SENATOR AKPABIO’S DILEMMA
Senator Godswill Obong Akpabio, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, former Senate Minority Leader, and now Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, is in a serious dilemma, in a state of confusion, to be, or not to be.
Akpabio has two tempting options, two alluring options. Will he remain as Minister, and so jettison his Senatorial ambition. Or will he gamble for the Senate and then resign as Minister? These are the two things currently disturbing his mind.
If Akpabio chooses to remain as Minister, he will not participate in the rerun election which the court had ordered, on account of his petition. But if he relinquishes his Ministerial position and goes for the Senatorial rerun, what is the guarantee that he will eventually win. If he fails to win, that would be calamitous, he would have lost on both ends. That is his dilemma.
The genesis of the matter is that Senator Godswill Akpabio was a Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State for eight years under a PDP government. He was Governor of Akwa Ibom State for eight years on the platform of the same PDP. He was also a PDP Senator for more than three years, on account of which he was made the Senate Minority Leader.
Then, towards the tail end of that dispensation, that is in 2014, Senator Godswill Akpabio suddenly realized that the PDP was an evil party, and therefore, decided that he would no longer have anything to do with the party. He resigned his membership of the PDP and joined the APC.
During the February 2019 election, Akpabio sought to go back to the Senate, this time, on the ticket of his new political party, the APC. At the end of the exercise, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declared the PDP candidate winner. Akpabio was furious and refused to accept the verdict.
He proceeded to the tribunal to challenge the result, and pursued it up to the Appeal Court, which has now ordered a rerun in Akpabio’s local government area, where the man claimed that there was full of “mago mago and wuru wuru”.
But before the Appeal Court’s verdict, President Buhari had decided to compensate Senator Akpabio with a Ministerial appointment. Since then, Akpabio has been enjoying that lucrative position, courting both friends and enemies alike.
Now, the court has ruled that the senatorial rerun must be conducted within 90 days, and as an appointee of government, Akpabio will not remain in office to contest the election. He must vacate the office to enable him contest.
As it currently stands, Akpabio’s main opponent, the PDP candidate, (Ekpenyong) is in a very clear lead. According to the election result released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the PDP candidate was credited with 114,973 votes, while Akpabio of the APC was trailing with only 76,917 votes, a difference of about 38,000 votes.
In other words, Senator Godswill Akpabio will be struggling to garner more than 38,000 votes for him to upturn the victory of his opponent and return to the Senate, assuming that the man will remain constant with his original votes and will not secure any more votes.
If Senator Akpabio fails to do this, he will lose both his Ministerial position and his Senatorial aspiration, unless President Buhari decides to reappoint him. But that would be too risky to gamble.
So, Senator Godswill Akpabio must be very thoughtful to choose the option he feels that would be more beneficial to him. But as our people would say, “a bird at hand is worth more than two in the bush”.