By UbongAbasi Ise
“… and it was everyone’s opinion that the tensions of the elections would bring them to the dangerous crisis point” – David English (Divided They Stand, 1968)
The media blitz engulfing the relationship between Governor Udom Emmanuel and Senator Godswill Akpabio in recent times may, after all, be all ado about nothing. Probably, the duo may not nurture any intention to fight; or even consciously chart the direction the whole narrative is now heading to. Trust the media. It can blow things out of proportion, and can energetically make mountains out of molehills. But all the same, in the game of politics, anything can happen – no permanent friend, no permanent enemy.
Let me not fall into temptation of downplaying whatever degree of tension building around the Governor and the Senate Minority Leader. The 2015 political wrestlemania tag team champions, may in no time come down to demonstrate their position to the public that their avowed alliance still stands, and that they would stick together to vanquish any gladiator that would dare challenge their respective titles come 2019. I can say that this would only succeed in silencing the rumblings but would neither resolve the suspicion nor the dissolve the dark atmosphere hanging over 2019 race. Akpabio’s all is not well complaint in Abak has generated heaps of political discourses that would further condition the political permutations as the days of reckoning draws nearer.
Whether there is feud or not between Governor Udom Emmanuel and his Godfather, Senator Godswill Akpabio, central to this piece is to assess major themes carefully conceptualized from the conundrum surrounding these political gladiators.
There is a school of thought advanced by some pundits which claims that if Udom ditches Akpabio, then the Senator’s political career is dead than alive.
The second group has it that should the Senate Minority Leader withdraw his supporting pillars from Udom’s tent, then the remaining structures would collapse and kill the Governor’s political career once and for all.
Interestingly, there is this school of thought that holds that both men needs each other more than ever, especially, as their mutual enemies at the center are waxing stronger by the day.
Considering the first line of thinking, a lot of people are suspecting that Akpabio brought Udom to the power so that the Governor should cover his tracks and protect him from the law. indeed, Most people are more convinced about this position through the legal clash between Udom’s government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from 2016 where state government in its reaction to the anti-graft agency’s letters to banks requesting documents on the suspicious financial transactions undertaken by the state government under Akpabio, directed its Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Barr. Uwemedimo Nwoko, to file an ex-parte motion at the High Court of Akwa Ibom State, Ikot Ekpene Judicial Division seeking an order of interim injunction on restraining the federal government or any of its agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); Independent Corrupt Practices and Other related Offences Commission (ICPC), and the Inspector General of Police from arresting, detaining or investigating any official of the state government past or present, without any report of indictment by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. Justice NFN Ntong of the state High Court was to wash off his hands from the matter while referring the state government to the Court of Appeal in Calabar where it could appeal against the anti-graft agencies with the prayer that the appellate court put a stop on the investigations into the finances of the state government under Akpabio leadership. Given the foregoing, it is not out of place for commentators to hold that if Udom decides to back-off, or outrightly expose his godfather’s misdeeds to the world, then Akpabio would kiss the dust.
But one should not forget that if Senator Akpabio had committed multiple sins worth covering up, then it would also take many sins to cover up each of his sin. This invariably means that for Udom to cover one pit dug by Akpabio, he must have to dig more pits, and source for more laterites this season where things are dry to cover up the ones done by his predecessor. It therefore means that if Udom turns out Akpabio, then he may not be free from culpability, and this would be an advantage to their rivals on the other side of the political divide.
Antithetic to the foregoing is the second position that Akpabio, given his political pedigree, astuteness, generosity, charisma and gregarious nature; can effortlessly end Udom’s political ambition should he decide to severe the relationship with him. This school believes that the party’s structures are still in Akpabio’s hand, starting from Obong Paul Ekpo, the PDP State Chairman, to the party leadership at the ward level, and whoever Akpabio stands behind during the primaries carries the day. Therefore Udom would have to face ruinous consequences of showing ultimate ingratitude to a benefactor that brought him out of the blues to give him political relevance and prominence.
In all, it can backfire for PDP, should Akwa Ibom divide according to Udom-Akpabio fault line, and it would be to the blessing of the main opposition party, APC, that is preparing for a fierce battle to wrestle Akwa Ibom State out of PDP’s grip come 2019.
To complete the dialectical cycle in the analysis of the alleged face-off between Udom and Akpabio, the third school of thought are making more sense by averring that Udom needs Akpabio just the way Akpabio needs Udom. Both men, probably, know that for them to face the mutual threat pose against them by APC at the centre, they need to tag-team together. If peradventure, Udom says he is no longer interested in the guber race and throws in the towel, then it can be another headache for Akpabio as the flank would be opened and expose the Senator to the vagaries of bad political weather.
Now we can go back to the genesis of the whole ado. Irrespective of any justification, one cannot be totally be wrong to say that there was a scurrilous intention against Akpabio through the abandonment of the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road and the Four-Star Sheraton Hotel. Nothing could have stopped the governor from addressing the basic challenges facing those signature projects on time before his Godfather run out of patience. Was he planning to disparage the image of the very one that brought him out of oblivion to the pinnacle of power in the state? Or did the governor intend to cut his predecessor to size because he was being apotheosized into god by Akwa Ibom people? Is Udom teaching his Great Teacher a lesson?
A man who pays respect to the great, paves way for his own greatness, writes Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart.
To those that lashed out at Akpabio, since he is representing Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, he has every right to draw the attention of the governor to the uncompleted projects of the district. The senator did not point at all the unfinished projects he commenced in other senatorial districts but those in his domain. In addition, he has the right to spot the imbalance in the 2018 proposed budget which has not augured well for his Senatorial District. Whether his outpourings are dismissed as fatuous and preposterous, the Senator has made his point clear.
Akpabio’s all is not well commentary reminds me of Chinua Achebe writing in Things Fall Apart where he puts down a song played when a woman dies. It goes:
For whom is it well, for whom is it well
There is no one for whom it is well.
Yes! I am UbongAbasi Ise. For comment send SMS to 08189914609 | firstname.lastname@example.org