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Godswill Akpabio: The rise, spill, and hike of a maverick politician

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Godswill Akpabio: The rise, spill, and hike of a maverick politician

Senator Godswill Akpabio’s emergence as the President of the Senate and Chairman of the 10th National Assembly on Tuesday, June 13, this year, has distinguished him as a political juggernaut to be revered in the current political dispensation.

If it were in the days of the late Senator Arthur Nzeribe (may his soul rest in peace), Akpabio would have slugged it out with him on who would bear the sobriquet, “Maverick Politician,” given the calculated steps he has taken in the last five years that earned him his current position as Nigeria’s number three citizen.

Having been defeated in the 2019 National Assembly elections, which dashed his hopes of returning to the Senate, the former Senate Minority Leader might have watched the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly either from the gallery or his television set.

A former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Akpabio had earned the trust of his people and traversed the length and breadth of the Land of Promise like a colossus. He called the shots and got “vuvuzelling” applause from his people in response. But his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2018, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which brought him to the political limelight, angered his people and they made sure that he lost his bid to return to the Senate in 2019.

The defeat was Akpabio’s first electoral loss since he ventured into politics. He had had it amply rosy since 2002 when then governor of his state, Obong Victor Atta, appointed him as Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources. He joined Atta’s cabinet as a political neophyte. Before the appointment, he was working in the private sector as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of EMIS Telecoms Limited, a wireless telecommunications company in Lagos. Between 2002 and 2006, he served as commissioner in three key ministries in the state — Petroleum and Natural Resources, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and Lands and Housing. In 2007, he joined the race for the governorship in the state and trounced 57 other aspirants to emerge as PDP candidate. He won the general poll and went ahead to win re-election in 2011.

Within the eight years, he governed the state, Akpabio delivered numerous life-changing projects that endeared him to the people of the state and also earned him various awards and recognitions both locally and internationally. The ovation was so high that Akpabio branded himself as the “Uncommon Governor.” Riding on his achievements, he didn’t find it difficult to impose a successor on the people in the person of former governor Udom Emmanuel when it was time for him to quit as governor, while he headed for the Senate.

READ ALSO  APC will Win all LG election in Kogi – Governor Ododo boast

At the Senate, his star still shone brightly as he clinched the position of Minority Leader, which by Senate rule, is reserved for a ranking opposition senator, and he was not one. As his political profile was rising, so was his support base in the state and at the national level. He was one of the power brokers in the PDP.

Despite this, Akpabio chose to dump the party. He was officially welcomed into APC on August 9, 2018, at the Ikot Ekpene Township Stadium.

His defection dominated political discourse for weeks because it was least expected. No fewer than 30 APC senators and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party were on hand to receive Akpabio into their fold.

Then Senate Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan, who attended the defection rally, remarked that, “this defection surpasses all other defections.” To Akpabio himself, he was “an uncommon defector.”

But in toeing the path, he was well aware that the PDP has governed his state since 1999 and had a well-entrenched structure, with 329 councillors, 31 local council chairmen, 21 House of Assembly members, nine out of the 13 members in both chambers of the National Assembly, and over 500 appointees across the state. Although some of his loyalists went with him to the APC, the body and soul of PDP in the state were still intact. But he felt he could still weather the storm.

He brushed off every warning from his kinsmen, who even organised protest rallies just to get him to retrace his steps. He would rather boast that he could win the election on the platform of any political party in the state. With an undimmed political journey for 20 years then, he felt no force in and out of Akwa Ibom was strong enough to alter the equation and spoke with divine certainty.

While at a funeral ceremony in Aguobu-Owa, Ezeagu Local Council of Enugu State, on August 21, he declared that APC’s takeover of Akwa Ibom in 2019 would be as total as the 1940 invasion of Poland by the German dictator, Adolf Hitler.

His words: “Recently, I had an occasion in Akwa Ibom State and this is what happened: I went just to make a floor declaration; others do it in the social media; others just sit in their offices; some do it by text messages that they have changed platform, what we call party. But on my own, I just decided to do it in an uncommon way because they call me an uncommon transformer. It was watched in 59 countries and somebody asked what happened there, and I said just how it happened in Poland.

