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2015: Akpabio, avoiding the road to political

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By Dan Etokidem
The battle for 2015 has raised some interesting and intriguing question.

This is because no matter how debased and disreputable politics has become, there will still be some fundamental logic to its operative syntax. As it is with the game of chess, so also it is with politics. They are players and foot soldiers. There are game changers and towel- changers. There are pawns and power brokers.

Politics also mirrors the art and science of chess in a way. They both require mental fortitude, psychological stamina and phenominal will. But more importantly, and like chess too, politics also requires the moment of  gennius which is often distinguishable from the moment of madness, when a daring and eccentric move on the chess board confuses and confounds everybody, including the contending grandmasters themselves.

Like chess, the game of politics is won and lost by the ability to think outside the box, that is, outside the chess board itself. In Akwa Ibom state, one political figure many look up to with either pity or admiration is Governor Godswill Akpabio. Akpabio it could be recalled siezed the state and nation's imagination in a way no leader has done before. Yet, where and when political sorcery ends, reality sets in. In the past few months, there have been some significant yet disturbing moves on the political chessboard. There are some tectonic rumbling. The geopolitical power plates are violently grating. The state's power bloc are on the move again, like massive tanks crushing their way through difficult terrains of our own Sambisa forest. The whole land is quaking with fright and premonition.

Akpabio on his part needs no introduction in Nigeria's power game. As Dan Agbese rightly observed, ” He is the giver and taker of anything and everything that pleases him. He is the dispenser-in- chief of favours- political and economic. By his grace, millionaires and billionaires spring from the back water of the ghetto; and by his grace un bestowed, millionaires and billionaires are pauperized. He is the decider- in- chief of political fortunes and misfortunes. All political office holders are his minors, made by him at his most benevolent and unmade by him when his whims, like rain clouds, darken his horizon. He is the maker of the law, the interpreter of the law and the enforcer of the law. We don't expect him to be the obey(er)of the law”.

Hate him. Love him. Akpabio stands apart mainly aloof but with an attitude, “I don't give a damn”. Sooner had he become Governor in 2007 he began a political battle to prove that a king can be a man of his own after coronation. He parted ways with his predecessor, Arc.Obong Victor Attah. This was to be followed with sidelining some power bloc including his closest and best friends who could have helped him build a political empire that would have been a template for others to emulate. But as 2015 approaches, questions like how Akpabio's exit will look like, his ability to install a successor and his dream of moving to the senate continue to dominate political discussions.

Leading the way into the future, Akpabio, a dogged political fighter no doubt, has proved he can handle his job with savvy and sometimes dangerous unpredictability. Not a few believe that with the way Akpabio is going with regards to 2015, he has misread the mood of the moment and might also have underestimated the anger of the people. Many analyst believe if care is not taken and urgently too, the Chairman of PDP Governors Forum may crash politically and his downfall will be a stunning lesson in the instability of human greatness. The Governors bid to prove this school of thought wrong has through his actions in the past few months raised not only the political stakes but has also raised the emotional stakes.

A dark chapter is unfolding in the state. Whichever way it goes, the state is in for politically exciting and dangerous times. While the Governor has left no stone unturned to take charge politically, many believe he may well be consumed by the dynamics he has helped unleash.

Tragically and painfully too, people who could have spoken the truth to him are no where near him. Following a well scripted conspiracy to constantly block,blackmail,and shut off some people who could have told the Governor what he should hear rather than what he would want to hear, this group of people have also gone on political recess, a situation that has only hastened the pilgrimage to doom many believe the Governor is heading to. While his sychophantic aides will boast that all is well and their boss is in charge, objective observers see Akpabio's 2015 game plan as a disaster waiting to happen.

It all started with the dissolution of the political marriage between him and his former SSG, Umana Umana, a move that entirely changed the succession plan. Akpabio decimated Umana and his group. He went for Umana's jugular, sacked him as SSG and decimated his group from the government. Surprisingly, he fired his finance commissioner in a political game plan that is as mysterious as a midnight ghost. Before now, the trio of Akpabio, Umana and Bassey Albert, ran the state, like a medieval fiefdom when their honeymoon lasted. Then came the zoning of the

2015 guber ticket to Eket,a move that has not gone down well with some opponents of the Governor.

Indeed, these are emotional times in the state. Chambers of reason are frying thin from the enbers of passion. Many now see the government as being run without a definitive philosophy in its last days and therefore incapable of identifying and conceptualising a crisis. When therefore, you cannot see a crisis,it follows naturally that you cannot solve a crisis. You cannot solve what you do not see.

What many see as Akpabio”s sins were inevitable in governance no doubt.

He stepped on toes, bruished many egos and incured the hatred and anger of the so called powerful men and even some ordinary people. The resultant effect is that over 40% of the electorate hate him and their hatred for him is non-negotiable. Since they can't get him, they will only wait to happily vent their anger on whoever is perceived to be his chosen candidate for 2015. This explains why the Udom Emmanuel game plan is dead on arrival. The way it is, whoever will win the guber race will win because people voted against somebody than for somebody. This partly explains also why Udom Emmanuel as Akpabio's successor was a decision reached in panic, defended in anger and abandoned in fear.

Akpabio no doubt is confused and not sure who to trust. With his real friends forced on compulsory sabbatical, the government was long ago hijacked by people who contributed little or nothing to his emergence while their preoccupation is looting and plundering with impunity.

Today, the fact on the groung suggest that should Akpabio suffer any misadventure in power, the mood of celebration could muffle that of lamentation. His fate will be worse than that of James Ibori,yet the necessary protocols and safeguards to prevent this avoidable calamity from happening are yet to be put in place and activated. So far Akpabio has rijigged the PDP structure, replenished the state exco with people he believes are trusted allies and has so far manipulated the presidency to sedate his home front against rebellion. But having surrounded himself with aides and advisers most of whom do not know their left from right,and whose preoccupation is greed and parochialism, it is hard to see him successfully plotting his way out of the landmines.

How will Akpabio's end as Governor be? What will he be remembered for?

How will life be after May 29, 2015? The intrigues are still ongoing. The intricacies are yet to fully unravel. How this will play out still lies in the bowel of time.