My One Hour Breakfast With Nsima Ekere In Lagos, By Fejiro Oliver
The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river. – Ross Perot
We flew into Lagos State for one purpose on Monday, which was to see the current Senator representing Delta North, Mr Peter Nwaoboshi go to jail, courtesy of the dogged Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who acted on petitions and documents submitted by the duo of Anti Corruption and Integrity Forum, and the whitsleblowing online news portal, Secret Reporters. He was remanded on Wednesday and still there in Ikoyi prison as at the time of penning down this piece. Our joy is full!
While in the hotel, my friend and ally, Comrade Prince Kpokpogri, who’s the Chairman of the Anti Corruption NGO notified me of a breakfast meeting with the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nsima Ekere, on Thursday (today).
We were driven down to the hotel for the breakfast meeting; with my eyes perusing every angle to be sure that it’s a safe place for me. On getting there, I refused to follow Kpokpogri to Nsima’s room. I urged him to go alone which he hesitantly did.
This was a man that has been exposed by the newspaper I work for, Secret Reporters, quite a number of times. Nsima as NDDC MD has been on our spotlight with negative reports trailing him from our newsroom, while getting commendation for the roads he’s constructing in his native Akwa Ibom State. I was not ready to see him. The stories I heard about him as being brutally ruthless made me determined not to be close to him.
Unknown to me, setup was in the offing. My friend who was with him for almost one hour in his room has downloaded my presence to him. I heard my name, with my eyes fixated on my phone, and coming towards me was Nsima. Kpokpogri smiled. Could it be betrayal like the kiss of Judas on Jesus Christ cheek? The plot was to unveil later and a new theory about to be propounded. We made for restaurant for the buffet breakfast where it all happened fast.
“This is the Secret Reporters”, Kpokpogri told Nsima. My eyes rolled to him from Nsima and from Nsima to him. The MD brought his hands and gave me a warm handshake, screaming “Na una dey write all those kind strong things about me so Secret Reporters? Come here”. I went close to him and it was followed with another round of warm deep hug, such that speaks from the soul, even though you can never tell the hearts of men.
I have heard rumors of him contesting the 2019 governorship race of Akwa Ibom State but wasn’t fully convinced, as I have never heard him publicly declared his intention. This was the time to bring out my Journalism training as the trio of us discussed deeply. He emphatically made known his intention to me to govern Akwa Ibom and rescue it from the current kindergarten governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, under whose watch tens of Akwa Ibomites died in the Reigners Church collapse but refused to implement the White Paper report indicting ‘Bishop’ Akan Weeks, who caused the crash. How he still feels comfortable being called ‘Deacon’ Udom after such sin against man and God still beats imaginations of reasonable men.
Nsima spoke about his desire to govern his state and the need to carry everyone along. He was more of issue based and less of name calling.
Like one of the thieves on the cross when Christ was crucified, he admitted that he has sinned in some areas and truly need help, through constructive criticism not condemnation. He was humble to accept his wrongs and made no single attempt to defend any of the stories we reported against him. The admission of his flaws and weakness as human will break the strongest of heart and like ice melt the bravest of hot blood.
If only men like Udom will accept that he’s a crèche governor and needs tutorial, not from the great teacher but from technocrats, the state would have been better. If only Udom can accept his sins like Nsima, he would have watched Akwa Ibomites follow him with their whole hearts. Everyone loves leaders who are willing to accept their errors. But no, he’s a business class graduate while others including Nsima to him are illiterates. In Nsima, I saw the opposite of Udom, humility against arrogance, friendship against follower. As I munched my breakfast, I got the answers to why he has refused to speak against his former boss, Godswill Akpabio, whom he deputized, even though he resign few years into the administration.
The one hour breakfast and soul discussion felt like we’ve known for ages. Just like Kpokpogri told me, that we will end up being friends from the first five minute of discussion; it came to pass. No offense picked on the medium as he understood the difference between Secret Reporters and I, but one thing was sure, a new relationship for the good of Akwa Ibom has been born, the ever burning flame to rescue the state from the hands of the current Buccaneers just ignited and the unending struggle to redeem the future unfolded.
Agreed that there’s no art to tell the man’s construction on the face but didn’t they say ‘first impression matter’? If Nsima will be what I heard about him from a distance as the election months rolled by, can only be unraveled by time or if the first impression of him is who he truly is, lies in the womb of time.
One thing is however certain, Akwa Ibom must seize this moment to cause the change in 2019 and send back the Lagos returnee back to business school, to mingle only with his literate friends and allow the ‘illiterate’ who understands the needs of the people govern the land.
These little things matter…
Fejiro Oliver, an Investigative Journalist, Media Consultant and Human Rights Activist is also the Co-Convener of Coalition of Human Rights Defender (CHORD) and can be reached on +2348022050733 (SMS ONLY) or firstname.lastname@example.org. Engage him on twitter on @fejirooliver86