“A man cannot be too careful in his choice of enemies.”
By Dele Sobowale
Oscar Wilde, 1856-1900. BOOK OF QUOTES, p 48.
Senator Godswill Akpabio and his formergodson, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, have embarked on war which will take its toll on their reputations, the lives of the people of Akwa Ibom State, AKS, the reputations of supporters of both of them in the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. United by mutually promoted lies to the public, the two combatants are now divided by the same falsehood they have engaged people to spread on their behalf. Anyone, including and especially Buhari and PDP presidential candidates, taking his reputation on siding with any of the two will certainly lose it as the true revelations regarding governance in AKS from May 2007 to this day begin to tumble into the public arena. It will shock even those in Nigeria who had become shock-proof by now. Mark my words.
“A secret is best kept when two people are in the know with one dead.”
Akpabio and Udom hold secrets about each other which they both know should not be disclosed to the public. Otherwise they will keep the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, busy for decades to come. The most devastating will be associated with how the almost N2.7 trillion revenue accruing to the state between May 29, 2007 and May 29, 2015 was spent and how many projects were completed in the eight years to justify that quantum of expenditure plus, so far undisclosed, loans taken. Let’s leave that untouched for now. But, as an economist and a keen observer of the state, it will require at least three books to chronicle the often unhappy events.
Before proceeding however, let me remind readers of this page of an article published in July this year titled RETURN OF BESTIAL POLITICS TO AKWA IBOM STATE. That article was written after a fact-finding tour of the state which revealed that AKS might be heading for the murderous politics of 2007 to 2011 which elevated it to the position of the sate with the largest reported cases of murder and kidnappings until the election was over. The proclamation of a Warsaw-like war has finally revealed that my alarm was not misplaced. Blood may flow once again unless the Police and DSS take a firm and neutral position on this matter. Both sides are now arming for the war which only one side declared. But, what will be the nature of that war and how long will it last? Permit me to make some predictions based on my knowledge of some of the “soldiers” and “commanders” in the state, as well as, the nature of conflicts between former allies who suddenly find themselves at war.
Certainly, Emmanuel and Akpabio were both allies in a conspiracy hatched by the former Governor to retain control over AKS after his departure. Being an Anang, in a state overwhelmingly Ibibio, who could rule as long as they wanted, Akpabio needed someone he, and not the Ibibios will control. He found such an ally in Emmanuel. But, first he had to bring him into government – which he did by appointing him Secretary to State Government, SSG. They were not total strangers to each other. Udom, at Zenith Bank, had assisted the former governors to execute some transactions – the facts of which are known to the two of them. More on that later.
Akpabio, with the tacit approval of former President Jonathan employed force and a great deal of electoral sophistry to get Emmanuel elected as his successor. He must have assumed that Udom would remain subservient for his eight years in office.
“Men make history; but not just as they please.”
Karl Marx, 1818-1883. (BOOK OF QUOTES pg 93.)
In all fairness to him, Udom tried to be as obedient as he could to Akpabio. For instance all the efforts by the EFCC to obtain important information regarding Akpabio’s eight years in office were rebuffed and even challenged in court by the Akwa Ibom State Government, AKSG. In other words, the governor of the state placed the interests of his predecessor above those of the state itself. Akpabio had collected about N2.7 trillion in eight years as governor; borrowed in addition and the executed projects were allegedly not commensurate with the colossal revenue inflow – compared with eight years of Attah when less than N600 billion was collected. But, Godswill and Udom were satisfied that they could continue their conspiracy against the march of events.
One event which none of them could have foreseen would throw a massive missile into their “glass-house of conspiracy” was the very thing which built it – the price of crude oil on the global market. Akpabio was among the fortunate governors of the class ot 2007 – 2015 when the price of crude oil went and remained over one hundred dollars per barrel for years. Unprecedented revenue tumbled into the laps of all the governors and uncommon waste followed it. By 2013, crude oil prices had started going down and by May 2015, the bonanza was over.
In 2013, I published an article titled “SO YOU WANT TO BE GOVERNOR” warning aspirants, like Udom, that they were going to be faced with three inescapable problems. First, they will have less revenue than their predecessors. Second, they will inherit more debts to pay and higher bills to pay. Third paying workers salaries will prove difficult on account of the minimum wage bill hurriedly signed by Jonathan. The combination of all three variables was bound to pitch the new governors against the outgoing ones. AKS was actually picked as a state to watch for the developments.
Within a year, Udom was facing criticisms for “not doing as much as Akpabio” or for “abandoning projects started by Akpabio”. Few noticed that he was also collecting less revenue than Akpabio!! Eventually, that sort of attack was bound to create problems for the two. Udom naturally felt he was being unfairly blamed for Akapabio’s wasteful spending on projects like the white elephant Specialists Hospital which can only be completed and maintained if the state was still collecting over N350 billion per annum from Abuja.
Furthermore, every governor or President, sooner or later wants to run his own show and is reluctant to be a mere errand boy – even for the man who installed him. Nigerian “godfathers” should have learnt from the Awolowo/Akintola palaver which wrecked the Action Group in the old Western Region and led to the Wild Wild West episode. It is impossible to guarantee that a stooge will remain one once he is given great powers. Akpabio and Udom were both naïve to ever think that the current governor will not break loose and chart his own course.
Now that predictable war has been declared permit me to close by predicting certain events likely to occur between now and Election Day 2019. First, both men are alleged not to be reluctant to adopt violence to pursue their political interests. The security forces, mainly the Police and DSS will either stand aside, and allow the carnage to go unchecked as they did between 2009 and 2011 when AKS experienced a reign of terror, or lend support to a new one. Second, the reported engagement of the former Commissioner of Police and Director of DSS, during that reign of terror by the present government, if true, might at last provide some vital information regarding the person behind the killings and kidnappings at the time. Third, the Governor might now be more than willing to cooperate with the EFCC. He at least is free from prosecution for now; Akpabio is not. And disclosing a lot of what he knows is another aspect of the war. Finally, this war will not end in 2019. Akpabio might inadvertently have triggered a longer war between Anangs and Ibibios. That is one war Akpabio’s own people are bound to lose. The numbers don’t favour them. Years from now Akpabio might regret this war.
PA OLATUNJI DE SOUZA PASSES ON
Pa Egidio Isiro Olatunji de Souza passed on Wednesday August 22nd, 2018 aged 87. Pa De Souza, was a staunch Catholic until the end.
Burial arrangements are as follows. Wake keep at St Leo’s Catholic Church, Ikeja: Thursday, September 13, 2018 ; 4.30 – 6.00pm prompt.
Funeral Mass on Friday, September 14, 2018, by 10.00am at Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos. Internment at Ikoyi Cemetery, behind Radio Nigeria. Entertainment of guests at Yoruba Tennis Club.
Pa Souza is survived by his widow, Mrs Ibidun de Souza (nee Browne) and three children among who is Professor Olakitan de Souza.