“When they asked Hitler’s minister of information how was the war in Poland? He said Warsaw saw war and war saw Warsaw. I will say that in the Ikot Ekpene arena when I stepped out, this is my first function after that, Warsaw saw war, and war saw Warsaw. We can’t talk politics in the church, but in 2019 Warsaw shall see war and war shall see Warsaw. The return will be victory.”

READ ALSO  No plan to suspend Soludo, says APGA

On another occasion, he further declared, “With my exit, this is the end of PDP in Niger Delta.”

He was wrong as the result of the elections proved. The people simply stuck with PDP and the lawyer-turned-politician lost in eight of the 10 local government areas of his senatorial district, garnering 83,158 votes to 118,215 votes scored by the candidate of PDP, Dr. Chris Ekpenyong, who was declared the winner.

Overall, PDP cleared all the 13 NASS seats in Akwa Ibom, won 20 of the 21 House of Assembly seats in the state, and retained the governorship of the state. Akpabio’s hopes that his defection would bolster the fortunes of APC in the South South region were also dashed as five of the six states in the zone remained under the firm control of PDP, which was the status quo before the election.

Soon enough, the number of Akpabio’s loyalists thinned down, as some of them returned to the PDP. But the former governor remained unperturbed.

“I do not have any regret joining APC, not a single regret. If I was to take a decision today, I will still go to APC. People don’t understand that life is full of ups and downs. Life is not a straight line. If it is a straight line, it means you are dead. I can’t go back to PDP. Why are you people listening to the rumour? Why will I go back to PDP when I am already getting entrenched in APC? I am excited that the president won the election all over the country,” he declared.

His tenacity paid off as then president Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. Expectedly, he seized that opportunity to expand his political network and register some “uncommon transformations” that pleased his people and other Nigerians.

One such was the completion of the 13-floor Headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, which Buhari commissioned in March 2021, 25 years after commencement. Before the project came on stream, the commission was reportedly paying a yearly rent of N300 million for its office.

In his quest to serve the country in a higher office, he resigned in May 2022 in compliance with Buhari’s directive to all his appointees seeking elective posts in the 2023 general election to do so.

Akpabio’s dream was to succeed Buhari as president. So, he was among the 23 APC presidential aspirants that paid N100 million each to obtain the expression of interest and nomination forms of the party. But he was the first to step down from the race at the June 7, 2022, National Convention of the party.

READ ALSO  Atiku backs nationwide protest against hardship and hunger, blasts Tinubu

“I will join the next president to turn the boys in Nigeria into men,” he said with a note of certainty. “I doff my hat and I urge you that as I withdraw now, vote for Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu.”

After he set the ball rolling, many other aspirants followed suit. Tinubu eventually won the primary election with 1,271 votes, beating 13 other aspirants.

Then a series of political abracadabra ensued, which resulted in the annulment of the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial Primary Election earlier won by DIG Udom Ekpoudom (rtd) over alleged irregularities by the party. On June 10, 2022, Akpabio won the “rescheduled primary.” Ekpoudom felt robbed and approached the court to seek redress. However, on January 20, this year, the Supreme Court affirmed Akpabio as the validly nominated candidate of the party.

With the case laid to rest, Akpabio focused his energy on the senatorial campaign. He won back the love of his people and went ahead to win the election, scoring 115,401 votes to beat his closest rival, Emmanuel Enoidem, of the PDP who scored 69,838 votes.

With victory in his pocket, Akpabio set his eyes on becoming the next President of the Senate. Having supported Tinubu in the presidential race, he began to pull all the necessary strings that would aid his emergence. That he got the backing of the Presidency and the NWC of the party, and eventually won it, beating the former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, who was believed to have been sponsored by some entrenched forces in the Nigerian system, with 63 votes to 46 votes, was not surprising to many observers who understood that his victory was a product of his political sagacity counting from the time he defected to the APC.

Speaking shortly after his election as President of the Senate, Akpabio promised that the 10th Senate would work to renew the hope of Nigerians via people-oriented legislation.

“We are here to do our national duties. This Senate is about Nigeria and Nigerians, so long as the policies that come to this chamber are about empowering Nigerians, we shall dwell and deliberate on them,” he assured.

