Archive | January, 2014

FRAUD IN AKS GOVT: REACTION ON MISSING N1BILLION IBOM AIRLINE FUND.

30 Jan

 

By DR. UFOT INYANG

Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State Governor

Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State Governor

“Had the AKHA been alive to its constitutional responsibilities, Akwa Ibom state would have been spared this ugly financial situation staring everyone in the face. With revenue profile of over a trillion Naira and debt burden of well over N300 billion, it is difficult to exonerate members of the AKHA for their role in giving life to this monstrous scenario”. Eyenisong Ibibio Eyenisong, You ask questions and reach/draw conclusions that any reasonable person, educated or not, schooled or not, should ask.

The same observations that you have made in your write-up above and in many others prior, are shared by many on this forum. I was also amused and noted the comments attributed to the Hon? chairman of the AKHA Finance and Appropriation Committee, Onofiok Luke, that “it will no longer be business as usual…..”. I join you in asking “why now?” Is it in the twilight of this administration that this committee is suddenly realizing that all along it has been business as usual and has actually allowed itself to be used in that manner? The implications of that statement attributed to the chairman of that committee are far-reaching. It is an indictment of monumental proportion, from one who should know, that there has been much malfeasance in the operations and finances of the state.

The indictment is vindicated by the cavalier attitude of the Commissioner in question, in responding to the alleged missing N1 billion. The scenario that played itself out before the Finance and Appropriations committee causes reasonable people to ask, “Is this how the state has been run and is still being run all these years?” . Do we have a feeding frenzy here or what? It is like child’s play! N1 billion!

A shrug of the shoulder and a cavalier attitude that says “why ask me?”. But this is hardly new and I can assure you, nothing is going to come out of this and no one is going to be held accountable. It will continue to be business as usual. That’s just the way the government has been run for years now. The serious business of running a responsible government, is routinely reduced to child’s play and fraught with a cavalier attitude as exhibited by our officials. Why wouldn’t it be? The governor allegedly asks his Information Commissioner for example, to account for a dubiously donated/sponsorship money of N10 million to a dubious organization; he is unable to do so; and the governor storms out of the meeting we are told; end of story. The next we hear are denials and counter denials in our forums but no one is held to account and before long, that story will be buried and forgotten. It’s been like that for quite a while now. Then we read, true or not, how the governor’s wife, who has no constitional authority/provision of any kind, will routinely corner allocations for the deputy governor and her office.

The deputy governor, we hear, is at the pleading mercy of Her Excellency, starved of funds and confesses to angry and impatient constituents waiting for their turn to be “empowered”, that their plight is caused by her Excellency, the real deputy governor? This same AKHA, if the story is true, refuses to launch an investigation and correct the anomaly. I can go on and on and on, but we get the picture Instead of threatening to cut off or not approve allocations to agencies and parastatals of government, why couldn’t the Honorable chairman through his committee, launch an investigation into the alleged missing money?. Because it has been business as usual for so long, the implication is that there have been many of such unaccounted for money situations in the past. Let the chairman redeem himself and that of his committee, by launching several probes into all of the situations that he has so thankfully revealed has been “business as usual”. Isn’t that part of the responsibilities of his committee? The AKHA has done that several times in the past when it would go after perceived enemies of the governor as a means of silencing any opposition and daring any probing/prying eyes into the affairs of government.

Why just stop at making threats? And I ask Hon Luke, if all this is true: Why was it ever allowed to be business as usual in the first place? For years now since the advent of this administration, many have been crying and calling on the AKHA to live up to its constitutional obligations as a check on the executive branch of government. Instead of doing that, it behaved as a willing extension/appendage of the executive, robber-stamping any and every bill and directive from that branch of government and jostled for the wrong kind of equality as a happy accomplice in the merciless fleecing of the state and its people.

Eyenisong you said it is difficult to exonerate members of the AKHA for their role in giving life to this monstrous scenario. I say it is impossible to exonerate them. For all who have knowingly but willfully refused to see, hear, or know of any evil/malfeasance of this administration for reasons that the perpetrators are their own “thieves” or for other pecuniary reasons to self as they would say in Nigeria; for those who have always cowardly sat on the fence or straddle the fence, never courageous enough to call a spade a spade in spite of the privileged positions they occupy and the weight/import with which their forthright comments would have made our leaders to take note and sit up but instead would come to our forums to pontificate to no end; for those privileged few, who are friends and acquaintances of our leaders, but would rather not take these people to task, because as they put it, they are not part of the government and are not accountable for what the government does, may you continue to remain quiet even in the face of these naked evidences and self-induced confessions; but do not be so bold to later show up, asking the people to vote for you to lead them. Moments such as this, call for courage and leadership, and these attributes seem to be in very short supply among those who are vying to lead the state.

