Monday, June 17, 2019 11:32 pm
By Dr. Asuquo Edidem Etim
As core disciples of President Mohammadu Buhari’s leadership philosophy that is rooted in integrity, transparency and servant leadership, we believe it is incumbent on us to help him achieve an enhanced performance in his second and final term of office as president of our great nation.
This becomes imperative as the renewed leadership mandate given to him by the help of the almighty God, through the overwhelming support of the good people of Nigeria, comes with higher expectations and bigger responsibilities.
It is the believe of many that the manner he pilots the affairs of the nation going forward, would determine the success or otherwise of this important phase of his leadership journey. And this journey would start, essentially, with the choice of personnel he would assemble to assist him actualize the Next Level programmes.
The Principles of democracy, anchored on the fundamental human rights, as guaranteed by the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, protect our rights as individuals or group, to freely express our freedom of choice as regards the character of any person we would want to represent Akwa Ibom in the coming cabinet. The same goes for our rights to belong to any group especially when the objective of the group is for a better Akwa Ibom, a stronger/United APC in the state and a corrupt free, transparent, Federal government under the astute leadership of our mentor, President Buhari.
Our key interest in this regard is to ensure that President Buhari’s second tenure is remarkably better than the previous one. The few controversies around his government in the first term, as the Ibom Integrity and Servant Leadership Culture Initiative, had noted in our letter to the President, were apparently as a result of the unethical or insensitive actions of some of the former ministers, whose conducts were contrary to Mr. President’s renowned discipline and conservative nature.
It is important to note that our request to Mr. President, not to nominate Senator Godswill Akpabio as minister, echoes the inner thoughts of many patriotic and loyal members of our dear party in Akwa Ibom and the entire South South states for obvious reasons among which was that his haughty attitude and public utterances against the party and the person of the president in 2011 and 2015 general elections undoubtedly eroded the goodwill and sympathy APC had enjoyed in Akwa Ibom state before his defection to APC, which has continued to hurt our party till date. A leader who is worth it does not volt-face, speak from both sides of the mouth, does not speak just for the podium and does not leave behind insensitive and negative trails but ought to be conscious that such will trail him tomorrow. Akpabio is guilty of all these and such a character remains unfit for ministerial appointment.
The following verifiable factcheck will help to ascertain the objectivity and veracity of our earlier assertions as contained in our letter to Mr. President, which is that: 1. Senator Akpabio is still under probe of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)), hence unfit for ministerial nomination in the Next Level government. 2. That he was a destabilizing factor in APC in Akwa Ibom, which contributed to the party’s poor outing at the recent election. 3. That his profligacy in public office and hunger for power corrupt his sense of propriety which makes him ignore norms, standards and traditions. 4. That his flippancy and haughty public utterances still hurt our party till date.
According to a report in the Punch of September 21, 2017, Akpabio was first quizzed by operatives of the anti-graft agency over an alleged N108 billion fraud few months after he left office following a petition by a lawyer who is also an activist. The legal practitioner had in the petition accused Akpabio, who was the minority leader of the Senate before his defection from Peoples Democratic Party, PDP ahead of the 2019 general elections of fraudulent withdrawal of N18 billion from the state’s share of the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocation and other sundry infractions. As part of its investigations, EFCC had written letters to Zenith Bank, Keystone Bank, First City Monument Bank, Skye Bank, and United Bank for Africa demanding information on the state’s accounts when Akpabio was governor.
It can also be recalled that Akpabio had during his defection to APC claimed that he was no longer under investigation. But this was swiftly denied by former spokesman for the EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, who in a text message to Punch emphatically stated that Akpabio’s corruption case was still ongoing, according to Punch report of May 28, 2019, under the caption, “We haven’t closed case against Akpabio. “EFCC does not close cases or give clearance to anybody,” Wilson had said.
And President Buhari during an interview aired on Arise TV said he has not told EFCC to halt the former governor’s probe. “I don’t think Akpabio, when he moved to the APC, that I said he should be left alone. I cannot remember asking the EFCC, the ICPC, the police or anybody to spare any corrupt person or incompetent person,” the president had said.
