By Daniel Etokidem
His life is a perfect example of a tragicomedy. But the sad irony is that his political depreciation, like stocks closing among “Top Losers” on the floor of the Stock Exchange, was avoidable, if he considered the people’s interest above his self interest and personal survival. The anticlimax of Senator Godswill Akpabio surely presents future political scientists a perfect case study for an academic research on how not to selfishly squander hard-earned political goodwill.
Post-2018 defection of Akpabio resembles 16th century pre-revolution France so much that it should be a subject for future sociologists and political scientists of dysfunctional political ideologies and collapsing political empires. This is not the way many thought Akpabioism will end. The impending third Senatorial defeat in a row, will demystify our respectable uncommon transformer beyond human comprehension, all because pride and ego conspired to make him ignore visible key indicators and early-warning-signals that he is swimming against the tide, in his blind pursuit of another shot at the 2023 election, for the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial seat.
Both the living and the dead are in unison that Abak Federal Constituency should/must produce the next Senator for the District come 2023. More tragically, this is a decision where his infamous “what money cannot do, more money can do” ideology can’t hold sway.
From 2007-2015, he was the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria’s then most flamboyant Governor. Incurably religious, notoriously spiritual and acutely God loving. He was the giver and taker of anything and everything that pleased him. He was the dispenser-in-Chief of favors- political and economic. By his grace millionaires and billionaires sprang from the back waters of the ghetto; and by his grace bestowed, millionaires and billionaires were pauperized.
All political office holders were his minions, made by him at his most benevolent and unmade by him when his whims, like rain clouds, darkened the horizon. He was the maker of the law, the interpreter of the law and the enforcer of the law. No one expected him to be the obey(er) of the law.
His mediocrity towards futuristic visionary leadership was superb because to him, everything needed revolve around himself. Like the tale of Joseph, he rose from bowing down to being bowed to, from ordinary to King. This has become his problem which explains why he rushes when he should tarry and tarries when he should rush. Little wonder his missteps are uncommon.
Akpabio’s history is an encounter with someone who rose to become famous without the accompanying psychology of his new status. A man whose mind has become a vast battlefield and victim of his own bipolarity. A part of him that suffered past deprivations fighting the other part that is now successful; a part of his childhood that suspected and probably loathed the rich struggling with the part that can now afford anything money and fame can buy. But for all his posturing as a leader, Akpabio is in fact, a long way from approximating any of the endearing qualities, nations and societies look up to in their leaders.
A true leader does not manipulate people. Rather, he inspires them. His scam of wanting a second term as Senator so that, (Courtesy of Tinubu’s promise to him) he will become the next Senate President has failed to convince. Again, he thought he almost fooled us, unaware that this time, he fooled himself. The people he once thought were docile, are now wiser than he anticipated, capable of deciphering between the fraud inherent in his aspiration and the bondage from his many maradonic dribbles.
Akpabio looks like a man suffering from the burden of guilt, who has lost touch with truth and history. Nothing exemplifies this more than the incongruous lie he told on Thursday, October 27, 2022 for instance, while inaugurating his Campaign Council in Ikot Ekpene.
In a widely disseminated tissue of miserable concoctions, he told his unfortunate audience another set of disgusting hifalutin lies that he won the election in 2019 but was rigged out. He was literally mocking INEC and the convicted Prof Peter Ogban, who was jailed by a Court for helping Akpabio rig the figures. That he has decided to throw the old professor under the bus, upon the untold suffering that must have visited the Prof and because he was bending the rules and breaking the laws to help Akpabio to secure unmerited victory, is a typical characteristic of the man, now abandoned to his destined fate of political loneliness by his allies.
Facts are sacred and very different from opinion, so let’s go back memory lane to set the records straight.
The results of the February 23, 2019 Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District election as declared by the Senatorial Election Returning Officer Prof Peter Ikor Ogban as contained in INEC’s Form EC8E (i) showed that Akpabio polled a total of 83,158 to Senator Chris Ekpenyong’s 118,215. Akpabio won only in Ikot Ekpene LGA, polling 12, 228 to PDP’s 10,712. The controversial Essien Udim LGA results had him score 6,241 votes against PDPs 3,422. By the end of litigation, the Court of Appeal cancelled the results in Essien Udim LGA and ordered a rerun. Any poor kindergarten student of arithmetic should know that if Ekpenyong’s 118,215 votes was subtracted from the cancelled 3,322 he garnered in Essien Udim, he was left with 114,793 votes to Akpabio’s 76,917 votes after subtracting the fictitious 6,241 votes which the court nullified.
With the above analysis, the difference between 114,793 and 76,917 shows clearly that Senator Ekpenyong went into the court-ordered rerun with an insurmountable lead of 37,876 votes against Akpabio. This was never a surprise because Senator Chris won in eight LGA’s out of ten on February 23, 2019. With most of the fictitious results in Essien Udim LGA nullified, it was therefore expected that the uncommon former governor beat a retreat and abandon the lost pursuit of the elusive 2019 senate seat, beaten fair and square by Senator Ekpenyong. These are the facts which the “burden of guilt” won’t allow him accept. It is benumbing to hear Akpabio at his campaign council inauguration, lying to himself that INEC, Prof Ogban and his “enemies” manipulated the outcome. Haba! What an uncommon lie?
Probably I need reminding His Excellency the uncommon politician that Prof Ogban, whom he used to alter the outcome of the election was charged to court and convicted for that crime committed on his behalf. This same Akpabio who is today making satirical remarks against the scholar, procured the services of former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi SAN, to file a motion for bail for Prof Ogban, after he was convicted pending his appeal. “Coincidentally”, Hon Justice Pius Idiong, who was appointed a Judge by Akpabio, granted the bail application – an oddity that caused outrage throughout the country.
How then can Akpabio assert with a straight face that the electoral heist he conceptualized, initiated, masterminded and executed, including his orchestration of the forceful kidnap of NYSC members who served as INEC Adhoc staff in his Ukana community, was rigged against him?
These points are raised not to embarrass or exalt anyone but to aid a better understanding of where the Senatorial district should be heading to come 2023, because while beauty may lodge in the eyes of the beholder, truth does not necessarily reside in popularly-held opinion.
While Senator Akpabio is like a confused loiterer waiting at the intersection of destiny because he forgot the way back home, the PDP Senatorial candidate, Barr Emmanuel Enoidem on the other hand, is set to carry the torch from where our forebears left and lead the race of the next phase of Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District’s journey to achieving a glorious future. No matter the amount of revisionism and reverse psychology applied, the unkind verdict of history cannot be whitewashed. No matter how long it would take.