Nigerians are watching to see the extent he would keep to his words. But one clear thing is that how well he acquits himself on his current national assignment would bear heavily on his political future. However, his successes so far place him as a maverick politician in his mould.

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No plan to suspend Soludo, says APGA

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The Anambra government on Thursday said the police arrested a 75-year-old barber, Nwankwo Nweke, for raping an eight-year-old girl in Awka.

Putting our house in order and maintaining peace is of the highest priority, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Edozie Njoku, has said.

He said the party has no plan to suspend Anambra State Governor Prof. Charles Soludo.

Njoku told reporters in Lagos that the suspension of the party’s lone governor would have sounded good for the opposition parties.

He said: “The current peaceful disposition in APGA made it unnecessary for the party. That would have sounded good for the All Progressives Congress (APC) and probably good for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“But, if we suspend Soludo today, who is going to be the beneficiary of that misadventure? It will be other parties,” he said.

Praising the media for being objective in their assessment of the crisis rocking the party, the APGA chair said that contrary to wrong perceptions in certain quarters, “many media professionals are upright”.

He said he was encouraged by the insistence of many reporters on getting the true picture of the party’s struggles to the public.

Admitting that a lot of things happened for as long as the battle for the soul of the party lasted, Njoku restated his commitment to reconciliation, inclusiveness and forgiveness to achieve harmony.

He identified the reawakening of members’ loyalty and confidence of party faithful and supporters as the major challenge for him and members of the National Working Committee (NWC).

He said: “There is no party that doesn’t really have a problem. But, peace is crucial. We are reconciling each other and it’s not going to be easy. Nigeria is a place whereby, because of the hardship, we find out that there are so many dissenting views. And when you have dissenting views, you acknowledge that everybody has right to have his or her own views.

READ ALSO  Atiku backs nationwide protest against hardship and hunger, blasts Tinubu

“Well, in politics, as you know, people must play politics. Yes, the NWC received suggestion to suspend Governor Soludo from the party. But, that was not resolved. It was discussed and it came to a point that no agreement could be reached on that.”

He noted that the NWC met to review series of reconciliation strategies, while some estranged members have sent messages of goodwill and declared their willingness to return to APGA.

Frowned at attempts by some people to pit him against the Anambra governor, Njoku added that no efforts must be spared in working together to retain the state for APGA.

Source: The Nation

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APC will Win all LG election in Kogi – Governor Ododo boast

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APC will sweep LG election in Kogi – Governor Ododo vows

Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo has expressed optimism that the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, will win all the positions in the forthcoming Local Government election in Kogi State.

Ododo disclosed this on Monday at an expanded State Executive Committee and Critical Stakeholders Meeting held in Lokoja.

The Kogi State Governor stated that the party has performed excellently well in the state and expressed confidence that the party will win overwhelmingly in the October 19 Local Government election.

Ododo maintained that his administration will organize a free, fair and credible election at the Local Government level.

He said, “The election will be between 40 and 60. Meaning, 60 percent for Men and 40 percent for Women. His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Bello did 35 but we will do 40. Ours is to build and consolidate on the previous achievement. APC will win all the Local Government seats in Kogi State Insha Allah.

“Let me re-echo that the Vice Chairmen will remain women. Nobody will impose anybody on us. Irrespective of your party, I am here to serve the People of Kogi State. This mandate is for the people and my government will be all-inclusive.

According to him, his administration has invested billions of naira in agriculture to ensure food security in Kogi State.

“We must work with President Tinubu for the development of our country. He is doing well to cushion the current economic challenges. I am appealing to Nigerians to support him for the nation to move forward” he added.

READ ALSO  No plan to suspend Soludo, says APGA

On the issue of Local Government autonomy, Governor Ododo said since 2016, Local Government in Kogi State has been granted autonomy adding that the state has never tempered with local government funds.

He urged aggrieved individuals in the state to put aside their selfish interests and work for the progress of Kogi State.

“We must forget our differences and see how we can make use of our resources for our dear State. I am ready to go any length to make Kogi State great. This Local Government election will be a testing ground for all of us. I want to tell Mr President that we will give APC 100 percent. We don’t have any opposition in Kogi State” he stated.

