A Governor and his benefactors By Katherine Eno Akpan
I am It is disturbing when one considers how the spoils of office force some people in position of authority to be carried away to the extent that they feel lord over those that helped them get to where they are. Let me take a sample close to me and which I know very well about. I refer to the Governor of the (now) richest State in the Federation, Akwa Ibom.
Obong Godswill Obot Akpabio is by the special grace of God the leader of the present government of Akwa Ibom State. But that does not mean that the same God did not make this possible for him through benefactors. His first benefactors that naturally come to mind are his parents of blessed memory that brought him to this world. His other recent and living benefactors as I happen to know include the ex-Military President Ibrahim Babangida, GCFR, ex-Akwa Ibom State Military Governor Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd) and The Lady of Songs, Chief(Mrs.) Christy Essien Igbokwe, MFR. It was through the trio that God made possible, the present oil-producing status of Akwa Ibom state. Of course, one cannot forget the immediate past governor of the state, His Excellency Arc Victor Attah who battled former President Olusegun Obasanjo when the latter tried to reverse the economic status of the State.
Yet of all, two people stand out most: The first is the Lady of Songs, Christy Essien Igbokwe who is understood, apart from her role in achieving the present oil-producing status that provides the stupendous revenue that Akpabio now controls; she also played very important roles in the private life of Akpabio. Details of such roles are outside the theme of this piece, but they are believed to be numerous. The second person is Arc Victor Attah who got to know Akpabio through his (Attah) personal friend, Chief Fidelis Etim, erstwhile (appointed by Attah) Chairman of Akwa Ibom SUBEB who unfortunately, one understands no longer have access to Akpabio. Insider information had it that Etim actually offered the opportunity to Akpabio's cousin, Barrister Ibanga Akpabio who was then working with Etim at Akwa Ibom SUBEB but he (Ibanga) suggested Godswill instead. Ibanga who on Godswill's assumption as governor was made one of his Special Assistants, until his present post as the Akwa Ibom State Secretary of the PDP.
It is a known fact that when Obong Etim took Akpabio to Attah, it was for him to be made Commissioner in replacement of someone whom Attah had dropped then and who was from the same constituency as Akpabio. Attah trying to satisfy his friend, Etim, accepted Akpabio in preference to the nominee of then State PDP executive. In fact, Attah did not only accept Etim's request to give Akpabio a political appointment first as commissioner in charge of the Ministry of Petroleum but also thought it necessary to groom him as one of the persons for governorship post for which reason he later posted him to the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs - a Ministry that has to do with the grass roots. He was in this portfolio for almost five years and that gave him the opportunity to galvanize and cement his relationship with the electorate at the grass roots level.
Attah did not do only that: When Attah first thought that he could no longer continue with his Deputy Dr. Chris Ekpenyong, he touted the idea of replacing him with Akpabio, but stopped short of accomplishing his plan because of a stout resistance from the founding members of the PDP in Akwa Ibom State. If Attah had had his way, Akpabio as the Deputy Governor would have further strengthened his stronghold in the Party. In spite of all this, which Attah may be regretting now, Akpabio now sees him as a staunch enemy, forgetting completely that without him (Attah), one of the persons God used in his favour, he would not be where he is today in Akwa Ibom.
Many others contributed to what Akpabio is today. These include Andy Uba who introduced him to Obj to get relief that led towards his becoming backed for PDP Akwa Ibom governorship candidate; Dr. Ufot Ekaette who was the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (now Minister of Niger Delta); Ambassador Sam Edem (the sacked NDDC Chairman); Senator John Akpan-Udoedehe, a former FCT Minister of State, who also was the Director in charge of Akpabio's Campaign Organization. One can go on because the list is endless, nevertheless God does not come down but uses people to favour persons. There is even one Chief Emeka Onwuegbuzia who I did not bother to mention earlier because he is not from Akwa Ibom state.
Emeka was the founder and Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the first registered private telecommunication operator in Nigeria, known as EMIS Telecommunications Limited where Akpabio was employed as Company Secretary. It is alleged that Akpabio took side with those who succeeded in throwing the man out of the Company and he (Akpabio) later became its acting Managing Director under who the Company got comatose, faster. As EMIS company Secretary, Akpabio was alleged to have convinced Chief Don Etiebet to invest in the company. EMIS staffs were normally encouraged to bring in investors in return for payment of commission as incentive.
Today all these people who helped Akpabio up the political ladder have sorry tales to tell. It is unfortunate. However, I would advise him to mend fences with all his benefactors to avoid curses that visit those who are ungrateful as recorded in the Holy Bible, which I suppose he believes in.
Katherine Eno Akpan, Plot 1348 Gwarinpa Estate, Abuja.
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