Recently, at a high brow shopping outlet in Uyo, I overheard the owner, a short, dark, coarse-voiced Igbo man say “Godswill Akpabio is the only man in the South that commands so much respect so much so that Northerners who desire favours at the Federal level run to him, sometimes taking turns to catch a nap on his couch waiting for the man”.
He hailed his in-law as a very powerful man! Why not? But deep inside of me, I felt revulsion and disappointment. Disappointment in the fact that the man, like many others saw the shadows and mirage of the “Akpabio image”.
Revulsion because, like many others, he did not know the real Godswill Akpabio. But people gathered at his feet in cult-like worship; how comes?
Prior to 2007 when (then) Chief Godswill Akpabio became Governor of Akwa Ibom State, he was little known outside the narrow corridor of the State called Akwa Ibom. Yes, he was Commissioner for Mineral Resources, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and subsequently Lands.
Prior to his Commissionership days, he was unknown. In Governor Udom Emmanuel’s opinion, he was cargoed into the State by night bus and the rest is history!
Under Governor Attah as Commissioner, he did not contribute much to governance. In Attah’s words: “In the six years that he was my commissioner, the number of memos brought to Council by Barr.
Godswill Akpabio can comfortably be counted with the fingers of one hand. But Akpabio is certainly not without some strength; “Barrister Godswill Akpabio has been reputed to be digitally brutal or is it brutally digital in his ability to mislead, to misinform and to misrepresent issues”, Attah continued.
His administration from 2007 – 2015 received the highest allocation the State would ever witness. With such confounding sums of cash also came several outlandish projects. Monuments. It is believed that Governor Akpabio cornered more than a fair share of State funds into private use and pockets. In one of his moments of somnambulism, he blurted, ‘what money cannot do, more money can do’.
The erstwhile Minister of Finance Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealla in 2013 was quoted as saying less than 10% of resources accruing to Akwa Ibom State was spent on developing the State!
In the rave of such financial intoxication, Godswill Akpabio was profligate and yet generous. His generosity knew no boundaries and were not limited to amassing wealth for himself and brothers.
He acquired awards and Doctorates; amassed Chieftaincy titles; donated to sometimes worthy and other times inexplicable causes. He donated N500million to the establishment of a State University in Jigawa State.
He buried more Billions in a phantom underground pipe water jacking equipment which was touted as being able to dry up rain water in minutes in Uyo. The project is largely considered a failed project today.
But this is not about Akpabio and failed projects or a less-than-decent handling of government funds as Governor. It is about the disposition of an institutionalized traitor and a combustible-individual whose very fabric is averse to integrity, friendship and loyalty. It is this triple ignominious credential that Senator Akpabio has brought into the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Senator Akpabio is one of the most affable persons you can encounter. He’s spontaneous. His sense of humour is legendary so also his proclivity for mischievous machinations. With Akpabio as friend, you have more than an enemy to contend with.
Senator Akpabio it was who bent all known democratic rules to install Mr. Udom Emmanuel as Governor in 2015 against the likes of Umana Okon Umana his SSG who was seen at the time as a Governor-in-waiting and Obong Nsima Ekere his erstwhile Deputy who had escaped impeachment by the whiskers as Deputy Governor to Akpabio.
Just like Akpabio, Udom was never in the governorship picture prior to 2015. Udom parades an illustrious pedigree in the corridors of Banking though he has made little or no impact in governance. The former Governor of the State and now Statesman, Architect Victor Attah in his book, “It is well with my soul” also refers to his administration as, “a mystery”.
Akpabio stepped on all toes and birthed an-Udom governorship. Three years down the road, the cozy mutually beneficial relationship between the duo hit the political rocks and Akpabio took refuge with the progressives in the APC. This move was seen by many as strategic and a master-stroke.
He claimed he never defected but “moved” to unite the State with the national political grid. Many people felt his movement exposed the underbelly of the lizard as weak, cunning and a paper weight.
He lost his bid to return to the Senate in 2019. He was walloped by a colourless Senator Christopher Ekpenyong at the February 23, 2019 polls.
By Saturday January 25, 2020 when the Court ordered rerun was concluded, Senator Akpabio was literally stripped to his under pants of all credentials of capacity and control when all the seats in his home local government were swept by the PDP in what is now termed derisively as “confirmatory defeat”!
Senator Akpabio earlier mid-wifed the disastrous electoral outing and trouncing of the APC in Akwa Ibom State at the last elections. The Warsaw-saw-War crooner could not deliver APC in Akwa Ibom State as he had boasted to do so within three hours during the campaigns. He could not deliver President Buhari in his immediate community – Essien Udim too.
As Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Akpabio has ruffled every feather. Contrary to claims of forensic audit at the NDDC, it is believed that the Minister is fighting proxy political battles for his selfish benefit. The idea is to demonize certain interests and become the last man standing.
Few weeks ago in Ukana his home-town, under the guise of attending funeral obsequies of the mother to one of his aides who is accused of still having strong ties with the PDP in the State, Senator Akpabio held a closed door meeting with notable members of the PDP in the State.
In the meeting, Senator Akpabio apologized to his guests and also sought their forgiveness. He asked Mr. Paul Ekpo the PDP State Chairman to summon a strategic peace meeting “anywhere in the world” to discuss 2023 succession plan to “chase away the Lagosians”, apparently referring to Governor Udom Emmanuel and his succession plan.
It is curious why the Minister of Niger Delta would be deep in discussing a succession plan with the PDP when he has not called a single meeting of the APC since his appointment and swearing as Minister several months ago. “This is the height of anti-party”, protested a member of the Ward executive in the Minister’s Ward who could not access the meeting venue.
The days and weeks ahead will reveal the true motives of the actions and suspicious moves of the Minister. Senator Akpabio is no stranger to treachery and double-speak.