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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.

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.”

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.

“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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River crisis deepen as Assembly overrides gov Fubara, passes LG bill into law

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The Rivers state House of Assembly has passed the local government Amendment Bill into law without the assent of the state governor,

The Rivers state House of Assembly has passed the local government Amendment Bill into law without the assent of the state governor, Siminalayi Fubara.

The Assembly on Monday, April 22, defied the state High Court’s order directing the status quo on the issue of elongating the tenure of elected local government officials, which formed part of the amendment.

The House was said to have also screened and confirmed members of the chairman and other members of the Assembly Service Commission in the spirit of the new law.

Details shortly…

 

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Aregbesola, Oyetola trade words over Osun shares

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Fresh uproar has hit the camp of the former Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola and Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega

Fresh uproar has hit the camp of the former Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola and Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, over the selling of the shares of Osun State at Omoluabi Bank, to private investors.

The Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State, Sunday Bisi, alleged that Oyetola sold the shares while he was the governor of the state.

A leader of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ijesaland, Adebayo Adedeji, yesterday insisted that Aregbesola sold the shares before leaving office.

Adedeji said in a statement: “In 2013, the government of Aregbesola went to the Nigerian Stock Exchange in order to increase the company’s share capital by N1.65billion so as to be above the N2.5billion minimum capital requirement set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for mortgage banks in the country.

“Wale Bolorunduro, who was recently nominated as chairman of the bank by Governor Adeleke, was the Commissioner of Finance in the state under Aregbesola. He has knowledge of it.”

Aregbesola, reacting to the claims through his media aide, Sola Fasure, in a terse message said: “It’s between Oyetola and the PDP administration in Osun. We don’t want to be dragged into it. But you may seek clarification from Dr. Wale Bolorunduro. He’s the new chairman of the bank.”

 

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[Full Result]: Aiyedatiwa wins Ondo APC governorship primary

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Governor of Ondo State, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, has clinched the gubernatorial ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Governor of Ondo State, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, has clinched the gubernatorial ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Aiyedatiwa’s emergence from the primaries was announced by Governor Usman Ododo of Kogi State, who served as the Chairman of the Primary Election Committee.

With Aiyedatiwa scoring the highest votes of 48,569, the result was declared almost 48 hours after the commencement of the exercise on April 20.

The primaries, marked by controversy and tension, saw Aiyedatiwa’s closest contender, Mayowa Akinfolarin, securing the second position with 15,343 votes.

Olusola Oke came third with 14,915 and Jimoh Ibrahim scored 9,456 to occupy the fourth position.

Results of the Ondo APC governorship primary election

1:ILAJE LG

Aiyedatiwa 2,485
Akinterinwa. 26
Oke. 2,511
Jimoh Ibrahim, 589

2: Ile Oluji/Okeigbo

Voters: 4309
Accredited: 3097
Valid: 3097

Jimoh Ibrahim: 282
Aiyedatiwa: 1225
Wale Akinterinwa: 474

3: Ondo West

Voters: 22122
Accredited: 17679
Valid: 17679
Jimoh Ibrahim: 2668
Aiyedatiwa: 10610

4: ESE-ODO LG
Aiyedatiwa: 298
Akinterinwa: 0
Olusola Oke: 147
Jimoh Ibrahim: 174

5: OWO LG

Aiyedatiwa 2,123
Akinterinwa. 345
Oke 225
Jimoh Ibrahim, 192

6: IDANRE LG

Aiyedatiwa 1, 579
Akinterinwa 119
Oke 225
Jimoh Ibrahim, 120

7: AKOKO NORTH EAST LG

Aiyedatiwa 1, 664
Akinterinwa 135
Oke 138
Jimoh Ibrahim, 505

8: AKOKO NORTH WEST LG

Aiyedatiwa 5, 430
Akinterinwa 198
Oke 2, 721
Jimoh Ibrahim, 728

9: AKOKO SOUTH EAST LG

Aiyedatiwa 2, 533
Akinterinwa 43
Oke 391
Jimoh Ibrahim, 67

10: AKOKO SOUTH WEST LG

Aiyedatiwa 2, 747
Akinterinwa 272
Oke 415
Jimoh Ibrahim, 466

11: NO RESULT FOR IFEDORE LGA.

All aspirants scored zero, according to the returning officer, due to an alleged shooting.

