By Osondu Ahirika
This will be my second and last essay on, using his own words, the ‘Uncommon’ defection of erstwhile Minority Leader of the Senate, Chief Godswill Akpabio. As he moves into the confused and unamused camp of the All Progressives Congress, APC, caution, is the wait-and-watch game in the fold.
Let me give some insight on the shape of things to come and a guide to understanding the interesting times we are in. The all conquering bellow of Akpabio’s spokesperson, Anietie Ekong, via a Facebook post, heralding the touchdown of his boss sets the tone. Hear his audacious boast: ‘When the Eagle lands, no other bird flaps its wings!’ Let’s attempt a post mortem.
1).Buhari, Amaechi and Akpabio
A love triangle is a distressing thing. A power triangle is worse. Here we have a strange alchemy of three Lions(apologies to the English National team).
Former Rivers State Governor and current Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi is the acclaimed Lion of Ubima and the South South. Akpabio, a one time emerging Tiger, has since assumed the accolade, Lion of the Niger Delta. It has translated to a cold turf war for the duo.
Both men are bitter rivals. Not just that, Akpabio tried to wrestle power from Amaechi as then Chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum, and propped up then Plateau Governor, Jonah Jang, to balkanize the NGF, as a factional chairman of the forum, in a reelection contest Amaechi won on May 24, 2013, with 19 votes to 17. Akpabio went ahead to forment the PDP Governor’s Forum, as a direct countermeasure to checkmate and undercut Amaechi’s influence, becoming her pioneer Chairman. The rest, they say is history.
Both men were to clash again as Amaechi became the Campaign Director General for General Muhammadu Buhari after leading five other Governor’s to quit the PDP into the Mega party that became APC, whereas Akpabio took charge of President Goodluck Jonathan’s reelection bid. Lion Amaechi trounced Lion Akpabio in that round of 2011.
Fast forward to the current scenario, Lion Amaechi has been relagated by the Lion king Buhari, and Lion Akpabio, has emerged as the new face of the cavalry charge to deliver the South South to Buhari in 2019, which Amaechi couldn’t accomplish in 2011. I’m not sure Amaechi is smiling wherever he is. Managing the egoistic differences of both men may ultimately derail this game.
2) The Eagle vs orthers
Senator Ita Enang, Obong Umana O. Umana, Mr Nsima Ekere, Senator John James Udoedehe, Atuekong Don Etiebet, Group Captain Sam Ewang, Dr Udoma Bob Ekarika and others have a big fight on their hands. The Eagle has landed. All the lesser birds must give way for the eagle to soar and cruise. Will they be rendered irrelevant and alienated by the flight to the Eagle? Already in he has announced his wife, Mother of the APC. They all must live with their former nemesis, shape in or ship out. Period.
The governorship ambition of Mr Nsima Ekere and Senator Udoedehe will likely suffer for the Eagle to have his way. Even as his Deputy Governor, Akpabio was not comfortable, Ekere had Amaechi(yes, that rival Lion) as his godfather. He was kicked out for that relationship. Amaechi, it was, that helped install Ekere, Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. Ekere wants to be governor. Will Akpabio accept that. Lions are known to fiercely fight to the finish, to keep their pride from infiltration by rival Lions. I hope you get the drift.
Read the poet j. P. Clark’s famous poem, ‘The Casualties’. Let me serve you part of it to understand the real politics these men will have to grapple with. Clark wrote, “… The casualties are many. Outside the scenes of ravage and wreck, They are the emissaries of rift… They are wandering minstrels who, beating on The drums of the human heart, draw the world, Into a dance with rites it does not know… Caught in the clash of counter claims and charges”
4) Those that will follow Akpabio
Akpabio’s defection promised a thunderstorm but only begot intermittent lightning. It was said, he will move like a tsunami and a 6.5 magnitude earthquake, sweeping along, about 15 Senators, 3 Governors, the State Legislators, Commissioners, Local Government Chairmen, Board members and indeed, who-is-who in the PDP hierarchy in the state and Nigeria. He was set to become Senate President and left his post as Minority Leader. Alas, only two Commissioners, two state Lawmakers and two Federal parliamentarians followed him. That was disappointing, as his foot soldiers refused to follow him.
