A Breathing ‘Bullion Van’


Every election comes with great refreshments. The bullion van that was seen breezing into the property of the APC National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu came with its own hysteria. Although the great party leader was accused of buying votes during the time, Tinubu had clearly told whoever cared to listen that he has the liberty to do anything with his money. Certainly, this subject matter is not today’s topic of discussion.

Of course, Nigeria’s political lexicon has been infused with a plethora of manipulated lexical items. These lexical codes gain their relevance in line with the country’s prevailing political atmosphere. Some are coinages that reflect existing linguistic features of the Nigerian environment. Yet, some are complete extractions from the prism of denotations. They gain connotative expressions and assume extreme positions of jargon. Some are even made for restricted use and understanding by select persons.

In Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, there are names one could mention and end up in ‘detention’. The names are restricted. They can only be pronounced by qualified initiates. An unconscious eavesdropping into whispers amongst deep politicians could introduce people to some thrilling names. There are people called ‘Hammer’. There are others called ‘Arrow’. Others go by the name, ‘Trigger’ and some even bear names like ‘Scorpion’, ‘Lion’, ‘Gorilla’, ‘Elephant’, as well as ‘Thunder’.

The home front, however makes for a more familiar ones. Perhaps my mind is always guided with the saying that charity begins at home. In the light of this, yours truly is, in this article, tempted to reflect on the three most dominant political names that are frequently mentioned in the recent political space of the third leg of the state’s tripod. In spite of the propelling attraction to examine these three, the last shall enjoy a distinct deliberation.

The first among them is ‘ATM’. The second is ‘Alert’. The last but not the least is the ‘Bullion Van’. For those familiar with the workings of the financial parlance, they know these three are what the mathematicians would sort together as ‘like terms’. They belong to what could be compressed in the basket of choices and gathered together for possible ‘evacuation’. Of course, while the Bullion Van is known for conveying minted currencies in a motorcade of security personnel, the automatic teller machine (ATM) dispenses the cash to the end user, while the person receives electronic Alert as an indication of a successful transaction. This is how closely related the three names are.

Perhaps unofficially, these names refer to three distinct personalities. Of the five local government areas in Oro Nation, Mbo has more than the lion share with two of these. Rt. Hon. Victor Antai goes by the name ATM. His brother, Rt. Hon. Nse Ekpenyong bears Alert, while Dr Robinson Edumoh from Urue Offong/Oruko retains the last, Bullion Van. At a time in their political career, some of them may have used the names to describe their relationships with their followers. Others may just have gained the cognomens based on how they were viewed by their supporters. The case of ‘Alert becomes quite hilarious in this situation.

First, the former two term elected chairman of Mbo Local Government Area and former Commissioner in charge of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs as well as Culture and Tourism, Rt. Hon. Victor Antai settles with his place as ATM. According to his followers, the swiftness with which he frees his hands of Nigerian notes to his supporters qualifies him for the name. Many know him as a man who has no reservation towards helping the underprivileged. Many say Victor Antai shares some unique qualities of Jesus Christ, for they say that anywhere he goes, he must do something good. Antai, the present commissioner in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) representing Akwa Ibom State is compassionate and undertakes several humanitarian services for the betterment of his people. He is well known for giving countless cars to his followers and supporters across political divides. He even got the name ‘Messiah’ before first holding a political office, owing to his extended goodwill to his people. That’s the man called ATM, because according to his people, “this ATM is constantly processing to dispense”.

Next is the man called Alert. As already noted, he is Rt. Hon. Nse Ekpenyong, a former member, Mbo State Constituency at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. He holds the record as the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Eket Senatorial District, as well as the deputy State Chairman of the party. Presently, Alert serves the Oron Federal Constituency at the Green Chambers of the National Assembly. His ‘Alert’ however gains the premium of self acclamation. Nse Ekpenyong is variously quoted to be frequently proclaiming that he so values the place of a national assembly member, because of the monthly ‘Alerts’ that strike his phone. His close acquaintances opin that Ekpenyong is quite humble and liberal. They testify of his natural propensity to ‘show capacity’, especially when relating with his constituents. Although Alert is widely criticized and scored lowly at the Green Chambers, he enjoys his unique ‘nomenclature’ as the Alert of Oro Nation.

