It is more beneficial to work with somebody like Sen. Akpabio – Dr. Usoro 

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Chief (Dr.) Usoro I. Usoro was Chief Press Secretary/Senior Special Assistant on Media to Governor Godswill Akpabio, (now Senate President). In this interview with the South-West Editor, SILAS JOHN, he spoke glowingly on his former boss, his uncommon transformational spirit and political developments in the state and at the national level. Excerpts:

It is nice meeting you after a long time. Can we interview you on some issues about Akwa Ibom and the country especially, your stint as Press Secretary to former Governor Godswill Akpabio who is now Senate President?

Thank you so much Silas. As you said , my name is Chief Usoro Isaac Usoro, am the former Chief Press Secretary to the then Governor Godswill Akpabio, I come from Akwa Ibom State; Udot Enen in Eket to be precise, am a private person now into consultancy and business, I do writings I have a Ph.D in Philosophy. I don’t know what else you want to know. 

As Chief Press Secretary to the former Governor Chief Godswill Akpabio, since you left office nobody hears from you again and your well-being since you left office? 

Well! Thank you. Since I left office I thank God for the power of sustenance and provision, I don’t know if it is true that nobody have heard anything about me because, I think those who have been around me have heard things about me. And since I am not a politician, I have not been involved in national stage, maybe that’s why it appears nobody heard things about me but, I have been around after leaving office as Chief Press Secretary; and of course the then Governor appointed me as a Senior Special Assistant on Media when I served him till 2011. When his tenure ended, I went into the academics. I have read up to PhD level and started writing in which I just finished one of my books titled: “The Philosophy Dialogue, Peace and Conflict Management”.

 I have been around engaging in some things. During the political season that has just finished, I had a privilege of serving as the Director of Communications to Senator Bassey Albert, who contested for Governor on the platform of Young Progressives Party (YPP) in Akwa Ibom State. So, I have been around doing a lot quietly, I only speak where and when necessary. 

Why did you abandoned the YPP and moved to APC?

No! It was strategic and expedient, in fact I moved to the All Progressives Party (APC) as a person and I couldn’t have gone back to PDP. I was in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and I did contributed my quarter to it for the growth of the party in the state in one way or the other. I didn’t feel going back to PDP and it was ideal for me because; any party is a platform; any party is a platform of political power but then, I think it depends on who is in the office. It is not mainly the party, maybe if it is not the client whose people stick to their ideology strictly, maybe it will make a difference but here it doesn’t work that way, it depends on who the person was serving.

Working with the then Governor Godswill Akpabio wasn’t because of PDP, it was because of who he was. In fact, he performed creditably well. The sobriquet that you hear all over the place today “the uncommon transformation” I started it as his pioneer Chief Press Secretary but, I am happy because our focus then was to project him for the national stage and he performed creditably to give us a lot to use to do that very easilly. That was why the job was a lot easier so, when his tenure finished of course I am not a career politician rather, a professional; working with politicians I had to lie low.

When Senator Bassey Albert contested on the platform of YPP, he called upon me to come and manage his media and I answered the call and did my best. But right now as you asked why I left YPP; when Senator Bassey Albert left YPP the party became virtually death because Bassey Albert moved from the PDP with a huge number of supporters to YPP. He strengthened and financed the party, so when he left it was virtually dead and nobody was there again . It could have been senseless for me to remain in YPP and I didn’t also want to go back to “Egypt” I didn’t gain much.

Don’t allow anybody deceive you; politics is about interest, he didn’t do anything for me. The fact that I worked with Godswill Akpabio who was in PDP was because, he picked me as a  professional, and was the person who appointed me not the party (PDP). So, when Bassey Albert left I have to move to where I see more interest. 

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If you say you moved; did you just moved to APC because your boss is now in APC and, seeing Akpabio in APC, that’s why you decided to stand with your boss now in APC?

