What where the sins of Chief (Evangelist) Fidelis Etim, the man who paid Godswill Akpabio’s transport fare from Lagos to Uyo, and introduced him to Obong Victor Attah for a journey into politics in 2002.
For students of history, Obong Fidelis Etim was the political godfather of Ikot Ekpene and throughout Obong Attah’s tenure, he held sway as Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB.
His nature as a very accommodating statesman, led to his recommendation of a certain Godswill Akpabio, a man he never met, to Attah as commissioner in the state executive council. The only nexus linking them, being that Ibanga Akpabio, Godswill Akpabio’s cousin, was Chief Etim’s personal assistant.
Akpabio sailed as Commissioner, in the process, superintending the Ministries of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs as well as Lands and Housing. Suddenly, a man who could not afford an air transport fare to Lagos, and who never was a member of PDP before 2002, became a powerful rich politician, who started contending for the position of governor ahead of 2007.
Again Chief Etim made all the overtures for support to his godson. Introducing him to the annang elders and leaders. In 2007, Akpabio won and was sworn in as governor, and suddenly, the story changed.
The big man was abandoned because his son Solomon Enoabasi Etim, was not wise enough, and had picked a form to contest the 2007 governorship primaries against Akpabio. Governor Akpabio ceased to recognize Etim as his godfather and announced his Ibanga Akpabio as his real godfather.
Etim’s house in Ikot Ekpene which hitherto was a Mecca for politicians was outlawed by the government. Any political office holder that was spotted near the once happening Nseyen street apartment of Chief FEJ, got instantly ostracized from the administration.
Former Governor Attah himself also suffered this fate. In his recent 80th birthday celebration, Attah recalled how people would sent him messages on his phone, wishing him well, but regreting their inability to visit him, to avoid the wrath of the ‘system’.
Despite all his explanations to Chief Akpabio that he never supported his own son Solomon’s adventure into the governorship race, Fidelis Etim was blatantly blacklisted by a governor who believed that the ‘sins’ of a son can be visited on his father.
The chief spent his last days preaching love telling the world that he bears no grudge against those who are paying him back in bad coins. Even the launch of his Divine Assistance Outreach, could not win back the heart of his estranged godson.
“See my house that everyone used to visit to seek favour, now have you seen anyone here?” he told journalists who visited him during the Christmas period of 2007.
To further spite the old man, he went to his family and picked a certain Don Etim, who was in a poor communication standing with his uncle Chief Etim, and made him a powerful commissioner throughout his 8-year rule.
While it is established that Akpabio failed to reconcile with the sage, it is on record that the governor eulogized and mourn Chief Etim following his death shortly after.
The then governor accorded Etim a lavished funeral ceremony, and led all members of the political class and executive council members of his cabinet to bid him farewell.
Today, we remember Chief Fidelis Etim, and we remember the era of 2007-2015 when scorpion and horsewhips were milder punishments to the Warsaw realities.
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