Scene at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly complex crisis, yesterday. Photo: Chioma Onuegbu.
By Bassey Ekpo
MANY conjectures, fables and myths attended Senator Goodswill Akpabio’s defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, which is the ruling party at the Federal level.
The shock of his political transition came from the fact that in his home base, the PDP is the ruling party and the going wisdom is that all politics is local. Local in Akwa Ibom is PDP. Many people in the state have maintained that the senator has always ridden roughshod over his political opponents, using Federal might.
However, it is believed that under the current Resident Electoral Commissioner, the people of Akwa Ibom have to prepare for real election given the pedigree and proven track record of the man in charge of INEC in the state. He has realised from hindsight that only few people are with him, given that many in the APC like ex-Governor Attah returned to the PDP upon his defection to the APC. The current crisis in the state is, therefore, aimed at undermining the authority of the incumbent PDP Governor in Akwa Ibom, a test run to fetch the “federal elixir” for his survival formula of “local impunity backed by federal immunity”.
Having received the uncommon broom initiation that wipes away all sins, guarantees all immunity from security harassments, the senator got new wind under his political sails. First he trumpeted his new powers with a grand “broom reception” in Ikot Ekpene Stadium, inviting previous umbrella acolytes to become “broom-vengers” with new vengeful might to foment anarchical transformations. Tragically, the apostle of “uncommon transformation” in Akwa Ibom has become the harbinger of “uncommon anarchy” in the state.
The politically instigated anarchical pantomime currently playing out in Akwa Ibom State has not fooled anyone, the incumbent state Governor Udom Emmanuel inclusive. Having previously held the purse string of State House Uyo, the senator does not underrate the war chest he is fighting against, hence one of the first moving part of the drama was a replication of the EFCC effrontery in Benue State: the attempt to freeze the account of a state government despite constitutional bars.
Given the failure in the unconstitutional efforts to de-fang the incumbent through fiscal strangulation with the blatant assistance of federal financial investigators, the next move is to open a new political war-front in the Akwa Ibom State legislature. First, an audacious plan was hatched to suspend the state house leadership using five members to unseat the House Speaker, Onofiok Luke, and 21 other members of the house most of whom are loyal to the incumbent governor.
At the height of the conspiracy, the State Police Commissioner who was suspected of being reluctant to take partisan side, was transferred and a new Police Commissioner was deployed to the state by the Federal authorities, reminiscent of the Northern People’s Congress, NPC-led Federal government backing of the Akintola faction against the Awolowo faction, in the Western Nigeria political crisis that instigated the military interventions which led to the fall of the First Republic in Nigeria.
Immediately after the new police commissioner took charge in Akwa Ibom state, the five legislators under the control of the Ikot-Ekpene political axis instigated another audacious take-over of the State House of Assembly and were vehemently resisted by partisan PDP supporters, including the state governor.
The anarchic political situation that Akwa Ibom State has descended into in recent times has been attributed to a ruptured relatonship between Senator Akpabio and the incumbent Governor Emmanuel who many have described as a gentleman with private sector values and orientation.
However, the schism which brought about the current crisis is that he has been alleged to have abandoned projects embarked upon by Senator Akpabio for new projects. But the incumbent has insisted that he has done nothing to hurt the senator but rather that he did everything he could to placate the senator.
As the political cauldron in Akwa-Ibom enters a new feisty stage with heightening campaigns many expect an escalation. There are many in Akwa Ibom State who insist that the current situation fits the playbook of the senator who has used similar federal support in the past under PDP to intimidate and decimate his political opponents.
These observers who claim to know the senator’s plot very well insist that his game-plan may just be to guarantee the APC votes in the federal presidential election in an area that was previously seen as a fortress for the PDP, while retaining his senatorial seat and possibly gain the gubernatorial seat as a bonus for his favoured candidate in return.
The last outcome, however, may not be as much of a priority as the first two as long as the first two provide him a maintenance of the preferable status quo ante. In this high stakes game of political roulette, the people of Akwa-Ibom State and the peace and progress of the state may be the main victim.
- Dr. Ekpo, a political analysts writes from Uyo