Now! Look at it in two ankles; like I said before I couldn’t have gone back to Egypt and I couldn’t remain in YPP unless I didn’t want to be active politically, that’s why I would have stayed back and be out of the scene completely but, because as a philosopher they say, “we are all political animals”, human being must be in politics as far as you are in a society.

You have to be politically relevant so, my next stage was to move to a party with a national grip on issues; a party which has potentials even within the state instead of staying back in the party like YPP that is almost going down completely.

The other ankle is, yes you asked if it’s because my former boss is in that party, of course, even in football a winning team attracts more supporters, a team that has more potentials attracts more followers, so it makes no sense to see somebody like Senator Akpabio at the helm of affairs nationally. Don’t forget in Akwa Ibom State here, we have not been blessed very often with leaders who play politics to the National stage; often times we have people who played politics sometimes they get to Abuja then they return to Akwa Ibom State to go back to their wards and villages to fight for even village headship but, here is a man whom God has protected and placed against all odds.

For Senator Godswill Akpabio, when people think he is going down, before you know it he is going higher so it will make more sense to fellow that kind of person because, you stand more to gain and when you gain as a person definitely your community will also gain. So, it makes more sense for me to move to APC where he is. Right now in Akwa Ibom State, he is in charge; as the leader of APC and even in the South – South, he is a figure you can’t ignore. Nationally, you can’t ignore him as the No. 3 man so, why will I not follow that kind of person.

 There is a saying that a little dog said, “that when you see it follows a child that has big stomach there is hope; either the child will vomit or the child will defecate in that way the dog will benefit. So, it makes more sense to follow a leader who is already in a leading position not the ones struggling to be recognized. 

In Akwa Ibom State, how is APC preparing to take over government in 2027 considering the fact that, the No. 3 man is from here?

Politics especially, in democracy is about number, about strategic planning and with what is happening in Akwa Ibom State today even the PDP is worried too. You can see immediately Senator Bassey Albert decamped to APC, it is almost every week now everything you hear is that PDP is mobbing up, what are they mobbing? Because they are scared. If you saw a video of the events on the day that Senator Bassey Albert moved to APC then you will know that PDP has reason to be worried .

Secondly, the No. 3 man like you mentioned, because of his impact and what he has done when I was his Chief Press Secretary, we used to say it still stands. That very soon will be two eras in the Akwa Ibom State, “before Akpabio and after Akpabio” it is happening already because now people judge this state based on “before Akpabio came and after Akpabio left”.

Most of the things you meet today in Akwa Ibom State were initiated or completed by Akpabio as governor of Akwa Ibom State.

On human development, he had so much impact with people one on one in such a way that, even now or before he became the Senate President, if he steps anywhere the crowd is always difficult to control because they want to express their joy and gratitude to him because of the impact he has on them directly or indirectly.

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So, going to APC has a lot of benefits and there is no doubt that, they will take over Akwa Ibom State because people are already fade up with what is happening in the state.

People do not think, they are getting the feeling of what should be base on the figure that, we see every day from the Federation Account and from all the other agencies of government. People believe that if we had a better government maybe we would have benefited better. So, I really think and believe that, APC stands a better chance because it is already building a mammoth crowd of followers that is making PDP chippy already.

From the look of things, I am seeing the Governor now getting too close to Senator Akpabio. Don’t you think he may join APC when the time comes?

Well! I don’t know about that and it is still early to say about the present governor maybe you as a journalist can tell, because journalists are good observers. 

So, maybe coming from you; you may be right he is planning though, there were rumors at some point that he is planning to move to APC but, since I am not close to him and I don’t work with him, I cannot say but like you said it seems his body language maybe trying to get close to Akpabio makes that suspicion real, trying to move to APC or not. But over time, he has explained that he is trying to get close so that he will get what is due for Akwa Ibom State for the Akwa Ibom people. If it is so, fair and good but, if it is not thinking of moving to APC will still boil down to what I said that, APC will take over Akwa Ibom State because he himself believe APC will take over the state. So, if he is planning to move to APC it will further strengthen the party. 