Ufot Inyang Albany, GA

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FRAUD: MISSING #1BILLION IBOM AIRLINE TEARS AKHA, BUDGET OFFICE AND MIN. OF SPECIAL DUTIES APART!!

28 Jan

 

…As Enoidem feigns ignorance of whereabouts of missing fund.
THEY MUST ACCOUNT FOR THAT MONEY – ONOFIOK LUKE’S COMMITTEE
….THE MONEY HAD BEEN RELEASED FROM THE STATE TREASURY – BUDGET OFFICE.
 
By Sam Emmanuel

Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State Governor

Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State Governor

The battle line has been drawn between the members of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly committee on Finance and appropriation headed by Barr. Onofiok Luke and the Ministry of Special duties overseen by Emmanuel Enoidem as well as the office of the Akwa Ibom state Accountant-General,

The issue under contention is the missing sum of 1billion naira provided for in the 2013 budget which was allotted for the purchase of a commercial airline to be christened “IBOM AIRLINE” and meant to be used for commercial purposes as a means of revenue generation for the government.
Trouble began immediately after the Commissioner for Special Duties, the ministry overseeing the Ibom International Airport, presented their budget performance before the Akwa Ibom State House Committee on Finance and Appropriation for the 2013 fiscal year. Apparently curious over the discrepancy noticed in the document forwarded to the Finance and Appropriation committee by the Budget Office, as obtained from the office of the state Accountant-General on its expenditure for the said airline and the omission of the information relating to the purchase of the airline during the presentation of the budget performance for the Ministry of Special Duties by Barr. Emmanuel Eniodem, the chairman of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly Committee on Finance and Appropriation, Barr. Onofiok Luke demanded explanation as to why no mention was made of the purchase of Ibom Airline, even when records at the disposal of the committee show that such fund was released.
In response to the question, the commissioner for Special Duties, Barr. Enoidem insisted that he had no knowledge of the disbursement of the sum of 1 billion naira meant for the purchase of Ibom airlines to the ministry. He maintained that such money would have been lost in transit or still in the custody of the office of the Akwa Ibom state Accountant General.
Barr Enoidem remarked before the committee “When I took over as commissioner in the Ministry of Special Duties, while reviewing the documents of the ministry, I did not see any document to the effect that a whooping sum of 1billion naira was released to this ministry for the purpose of purchasing the purported Ibom Airline. So if such money is said to have been released by the office of the state Accountant-General, then it must have been lost in transit or perhaps still in the custody of the Accountant-General who claims he had released the said funds because to the best of my knowledge, the money is not in the Ministry of Special duties”
Irked by the inability of the parties involved to offer adequate explanation as to the whereabouts of the 1billion naira meant for the purchase of the aircraft, the chairman of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly committee on Finance and Appropriation, Barr Onofiok Luke said the committee was disappointed over the inability of the office of Accountant-General and the ministry of Special Duties to account for the as large a sum as 1billion naira which was clearly provided for and purportedly remitted to the ministry of special duties by the office of the Akwa Ibom state Accountant-General.
The lawmaker who maintained that the inability of the parties involved to offer cogent explanation on the missing 1billion Ibom airline shows that those at the helm of affairs in the different ministries were not capable of manning the ministries, stressing that no funds will be allotted to the ministries having anything to do with the missing 1billion naira.
In his words Barr. Onofiok Luke warned: “I sympathize with the parties involved in the disappearance of the 1billion naira meant for the purchase of Ibom Airline as this committee is going to ensure that those ministries do not, I repeat do not get a dime in the 2014 budget that will be passed by this honourable assembly. Let me warn that it is not going to be business as usual as we will follow every dime said to have been released by the accountant-general office to ensure that they were spent on the exact items they were provided for in the budget. Let this also serve as a warning to other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of Government that we will ensure that they account for every sum they receive in the 2014 budget to be passed by this assembly”
But the budget office has however insisted that the document it forwarded to the Akwa Ibom state House assembly committee on Finance and Appropriation was the same document it received from the office of the Akwa Ibom state Accountant-General and the document which the budget office insists has not been tampered with, shows the sum of 1 billion naira for the purchase of Ibom Airline had been released by the office to the Accountant-General. 

