He was the strongman of Akwa Ibom State Government House Uyo for six years. Even when the office he occupied was that of a hire-fire, he was nonetheless allowed to hold sway as the de-facto governor of the State.
He maneuvered people, figures, properties and political structures, and created a selfdom; an empire for his selfish pursuit. He does not have a farmland neither is he an importer, exporter or an entrepreneur yet he is alleged to be one of the richest men in Akwa Ibom State with a very dip pocket.
Umana Okon Umana, the defeated governorship candidate and leader of the APC in Akwa Ibom State has every good reason to be thankful to former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio. And not vilify him. Grateful, not for appointing him as the Secretary to the State Government for six years but grateful that Senator Akpabio ascribed many functions to his office and indirectly made him the most powerful and influential SSG in Nigeria.
Under Akpabio’s administration, Umana’s office was the most powerful and vibrant in the State. There was nothing that happened in the State which did not pass through the office or table of Umana Umana. Akpabio trusted him like Julius Caesar trusted, his friend and confidant, Marcus Brutus. He believed in Umana. Honoured him with responsibilities and privileges; accorded him the powers to assign portfolios to commissioners. What a manner of trust!
For six straight years, Umana enjoyed the accolades of being referred to as the engine room of the Akpabio’s administration. He smiled beside the former governor as a newly wedded virgin-bride anytime they went about the length and breadth of the State commissioning life touching projects. And Umana Usually nodded his head like Agama lizard in appreciation of Akpabio’s performance which he was part and parcel. He enjoyed that romance with senator Akpabio as a key player in the Uncommon Transformation team until he was booted out of office and his do-or-die intention to govern Akwa Ibom State ‘buharialized’.
That was when Umana savoring groom for six years, Senator Akpabio became a demon, dictator, election rigger, looter, corrupt person, imposter, what a shame! If Umana was not removed from office as the SSG or if Akpabio had supported his ambition, would Akpabio become the biggest problem to the APC today? Cha! Dia riz God oh!
If Umana says Akpabio administration was corrupt, then his situation is like pointing one finger to Akpabio and four fingers pointed back at himself because he was saddled with the task of implementing the PDP programmes for six years. Come to think of it, who are the members of the APC that are now calling Akpabio names? Are they truly sincere in their newly found born-again crusade against Akpabio or they are enmeshed with hatred for the senator who they felt halted their selfish ambition to govern Akwa Ibom State.
The gang-up against Senator Akpabio by the Akwa Ibom Chapter of APC is an exercise in futility. The call on the anti-corruption body by the APC to probe the former governor is because they are still bitter that Akpabio supported a popular and credible candidate whom he believed will put the interest of the state ahead of his personal interest. This of cause has turned out to be true.
According to a social / public affairs commentator, Imoh Otu, “the best gift that Akpabio bequeathed to the State was his foresight at ensuring that he spotted governor Udom Emmanuel and supported him through his ambition”. He opined that, “the change Umana is currently canvassing for is deeply rooted in Udom’s governorship, noting that Umana has been in the system for years and allowing him govern Akwa Ibom State as governor will amount to nothing since dynamism is the watch word for today’s world”.
Evidentially, Umana’s morals and democratic credentials cannot pass through any scientific scrutiny especially for having the temerity to fight, incite, and castigate his benefactor, Akpabio who gave him the political podium to ride Akwa Ibom people the way he liked. This same Akpabio who happens to be Umana’s once handsome groom is now the enemy of a conglomeration of renegades headed by Umana. A close look at the list of people tailing behind the APC leader are people who Akpabio handpicked from nowhere and made them who they are. But today, they have made inciting the public against Akpabio a newly found career. Dia riz God oh!
They have labeled Akpabio the most corrupt man in the world and demonized him without any iota of evidence or charge. Meanwhile these same people continue to live and fight the senator from the proceeds of the opportunity given to them by Akpabio to serve in his government. Dia riz God oh!
Who will fight for senator Akpabio? No one! Who will call a press conference in Akpabio’s defense, no one, except his lofty projects and footprints as governor of the State? Only Akpabio’s remarkable achievements in office will fight for him. Recently, a childhood friend who visited Uyo, Akwa Ibom from Lagos could not stop asking me questions after driving around Uyo and other parts of Akwa Ibom with me. As we navigate, he pauses and asks intermittently:
“Who built this e-library? Na Akpabio, I replied him. What about the stadium? Akpabio. The airport and flyovers nko? Akpabio, I replied. Yes! I remember, he said, I saw one building around that “Itan (m)” area, they wrote “Specialist Hospital”, who built it, he asked? Akpabio, I replied again. What about that the dualized road to Abak from Uyo? Akpabio. The one to Ikot Ekpene nko? Akpabio. These entire beauty roundabouts with waterfalls, who constructed them? Akpabio. The Itam-Calabar, Itu highway, who constructed that road? Akpabio. What about the road that leads to the big roundabout from Aka road as if you are going to Eket? Akpabio! Wait na only Akpabio waka come for naija, he asked sarcastically?
Come to think of it he continued, “I noticed something that I like in this state, Fish”, he said. “The people drive good cars just like Lagosians. How come that they call Akwa Ibom State a civil service state and people could afford good cars?” Before I could reply his question, he quipped: “at a bar today, people were arguing, some said that only Akpabio and his relations benefited from his government. So all those people driving latest classic cars are related to the governor?” I could not say anything again because he had already answered the question he asked.
And true to his observations, that is the dilemma of the Akpabio’s. The APC attributes hunger in the State to the Akpabio’s family but members of the APC and their relatives are buying and driving exotic cars daily. They alleged that Akpabio did not empower Akwa Ibom people, but move around the State; many high-rising buildings are being built by APC members. APC said Akpabio refuse to build industries, but the APC and their relatives are building hotels everyday instead of factories. They said Akpabio rigged election for Udom, meanwhile thousands of youths, women and men rushed down to Government House to celebrate Udom’s victory while a handful of APC faithful groaned. Even when Akpabio has left the seat of power as governor, the APC have not been able to move on with their lives without Akpabio. They are so addicted to the senate minority leader. If their wives get miscarriage or their dogs dies, they blame Akpabio. APC; dia riz God oh!
Akpabio should not be deterred by APC rambunctious onslaught against him. He should be focus and more determined to legislate better for the good people of his constituency and the state. Akwa Ibom people trust him and have absolute confidence in his capacity to represent them in any phase of their political life. As for members of the APC who because of greed for power has decided to bite the fingers that feed them, they should remember that: “dia ris God oh!”
Tom FredFish is a public policy analyst and media consultant wrote in from Uyo.