Looking at Akwa Ibom State today as former Chief Press Secretary, what impression is the people toward the governor so far?

Well! I don’t know and I think a time came especially, the election that we just finished there was this consciousness that, people started separating parties from individuals; people started following individuals based on their pedigree, what they know about them, what they gain and the capacity the person can bring because, when you keep talking about party (PDP), some people got tired of that name; some said what have we gained maybe because of what the governor then did. I don’t know but if you are talking about the present governor I am trying as much as possible not to judge him for now as it often said, you need four years to judge him whether he is doing well or not.

Because, he has to also look at what he has received overtime and, what he has been able to put on the ground but I think this is about nine (9) months since he came into office and I have also heard numbers of pronouncements; road contracts and reconstruction of schools but, we have seen enough to understand.

If we are to use his predicessor as an example, when he came in there were so much ground breaking and people made jokes that, they hope that Akwa Ibom State will experience an earthquake because of so much ground breaking but when he left, although there was this height of propaganda, that he brought 31 industries but, today the same people who talked about those industries cannot point at one that is functioning.

There are so much controversies following whether those companies were established or who owns them, and all of that. So, when he left office after 8 years we saw that most of those ground breakings were nothing. Like Oron road now it was constructed by the then Governor Godswill Akpabio but Udom Emmanuel came saying, he wants to expand it to the airport even people shouted at him that, he won’t be able to meet up before the end of his tenure and he swore again and again that, he would complete all the projects he started but now the present governor is the one trying to complete those projects. So I can’t judge the present governor just yet. Until after a period of time at least 3 to 4 years he is rounding up his tenure. So, we look at what he put on ground and judge but for now I don’t want to sound very unfair to him. 

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What message to the Senate President, your god-father?

The message will be to encourage him to continue building himself on the path of possibility; to continue on the part of impacting on Nigerians. I’m not surprised by  some of the things he is doing already because, he is somebody so blessed by nature. He always think out of the box, everything he does at least since I got to know him, most of his political decisions are always well thought of.

The way he thinks and takes his actions are unique; most of the time looking at it you will see that, he is endowed to take some of those decisions. Not that he doesn’t make mistakes as human but, he always accept other people’s opinions when necessary.

There was once I told him if he were to come from the Western country maybe, they would have subjected his brain to lot of studies .The way that man thinks and the way he takes decisions are unique. Most of the time when you sit down and look at it you will see that this man is endowed to take some of the decisions he does.

This is not to say that, he doesn’t make mistakes of course, he is human; as his Chief Press secretary, I will suggest to him and he will say okay.

When you give your own little advice of course sometimes he will follow and sometimes he will not.

So, I will only advise that he should continue to do good, the one he is doing right now to put Nigeria in a positive light and that of his constituency.

Don’t forget, being a Senate President, he represents people at that level and the impact those people are getting already during his first term as senator can be imagined.  So, I will only say he should continue on the path of doing good and God will continue to bless him.

As a member of APC, so far, how can you assess the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the past one year plus or going to one year in the office looking at the hardship the country is passing through now?

Just like I said earlier, to assess the President at this point you need certain indices because it won’t have to be comparative with other president. It will be unfair to compare him with other president who had longer time and maybe better season. However, some of his policies which you have alluded to may have led to the hardship. Yes there are hard decisions but there is no then saying that those decisions need to have been taken some of them were supposed to have been taken long ago we all agree for instance that fuel subsidy had to go even in the former regime. However, the political will, the will power to take that decision to carry out the implementation was the problem it never came so when Tinubu came and took that decision at some point somebody had to take a very serious decision that would bring about the goal eventually. Yes the beginning may be raw many of us going through this are suffering but the very fact that recently the dollar was shooting up against naira, naira was falling on free fall everyday but in the last two three days, naira has been strengthening against the dollar. So that something good is about to come, something good eventually will come out of the policies that President Tinubu is taken. 

I cannot make a full assessment of his government so far because the time is short but some of the ones he has made so far there are hard but there is hope that it will portray good for the country in time to come.

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