By Akwaowo Akpan_
It is no longer news that the immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom State and Senate Minority Leader, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, has perfected plans to leave his once loved Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling party in the country, the All progressives Congress (APC).
While the plans are still being nursed awaiting his reception by the APC on Wednesday, Akpabio’s decision is not farfetched from the fact that he sees that as the only escape route to evade arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and possibly probed and prosecuted by the court of law for his numerous corrupt files as earlier purported by his former opposition party, APC.
The former governor embezzled N108 billion during his tenure between 2007 and 2015, leading to the anti-graft agency writing to five banks demanding information on Akwa Ibom State finances under Akpabio’s administration. There was no love between EFCC and the Akpabio-led state government over N108.1 billion Fraud. In 2017, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had probed Godswill Akpabio for his N1.4 billion gift to a bank for unknown reasons. In 2013, he paid N566,883,728.66; N441,808,081.90; and N392, 631,943.37 as gifts to a new generation bank.
Akpabio was also alleged to have fraudulently withdrew N18 billion from the state’s Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) in tranches of N10 million and above in a surreptitious manner to conceal his dishonest intention; spending of over N50 billion state funds by the former governor; and alleged withdrawal of N18 billion from the state’s coffers under the guise of special services, reception of very important guests and sundry items.
The ex-governor has been under probe in the recent times for allegedly acquiring some assets through surrogates, including a multi-billion naira mansion at Plot 5, Ikogosi Spring Close, off Katsina-Ala Crescent, Maitama-Abuja; a multi-billion naira mansion at Plot 28 Colorado Close, Maitama, Abuja; 22 Probyn Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; Plot 23 Olusegun Aina Street, Parkview, Lagos and a multi-billion naira 25-storey building at Akin Adesola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Akpabio’s decision to quit the PDP is a clear pointer to the fact that he has been arm-twisted by the APC to submission. The Akpabio everyone knows would never blow a golden opportunity to become the Senate Majority Leader following the recent mass defection in the Senate and National Assembly with PDP having the larger number of lawmakers. Is Akpabio trying to short-change Uyo Senatorial District? Is he trying to frustrate Udom’s second term bid just to get back at Uyo? This is the same Godswill Akpabio that masterminded the near impeachment of the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Obong Nsima Ekere, and now he is defecting to APC to help Nsima win the 2019 governorship elections. This is a coup.
The APC-led Federal Government, since assumption of office in 2015, had launched a manhunt against corrupt politicians in the country where Akpabio’s name was pencilled down as one of the most wanted politicians with questionable files. Now that the former governor has played into the hands of his ‘hunters’, it becomes easier to further the prosecution proper if there was any sense of sincerity in the fight against corruption, and not a politically centred agenda to witch-hunt those in the opposition.
If Buhari is desperate for the 2019 general elections, then he must stop the ‘romance with the devil’ as Akpabio is his devils workshop who will highjack political structures and the killings might resurface again. Records have it that throughout Akpabio’s tenure as Governor of Akwa Ibom State, cultism, kidnapping and killings were the order of the day as residents of the state were under siege with kidnappings for ransom and politically motivated murders at its very peak.
The University of Calabar, Faculty of Law graduate, was reportedly linked to the Buccaneer confraternity, and was accused of allowing secret cultists openly serve in his administration thereby opening up a supremacy rivalry amongst cult members/groups over the control of the state’s political machinery.
The activities of cult-related crises currently witnessed in Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun Local Government Areas within the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District of the state are operating under the influence of Senator Godswill Akpabio who is a political stalwart in the area, as Gov Udom Emmanuel has been able to restore peace to other parts of the state.
Akpabio wanted a stooge in Gov Udom Emmanuel and has not been able to get it hence his decision to defect to the APC since Udom has long shaken off the influence of this very ‘godfather’. Now that he is in APC, will the likes of Nsima Ekere, Umana Okon Umana and others allow him to use them again? Once bitten, twice shy. It is time for them to take their own pound of the flesh.
_Akwaowo Akpan writes in from Ibiono_