Hon Sam Ikon, Speaker,  Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.

Hon Sam Ikon, Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.

Investigation by the Guide Newspaper has however revealed that the said amount had been released on the orders of the state chief executive, Governor Godswill Akpabio in the name of the Ministry of Special Duties.
An impeccable  source in the account office of the Accountant-General office confided in the Guide Newspaper that the controversial 1 billion naira was released on the orders of Governor Godswill Akpabio last year by the accountant General to a private account that he was sure had no relationship with  the Ministry of Special duties.
Our source explained the document relating to the disbursed funds was in the custody of the Office of the state Accountant-General, disclosing that that was the reason behind the cabinet reshuffle that led to the emergence of Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem as Commissioner in the ministry of Special Duties.
He wondered why the commissioner for Special duties should feign ignorance over the said sum of money, even when he must have been told that his job specification included working with the relevant authorities to ensuring that  no discrepancy exist in the account of the ministry, especially as it had to do with the now controversial sum of 1billion naira.
  In the exact words of our source: “ My own brother, it is unfortunate that the issue of the missing 1billion naira meant for the purchase of Ibom Airline has come to public attention. And as usual, a lot of people might lose their jobs as a result of this. When I came to office in the morning that the money was disbursed, I remember that I saw one of my colleagues preparing the document for the disbursement of the 1billion naira to the ministry of special Duties for the purchase of Ibom airline. I was shocked to find out the amount was forwarded into a private account instead of the Ministry of Special Duties as was reflected in the document prepared requesting the release of the said sum. But the I tell you that I am more surprised that the commissioner (referring to Barr. Enoidem) says he does not have knowledge of the whereabouts of the missing ibom airline fund.  Even when he does not know isn’t it in his place to protect the interest of his boss? What does he think he was brought to that ministry in the first place?  To loaf around and laugh at the top of his voice? I am disappointed in his utterance.”
Efforts to get the explanation of the state Accountant-General, Mr Hillary Isobara on the controversial sum were unfruitful as he refused to pick his calls and did not also respond to the eight SMS sent to his mobile phones.

A’Ibom Info Commissioner-Aniekan Umanah, Akpabio’s Diaspora Spin-doctors in Massive Financial Scam.

28 Jan

*Clement Ikpatt, Uduak Ukpe, Ata Ikkideh, others fingered.

Hon Aniekan Umanah

Hon Aniekan Umanah

The botched Germany Expo organized by Akpabio’s men in America and Europe, is causing ripples in the state. Following an expose by a US based Akwa Ibomite, Uwem Sam, the state is abuzz with what a commentator called the scam of the new year.

It has been alleged that people who acted under the impression that the Akwa Ibom state government was going to bankroll the event are now counting their losses as money allegedly released to cover their expenses has vamoose into deep pockets in Uyo. It was further alleged that N10m meant to offset out of pocket expenses never got to those who spent their money. In a response, Aniekan Umana the commissioner fingered in the scam said that the said N10m has not been released, but that £10,000 had been sent to one Uduak Ukpe in London to cover printing expenses. But another source put the money spent on printing at a little over £4,000, adding that printing was not done in London as claimed but in Slovenia. We are still working on this interesting scam as it unfolds.

Inquest Into Hon. Aniekan Umamanh’s Lies And Gov Akpabio’s Uncommon Fallacy.

26 Jan

By Eyenisong Ibibio

Now that Aniekan Umanah, the Commissioner of Information and Communication has spoken to explain and “put the records straight” on “mere” N10million developed wings , I wish to draw his attention to other serious issues in the conduct of Akwa Ibom state business

Aniekan Umanah, Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information.

Aniekan Umanah, Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information.

Mr Umanah, you are well aware that your administration or more appropriately put, Godswill Akpabio’s tenure is well in its twilight and I consider this is the right time for the government and people of Akwa Ibom state to commence take stocking.

Since your government is been known to pride itself as having achieved “uncommon transformation” based on the number of projects executed or purported to have been executed in the life of this administration, I humbly request that you honestly and sincerely address the the status of the following projects:

IBOM “INTERNATIONAL” AIRPORT: This project was designed to have a hanger where aircrafts were to be serviced and maintained. If my memory serves me right and being a regular user of the airport, I can’t remember observing anything that looks like completed or uncompleted hangar. Considering how much of the state resources have been sunk in here, will it be asking for too much if you open up on this?