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Amaechi has ceased to associate with the party — Rivers APC chairman

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The Rivers State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress has lashed out at the former governor, Rotimi Amaechi, following comments

Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rivers State chapter, Tony Okocha has alleged that former Minister of Transportation and presidential aspirant, Rotimi Amaechi has ceased to associate with the party.

Okocha made the claim on Tuesday while speaking with journalists in Abuja.

The APC Chairman in the Rivers State also alleged that the former Minister once warned the party Secretary in the state to stop inviting him to party activities in the South-South state.

He said: “On the issue of Amaechi, I have no question to answer. I was Chief of Staff to Rotimi Amaechi, I recall that at one point he got into Law School, and after one year in Law School he became incommunicado. You are also aware that after the presidential primary election, he disappeared into thin air.

“So whether he is still a party member or not I wouldn’t know because all the meetings we called, I give you example of a meeting we called for all the former governors and ministers, he (Amaechi) sent a message to the Secretary of the party and warned him never ever dare send him a message about the party again. So when you meet him ask him where he belong, for me I don’t know where he belong.”

Reacting to a question that Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, ( FCT) is a financier of the APC Rivers chapter, Okocha claimed that his leadership has no working relationship with the chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party.

“When I hear this I laugh because Wike is a member of PDP, unrepentant PDP. We are APC here. Will anybody suggest that because Mr. Wike is a minister under our government of APC we should be at dagger with him?

READ ALSO  APC will Win all LG election in Kogi – Governor Ododo boast

“Wike doesn’t attend our meeting, I have briefed you here, we have held meetings of stakeholders, Wike was never there. So at what point does he influence APC in Rivers State? His influence, as much as you know, is because he is minister under an APC government, so we can’t be in enmity with him. But to say that he influence us, how? What does he do, he pays our bills? Or he attends our meetings? The answer is no.

Source: Tribune

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Atiku backs nationwide protest against hardship and hunger, blasts Tinubu

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The 2023 Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has backed the planned nationwide protests against hunger and widespread hardship in the country, scheduled to begin on August 1.

In a statement, Atiku slammed the government of President Bola Tinubu for attempting to suppress the protesters, saying it was an exercise in futility.

He noted that Nigerians, including supporters of Tinubu and the ruling APC, are affected by the hunger, anger, and hopelessness caused by the government’s incompetence and cluelessness.

He warned that any attempt to suppress these rights is not only unconstitutional but a direct affront to democracy.

Atiku’s statement reads, “For the avoidance of doubt, the rights of citizens to protest are ENSHRINED in the Nigerian Constitution and AFFIRMED by our courts. Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as altered) unequivocally guarantees the right to peaceful assembly and association.

“Chasing shadows and contriving purported persons behind the planned protests is an exercise in futility when it is obvious that Nigerians, including supporters of Tinubu and the ruling APC, are caught up in the hunger, anger, and hopelessness brought about by the incompetence and cluelessness of this government.

“It is deeply ironic that those who now seek to stifle these rights were themselves leading protests in 2012. A responsible government must ensure a SAFE and SECURE environment for citizens to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights to PEACEFUL PROTEST. Any attempt to suppress these rights is not only unconstitutional but a direct affront to our democracy.”

READ ALSO  No plan to suspend Soludo, says APGA

Source: Daily Post

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Labour Party Senator, Reps member defect to APC

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A federal lawmaker who represents Imo East Senatorial District, Ezenwa Onyewuchi, has dumped the Labour Party (LP) for the All Progressives

A federal lawmaker who represents Imo East Senatorial District, Ezenwa Onyewuchi, has dumped the Labour Party (LP) for the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Majority Leader of the Senate, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, announced Onyewuchi’s defection during plenary on Tuesday.

Similarly, a member of the House of Representatives, Salman Idris, decamped from the African Democratic Congress (ADC) to the APC.

The lawmaker, who represents Kabba-Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency in the green chamber, officially announced his political decision in a letter read on the floor of the House on Tuesday by Speaker Abbas Tajudeen.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Senate admitted Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma into the hallowed chamber in line with Senate rules.

