By Iman Imar
THE gale of defections blowing across the country that has seen prominent leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC defect to other parties, mainly the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP could in the next few days take a reverse.
Well if not the gale, then the gist has now been confirmed by the Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla who on facebook last weekend announced that the APC is set to get its pound of flesh back through the defection of the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
The gist about Akpabio’s imminent defection first came to the fore during the recent reception for him and Governor Udom Emmanuel during which the immediate past governor of the state said that he could contest and win election on any platform he so desires.
No reason was given for that assertion, but given the former governor’s reputation for bravado it was thought that the assertion was another act of political bluster aimed at projecting himself again in public reckoning.
It has now emerged that the former governor is set to defect from the PDP to the APC anytime from now. No reason has been given for the governor’s sudden and abrupt decision.
There have been whispers in the recent past of moves by the APC to woo and if not, poach some leading members of the PDP. Among the more prominent figures that have been mentioned were the PDP’s leading officials in the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Akpabio. A number of other governors have also been mentioned, among whom were Governors Benjamin Ayade of Cross River, Ifenayi Ugwuanyi of Enugu and Dave Umahi of Ebonyi.
The three governors have one way or the other come out to renounce the assertions with all three pledging fidelity to the PDP. Of the five prominent PDP office holders mentioned above, Ekweremadu and Akpabio seemed the most exposed to the intimidations of the APC and government’s anti-corruption agencies. That is because the two of them do not have immunity to protect themselves from harassment.
Whether Ekweremadu was directly approached or not may not matter at this time. However, his resistance to the APC and its policies has been well pronounced and voiced out several times. For his seeming obstinacy, the deputy president of the Senate has been repeatedly harassed. He was arraigned for forgery of the Senate Standing Rules even where there was no accusation made against him. No one pointed accusing fingers at him and there was no evidence levelled against him for such. Yet, he was taken to court and arraigned before superior wisdom was brought to bear and the government withdrew the charge.
He has been pounded several times in the social media and through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC over failed declaration of assets arising from mere allegations. Ekweremadu, however, at several times has said that he has never in the course of his time in government service ever acted as an accounting officer or managed funds.
He has never been a governor. But the EFCC and the government have been unrelenting against him.
However, Akpabio who beat the odds to become Senate Minority Leader and as such the PDP’s second highest office holder, has, walked almost unscarred.
Under Akpabio as governor of Akwa Ibom State, financial inflows from the central authorities rose to more than N3 trillion compared to the N542 billion received by his predecessor. Though a number of projects were accomplished under the regime, it is worth to say that the flurry of petitions that were levelled against him by many of the indigenes of the state tended towards “stupendous allegations of financial impropriety.”
It is remarkable that in the face of these allegations and harassments of Ekweremadu and other critical PDP officials that Akpabio was almost left untouched. Why? Now, Nigerians are beginning to know.
Only few months ago, senators belonging to the PDP wondered why their leader, that is Akpabio, had chosen to remain more aloof to the issues bestirring the polity. At that time, it seemed as if the APC senators were themselves more critical of the many failures of their government than the PDP which was supposed to be the opposition. Now that Akpabio is set to defect we know why.
That reason was brought home to many by no less a person than the Special Assistant on Prosecution to the President, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla.
As special assistant on prosecution, Mr. Obono-Obla, undoubtedly would have been in the know of the weight of evidence that could have been against Akpabio and as such would have been on his case; either to prosecute him or to win him over to the APC.
Mr. Obono-Obla had been especially hard on Ekweremadu and some PDP members of the National Assembly when he was accused of forging the certificate with which he used to gain admission into the University of Jos to read law.
A Committee of the House of Representatives had submitted a report which was published in several newspapers that Mr. Obono-Obla used a forged certificate to enter the University of Jos. He has, however, faulted the report as corruption fighting back.
Certainly, Akpabio whom Obono-Obla is proud to welcome into the APC is certainly not part of the corrupt people fighting back corruption, the president’s special assistant on prosecutions. Indeed, since the certificate forgery incident broke out, Obono-Obla had been rather quiet, not until now when he burst out into his facebook account to herald the APC’s catch of Akpabio.
“Ekpene, Akwa Abasi Ibom State on Thursday, the 9th August 2018 to receive the former indefatigable Governor of the State, His Excellency, Senator Godswill Akpabio to the All Progressives Congress! Acting President, Osinbajo accompanied by Senator Ita Enang and leaders of the APC in Akwa Ibom will formally receive Senator Godswill Akpabio into the APC at Ikot Ekpene Stadium on Thursday, August 9, 2018,” he wrote.
However, as Obono-Obla and his associates rejoice in their great catch, the people of Akwa Ibom, many of whom were driven away from the PDP to the APC on account of their opposition to the alleged failures of Akpabio as governor would wonder. They would be wonder what to do with many of the outstanding issues that Obono-Obla as a special prosecutor has failed to look into. Many citizens of the state had in the past alleged that many of the projects initiated by the Akpabio administration despite massive amounts of money channeled to them were not completed.
Among them are the Tropicana Entertainment galleria (Uncompleted); E-library (Uncompleted); Akwa Ibom Airport – (Uncompleted); 20th Anniversary Hospital (Uncompleted); Pipe jack up drainage system (Failed Project) and Pipe jack up drainage system, phase 2 (Abandoned).
Others that could also attract Mr. Obono–Obla’s interest should Mr. Akpabio fail to defect on Thursday’s as expected are Petrochemical Plant (Abandoned) and Akwa Ibom Refinery (Abandoned).
Of course, no one would mention the issue of these projects again once Mr. Akpabio makes his frenzied entry into the APC!
So, as Akpabio prepares to leave the PDP for the safety of the APC, many indigenes of the state and indeed Nigerians would well understand his reason for defecting especially given that no one has questioned his authority in the PDP.
But whether they will agree with him is another thing.