IBOM POWER PLANT: The reason for committing huge resources to this project was to significantly improve power supply to the state. As a matter of fact, we have been told Akwa Ibom needs just fewer than 70 megawatts of power while the “installed” capacity of the first phase of the plant was said to be 180+megawatts. This project had since been commissioned yet there is no improvement in power supply to the state. As a matter of fact, your government had announced commencing phase two. In your opinion sir, what is responsible for the continued darkness in Akwa Ibom state?

E-LIBRARY: This project had also been commissioned but till now the entire edifice is lying unused or under-used. Are we to believe that this “beautiful” edifice and not the services intended, is the ultimate purpose of the project?

UNDERGROUND JACK-UP DRAINAGE: Sir, this efficacy of this “noble” adventure was put to test during the last rainy season where even the governor admitted it failed. He had ordered a committee to look into why it did not stand its first test-run. Incidentally, the contract for the phase two of this project had since been awarded. We are just a few months way from the rains. Bearing in mind what happened during the last time, what has your “committee”  done/ is doing to avert further flood crisis? By the way, the committee was headed by the same government official who has been overseeing the construction.

IBAKA SEA PORT AND INDUSTRIAL CITY: Mr Umanah, the history of this venture is well known to you better than it is to us. This project, your government had announced, would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, make Akwa Ibom the economic hub of the Gulf of Guinea and to boost domestic participation in income generation activities. This explained why your government processed and handed over Certificate of Occupancy to Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to facilitate immediate commencement. Why has Ibaka sea port remained a graveyard after indigenous people were deprived of their land?

INDUSTRIALIZATION: In 2010 or thereabout, Akwa Ibom state government set aside N10 billion for industrialization. In 2011, the amount was raised to N15billion for same purpose. Yet again in 2012, N20 billion was earmarked for industrialization of the state. The governor even entered into social agreement with the people to establish 31 industries, one in each Local Government. Few months to the expiration of this administration, the citizens would like to know the status of industrialization projects in the state. When are the industries taking off sir?

TROPICANA AKA CINEMA HOUSE: The governor, Godswill Akpabio, was recently quoted as saying that Ibom tropicana would be completed this year and I have no reason to doubt him. But exactly how much is the cost of this celebrated cinema house?

RELOCATION OF MECHANIC VILLAGE/RENOVATION OF IBOM HALL. These projects were captured in your 2011 budget for which a “paltry” sum of 58.9 billion was earmarked. To be fair, this amount was also to take care of Banquet hall in the government house. We are aware that N10 billion was spent on the latter Why have Mechanic village and Ibom hall not been touched?

If the Honourable Commissioner would be forthcoming with his response on these “uncommon projects” as promptly as he did in the “mere” N10 million Naira issue, it will really help in situating the government’s uncommon transformation mantra.

Thanks for your valued time.

Eyenisong (Akwa Ibom), Nig.

N10 MILLION SCANDAL ROCKS A.I.D.N WITH GOV. AKPABIO IN THE CENTRE OF CONTROVERSY

26 Jan


By Uwem Sam.

Godswill-Akpabio Governor of Akwa Ibom State

Godswill-Akpabio Governor of Akwa Ibom State

Since last year some of our Brothers & Sisters from Germany, United Kingdom and  in United State have called on us for help concerning scam instituted against them by a body they associated with, called Akwa Ibom Diaspora Network (A.I.D.N.) We were not interested to carry out this investigation because they refused to listen to warning given to them previously, but since the mission of Liberty Voice is to set our people free from all form of captivity we have decided to take up this matter.

Investigators of Liberty Voice has discovered how N10,000,000.00 about $90,000 given to A.I.D.N. by Gov. Akpabio was not accounted for and its whereabouts unknown.

The revelation came during the meeting of officials of Akwa Ibom Diaspora Network (AIDN) with Gov. Akpabio as it was disclosed to the governor that some people were still being owed to the tune of ($25,000.00) twenty five thousand dollars. The governor then asked Hon. Commissioner of Information Mr Aniekan Umanah to talk about the disappearance of the money and why anybody is owed when there was enough money to cover the event.

