By: DOMINIC KIDZU
It is now very clear, even to the uninitiated, that a puppeteer sitting at a dark alcove, somewhere in Calabar, is directing the recent series of attacks on the person of Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr and the Office of the Commissioner for Finance in Cross River State. The broad facade being painted on the media canvas is that of altruistic persons pursuing “the interest of Cross River ” while the bull”s eye, really, is the seat of Governor come 2023.
No serious Cross Riverian has been fooled by the poorly choreographed series of lies and make – belief – fake stories being planted in the social media lately, all aimed at reducing the true essence of Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr in the eyes of the public as we inch closer to 2023. There seems to be a silent resolve by the Puppeteer that Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr is the bogeyman in his nightmares, and to take over Government House, Calabar, in faraway 2023 the nibbling party has to start now, in bits, pieces and welts. It is perhaps a fitting acknowledgement of Ekpenyong’s intellectual and physical quantity that the chopping gang is required to come out early with their axes, three good years ahead, in the hope that they might at least secure a dent, a welt or a bruise on the young man’s unassailable reputation before the starting bells are rung.
And all this even when he has never told anyone that he craves the office of Governor. In fact in a recent interraction with the press, the Commissioner declared that he was not thinking of running for the office of Governor at this time, as he was more keen about the duties of his present position as Commissioner for Finance. You would have thought that this should help the fifth columnist to sleep well at night, instead he has gone into overdrive. After the raucous rumpus over the inability of Cross River State to secure the SFTAS grant last month (as if we may not ever get it again), he has now found a new peg to hang his hat, and has corralled Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr into the affairs and workings of the Ministry for Local Government.
The dark resolve is perhaps, to blame everything on Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr. If the grass on the pavements were to grow to ankle – length, or cocoa yields are low, or indeed a blizzard blows away the roof of a primary school, the man to blame, of course, is Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr. This pathological disorder and emotional distress can only be the result of some form of inferior complex, or new phobia in the Puppeteer, who we shall name in due course because he has bismirched the nobility of politics with a sterile curse and a feeble temper. Granted that human beings are by their nature both social and competitive animals (even the primates are said to have practiced an attenuated form of politics), to so blatantly malign the reputation and character of somebody because you suspect that they harbour an intention to run for office is, perhaps, the basest form of cowardice. That is the sensation that fuels the wanton urge to demean, diminish, despise, derogate and debase a suspected opponent purely on impulse, like chasing after a fleeting pattern in a mirror.
For the record, Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr did not just walk into the Ministry of Finance from the street corner. He came into office with Ivy league college education, good breeding, broad exposure and an unassailable pedigree. Having attended the prestigious Kings College, in Lagos, he proceeded to the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics in 2007,and a Master’s degree in International Banking and Finance Services ( with distinction) in 2008 before enrolling at the prestigious Harvard Business School in the United States from where he returned to Nigeria to take up a lecturing position at the Department of Banking and Finance in the University of Calabar from 2010 to 2012. He left the university to start what has today become the biggest indigenous logistics services provider in the South/South and South – East with clients including Lafarge Africa and Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals. He was serving concurrently as the Managing Director of the CBN licensed Chamley Bureau De Change and Director of Pearland Energy Limited.
He was appointed member of the Board of Directors of Ekondo Microfinance Bank between 2013 to 2015 and served on several critical board committees, including the Credit Establishment, Audit, Finance and General Purposes Committees. He has attended several courses and holds qualifications obtained from Howard University Business School in Washington DC and the University of Pretoria in South Africa. He is a devout Christian, is married to a Cross Riverian and has a daughter. This is the young man Governor Ben Ayade appointed Commissioner for Finance in 2015. He is soft spoken and courteous, intelligent and resourceful, and is driven by the passion to make a critical contribution to the growth and development of his state, while making a positive statement on behalf of the young people of his generation.
The series of planned attacks and innuendos on his person are destined to fail for the reason that they have neither reason nor merit. If the objective was to distract him, it has come to naught. If it was to intimidate him, it has on the contrary further emboldened him. In politics nobody pays attention to a nobody. Are his attackers affrighted by his profound personage and records, or merely envious of his achievements in spite of his age? Or maybe, there is something else we don’t know, as Shakespeare puts it, men do often construe things after their fashion, clean from the purpose of the things themselves.
Whatever it is, if indeed it is the destiny of Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr to be Governor of Cross River State, so shall it be, in spite of himself, (as he recently asked to be allowed, at this time, to focus on his job as Commissioner without the distractions of a Governorship ambition) . Creation brings forth the tides on to which man’s fate is taken and jewelled unicorns may yet draw by the golden chariots upon which Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr may ride unto his inexorable destiny, while the dissentient, with a lean and hungry look (ala Cassius), wave impotently from the sidelines of the new reign.
Dominic kidzu is the Special Adviser to the Governor on Information.