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OPINION: Akpabio, How Market?

By Iman Imar

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A great tree has indeed fallen and it was no surprise a mammoth crowd came out last Wednesday to see if they could perceive what happened to Senator Godswill Akpabio last Wednesday in Ikot Ekpene stadium.

A respected elder in the state and former minister of lands and housing, Chief Nduese Essein in his summary of what happened to the former Senate Minority Leader and immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom State, said:

“Senator Akpabio cannot deliver ’us to the APC, to go and be appointed Senate President because that is one of the incentives we understand he has been promised.”

If indeed that was the negotiation he went to London to do with President Muhammadu Buhari, it obviously has failed because the people of the state and the political class in the state may have seen through it.

The people refused to bite the bullet and Akpabio has gone on to the APC almost alone.

Whereas many of the defections in the last three weeks were movements away from the All Progressives Congress, APC to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and other parties, Akpabio chose to do the reverse. That was the first indication that something was wrong.

Senator Bukola Saraki when he defected moved along with all but one member of the State House of Assembly, all members of the House of Representatives from the state and the three senators.

Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State when he left the APC went with the majority of the members of the House of Assembly and some members of the House of Representatives.

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State when he moved, went along with the majority of the members of the House of Assembly and at least one senator.

After Senator Rabiu Kwankwanso left the APC more than ten appointees of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje have left his government and about ten members of the House of Assembly have also in solidarity with the former governor left that party for the PDP.

In Akpabio’s case what do we have? The member representing him in the House of Assembly and one other member both of whom had in the past been his personal aides and two commissioners including his junior brother and one other who was also a former personal staff.

Indeed, there is no doubt that more than 70% of political appointees of Governor Udom Emmanuel were foisted on him by Akpabio. All of the members of the House of Assembly, House of Representatives and the Senate from the state came apparently through his direct intervention.

Is it not telling of Akpabio’s lonely walk that they with the exceptions of the above, all the other political office holders spurned his offer?

For starters it has now become clear that a substantial proportion of the crowd that day was imported from outside Akwa Ibom because many of them could not speak the language and could not respond to the language that Akpabio just three weeks earlier used to rouse them in the same stadium.

If indeed, Senator Akpabio negotiated for the office of Senate President with the promise of delivering the state to the APC, he indeed has failed. The APC cannot take over the state through negotiating with a man whose focus is only on self preservation.

It is also alleged that besides the offer of Senate Presidency, that Akpabio’s defection may have been triggered by the offer of self preservation from the hands of the marauding anti-corruption agencies. The way the APC Federal Government has attacked PDP officials and protected those who defected into the APC may give room for this. Of course one would pity Akpabio for this, but was it enough reason to commit political suicide?

Allusion to either reason or a combination of the two is buttressed by the fact that Akpabio has till today not given a justifiable reason for his defection. The only reason he has come out to say is that he wants to support Buhari’s integrity.

When he campaigned seriously against Buhari in the past did he not see that integrity? Is it now that the president’s integrity has become suspect given several allegations of impropriety around his administration that Akpabio has been won over?

As many suspect, Akpabio’s defection may have been coerced to enable the APC gain a foothold in the state, but it has turned out into a serious political miscalculation for both the plotters and Akpabio himself.

Indeed, as Chief Esseien added after one of the series of solidarity visits to Governor Emmanuel, the state is now free from the overbearing tendencies of the former governor. The distractions in the state’s finances used in pursuing legal issues to shield Akpabio from the attacks of the anti-corruption agencies will now be preserved and channeled into other productive uses that the governor has been doing.

“You are now free to take charge of your administration, you are now free to work with whom you please and direct affairs without looking back to what the headmaster will say.”

“We are conscious of the fact that Uyo and Ikot Ekpene senatorial districts had given us their promise to support you. We want to assure you that your senatorial district is solidly behind you, we are ready to organize ourselves to be able to deliver,” he added.

Imar writes from Lagos


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