Since no explanation was given by either the Akwa ibom Commissioner for Information, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, Special Adviser on Diaspora Affairs, Mr Clement Ikpatt or The AIDN secretary, Barrister Uduak Ukpe, the governor got up and left the meeting abruptly in annoyance. Our investigators are seriously at work trying to find out the whereabouts of this money and several calls to Mr Aniekan Umanah and officials of AIDN did   not receive any response. For now we are expanding our investigation to Germany, United Kingdom and United States of America. But the three MUSKETEERS, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, Clement Ikpatt and Barrister Uduak Ukpe must be held accountable to  account for this money.

In Los Angeles A.I.D.N coordinators, Mr. Moses Edem, Essien Essien and other members have refused to pick our calls. These are the group of people who were dancing naked for Akpabio must go even after we called police on them for holding illegal meeting in public property  to promote A.I.D.N in Southern California. Undoubtedly, we‘re hoping to meet with them very soon so that they would account for the money. They can run but they definitely cannot hide.

To the general public if you have information that will help our investigators feel free to contact Liberty Voice through our email. We hope to bring full disclosure of our discovery to our citizen very soon since Akwa Ibom State funds are involved. After three years of the so called economic summit organized by AIDN and millions of dollars injected into the event, there’s nothing to show for. Not even one industry. I wonder what they are going to do this year to siphon Akwa Ibom people’s money

May I use this opportunity to inform the following persons who were  in the AIDN business, Mr. Clement Ikpat, Hon. Aniekan Umana,  Barrister Uduak Ukpe & Mr. Moses Edem, that we are coming for them very soon.

Stay tune for more to come

Uwem Sam

Liberty Voice

los Angeles.

Akwa Ibom Government House Crisis: Dep Gov Ebe Vesus Unoma Akpabio, Fight Dirty Over Funds.

21 Jan

Written by  Aniefiok MACAULEY , The Radar.

Crisis brews in Govt House: Dep Gov, Akpabio’s wife locked in cold war over funds

If the assertion of the wife of the governor, Mrs. Ekaette Unoma Akpabio that she does not have the kind of patience her husband has is anything to go by, it means she may soon explode following alleged complains by the Deputy Governor, Lady Valerie Maurice Ebe that she has taken over the powers of the deputy governor ‘s office.

Ebe, The Radar learnt made the allegations when she hosted at the lodge some ward chairmen from Mkpat Enin Local Government Area who the paper gathered she allegedly coerced to append their signatures in a communiqué which was published in the edition of Tuesday, 31st December, 2013 to Monday, 6th December, 2014 of page 10 of The Ink Newspaper in support of her performance, against the publication of Mkpat Enin Youths Assembly (MEYA) which seemingly passed a vote of no confidence on her.

Our two weeks investigations have revealed that Ebe at the meeting had allegedly threatened the six ward chairmen namely: Elder Usoro Benedict, Ikpa Ibom 3; Mr. Ikanke, Ukpum Minya 1; Chief Cardinal Essien, Ukpum Minya 2; Mr. Equere Udo-inyang, Ukpum Minya 3; Mr. Monday Isong, Ibiaku 1; and Mr. Unyime Clement, Ibiaku 2, that if they refuse to sign the document, she will personally request the state leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to remove them from office for alleged anti-party activities during the March 2014 Congresses of the party.

Our findings also showed that she later induced the 14 ward chairmen with N100, 000 each after spending N60, 000 on the aggrieved six ward chairmen who had much earlier at Mkpat Enin refused to sign the document.

The number two citizen of the state in her frantic efforts to make them sign the document, we learnt, promised each of the 14 Mkpat Enin Ward Chairmen a brand new car.

The Radar gathered that Ebe while explaining the reasons of her inability to empower Mkpat Enin people as earlier alleged by the umbrella organization of youths from the area (MEYA) who had called for her sack, allegedly said that it was caused by the fact that allocations meant for her office as deputy governor is usually collected by the wife of the state governor, Mrs. Unoma Akpabio, thereby rendering her financially incapacitated.

Ebe, we learnt, had taken time to narrate to them at the meeting, how embarrassing it is for her as deputy governor to always apply for approval of funds from the state’s first lady before carrying out any assignment.

Sources at the meeting who pleaded strictest anonymity, hinted that Ebe further confided in them that she was not in talking terms with Mrs. Akpabio for sometimes now and this has led to her (first lady) starving her (deputy governor’s) office of funds.

Our sources who were part of the meeting also disclosed that Ebe lamented her position as the Deputy Governor, noting that she said; “the worst position in government is for someone to deputise anybody whose wife is in control.”

