Sen. Akpabio is a man of peacockish ego. He is a character not blessed with the ability to act false humility, not unless he is about going down. The London photo with President Buhari would suffice. For one who unabashedly churns out false acts and revels in them, it is strange he is sorely lacking this particular ability.
Akpabio’s cold, emotionless birthday message to his predecessor has understandably elicited outright condemnation across the state. Though not unexpected, some had hoped Akpabio was going to seize the moment to either impress or launch a genuine beginning of reconciliation with his former boss and benefactor. He didn’t.
Whatever political prominence the self-styled uncommon transformer has chalked up, credit is due Obong Victor Attah. If nothing else, for drawing him out from obscurity and holding the klieg light.
During his 80th birthday symposium at Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, Attah yet again delivered a damning verdict on the man who succeeded him as governor. It was also an opportunity to speak about the administration of Udom Emmanuel and end whatever controversy followed the public presentation of his latest book: ‘It Is Well With My Soul’.
Brutally frank and devoid of equivocation, characteristically of the resource control champion, he remarked:
*I count myself very lucky to have a governor like Deacon Udom Emmanuel. There were times when this would not be possible, and times, when this would be prohibited’.*
Days before in Abuja, he had slammed the same administration for wastages and financial recklessness.
Few years back, the government of Godswill Akpabio outrightly denied Attah use of the state-owned five star hotel to mark his 70th birthday. His entitlements, benefits and dues as former governor were also not paid all through the eight years period that Akpabio held sway. November 23, 2018, it was the same venue that hosted a symposium in honour of Attah. It was indeed an emotional moment for the elder statesman. At last, there’s a governor that recognizes his sacrifices and a government that appreciates his struggles for the state in particular and the South-south region in general.
From the year 2007 – 2015, the man who’s rightly and fondly called the ‘Father of Modern Akwa Ibom’ was constantly ridiculed, disregarded, disrespected and dishonoured by the government of a man he hitherto had adopted as his political son. Obong Attah was unjustly stripped of his ornamental robe and taken down his deserving height by Akpabio’s regimen. The infamous letter, ‘WHAT DOES OBONG ATTAH WANT?’ will probably become a political artefact of some sort. The letter sums up the humiliating experiences he was put through by the administration which immediately succeeded his.
Today and contrastingly, while his predecessor is spoken of reverently in Akwa Ibom and across Nigeria, Akpabio has lost so much goodwill already that taunting him is even losing its appeal. He is, maybe, withering into insignificance.
While Attah, like Governor Emmanuel genuinely speaks peace and unity, Sen. Akpabio pretends to not speak war and division. The senator craves power but wouldn’t allow others a fraction of it. He demands absolute allegiance and utter devotedness but only gives out loyalty like a chameleon. It is time he understood that unity is not based on force; neither is power based on force alone. Such objectionable ideology should not be permitted to run rampant.
Leaders who easily and readily abandon whatever priorities they first sold for the sake of political gains and personal satisfaction should be stripped of leadership medal.
The former senate minority leader, at all times is awkwardly ambitious. He certainly is a man who is not terribly interested in the role of a ‘powerless’ opposition head figure, not a man who wants to be marked right for selfless pursuits at the expense of power. That is not his temperament. He feels he should be in charge and run the show always. He is one who wants to live in power and play with power. And so, he stops at nothing at seducing power. A devil becomes a friend and can be negotiated with…as long as the fee is right.
With Attah deservingly restored to a place of pride by Governor Emmanuel, he is no longer simply Akwa Ibom elder statesman: he stands forth openly as the undisputed voice and conscience of the state. Udom Emmanuel has proved again why he is so admiringly different.
Written by Otobong Sampson