Senator Godswill Akpabio’s ambition to become the president of the 10th Senate has obviously assumed desperate proportions with suppositions and accusations of some highly placed individuals working against him.
It is against this backdrop that rumour mill has come alive with information circulating in Akwa Ibom State that Governor Udom Emmanuel is ferociously against Senator Akpabio’s emergence as senate president.
While it is commonplace that the animosity between these two eminent personalities of Akwa Ibom State is at a feverish pitch, it is important for the media spin doctors of Senator Akpabio to address a few grey areas in their claims. Firstly, one of the anonymous claims is that certain personalities in Akwa Ibom held a meeting with some senators and even tried to influence them to ditch the Senator Akpabio project. Now, without a mention of even the name of one of the several senators said to have met with one former and the current governor of the state, the accusation falls flat. Clearly, nothing can be far from the truth as it is all a ruse and an attempt to paint these personalities in a bad light before the people.
The unfounded rumours were a calculated attempt by the purveyors of mischief to sow seeds of discord and unnecessary hatred among the people and supporters of the eminent personalities.
Though Akpabio is rumoured to be choice of the president-elect, Bola Tinubu to mount the number three seat in the country, his past and antecedent may have continued to haunt him.
Instead of Akpabio to seek to redeem his corruption-tainted image and character which has continued to haunt him and present a manifesto that will convince Nigerians and the senators-elect to support his ambition, he has continued to chase shadows and sponsor hatred amongst the people in Akwa Ibom State.
How can Governor Udom work against him when he Is not a member of his party, APC, yet he didn’t work against him to become a minister or win the senate seat.
It is on record that the former governor was arrested in 2015 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged theft of N108.1billion Akwa Ibom funds. Akpabio, now senator, was elected in 2007 as Akwa Ibom governor, at a time the nation enjoyed robust oil revenue.
Again, in April 2023, the EFCC invited the former minister of Niger Delta Affairs for interrogation over allegations of a N40 billion fraud perpetrated in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, which was headed by Akpabio for three years. Also, there were allegations of over N86 billion contract scams involving the senator-elect and a former acting managing director of the NDDC, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei, which the EFCC had been investigating.
This is a man who has lost the confidence of his allies and friends in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the south-south region for obvious reasons.
Notably amongst the top APC chieftains against Akpabio’s choice is the outgoing senate president, Ahmad Lawan who has reportedly vowed to oppose the aspiration of the former minister of Delta Delta Affairs of succeeding him. Despite visits to Lawan for support, the outcome of such nocturnal visits never yielded any positive result. Not even the press conference held by the dreamer of the senate presidency changed the mind of Lawan.
According to a report by a national daily, Lawan was said to have told Tinubu when he led some group of senators-elect to visit the president-elect at his residence in Abuja recently that his endorsement would not translate into victory for Akpabio in the senate. It was reported that Lawan was said to have alleged that Akpabio was “bogged down by credibility baggage, which disqualified him from the contest.”
The senators were said to be angered by the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) under the watch of Akpabio as supervising minister of the interventionist agency for the oil-rich belt. The report further revealed that the senators were particularly piqued that Akpabio allegedly frustrated the inauguration of the board and management appointed and duly screened and confirmed by the senate on November 5, 2019, thus paving the way for the appointment of a corrupt-ridden interim management to oversee the running of the commission for almost three years.
A leading APC lawmaker who spoke recently on Akpabio’s ambition noted that the former Akwa Ibom governor “will eventually sell out the senate if allowed to emerge the senate president.”
“Remember what he did in 2018/2019. The PDP honoured him as a first-timer in the senate by giving him an exalted position of minority leader. Without any just cause, save for his pocket and selfish interest, he abandoned the PDP midstream and joined APC. He was rewarded with a ministerial position. Such a person who betrayed his former party, the PDP that made him cannot be trusted as a senate president. He is unstable.
In the end, the eminent personalities who transformed Akwa Ibom into a pacesetter state and always seeking the prosperity of the state beyond politics will not do anything to stop the progress of any indigene of the state in any field of endeavour. Without a doubt, Senator Akpabio is looking in the wrong places for the reasons and causes of his seeming rejection and the sooner he looks beyond his dear Akwa Ibom State and desist from angling to use then exalted office of the senate president to settle non-existent scores, the better for him and his political future.
By James Eme
Eme wrote from Abuja.
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