BY David Augustine
IN 1870, during the Franco-Prussian war, English author Wilkie Collins wrote, “I began to believe in only one civilizing influence -the discovery one of these days a destructive agent so terrible that war shall mean annihilation and men’s fears will force them to keep the peace”
Still on the futility of wars, after inventing the dynamite in 1867, Alfred Nobel, on whose name the Nobel prizes were instituted, wrote, “The day when two army corps can annihilate each other in one second, all civilized nations, it is hoped, will recoil from war and discharge their troops”.
In his futuristic treatise on battles, Jan Gotlib Bloch wrote in his book, The Future of War, written in 1898 wrote, “under modern conditions with no prospect of being able to carry that war to a conclusion by defeating its adversary by force of arms on the battlefield. No decisive war is possible that will not entail even upon the victorious Power, the destruction of its resources and the breakup of society. War has therefore become impossible, except at the price of suicide.”
These were precursors to the theory of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) that gained enormous traction during the Cold War era. This theory is seen by Wikipedia as “a doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two or more opposing sides would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender.”
The theory is based on the concept of deterrence, which suggests that the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and the threat of their use against an enemy provide sufficient disincentives and prevent the enemy from using same weapons; thus ensuring that neither side would be motivated to initiate any conflict or as a matter of fact, want to disarm. It is a doctrine that means whoever shoots first, dies second.
The journey into what turned out to be the arms race during the Cold War started in 1945, when the United States dropped the twin nuclear bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This effectively ended the Second World War and established the United States as the hegemonic military and economic power. This reign lasted for only four years when in August 29,1949 the Soviet Union tested its own nuclear bomb. In 1952, the United States detonated the first ever Hydrogen bomb, reputed to be more than 2500 times more portent and more powerful than the Second World War atomic bomb. A year later in 1953, the Soviet Union tested her own Hydrogen bomb, thus maintaining the armaments parity.
The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 is so far the closest the world has come to the efficacy of the MAD theory. The US was alarmed to realize that the USSR had installed her nuclear powered missiles in Cuba, just a mere 90 miles off the border of Florida. While the 13 days face-off, that lasted between October 16, to October 28, 1962, was on, tension gripped the world, people feared the inevitability of a nuclear confrontation that would end civilization. But mutual fear of the consequences of the confrontation made wise counsel prevail. Nikita Khrushchev of the USSR agreed to remove the missiles, while JF Kennedy also removed the American nuclear missiles stationed in Turkey.
This is the theory that best exemplifies the relationship between Senator Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom state former governor and his successor, Mr. Udom Emmaneul. Both men cannot, but maintain the peace for their personal political and economic survival. This runs contrary to the much mouthed state interest and undying love being trumpeted by political megaphones and attention seekers.
Reaction by politicians and political groups have Continued to follow the spate of publications that have consistently highlighted the observable inability of the Udom administration to follow through with landmark projects of the Akpabio era. These projects were left uncompleted and abandoned by his successor, giving rise to the speculation that Akpabio would be a sad man knowing that his effort at installing a successor had been defeated by the disdain with which the present government treats his white-elephant projects. Groups and individuals have risen to assure that there was never going to be any fight between the two.
Essentially, their predictions may be right but the premise on which they arrived at their conclusion is far from correct. It is not correct that the two would observe the peace in the interest of the state. It is not also right that they would not fight because they love and respect each other. They will rather not fight because their fight would result in the mutual destruction of both politically.
In strategic terms, Akpabio has the nuclear powered missiles that could put paid to the political ambitions of Gov Emmanuel. Akpabio’s cruise missiles include an army of very loyal and ambitious followers that perfectly surround the incumbent governor. His Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles include his ability at the drop of the hat to stop the Udom Emmanuel’s dream of a second term in office. Senator Akpabio knows these strategic strength. He knows that the current governor has no determinate political base. He has not even made any efforts to construct one, and more tragically, he has not empowered anyone well enough to earn any depth of loyalty. So politically, Udom remains a vulnerable political pun at the twist of Akpabio’s political fingers. Akpabio understands this and that was why he was constantly throwing his weight around, including disrupting state functions in very inappropriate and provocative manners.
But the former governor had to be put on leash. The Udom tendencies put forward their own strategic political military defence systems, displayed a little of their own nuclear armaments built around the EFCC and the telltale financial rot that signpost the Akpabio era. The result is the mutual fear, manifesting as respect for each other that we now see. We now have a more reticent and sober Akpabio and a little bolder Udom Emmanuel.
They say that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers, but in this case, when these elephants fight, it is they, the elephants that would suffer. The state would get liberated and closet malfeasance would be made open. Consider what would happen if Udom Emmanuel decides to throw the accounts of the state open for the EFCC to scrutinize. What do you think would happen if Gov Emmanuel, decides to tell the full story of the abandoned Ibom Tropicana complex or the emerging dirt and sorrowful story of the multimillion naira Ibom Speciality hospital. For the Tropicana Gov Udom has disclosed that what he still needs to put on the project was not “good for the ears in these times of economic crunch”. On the hospital, the governor has revealed that he paid out N1.3b for equipment procurement balance in a project we were told has been fully paid for.
Imagine what would happen if Gov Udom Emmanuel goes further to elaborate on his current assertion that Akpabio merely commissioned a building and not a hotel in Ikot Ekpene in what we know as the 4 Points by Sheraton. The governor went on to disclose to his listeners, at the government house prayer meeting, that he still needs a whooping $7.5m to “turn the building into a hotel”.
Can the governor go the whole hog to tell the story of Julius Berger and its activities in the state? Can he tell us why he had to part with at least N1b every month in favour of Julius Berger since he assumed office, yet the Ikot Ekpene Uyo road is still mired in bundles of excuses? The governor would have loved to let the people know the true state of things, but he dares not. That missile strike would be met with a devastating retaliation that would make him scamper for help that would not readily come and that is why wisdom suggests that he plays along. Now the elephants are not fighting, but it is the grass that is still suffering.
Perhaps if Gov. Udom Emmanuel wins a second term as governor, the state will then be able to hear the full gist of what actually happened in the 8 years of Akpabio and the true financial state of the state. For now he can do nothing but groan in silence, while tagging along with his political benefactor, who has him, the governor, tamed by the fear of failure to secure a second term; a fear that is portent and real.
Akpabio on the other hand, has no choice but to stoop and conquer by ensuring that the menace of the EFCC is starved off by the guiding angel he left behind. Any attempt by Akpabio to rock the boat now would amount to a mutual destruction for both.
As we had during the Cold War era concepts as deterrence, MAD and detente, so do we have in the relationship between Akpabio and Emmanuel and nothing more pretentious.
They are not keeping the peace because of the state, they must maintain peace because the annihilation of both resides in their quarrel, while their survival lies in their maintaining the peace. A theory that whoever shoots first dies second..! At the end, it is the state that is the grass.
– David Augustine, a legal practitioner cum journalist is a former Editor-in-chief at Weekly Insight Newspaper.
-The opinions and views expressed in this article are solely those of the writer/author, and do not necessarily represent or reflect the editorial policy of Headline News Nigeria.