There is a missing angle to the trending EndSARS Press briefing held by Obong Victor Attah, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State last week in Uyo. The missing angle is the big storyline that one of the EndSARS victim he prayed for at the weekend, Mr Iniobong Lyons, is his former ward Chairman and the man who expelled him from the Peoples Democratic Party PDP in Asutan ward 2 in 2009. Iniobong Lyons, by that heart-of-stone act, contributed to laying a stronger foundation for opposition Politics in Akwa Ibom State as many Ibibio leaders saw the act as an affront on Ibibio leadership and wanted a revenge. A mass movement that would keep the system perpetually on foot started.
Last week, in a solemn mood that exudes the Biblical story of King David when he mourned Absolom, his prodigal son who died by the sword trying to dethrone him, Obong Attah had said: “I also join my voice with others in prayer that God, in his loving mercy, may forgive their sins and Grant kind admittance to His Kingdom of peace to the soul of those who have lost their lives in this struggle. May he also heal our land and comfort us as we try to bear this irreparable loss”. There was more to this prayer by Obong Victor Attah, the resource control maestro who became victim of political misadventure shortly after leaving office.
Iniobong Lyons is one of the victims of EndSARS protest in Akwa Ibom State. He was felled down by a trigger pulled by one of the protesters who thought him to be a prison warder whose colleagues reportedly had an encounter with the protesters while returning with prison inmates from court. Other sources said that Mr Lyons was caught by a stray bullet fired at the protesters by a Police officer who felt threatened by the rampaging mob. Either ways, Lyons, a popular politician and footballer lost his life penultimate week in Uyo because of the EndSARS protest.
In 2009, Lyons was in the news. He did what most people thought was unthinkable. He expelled Obong Victor Attah from the PDP because the former governor had disagreements with then Governor Godswill Akpabio over the structure of the Peoples Democratic Party. Obong Attah had contended that it was his right as immediate past governor of the State under the platform of the party to nominate a state Chairman of the party. That has been a kind of “unwritten order of things” in the PDP with regards to forming party structure. Attah had rejected the Prince Uwem Ita Etuk led SWC, Mr Etuk himself, was Chief Akpabio’s preferred Chairmanship candidate. Chief Akpabio manoeuvred his way and succeeded installing Prince Etuk as State Chairman and excluded Obong Attah totally from the government and the party. Obong Attah had no link in the party exco.
The exclusion led to bitter battle of wit between Obong Attah and Chief Godswill Akpabio, his godson. Different committees were set up including the Ike Nwachukwu reconciliation committee to help reconcile the two leaders and make PDP one united party. So far as the Uwem Ita Etuk led state exco would not be dissolved, there was no headway for Akpabio and Attah to cohabit under the umbrella. To secure Prince Uwem Ita Etuk was to rob Obong Attah a locus standi where he can use to fight his course. To get that done, Attah was to be expelled from the party. At the plot, that was a herculean task except there is a man or a set of men without conscience in his ward to carry out the plot. It was akin to asking a child to stab his mother for a stranger and be given groundnut in return. It was unthinkable that his ward, Asutan ward 2 where the action was to start could expel their own, a godfather and an immediate past governor in favor of his prodigal son turn governor who wanted him out of political reckoning. miffed, Iniobong Lyons and his ward exco at the time, played the script perfectly. He convened an exco meeting of the ward and expelled Obong Victor Attah, transmitted a letter of his expulsion to the Chapter which without hesitation ratified it. The step moved to the state and unfortunately, Attah had no one at that level to say nay to the authorities. So speedily, the Uwem Ita Etuk led State exco of the party ratified Obong Attah’s expulsion and sent same to the National Executive Council of PDP who, for the fact that Obong Attah was a “lifetime member” of the PDP, refused their nod to the shenanigans. They reversed the decision and restored Obong Attah as a member of the PDP. That is how Obong Attah was spared the humiliation of being thrown out of the PDP whose umbrella he designed.
But that was not the end of it. Mr Iniobong Lyons was the bridge through which Chief Godswill Akpabio and Prince Uwem Ita Etuk, the then state Chairman of the PDP would use to torment Obong Attah politically even in his ward. There was soon to be conducted a local government election in 2009. That year, a cripple, late Hon Ndifreke Thompson with only a “trade test” as his qualification and opposed to Obong Attah was given ticket to run as PDP Councilor representing Obong Attah’s ward in the council. Later on at a thanksgiving service organised by the said Councilors at the Apostolic Church, Ikot Annung, Chief Godswill Akpabio chided Obong Attah and made comments which indicated the choice of Mr Thompson was basically to taunt the former governor and made nonsense of his education, exposure and status in his ward, local government, state and the federation.
Obviously as a reward for playing the “devil script”, Mr Lyons later was appointed as Supervisory Councilor in Ibesikpo Asutan Council. The image of the late politician among those who know him very well is that of a man propelled by personal interest, what he can get from a particular system irrespective whether public opinion favors him or not. He did what so many Politicians of his time could not do by expelling Obong Victor Attah. In that ward, sources hinted that Attah only voted in 2019 election after leaving office in 2007. There is always an organized criminal gang that hijacks election materials to scorn elders of the ward who don’t support the PDP. In 2015, that squad after carting away election materials at Asutan Ekpe Comprehensive Secondary School, the replacement secondary school at Ikot Akpa Erong, raided voters one of which was Pastor Etop Robson Imah, Obong Attah’s Chief of Staff who lost both phones and cash in very frightening and humiliating circumstance.
Mr Iniobong Lyons went out of his way to protect interest of the PDP. Pundits have raised concern that most of those he worked for have not showed concern at his dead. A source close to the family expressed shock that Prince Uwem Ita Etuk and Chief Godswill Akpabio have not visited the family considering the role, “dirty” as it was that Mr Lyons played to keep them as State Chairman and secure a second term as governor respectively. The media was awashed with condemnation as to how the PDP carried on as though nothing had happened. Shortly after, Rt Hon Emmanuel Obot along the Chapter chairman visited the family. At the last meeting of the PDP penultimate week held at the council headquarters, Nung Udoe, the party had observed a one minute silence in honor of the departed politician.
When Obong Victor Attah prayed for Lyons, was he really sad about his demise considering what he went through under his hands even as a former governor? Has he forgiven him? Did he remember he was praying for the man who nailed him for Chief Akpabio “for a fee”?
God bless Obong Attah and peace to the Soul of Mr Iniobong Lyons.
This life and Politics. One needs to be careful and think twice.