It is on record that as governor of Akwa Ibom State, Akpabio, on April 9, 2013, invited and received the Ghanaian President, Dr. John Mahamawho had no business being in the State aside Akpabio’s alleged stupendous investment in Ghana while in office. In the stupendous reception organised for Mahama with State fund, Akpabio ignored the conventions of protocol and delved into acts meant only for Nigeria’s sitting president by, among others, mounting a guard of honour and reviewed same live on TV. That he only hurriedly dismantled after alleged intervention by Aso Rock Villa.
On intolerance, recall that Akpabio had on March 27, 2011 led the arraignment of Sen John Udoedehe for treason over the violence he (Akpabio) orchestrated on ACN campaign rally in Ikot Ekpene which left scores of ACN supporters dead. And this came after causing his detention for weeks prior to the election in which Sen Udoedehe was his main opponent. It took the grace of the court to throw out the case on May 27, 2013, a ruling that was widely captioned, “Another Loss for Akpabio by national dailies”.
It is a well documented fact that in the 416 weeks (8 years) of Akpabio’s reign as governor, of which a minimum of 390 weekly Executive Council meetings were expected, barring public holidays, Akpabio never held more than 12 Executive Council Meetings aside the 16 convened to rubber stamp his budgets and supplementary budgets. We challenge the PDP government of Akwa Ibom State to publish records of Executive Council Meetings held all through Akpabio’s 8 years as governor. And this further leaves us in wonder as to why such a person that hardly knows the importance of Executive Council Meetings could be deemed fit for the nation’s Executive Council as a minister.
On haughty utterances, it was a public knowledge that while at a funeral ceremony in Aguobu-Owa, Ezeagu Local Government area of Enugu State on August 21, Senator Akpabio declared that APC’s takeover of Akwa Ibom in 2019 would be as total as the 1940 invasion of Poland by the German dictator, Adolf Hitler. His words: “Recently, I had an occasion in Akwa Ibom State and this is what happened: I went just to make a floor declaration; others do it in the social media; others just sit in their offices; some do it by text messages that they have changed platform, what we call party. But in my own, I just decided to do it in an uncommon way because they call me uncommon transformer. It was watched in 59 countries and somebody asked what happened there, and I said just how it happened in Poland.
“When they asked Hitler’s minister of information how was the war in Poland? He said Warsaw saw war and war saw Warsaw. I will say that in the Ikot-Ekpene arena, when I stepped out, this is my first function after that, Warsaw saw war and war saw Warsaw. We can’t talk politics in the church but in 2019 Warsaw shall see war and war shall see Warsaw. The return will be victory.”
The result of this very insensitive Warsaw declaration and his subsequent boast that he would capture the whole of south south states for our party without any visible strategy or networking, resulted in untold resentment against APC and the result was a dismal electoral result. Also the over 15 video clips on Akpabio’s name calling and denigrating utterances against Buhari and APC in the 2011 and 2015 elections were regularly broadcast by the PDP government in the State on TV and radio throughout the campaign period. This singular act of indiscretion robbed our party of the sympathy of many.
It was to the chagrin of many of us APC faithful that he came into APC with no recognizable political structure or any meaningful support base of value. It was expected that a politician of that stature would be able to at least command the loyalty and following of at least half of the members of the House of Assembly, but he came almost empty handed with a lot of distracting noise. The three members that later joined him came with huge baggages of controversy that robbed off on the party negatively. So, when PDP cleared all the 13 NASS seats, including his own, in Akwa Ibom, won 20 of the 21 House of Assembly seats in the state and retained the governorship of the state, it became very clear that we had actually overrated his electoral value and influence. The huge repugnance against the person of Akpabio and his politics robbed the party of its popularity and victory.
In view of the above reasons, I believe it will not be difficult to understand our desire to have a representative in the coming cabinet of President Buhari, who would enjoy the support of majority of Akwa Ibom people irrespective of political background. We also make this request for the purpose of equity and fairness in a party that is emerging from a depressing electoral experience, in the state. Akwa Ibom APC needs a unifying factor, who will bring succor to the party, not an overlord with a humongous ego and sense of entitlement. This is our simple, selfless and objective request from Mr. President.
Dr. Etim, Executive Vice President, Ibom Integrity & Servant Leadership Culture Initiative, wrote from Uyo.