By Henry Onyema
One politician who has been saying a lot lately is former Akwa Ibom State governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio. In an effort to prove his overestimated self-worth, the newest bride of the ruling party has been uttering inconceivable things, perhaps with the mindset that people will forget with the passage of time.
In what came as a shock to many, Akpabio, late last year, told the world of his war plan against his very own people. Giving a glimpse of the shape of Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, especially in Akwa Ibom State, Akpabio compared the elections to the 1940 invasion of Poland by Adolf Hitler’s Germany. In an unambiguous term, Akpabio declared that the elections shall be war which its victory shall be on his side and to that of his new found political party.
Expectedly, Akpabio’s outburst generated nationwide opprobrium. Those who have read the historic Germany invasion of Poland where thousands died were quick to condemn Akpabio’s blether. Despite the resounding backlash, Akpabio never apologised for his sacrilegious mutters. Like the characteristic Nigeria politician, his bet certainly was that people in a matter of days will forget that he ever talked about war. While some persons with self-interest have chose to forget, Akpabio must know that times have changed and that Akwa-Ibom people will not forget his war declaration against them.
The dust raised by Akpabio’s war beat may have simmered, but those who really know the former Senate minority leader, know that his infamous war cry came from the deepest recess of his heart. Those who know Akpabio’s antecedents and his deep craving for power and control know that he means real war for his people. The Akwa-Ibom election may be few days away, but the sign of Akpabio’s war is already crystallising in different forms.
There is no better word to describe what happened in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly recently but a skirmish of war. In a clear disregard for rule of law, three legally sacked members of the assembly attempted to effect a change of leadership of the 26-member legislative chamber. Emboldened by the tactical support of the Nigeria Police, the three musketeers momentarily held sway in the House until the voices of protesting Akwa-Ibom men and women on the streets, jolted those tacitly behind them, to call for a retreat. Although Akpabio has openly denied his involvement in the coup, Akwa Ibom indigenes know who was beating the drum to the music the three lawmakers were dancing to.
The recent move by the Nigeria Police to set up an anti-terrorism unit in Akwa Ibom is yet another war chess- game known to discerning minds. Since the inception of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration, Akwa –Ibom State has experienced peace like never before. Gone are the days, when indigenes could barely sleep due to myriads of security challenges. Akwa-Ibom state is now reputed as one of the safest states in the country.
This did not just happen by magic. It came through a strategic planning and engagement of all relevant security agencies in the state. On the backdrop of this, it is clear that the move to establish the vicious anti-terrorism unit of the Nigeria Police in the state, days to the general elections raises suspicion.
Those who recall how the Nigeria Police and State Security Service officials were used in the 2007 and 2011 Akwa Ibom elections know that having an anti-terrorism unit in the state now, is an open war tactics that must be resisted by all means.
Then came the much publicized presidential campaign flag-off of the APC in the South-South. While APC reserves the right to hold such event in any part of the country, the people of Akwa Ibom are not unmindful of the clever attempt to deceive the world that the state is under the imaginary grip of Akpabio.
For clarity, what took place in Akwa Ibom was a supposed APC presidential campaign flag-off for all South-South states. But what the party tried to sell to the world with live coverage of the event was that APC and, by extension Akpabio has the numbers in Akwa Ibom state to sway the election in favor of the president.
This is nothing but pure fallacy. The party said it was a South-South zonal campaign but they brought over 20 aircrafts loaded with APC members across the 36 states of the country yet they could not fill a 30,000 capacity stadium.
Anyone who has watched the mammoth crowd that besieged the same stadium when Governor Udom Emmanuel launched his re-election campaign will certainly agree that the overhyped APC outing in Akwa-Ibom was indeed a poor political rally.
The intimidation on the people of Akwa-Ibom which Akpabio intended to achieve with that gathering of hawks was by far a complete failure.
The peace-loving people of Akwa Ibom know that the APC presidential campaign rally in the state is part of Akpabio’s war beats. They know all his tricks and are ready to tell the world with their votes that the state is tired of tyranny, oppression, intimidation and bigotry.
- Onyema is a media practitioner resident in Lagos.