Worried by alleged hate speech hauled at governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel by the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, at the presidential rally on Monday in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has condemned the statement as hate speech, capable of degenerating into ethnic conflagrations and inflame the polity ahead of the general election.
Tinubu had during the rally at the Godswill Akpabio International stadium, Uyo, addressed the governor as “small boy who calls himself governor” and threatened to make his life uncomfortable in Lagos, for daring to bring the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the man he described as unpatriotic and enemy of Nigeria, to campaign inside the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo.
Briefing journalists yesterday at the House of Assembly complex, the Integrity Alliance, AIIA, led by its president, Mr Stephen Abia, frowned at the outburst, describing it as unwarranted hate speech against the governor, who doubles as the chairman of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaigns Council, and issued a seven days ultimatum to Tinubu to retract his threat statement on the governor and apologise, or face legal action.
In the same vein, the president of the apex socio cultural organisation for Eket people, Afigh Iwaad Ekid, Obong -Iwaad Etiene Bob, called on the former Lagos governor to tender unreserved apologies to the people of Akwa Ibom for his remarks on Emmanuel, saying it was a big affront on the people for a leader, who had waltzed his way through the leadership rungs to become the leader of the state to be so casually insulted at peace time.
“We consider as worrisome, the threat to the life of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State in the shabby outburst by Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu. We also take serious exception to such unwarranted, unfortunate, and uncontrollable height of vituperation by Mr. Tinubu in our state and people as the Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, without mincing words, is the face of Akwa Ibom.
“The fact that Mr. Tinubu was applauded by the misinformed, misguided and, obviously, hired crowed at the supposed party rally, and no finger raised against him and his cohorts as would have been the case in other climes, does not in any way suggest cowardice, but a high sense of political tolerance and patriotism.
“Having been accorded the peaceful, serene and secure atmosphere to campaign in Akwa Ibom State, which, of course, would not have been the case about eight years ago, and having been graciously accorded the use of our state facilities by the same Governor Udom Emmanuel whom Mr. Tinubu seeks to exterminate, it is crystal clear that the affront was premeditated and out of heavy ill-will and grudging contempt.
“Subsequently, we are giving Bola Ahmed Tinubu and all his co-conspirators seven days to retract the threats and apologise to the Government and people of Akwa Ibom State, or risk immediate legal actions,” Abia said.
Also, the international president of Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio, Akparawa James Edet while calling for an apology from Tinubu said that such statements could threaten the existing peaceful relations between the people of the state and Yorubas living in the state.