Ebe, it was gathered allegedly informed her guests that the governor has bugged her telephone lines and had placed her on security watch list which has made it impossible for her to call or convene meetings of Mkpat Enin people let alone provide empowerment for them.

Explaining further she was said to have told the people that the governor was suspecting that she may be nursing governorship ambition in 2015 or gang up with those against his succession plan, thus the close watch on all her activities.

This paper has made several efforts to get either the deputy governor or her media managers or the first lady to react to these issues before press time but all proved abortive.

Akpabio’s beautiful problem, By Dimgba Igwe.

21 Jan

Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State Governor

Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State Governor

The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Obot Akpabio, is a troubled man indeed. He is a man surrounded by enemies, powerful enemies. Those who hate his guts and those who love him. Those who hate him want him destroyed, but ironically, it seems that even those who love him are also working for the same goal. Somewhere, there is a wicked paradox at play.

In Nigeria, Akpabio easily fits among the top 10 performing governors. Even if you narrow the list to four, Akpabio’s name may not be missing. It is not just that he is possibly his own best salesman, a man anointed with a sleek tongue, waxing rhetoric of his own adulation at the slightest opportunity, it just happens, happily, that he indeed, has real achievements to sell—unlike so many governors who buy media space to advertise uncompleted projects.

I’ve been to his state on several occasions. Indeed, about four years ago, I was in a team of senior journalists that were taken on a guided tour of numerous projects—many road projects some of them in uncharted terrains, a massive underground drainage to deflood the state capital, the construction of the Uyo Airport started by his predecessor who left it at rudimentary level, the near completion of Ibom Meridian Hotel, touted as a five star hotel, where we lodged then, among other things. At that time, the governor was already working on the new state house complex, which I saw in a state of completion much later. And, it was a massive complex with ultra modern facilities that seem better than the state houses of some African countries. At the Nigerian Guild of Editors conference at Uyo two years ago, Akpabio had boastfully thrown a challenge that if anyone saw any pothole in any road within Uyo, the state capital, he would fix it within 24 hours.

Well, it was the Senate President David Mark, who was at the same event, that claimed that he spotted a pothole somewhere within the metropolis! On investigation, Akpabio sleekly declared, it was found out to be mere optical illusion, not real pothole! It might have passed off as a fancy joke of an incestuous political elite, but the fact that the joke was proposed at all is an indication of how far Akpabio had gone in providing infrastructure in the state, including overhead bridges and much more. How many governors in Nigeria dare throw such a challenge? As a matter of fact, some governors are not even sure that the roads to their state house are pothole-free! But make no mistake about it. Akwa Ibom receives massive federal allocation, one of the highest in the federation. During the crisis over President Umaru Yar’Adua’s sickness, Mike Awoyinfa and I had asked Akpabio why he and some of the key Niger Delta State Governors seemed lukewarm then towards supporting the then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan becoming Acting President. “Switch off the tape,” Akpabio requested. Off the record, he made two points which with the passage of time, should no longer be so off the record. Some of the governors, not just the Niger Delta Governors, do not wish to push too hard and heat up the system to a breaking point which may invite the intervention of military adventurists. “Can you imagine what would happen if the military were to stage a come-back into power?” he asked, pointing out that such threat was not remote at all then.

He argued that the undue brinkmanship of the political class which Akpabio accused the media of fuelling over the Jonathan affair, could easily be exploited by military hawks hanging in the wings. If the military were to come, Akabio shuddered then, it was not only that the whole political class would be sacked, but also that the national and state revenue would be plundered without account. In a state like Akwa Ibom State, Akpabio noted as an example, that he had saved up N80 billion from the state’s accruals from excess crude account and others and this fund was to be dedicated for execution of special capital projects in the state. Because these savings came from outside the state’s regular allocations, all it would take for such fund to be siphoned is for a top military brass from Abuja to issue an order to the state’s military administrator to transfer the fund and that would be the end of the matter.