12: OSE LG

Aiyedatiwa 1, 091
Akinterinwa 39
Oke 800
Jimoh Ibrahim, 267

13: IRELE LG

Aiyedatiwa 1, 203
Akinterinwa 15
Oke 93
Jimoh Ibrahim, 139

14: ODIGBO LG

Aiyedatiwa 2, 631
Akinterinwa 114
Oke 138
Jimoh Ibrahim, 845

15: AKURE NORTH LG

Aiyedatiwa 2, 860
Akinterinwa 177
Oke 1, 239
Jimoh Ibrahim, 1, 606

16: AKURE SOUTH LG
Aiyedatiwa 3, 265
Akinterinwa 86
Oke 328
Jimoh Ibrahim, 294

17 OKITIPUPA LG

Aiyedatiwa 1, 622
Akinterinwa 27
Oke 1, 571
Jimoh Ibrahim, 109

18: ONDO EAST LG

Aiyedatiwa 4, 803
Akinterinwa 141
Oke 1, 171
Jimoh Ibrahim, 406

 

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Aiyedatiwa, 15 others jostle for Ondo APC gov ticket today

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All is set for the All Progressives Congress in Ondo State to pick its governorship candidate today. The ruling party had announced that 171,

All is set for the All Progressives Congress in Ondo State to pick its governorship candidate today.

The ruling party had announced that 171, 922 members drawn from the 203 wards of the 18 local government areas of the state will take part in today’s primary election.

Sixteen aspirants will be jostling to clinch the ticket to become the APC governorship candidate in the state.

They are Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa; the Senator representing Ondo South, Jimoh Ibrahim; Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olusola Oke; former President of Nigerian Medical Association, Prof. Francis Faduyile; Dr Funmi Waheed-Adekojo and the APC National Vice Chairman (South-West), Isaacs Kekemeke.

Others are Dr Soji Ehinlanwo, Akinfolarin Samuel, Okunjimi Odimayo, Adewale Akinterinwa, Olugbenga Edema, Gen. Ohunyeye Olamide, Morayo Lebi, Garvey Oladiran Iyanjan, and Ifeoluwa Oyedele.

Aiyedatiwa, who is riding into the fray on the back of incumbency and strings of endorsements from traditional rulers and the majority of state lawmakers, holds the ace.

In an interview with our correspondent, the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Ebenezer Adeniyan, said, “We are not under any pressure. The primary is just in 24 hours. I am sure by then, everybody will know where they belong.”

On the mood in the governor’s camp, he described it as normal.

“This is not about mood. The reality will be on the field tomorrow. He is the governor. There is nothing to worry about,” he stated.

Aiyedatiwa, who concluded his campaign tour in three council areas of Akoko North West, Akoko North East, and Akoko South on Friday, had told newsmen that he still enjoys the support of the people.

He said: “Throughout this campaign journey, the immense support I’ve garnered stresses the resounding desire of the people of Ondo State for continuity. This affirmation is rooted in the remarkable progress achieved during the short period we have spent in office. The people of Ondo state yearn for the continuation of this positive trajectory and it is evident that they believe I am the right candidate to lead this charge.

“Therefore, I urge everyone to identify with me in their various wards on Saturday, so that the developmental phase we have embarked on can continue. Let us ensure that our collective voices are heard loud and clear.”

But another contestant, Ibrahim, who spoke at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja few days ago, warned that an endorsement does not win anybody an election.

The senator also said the governor and other aspirants know he is the most qualified, as he has been in the race as far back as 2003 when he contested with the likes of the late former governors, Olusegun Agagu and Adebayo Adefarati.

Another contestant, Akinterinwa, also ended his campaign tour at his Ile-Oluji hometown where he promised to be true to his campaign promises ahead of Saturday’s party primary.

Addressing journalists on Friday, Akinterinwa exuded confidence, saying he expected nothing short of victory at the poll.

He said, “Ondo people want somebody knowledgeable, who has the capacity, somebody who has been around long enough, whom they know and who has been in government that they can fraternise with.

“When we go out, we don’t take crowds from one local government to the other. So, our crowd is organic; it is within that environment. I expect that on Saturday, we will come out as winners of the primaries. By the grace of God, I won’t be surprised if other aspirants start stepping down for me. Some of them (aspirants) are already reaching out to me.”

A female contestant, Funmi Waheed-Adekojo, has announced that she is willing to step down if the APC calls for it.

She disclosed this to journalists at a media parley in Akure, the state capital on Friday.

She said, “I will step down for my loyalty to the party. If the party asked me, I would do so. Wherever the party goes, I will go. I came out based on the passion I have for people. No one asked me to contest. I am not going to bribe anybody.

“Without mincing words, this concept of rotation has regrettably become a hindrance to progress. One of its errors is that it prioritises political permutation over meritocracy and competence.”