To the very core of this discourse is the name ‘Bullion Van’. This name was birthed about 14 months ago. An energetic contender for the Oron Federal Constituency seat was nicknamed Bullion Van. Again, he is known as Mr Robinson Edumoh. A vibrant youth with an overbearing muscularity, he sauntered into the political space and got a very huge support base. Edumoh, from Eyufuo village in Urue Offong/Oruko Local Government Area, made a significant statement when contesting for the post. His political clout was thick and his support base assumed a magical acceleration, gaining grounds in the five local government areas of the Oro nation.

Like the popular Robinson Uwak whose four year stay at the Green Chambers brought fame and honour to Oro people, the name Robinson Edumoh sounded like a comfortable substitute. He pulled followers across party lines. Although he sought the ticket under the All Progressives Congress, APC, Edumoh drew his goodwill even from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. His dense crowd built a thick cloud around the political walls of Oro Nation. However, party supremacy is sometimes incontestible and as a loyal party man, he accepted the decision of the party which did not favour him. He still stands tall till date, working with his party men and building a united front.

Of course, the name ‘Bullion Van’ did not come as an accident. This writer learns how his supporters gave him the name because he is one man who is never exhausted. At least, he does not only free his hands at political gatherings. He is seen as one who goes extra miles to satisfy the needs of those around him. This, the people say is the origin of his soubriquet. Prince Robinson Edumoh is most considered as the last bus stop. This can only be a reminder that when it appears people have finished withdrawing money from the bank, the Bullion Van must be invited.

In spite of being denied the ticket by his party, Edumoh stood still for his people whom he had wished to represent. He has been intervening in various community projects for the interest of the common man. Just recently, Prince Robinson Edumoh donated electricity transformer to his home village of Eyufuo in Urue Offong/Oruko LGA of Akwa Ibom State. He has made arrangements to remodel the existing electrical installation in the community.

Only recently too, he extended his magnanimity to yet another level, as he donated a brand new Toyota Corolla to his campaign Director-General, Ntekim Essang Esq. This gesture, he said was to strengthen the hope among his supporters that things would still get better. The event held at the Oron residence of the Akwa Ibom Commissioner in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Rt. Hon. Victor Antai. The car gift was officially presented to Barr Essang by Sir Victor Antai who used the occasion to express unreserved affection to both the principal and the beneficiary.

Asked how he feels about the uncommon kindness done on him, Ntekim Essang Esq praised the exemplary qualities of his benefactor. His words, “If we had more of his kind in Oro, politics would have been a profitable engagement. I’ve been in politics for 30 years. I can tell you that this is the first time I’ve had this kind of experience. You can see that he was not offered the platform to represent his people. You can also confirm that he does not hold any political office. But he has demonstrated sincerity. He called me out and rewarded me for the sacrifice of loyalty and support which I led thousands of supporters to show.

“He did not only present the car to me. He as well promised to do more for those who stood by him. This is the kind of politics we need in our society. We need more of his kind in Oro and even Akwa Ibom State and beyond. I am deeply grateful for this show of love. While I sincerely appreciate this attitude of kindness, I challenge our political class to emulate his kindness.”

Of course, this gesture is an indicative that politicians are people of different classes. It shows that while there are persons who would willfully exploit others in their political pursuits, some can still think of better things for their supporters. It is an indication that men of conscience were still flooding our political space. It propels one to believe that Nigeria is still blessed with those who would commit themselves to touching lives, given the opportunity as exemplified by Prince Robinson Edumoh, in showing human kindness. It is reflective of the fact that although the season of political showmanship is over, Prince Edumoh remains a breathing Bullion Van.

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