On the other hand, Akpabio and some of his colleagues from the Niger Delta region, wondered at Jonathan’s docile approach to power, arguing that you don’t just wait for power to drop into your laps. If he wanted power, what was he doing to get it besides leaving others to do the dirty job for him? We left the encounter sufficiently chastened and determined not to heat up the polity, if one of the collateral consequences includes even a remote possibility of a return of the military. But, of course, Akpabio had been accused of massive corruption and reckless waste of the state’s fund to the extent that some now nickname him as “Governor Donatus”. I’ve personally not read of any serious effort by Akpabio to put a lie to these allegations, probably because corruption in Nigeria has become such an endemic industry that the only person who really has a case to answer for corruption in Nigeria is anyone stupid enough to have his fingers caught in the cookie jar at the wrong time. As the sages might have said of Nigeria, “Thy name is corruption o Nigeria!” It can then not be gainsaid that despite Akpabio’s dark side, he certainly has done so well as a governor. Akpabio himself is his own greatest salesman and wastes no opportunity to advertise his achievements which truly are enormous and outstanding even for the blind to see. The last time I commended Akpabio, I had many attacks from folks in his state who suggested that the man had bought me over. I wish such “bribery” would magically transfer all those infrastructure from Akwa Ibom into my state, Abia State, while those of my state move to Akwa Ibom! Then the critics would understand what I am talking about. But that is the price you pay for public punditry in Nigeria. If then Akpabio has delivered, as we have noted and many objective commentators attest and Akpabio himself trumpets, is it not logical then that such good performance should be a stepping stone to a higher office? Given a slightly different setting or circumstance, even Akpabio would be the first to advertise his performance as a good qualification to a higher office in Nigeria. Instead, Akpabio is tamely and meekly seeking to contest a senate seat. Well, then, some people who may qualify for either friends or foe decided to put out the word that Akpabio is nursing a presidential dream—either as a presidential or a vice presidential candidate. In other climes, such aspiration, real or speculative, should have been no more than a logical progression.

It is not unusual that in our setting, a politician who nurses such an ambition starts by testing waters through flying a kite. In the case of Akpabio, such a kite has been flown, either by his friends or his enemies. But it seems flying such a kite by whosoever, has put Akpabio in deep trouble with President Goodluck Jonathan’s camp. Today, Akpabio seems to be fighting the battle of his life trying to foreswear any presidential dream. Looking over from Cross Rivers to River State, Akpabio could see how such dream—or the mere speculation of it—could turn into a murderous nightmare. Rivers State is now a testament to how deeply backwards our political evolution had remained. In democracy everywhere else, anybody could challenge the incumbent in any electoral political office. In Nigeria, such a challenge, real or imagined, is a heresy that must be exterminated. It is seen as a declaration of war that evokes fire and brimstone with bullets flying around. Rivers State is now a theatre of war with the bombing of two courts the other day and shooting of people at political rally, including Senator Magnus Abe who now lies critically injured in a London hospital. Since Akpabio was confronted at the presidency with the sin of presidential/vice presidential dream, Akpabio reading the handwriting on the wall, has decided that tepid denial was not enough. Instead, he opted to wage a full campaign of denial. He has put out several newspaper adverts denying such ambition in the strongest of terms. But the more he does so, the more he advertises our nation’s political absurdity. How can a simple matter of undeclared ambition for a political office generate so much drama and waste of public funds? One of Akpabio’s powerful statements of denial signed, not merely by media advisers or the regular information commissioner, but by the secretary to the state government, apparently to underscore the seriousness of the matter, could not have been stronger if he was accused of murder.

But, in this case, we are dealing with a case of thought-crime which reminds you of George Orwell’s famous book, 1984. The statement came down heavily on the “invidious campaign of calumny and blackmail” that Akpabio “has presidential or vice presidential ambition.” Pray, what is “invidious campaign of calumny and blackmail” in speculation of a mere ambition for a political office? I mean, it’s not like saying that Pope Francis is planning to marry a teenage wife! The statement added, rather comically, “This campaign of falsehood and blackmail by unscrupulous politicians who have no respect for truth underpins a conspiracy to misrepresent Governor Godswill Akpabio and overheat the polity.” Ironically for a man who has just been so unscrupulously blackmailed with an ambition, the statement didn’t forget to advertise Akpabio’s “uncommon transformation” before, for the “umpteenth time” wishing to “STATE AGAIN that Governor Godswill Akpabio has no PRESIDENTIAL or VICE PRESIDENTIAL AMBITION”. The President, First Lady, Governors Forum, the PDP Governors Forum, the PDP and Nigerians (note the order of importance, for instance!) were duly notified to “discountenance this evil conspiracy and campaign of lies and falsehood.” This is about the limit that any man can go in denying evil and we (the “people” who came last in Akpabio’s pecking order) are taking note.

It seems that Akpabio is afflicted with a beautiful problem that many people would rather pray for, so why is Akpabio so scared of the presidency?

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