Another governorship aspirant, who seems to be defying the odds in the last few weeks, is Oke.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria is coming into the contest on the back of a string of endorsements from some traditional chiefs and the popular Omoluabi Indigene group.

Two days ago, the campaign organisation of the late Dr Paul Akintelure, who was also a governorship contender until he died on March 24 after a brief illness, collapsed its structure to join forces with Oke’s camp

The move was confirmed in a statement jointly signed by the Director General and General Secretary of the group, Dr. Bello Adeluse Obe and Mrs Usor Eteng, respectively.

The group, which directed all its members across the 18 local government areas of the state to vote for Oke, said the development became necessary to ensure his victory in Saturday’s governorship election.

 

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Ganduje remains our party national chairman – APC spokesman

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The National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Felix Morka, on Thursday, reiterated that the ruling party will not

The National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Felix Morka, on Thursday, reiterated that the ruling party will not honour the initial court order affirming Dr Abdullahi Ganduje’s suspension as national chairman.

He also reiterated that the national chairman of the party has not been served any summon concerning the initial court order restraining him.

Morka, who featured as a guest on Arise TV, affirmed that they have instead thrown their weight behind the recent Kano Federal High Court ruling calling for a stay of the order.

The political drama in Kano had taken a fresh twist on Wednesday after a Federal High Court presided over by another judge, Justice A.M Liman, halted the purported suspension of Ganduje by his ward executives in Dawakin Tofa Local Government area of the state.

The ruling was given after Ganduje filed an exparte motion seeking to enforce his fundamental right to a fair hearing.

The respondents in the application are the Nigerian Police, Department of State Services, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and nine other individuals.

Morka argued that it was the right thing to do on the basis that those who masterminded the suspension were not recognised members of the party.

He said, “The order issued by the first court was very disturbing, for some reasons. First, the plaintiffs who purportedly filed that action are not recognised members of our party and therefore shouldn’t have the locus standi to invoke the authority of the court to make any such order.

“Secondly, every lawyer in this country is aware that from the Supreme Court up to the NJC, there is this cautiousness that judges don’t make orders that are far-reaching in effect on an exparte motion or application.

“When you see the nature of the case and observe it is likely to cause the defendant substantial exposure to ridicule and justice, you put that defendant on notice within the context of even that exparte application; so that the justice of the matter can be met.

“But this judge, in this case upheld the illegal suspension of a national chairman, did so on an ex parte application, which shouldn’t really be.

“Being a lawyer, I have a lot of respect for the court and won’t say much. But be that as it may, as I speak, that order of the Kano State High Court purportedly affirming the suspension of our national chairman has not been served on the party and the national chairman himself.

“So this conversation and every other one relating to this has really been based on media reports. In other words, we do not have legal notice of that order. So the question of how we react to it or whether we will respect it or not is out of it because we have not been served. In the meantime, this Federal Court has issued a prohibition, an order restraining the impersonators who are the plaintiffs in that matter from enforcing that suspension.

“We are right now in the stage of status quo where we were before the purported suspension of Ganduje as the national chairman. He still remains our national chairman.”

 

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Kano court reverses Ganduje’s suspension, orders status quo

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A Federal High Court in Kano has halted the suspension of the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Abdullahi Ganduje.

A Federal High Court in Kano has halted the suspension of the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

The ruling came on Wednesday after Ganduje filed an ex parte motion seeking to enforce his fundamental right to fair hearing.

The respondents in the application are the Police, Department of State Services, DSS, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, and nine others.

On April 16, APC executives in Dawakin Ward, Tofa LGA of Kano State, suspended Ganduje over alleged corruption.

However, the State Working Committee, SWC, of the APC in Kano nullified the suspension and punished the ward executives.

But a Kano High Court presided by Justice Usman Na’Abba upheld the suspension.

In the ex parte order delivered on Wednesday by the Federal High Court and made available to newsmen on Thursday, a Kano High Court presided by Justice A. M Liman ruled that the suspension should not be implemented until the case filed by Ganduje is heard and determined.

“All the respondents, their servants, agents or privies are hereby restrained from implementing and/or giving effect to the purported decision reached during the purported emergency meeting of the alleged executive members of APC Ganduje Ward, held at Ganduje Ward of Dawakin Tofa Local.

“All the parties are hereby mandated to maintain status quo before the purported emergency meeting of the alleged executive members of APC Ganduje Ward, and to stay action in respect of this matter pending the hearing and determination of the substantive application,” Justice Liman said.

 

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