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Saturday, January 9, 2021


“Government by blackmail is incompatible with democracy” – Jerroid Nadler, a US politician.

Substance Udo-nature

“Honorarium”. This one word has enjoyed unprecedented usage and currency in Akwa Ibom State in the past two days like at no other time in recent history.

While some persons must be excitedly surprised that such a word even exists as they struggle and stutter with its pronunciation, some others merely hyped the word to gratify their chronic cynicism and unpretentious disdain for Governor Udom Emmanuel.   


Oxford Learners Dictionary defines honorarium as “A payment given for professional services that are provided nominally without charge”. In Collins Dictionary it is defined as “A fee that someone receives for doing something which is not a normal part of his job”. The American Heritage of the English Language defines it as “A payment given to a professional person for services for which fees are not legally or traditionally required”. 

Without any ambiguity, the Cambridge Dictionary defines the same word as “A usually small amount of money paid to someone for a service for which no official charge is made”. In the Law register, honorarium is taken to mean and apply to “an honorary payment in recognition of services for which it is not usual or not lawful to assign a fixed business price”. Associate synonyms for the word include incentives, encouragement, stimulus, etc. 

Whatever semantic dexterity the word honorarium may enjoy, its etymology is traced to “Honorius” in Latin. Having been imported and anglicised in mid 17th century, the word progressively found its way into politics - and government - because it has much to do with courtesy and appreciation for services provided by someone in solidarity for a cause without prior strict mutual bargains between the parties. 

These explanations were indispensable for better understanding of the essence and circumstances surrounding the recent newsbreak in Uyo over a leaked honorarium list from the Akwa Ibom Government House, in favour of some selected media professionals. A cursory observation showed that not many on the bandwagon cared the least about the meaning(s) and utility of the word in their reckless and hurried conclusions. Like a python trampled on the tail, they unleashed their anger and inconsequential curses on both the idea and innocent beneficiaries.

To a good number, four things must ostensibly have driven their hypertensive responses: the mention of the amount of money given or to be given monthly; ignorance of the exact meaning of the word; political sentiments or mindset; and perhaps jealousy that naturally comes with the feeling that they also should have been included or, at best, it should have been they, even though their trademark indifference towards the governor is too obvious for pretences or appreciation.   

Nevertheless, there are some underlying issues attention must be given to. First, truth be told, honorarium is nothing strange in government dynamics and to this clime. Past and present, official or unofficial, overt or covert, every government has some selected few persons on the margin of officialdom who, at their freewill, provide collaborative or complementary voluntary services to government in exigent times – and could be encouraged.  

Second, in most cases like in this case, honorarium is usually not negotiated or bargained for. If it is government that offers, the government designs the criteria and solely owns the patent of choice for who deserves what depending on what. Honorarium comes in gratis as a special piece of grace in the form of motivation or gratitude. Honorarium can come in the form of money, plaque, artefact or memento that conveys a feeling of appreciation by the giver.

By this thriving tradition, it is sacrosanct, and therefore logical, to assert that none of the authentic names on the said honorarium negotiated nor solicited for it, nor could anyone have been so filled or foolish to object to such benevolent package in a distressed economy. It is a matter of opportunity or opportunism.

Therefore, those who for want of what to say attach the honorarium to sycophancy cannot deny that it is a permissible facet in every government. They cannot also in their sane minds undervalue the role of the media in government. Nor could they comfortably feign ignorance of this writer’s panoramic, incisive and consistent articles and commentaries on topical issues. 

Whether in its original status or circulated fake copies, there can be no denying of the fact that there is such a list and the governor holds absolute discretion and propriety over it, without any consultations from the supposed beneficiaries except for the reasons he chooses to encourage them. That the list supposedly originated from the Chief of Staff’s Office is therefore both expedient and explicable because it is subject to the Governor’s entitled prerogative. The list should not, and  cannot, be criminalized on any logic nor its beneficiaries.

As such, against the heated arguments for or against, I have no reservations whatsoever for my name appearing boldly on the list. Like other professionals, I rather feel honoured that, for the first time in over three decades, after three governors of the State, a governor, Governor Emmanuel, sees the need to provide incentives as a token of appreciation for the time and energy usually expended on my constructive perspectives. 

However, the case on hand instantly became trendy because some disgruntled minds and fifth columnists immediately capitalized on the opportunistic situation to launch and perpetuate misconceptions, misinformation and blackmail. To cause a storm in a teacup, they also knew that the matter will become widely syndicated if they could incite the gullible public by invocation of Ephraim Inyang eyen"s name onto it. His name has tremendous value to drive sales!

It was therefore no surprise that matters were blown out of proportions with the emergence of conspiracy theories. I however  would love to serve an advisory to government officials down the ladder to always be wary of avoidable recklessness and flippancy that could  be very costly.

Of course, for who and what he has proven to be over the years, Inyangeyen has been on the hit list of political foes and left-wing media who would stop at nothing to bring him down. Their principal target has always been to create distrust between him and the Governor; even though some analysts are clairvoyant in associating the recent shenanigans with the looming clouds of 2023.  

But watch it. Because of the dependable brotherhood and unbroken trust both have shared in the past five years, if between now and the expiration of the present administration, anything ugly happens that shatters the robust relationship Governor Udom Emmanuel and Inyangeyen have enjoyed over these decades, their critics would be the first to call for a jamboree to mock this duo.

Always envious and overwhelmed by Inyangeyen’s clout and crowd and unbroken loyalty to his boss, those who know know that there is nothing ridiculous and unthinkable critics and saboteurs have not experimented with since 2015 to split these two illustrious Onna sons. It follows that whenever Inyangeyen’s story of public stewardship shall be told in full, greater number of pages shall be dedicated to his travails and triumphs over betrayals and attacks by friends and foes.       


That is why Governor Udom Emmanuel deserves commendations for discreetly always playing deaf to printable and unprintable gossip and dummies frequently brandished before him by media gangsters, seeking Inyangeyen’s pound of flesh. The honorarium might be just another stunt!

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