Calls For Akpabio’s Sack – Conspiracy Made More Ridiculous

By Substance Nature


Calls for Akpabio’s sack as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs may have begun the first day he was appointed, and ever since then, they have been coming with consistent and rapid frequency and multiple excuses. Incidentally, majority of the agitations are from the Niger Delta region, the very region whose cumulative sins and underdevelopment enjoy robust permanency in topical discussions.

So, from that Wednesday, August 21, 2019 when he was appointed into the Federal Executive Council as a Minister, even Akpabio knew that the road ahead of him was going to be as bumpy as the one that led to his appointment, or by humorous extension, as dusty and unpredictable as travelling by road from Uyo to Calabar. Being a cynosure and strategist of avant-garde innovations, his situation was as truly as they say it: “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. The Senator Akpabio knew it!

It would be too early to forget how Nigerians, home and abroad, revelled in the multi-faceted intrigues and suspense that heralded the appointment of Sen. Godswill Akpabio as a Minister of the Federal Republic by President Muhammadu Buhari. It can be said that it was one of the most hyped pre and post-appointment hullaballoo that perhaps saw the former Akwa Ibom State governor became more popular for both the wrong and right reasons than he ever may have been in his entire political life.

Following the consistent waves of opposition, conspiracies, mischievous allegations and insinuations, it was uncertain if the Akpabio was going to sail through the tempestuous storms to his new office. So when plausible grapevine vibes emerged that Akpabio was to be even appointed as a minister of no less a place than the money-spinning and dollar-lavishing Niger Delta Ministry Affairs, it came with mixed feelings as many were caught celebrating in lieu and others doing so with jealous reservations.

Perhaps the first salvo at the easy-going Akpabio was hurled from his home state of Akwa Ibom. Recall that in a letter dated May 24, 2019 to President Muhammadu Buhari, entitled: “Ministerial Appointment: Why Appointing Akpabio May Be Counter Productive”, sponsored and signed by the Executive President, Dr. Asukwo Edidem Etim, on behalf of a group that claimed affinity with the Akwa Ibom APC, Ibom Integrity & Servant Leadership Culture Initiative, it was stated that giving Akpabio any appointment would be a case of playing on the intelligence of older and supposedly more active members of the party. For this and many reasons, the President was warned against taking a wrong step in this regard.

RELATED: Latest Development in NDDC: Is Sen. Akpabio as Guilty As Assumed?


But in the end, true to his swag and sagacity, Godswill Akpabio, against all odds, became a Minister – and as was aggressively speculated – that of Niger Delta Affairs. It is possible that today, Akpabio who seems to walk on clouds when addressed as “Uncommon Transformer”, must be relishing those moments as one of his momentous conquests in his political odyssey.

With his appointment and subsequent inauguration, one of the many questions on the tongues of many Nigerians was why the former Senator attracted such momentum. But those who knew him why. To some, maybe many, having Akpabio in that office was seen as a political compensation from President Buhari and the APC. In other words, it was an incentive to save him from possible hypertension that would have struck following his historic loss of the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District seat to a “dark horse” that some have come to call Sen. Christopher Ekpenyong.

Some were afraid how deep into the abyss Akpabio’s political compass would have nosedived in a power-hungry South-South Niger Delta region that has in its territorial political waters hippopotamuses like Pa Edwin Clark, Rotimi Amaechi, Nyesom Wike and a calculative and clairvoyant giant killer like Governor Udom Emmanuel.

To the contrary, some had said having Akpabio in the Ministry of Niger Delta was a sign of good things to come. They argued that having a fresh mind with tested ability like him was to change things for the better. Those in this school of thought had judged him based on his performance as a two-term governor and Senator that, like they would say, brought paparazzi into the art of governance in Akwa Ibom State.

During his inaugural meeting with staff of the Commission in Abuja, August 21, 2019, the Minister told the crowd: “I love leaving marks wherever I visit…Being a Niger Delta person, I will ensure that things are better for further and effective development of the region”.

Akpabio launched his arrival in office with unprecedented breakthroughs that broke backbones. First, he dared the gods when he was suspected to have masterminded the formation of a three-man Interim Management Committee (IMC) comprising Acting Managing Director, Dr. Joi Nunieh (Rivers), Acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougbor (Delta); and Acting Executive Director, Finance/ Administration, Chief Ibanga Bassey Etang.

Critics said he must have outwitted the Senate because that was the same day, Tuesday, October 29, 2019, the Senators were in plenary considering the list of 16-member board of directors for the NDDC sent to it by the President a week earlier on October 18, 2019. Akapbio had argued that the setting up of the IMC was for it to oversee the forensic audit of the NDDC, after which it will hand over to a properly constituted statutory board.

Following the controversial formation of the IMC came the no less controversial annexation of the NDDC to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, which means bringing it under the direct control by Akpabio. Just while the dust was settling, there came the sudden sack of the acting Managing Director of the Commission, Dr. Joi Yumebe Nunieh, Wednesday, February 19, 2020.

The formation of the IMC came with series of shocking revelations. It was discovered that the NDDC was indebted to about N3trillion, while there were 12, 000 abandoned and uncompleted projects. There was also the case of an estimated 16 million US dollars allegedly traced to pockets of just three persons, whereas another 70 million US Dollars was said to have been abandoned in banks.

Also allegedly discovered was 300 different contracts awarded to one senator, with more than half of the contract sum already paid, as well as a consultant who was used to taking home N1 billion every month as payment of collection of taxes and levies from oil companies on behalf of the NDDC. In sordid summary, the NDDC was said to be a cesspool, or what Akpabio himself described as “ATM”.

The question then was, what would have been the case or what would possibly have been the extent of the rut had Akpabio not summoned courage to dig up the mess that had engulfed the Commission? In whose interest was Akpabio doing what he was doing? There were fears that Akpabio’s audacity was politically motivated. That is to say it was aimed at witch-hunting perceived political enemies. But Akpabio who metaphorically described the NDDC as an ATM had maintained that he did what he did for the sake of the Niger Delta and the generality of Nigerians.

Under Akpabio’s watch, it cannot be denied that a new spirit has been infused into the ministry and region. Apart from the formation of the IMC, one of the things Akpabio has done is that of exposing the sacred cows in government quarters, who must not be touched no matter their atrocities. Akpabio certainly must have stepped on toes when certain senators were accused of underhand dealings with the falling NDDC.

A few months ago, in a twist of circumstances, the IMC has been accused of purportedly misappropriating the sum of N40billion belonging to the NDDC within only three months. The Senate had constituted a seven-man committee to probe the allegations. For that reason, it is alleged, even though the National Assembly is currently on the matter, that Akpabio deserves to be sacked.

The questions are: what do the facts really show? Will sacking Sen. Akpabio now solve the endemic problem of the Niger Delta Ministry and its constituents? Who will come that is not first a Nigerian, before a minister?

Instead of this needless politics of acrimony, it was better stakeholders put heads together and see what better measures could collectively be developed to stabilize and remove the stigma with which the Niger Delta is known. No Nigerian will assume the office of the Minister of this ministry who will not be vilified!

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