Nevertheless, we must not think it’s over. Our elders say, ‘the hunters boast is not repeated before the elephant’. We will watch and see how many of these politicians pledging solidarity and loyalty, will remain firm to the end, when Akpabio begins mid night visits, to woo them, like his Party Chairman, Oshiomhole. Will their boast whither before a rampant Akpabio. When what money cannot do, more money lures to do? The answer flies in the wind
4). Prison yard democracy?
Tinubu and Oshiomhole both said, APC is coming to deliver Akwa Ibom State from 16 years of rapacious looting by the PDP. Dancing Sekem with them was Akpabio, who served for years as a Commissioner, Governor for Eight years,and Senator for Three years of that period.
Were Saint Tinubu and Oshiomhole calling him a thief before the world? Isn’t it an irony or is there any queer significance or mischief, that, Akpabio became the first politician who, it took, not the APC Chairman, but President Buhari’s Special Assistant on Prosecution, Saint Obla to announce his defection via a tweet?
Akpabio said the allegation that he is living in bondage of an unseen gun on his ociput is untrue. Hmmmm! Let me believe him. It’s just funny that, he says he is Joining the APC to liberate Akwa Ibom youths from years of PDP suffering.
Is Ita Enang and Co blackmailing him to behave with his, ‘give us the balance’ taunt? Will the South South APC leader, Etubom Hilliard Ettah, remind him of the probe threat,, he earlier vowed in the same Ikot Ekpene stadium, if Akpabio does not behave tomorrow?
5). Endgame for Akpabio?
Finally, as I leave Akpabio, will the future be rosy for him? Akpabio has jilted a nation that hyped him into a myth. His name, now a synonym of treachery to so many, even those pretending to love his cross over are scandalized.
At home, the APC fold won’t lie easy in his bossom. In the nation, he will be distrusted by men with a mission.
What is Amaechi’s worth today after joining ranks to bring down his in-law Jonathan and fellow Niger Deltan down to crown Buhari? It is apparent, his Northern allies are dining with him, but with a long spoon. If he could remorselessly disrobe his brother, then, he could undo anyone. That’s the perception such scheming incites.
Even Akpabio’s friend, Ben Bruce Murray vowed, he cannot succeed in his rumored conspiracy to emerge Senate President.
In the ensuing fray, an unlikely heroine emerged.
Hon. Boma Ibiso Dokubo Goodhead, who represents Asalga/Akulga Federal constituency of Rivers State under the platform of the PDP, stole the show, by bravely confronting masked, gun-wielding men of the DSS, who were purportedly deployed to facilitate an Akpabio coup to emerge Senate President, daring them to shoot her. She put her life on the line to defend and become the Champion our democracy. I agree, She has engraved her name in the book of Nigeria’s Democratic history and Hall of fame, where Akpabio fell on the wrong side.
If Akpabio ever reads this piece, I recommend to him to memorize this quote from William Shakespeare’s play, King Richard II-‘The love of the wicked men converts to fear ;that fear to hate, and hate turns one or both, to worthy danger and deserved death. “
Ever wondered why the R-APC got estranged from their coalition partners after conniving to oust Jonathan? Read the Shakespearean quote again.
Akpabio will face that divorce from his new found collaborators when the battle to knock down his successor, Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, whether he succeeds or not, is over and this dark cloud eases into a new dawn. The take away is, if he could do it to Udom, he will do it to anybody.
Believe me, this act is an anti climax for the very engaging Akpabio thriller. The Law of diminishing return has commenced. The denouement of her demolition process is a whiff away