsolidation across the political landscape of the State involving several political figures.
One of such figures is Engr. Ben Etim Akak, a foremost gubernatorial aspirant in Cross River State. This urbane, suave, simple, honest and brutally frank young man, who carries the generational aspiration of the “next level Cross River State” caused a political earthquake on the occasion of his defection from the PDP to the APC. An event that was hitherto planned to be a simple and straightforward one in his native Ito/Idere/Ukwa ward of Odukpani LGA of the State turned out to be a political carnival of sorts. This happened because of the large turnout of uninvited guests across the length and breath of Cross River State who came to show support and solidarity to a man who has become a household name within the short time that he ventured into politics. The question on many lips remains – who is this Ben Akak?
A “new generation” politician will be a ready answer. But Ben Akak is much more than that. He is a business leader and innovator, a serially successful entrepreneur, a philanthropist par excellence and a “home boy”. Ben Akak is a very empathetic and accessible person, who listens and attends to everyone who approaches him. He is all these first before being a politician, unlike the case with most of our politicians who only pretend to be nice when seeking for political office, after which they revert to type.
But if he is all these, why bother to seek an elective office, let alone the governorship of Cross River State? Listening to Ben Akak outline the vision for a Cross River State of our dreams, you cannot but agree that indeed our State will be safe and prosperous under his leadership. He is very clear in what he wants to achieve as Governor – emplace a lasting legacy of a State that creates wealth from within for her people utilizing the abundant God-given human and natural resources for the greater good of the people.
That Ben Akak has become a political phenomenon is an understatement. Within the short period that he got involved in politics, he has, inadvertently, created a mass movement cutting across the various demographics desirous of emplacing and promoting good and result oriented governance. This mass movement is already sending jitters down the spines of the “old order” who are gradually coming to terms with the biblical admonition contained in Eccl. 3:1-8.
Worthy of note is the fact that Engr. Akak, a committed Christian believes firmly in the uncontestable power of God to make leaders whom He chooses. This accounts for his looking not to man but the Almighty God as the driving force of his aspiration. Ben also recognizes that God works His miracles using His vessels in human forms. That explains why he is a team player who recognizes, respects, and supports the leadership of Governor Ben Ayade and unapologetically so.
Cross River State will continue to need leaders who are driven by the compelling need to serve the people accountably, transparently and conscientiously. The challenges facing the State are enormous. From dwindling revenues to the huge infrastructure gaps, the issues abound. Ben Akak’s governorship aspiration presents a humongous opportunity for a fresh beginning. You should get on board the Ben Akak train today.
Michael Bassey is a Calabar based public affairs commentator.