Niger Delta

Akpabio’s Envelop Of Metaphors

“I am the oxygen he is dying to breathe” – Shatter Me, By Terereh Mafi


By Substance Nature


It must be a complimentary indictment to say that Godswill Obot Akpabio possesses energy in quantum and has the idiosyncratic propensity to generate 5000 megawatts of electricity from within himself alone. The former Senator has also upgraded and offloaded this scientific abstraction onto the political space where he has appreciable stake.

I still can hear our Integrated Science Teacher in my JSS2, Mr. Vincent Akpome, telling us in class that the scientific formula for measuring kinetic energy is: KE=0.5 x mv2 – where “m” stands for mass (the measure of how much matter is in an object), and “v” represents velocity of the object, or the rate which the object changes its position.

In the previous class, he had defined kinetic energy as “energy in motion” or “energy an object possesses due to its motion”. In other words, it means energy that is needed to accelerate a body of a given mass from rest to its stated velocity. In its higher state of thermal capacity, it can be vibrational, transactional or translational in motion.

Basing their postulations on kinesis that has its roots in Aristotle’s concept of actuality and potentiality, Gottfried Leibniz and Johann Bernoulli, who popularised the concept in classical mechanics in the 19th century, defined kinetic energy more clinically as “living force”. Curiously, William Thomson is credited with having actually given birth to the near explosive twin word “kinetic energy”. Mr. Akpome also taught us about matter. He told the class that “matter is anything that has weight and occupies space”.

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Today, I see abundant of that definition in Sen. Akpabio. He has weight and occupies space, even much space. If he walks on the road, he raises dust. If he steps onto the sea, he causes waves. If Akpabio is onboard a plane, the crew must ask curious questions. And the moment he enters the political arena, drums change their rhythm, songs change tunes, and words assume fresh or esoteric meanings. In Akpabio’s truest elements and fortuitous moments, he can ask the sun to stand still or hold the wind to champion any cause. His therapeutic smile alone is sufficiently potent to cure someone of hypertensive chronic depression.

Akpabio’s triumphant emergence as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs – against all odds, against all mischievous machinations, against all politicking in the suffocating suspense that held him in obvious captivity following his senatorial ambition misadventure – further proved him to be a man with fantastic degree of living force and generative velocity.

Still fresh on the mind is that acidic letter to the President late last year, authored by one Dr. Asukwo Etim on behalf of a factitious and fractious faction of the Akwa Ibom APC, that surfaced like a flash in the pan with the strange name, Ibom Integrity & Servant Leadership Culture Initiative. The letter was titled, “Ministerial Appointment: Why Appointing Akpabio May Be Counter Productive”.

Part of the infamous letter harboured in fretful mischief had petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari to discountenance anything and everything Akpabio if wants to forget the figurative decimation APC suffered in Akwa Ibom in 2019, upon the media hype and boasts of advanced victory. The President was importuned: “So, we implore you, our dear leader, to be circumspect in considering him as a minister in your government, so as not to appear insensitive to the people…and his State”. Akpabio did not only upset the booby-trap but also scale the hurdles and even turned back and shattered the frames.

He was sworn in as Minister of the Federal Republic on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 by the same man whose dreams he watched crush and crash against the tall brick walls of stubborn apostles of PDP of the South-South in the 2019 presidential election. It means that President Buhari looked beyond the slushy mangrove borders of Niger Delta politics and detected the velocity in Akpabio that he was convinced can help change things for him on the Next Level.

Akpabio entered the magnetic field of the NDDC like an earthquake of 15.5 seismic proportion. He left no one in doubt that the Uncommon Transformer has arrived at the dusty scene with characteristic charisma and tempestuous capacity to shake tables and alter things in the hunger and anger for transformation for a moribund oil-rich Delta that for more than 60 years, has singlehandedly been feeding the nation, but ironically suffering pandemic generational malnutrition.

To help a taciturn President Buhari to unravel the secrets of failure in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to unmask the smiling demons and unholy angels, to “break curses and covenants”, and to ultimately possibly deescalate the embarrassing tragedy the Niger Delta has become in the hands of her privileged sons and daughters, the former Senate Minority Leader launched out with a controversial forensic audit of the wasteful Commission, caring little or nothing about complaints and threats as he enforced a 3-man Interim Management Committee (IMC). Not even the National Assembly could stop the moving train.

Ever since then, the noise and commotion has been as cyclical as a whirlwind of revelations about past iniquities in the NDDC. Akpabio consistently wraps up the atrocities in NDDC with fine threads of metaphors and symbolism. Just last week, while visiting the Cross River State Prof-Governor, Ben Ayade, as part of his tour of Niger Delta States, to measure the exact depth of misfortune across the zone, the former Senator was quoted as saying: “The NDDC has been a cesspool of corruption over the years and everyone knows it,”

Was Akpabio exaggerating by using a “cesspool” as metaphor? No. A cesspool is defined as an underground container for temporary storage of liquid waste or sewage. Barely days after the setting up of the Interim Management Committee, the world was shocked by the shocking discoveries of malfeasances upon which the Commission had sat for the past 19 years. The latest discovery by the IMC, Wednesday, January 15, 2020, is that contracts worth over N1.3 trillion were “criminally” and “hurriedly” awarded at the commission between 2017 and 2019.

Breaking down the details, Chairman of the contract verification committee and NDDC’s acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougbor, disclosed that in 2017, the commission awarded a total of 201 emergency contracts valued at N100, 396,879,001.06. In 2018, the number of contracts awarded rose astronomically to 1,057 at N1652,688,289,333.05; and barely within seven months in 2019, the sum of N,1,070,249,631,757.70 was discovered to have been earmarked for 1,921 emergency contracts. Apparently, these contracts were awarded to those within a circle of friends and associates.

Recall that in one of Akpabio’s maiden visits to the Port Harcourt office of the NDDC where he addressed the wheat and weeds he inherited, Akpabio again deployed some abrasive metaphors to capture the grievous and unpardonable iniquities of the wasteful commission when he told them that the NDDC was a cash cow. In literary terms, a cash cow means “a business, investment or product that provides a steady income or profit”. However, used metaphorically as Akpabio would, it implies “a dairy cow used on a farm to produce milk; offering a steady stream of income to its owner; yet not taken adequate care of or properly maintained”. Doesn’t this sound like the NDDC story?

RELATED: NDDC Audit And The Gathering Storm:  Will Akpabio Scale The Hurdles?

Again, during an NTA Weekend File programme in November, 2019, the Minister severely berated the racketeers and profiteers in the NDDC: “They saw the NDDC as an ATM and choose to steal it dry, leaving nothing to show for. They also believe that the Bible says one who works in the pulpit deserves to eat from the pulpit. But they don’t know that God didn’t say they should steal the pulpit in the process”.

It is as if Akpabio has an envelop of metaphors where he draws them up as weapons to advertize NDDC’s unforgivable sins on worldscreen. In his book, Alvin Journeyman, Orson Card says that “Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space”. Will Akpabio change these metaphors to literal words of development in the NDDC? Will the future condemn the past? As Truman Capote argues: “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour.”

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