Uzodimma, the Chairman of APC Progressive Governors’ Forum, and his team were present to witness Onyewuchi’s defection from LP to the ruling APC.

In his letter, Onyewuchi, whose defection brings to three, the number of APC Senators from Imo State, disclosed that he resigned from the Labour Party owing to the crisis in the party.

He also noted that his decision was is in line with the dictates of the constitution.

Shortly after Onyewuchi welcomed by APC lawmakers, he was ushered to take his seat at the APC wing of the Senate Chambers.

 

READ ALSO  Atiku backs nationwide protest against hardship and hunger, blasts Tinubu
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Edo Guber: There’ll be war if APC… — Obaseki declares

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Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has announced a new minimum wage for Edo workers from N40,000 to N70,000 effective from May 1, 2024.

The Edo State government has condemned attempts by the oppo­sition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state to negatively spin comments made by Gover­nor Godwin Obaseki, where he warned that if the APC does not allow for a free and fair election in the state, it will be a recipe for crisis in Nigeria.

In a statement, the Commis­sioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, who clarified the view expressed by the governor during a recent political meeting in the state, ac­cused the opposition party of try­ing to exploit the instrument of violence to influence the outcome of the September 21 governorship election in the state.

Nehikhare said the governor spoke at a stakeholders meeting, on Sunday, July 21, 2024, in Benin City, the Edo State capital, and warned that “if a free and fair election is not allowed to hold sway in Edo State on September 21, 2024, it will trigger a major cri­sis in Nigeria.”

The commissioner said: “The attention of the Edo State govern­ment has been drawn to the nega­tive spin that the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is fruitlessly attempting to put to the comments made by His Excellency, Governor Godwin Obaseki, at a stakeholders meet­ing, on Sunday, July 21, 2024, in Benin City, the Edo State capital.

“For the records, we want to restate the comments of the gov­ernor on that occasion which is that: “If a free and fair election is not allowed to hold sway in Edo State on September 21, 2024, it will trigger a major crisis in Nigeria.

READ ALSO  No plan to suspend Soludo, says APGA

“Recall that on Thursday, July 18, 2024, ahead of the rally to inaugurate the APC National Campaign Council, in Benin City, which was held on Saturday, July 20, 2024, the party assembled a large number of people believed to be thugs, most of them bearing firearms around the precincts of the Benin airport, on Airport Road, Benin City, to cause may­hem in the state, resulting in the unfortunate death of a police officer, Inspector Akor Onuh, at­tached to MOPOL 45 Abuja and the wanton destruction of prop­erties and injuries to several citi­zens who were going about their lawful businesses.”

He added, “The mob then moved around the city, attacking other institutions, including the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) secretariat, inflicting violence and terror on the lawyers in their secre­tariat, with one of the lawyers, Mr. Israel Idahosa, being severely in­jured and his property destroyed.

“They also intimidated and harassed private citizens who were putting on any material that had the insignia of the ruling Peo­ples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Dr. Asue Ighodalo, within the Benin metropolis.

“As they say, the morning shows the day and the APC has clearly shown their plan for the September 21 governorship elec­tion in the state, which is to cause mayhem, make the state ungov­ernable, and take advantage of the chaos to manipulate the forth­coming governorship election.”

Nehikhare noted, “We howev­er want to advise the APC to, for once, read the mood of the nation and understand that with the cur­rent hardship, unattainable cost of living, and pervasive hunger in the country, a slightly irrespon­sible behaviour by the political class can ignite a crisis that will have a domino effect and cause a conflagration across the nation.

READ ALSO  Atiku backs nationwide protest against hardship and hunger, blasts Tinubu

“This note of caution is even more appropriate with the omi­nous threat of a nationwide pro­test with the potential to degener­ate into a widespread breakdown of law and order.”

He urged residents in the state to go about their activities lawful­ly, noting, “While we urge all Edo people to go about their lawful businesses without fear, we call on the Nigeria police to do their job and apprehend the hoodlums, most of whom have been posi­tively identified and captured in videos, carrying firearms at the location of the crisis.

“The Edo State government, through its robust security video surveillance, is ready to supply these videos taken in real-time to help the police in their inves­tigation.”

 

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