The shocking revelation that the former governor of Akwa Ibom State, GodsWill Akpabio and his successor, Udom Emmanuel, have been visiting key leaders of the APC to pave the way for their defection to the party has once again brought to the fore the inherent weaknesses in our politics.
Should they be welcomed into the party, the APC would appear more as a group of people with weak moral content and poor ideological standing than an ideologically driven political party.
In addition, such a cross over, if it happens, will irredeemably rubbish the anti-corruption brand of the Buhari administration and irredeemably weaken the legal case instituted by Umana Okon Umana, the APC governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom state against the disputed election of Udom Emmanuel.
Let’s examine the Akpabio phenomenon. Between May 2007 and the first half of 2009, Akpabio maintained a chummy relationship with President Yara’Adua, but was noticeably lukewarm towards then vice president, Goodluck Jonathan. When Yara’Adua became too sick to function, Akpabio led a major campaign against the emergence of Jonathan as the acting president because he had always nursed the ambition of being picked as the vice president in 2011. This was publicly confirmed by Senator Aloysius Etok, his representative in the senate. As soon as Jonathan became the Acting President, Akpabio turned around and became his cheer leader.
The defeat of Jonathan on March 11 was a big disappointment for Akpabio who blamed the former president for not taking extreme measures to guarantee him victory. The former governor had long wanted to be ‘an enduring national political figure that is relevant in one administration to another’. His role model is Tony Anenih. But the defeat of Jonathan and the prospect of the loss of his senatorial seat at the tribunal have rankled with him endlessly. So, quickly, he ditched Jonathan as soon as he conceded defeat.
There are many reasons why Akpabio and Governor Udom Emmmanuel should not be admitted into the APC. It is widely known that the elections in Akwa Ibom State were flawed, conducted in breach of the INEC electoral guidelines and the 2010 Electoral Law. Over 30 Akwa Ibom people were killed on the day of the governorship election across the state by in widespread violence. The APC in the state, led by its governorship candidate, Mr Umana Okon Umana, has filed a petition against the purported election of Udom Emmanuel.
Evidence that Udom was not duly elected is overwhelming, one of which is that data obtained from INEC head office in Abuja shows that the total number of accredited voters captured by card readers for the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections in Akwa Ibom State was 437,128, but the figure declared by the state INEC office was 1,122,836. By INEC guidelines, use of the card reader was mandatory in the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections. If they join the APC, Umana’s case will be diluted or he could even be compelled to drop it; and all the sacrifices of Akwa Ibom people who deserve justice would be in vain.
It should noted that Akpabio’s election into the senate is also being challenged vigorously by the APC candidate, Chief Inibehe Okori. Their defection into the APC would therefore tantamount to laundering their ill-gotten mandates just like criminals are always eager to launder proceeds of crime. It will also be morally reprehensible and politically repugnant if these two men join our party. Umana and thousands of his supporters were driven out of the PDP by Akpabio to create unimpeded opportunity for the imposition of Udom during the primaries.
Many PDP chieftains in Akwa Ibom like former governor, Victor Attah and former Petroleum minister, Don Etiebet have been constantly harassed, insulted and humiliated by Akpabio. In the course of the presidential campaigns, Akpabio heaped insults on our presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, who by God’s grace won the election. During PDP’s presidential campaign rally in Uyo, Akpabio said: ‘Mr President (referring to then President Jonathan), some people were trained to be soldiers only, and so they do not have certificate… They can only shoot guns….Buhari is not qualified to be president as he does not have certificates’.
The video is available on YouTube. Akpabio’s eight-year tenure as governor is trailed with controversies for the over N400 billion debt he left behind (owed to the banks and contractors), lack of transparency, reckless spending and politically motivated violence and murders. Instead of being admitted into the APC, he should stay back in PDP and give account of his stewardship in accordance with the anti-corruption mantra of the Buhari administration.
Mohammed Suleiman works in a federal agency in Uyo.