A Brotherly Advice to Governor Akpabio By Dele Momodu
Your Excellency, I find it necessary to write this open letter to you in order to let you know what I had always wanted to tell you as an admirer and keen watcher of your activities and commendable performance in the oil-rich State of Akwa Ibom. Let me confess that I was one of those who felt you were a media creation, all hype and gas, without any solid substance. Your hyperactive nature makes it natural for people to conclude that you are a noise-maker, attention-seeker and publicity-grabber.
However, I had the opportunity and privilege of visiting Uyo, the beautiful capital of Akwa Ibom, early in 2011, a few months to the Presidential election in which I humbly participated. It was not part of my original plan to visit your magnificent Government House. But man proposes and God disposes. I had hoped to quietly spend quality time at the wedding of my young friend, and the then President of a large chunk of the fratricidal National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Mr Ini Ememobong. I was pleasantly surprised when you breezed in half-way into the colourful ceremony and electrified the atmosphere. Your arrival and participation took the youthful wedding soiree to a crescendo and I was gratified by your effortless connection to the young folks.
I observed your friendliness and affability. When you saw me, you were extremely warm and you told me you had to accord me the protocol which befits a Presidential candidate visiting your jurisdiction and invited me over to dinner later that evening at your home. I was quite impressed that our politics was no longer that of bitterness. I saw hope in you and your tribe of new-breed politicians. My dream for Nigeria had always been for us to climb up to a stage where we can all work for the good of our country no matter our different persuasions.
I honoured your invitation and visited your ultra-modern palace, which is the true description of the high-tech edifice. The dinner you laid out was elaborate and fit for a king. Of course, the powerful Commandant of the Nigeria Defense College, Rear Admiral Thomas Jonah Lokoson was on a visit and he was your special guest that night. Also present were some Senate members of NANS who came along to taste your exceptional hospitality. I was particularly impressed about your eloquent oratory. You spoke passionately from the heart and reeled out the endless achievements of your government and stewardship. It was difficult not to be enraptured by your sweet rhapsodies and sonorous melodies.
My conclusion as I drove out of your official residence that night was that a few of the bright PDP Governors might end up being the saving grace and the handsome face for the grossly incompetent monstrosity called the Federal Government. Your party had wielded enormous power and spent humongous budgets in 12 years with nothing to show for it. Those campaigning for Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had assured Nigerians of a breath of fresh air if he was sworn in as substantive President. How I wished Nigeria as a whole could witness the type of development, albeit sporadic, that I saw on ground in Uyo. I truly wondered why you did not seek to be the President with your apparent larger-than-life vision. Why is it that conservative parties in Nigeria can’t see the common-sense in fielding some of their outstanding members? I could never fathom why our avuncular President, General Olusegun Obasanjo could not support the charming, modern and forward-looking Governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke, when he was brewing the ugly mess that has led us to where we are today.
This was the stream-of-consciousness that raced through my thought-process as I returned to my hotel that night. I secretly prayed for you to see the wisdom in raising your ante by seeking a bigger role sooner than later. In other climes, it would have been possible for you to challenge the incumbent President to a rigorous duel but not in our dear country where the omnipotent leaders practically use their talismanic scanners to read the minds of ambitious colleagues ahead of time. I did not know my innocuous wishes for your type would later come to haunt one of Nigeria’s most energetic Governors, Mr Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi who has virtually become a pariah in your party today.
This is the crux of my epistle to you. I have not been very pleased with the assignment you’ve been given or awarded to yourself since the beginning of this unfortunate imbroglio. You’ve been sending wrong signals to your great fans like me. The impression from certain quarters is that you view Governor Amaechi as your arch-rival and you are all out and determined to run him out of town. If the truth must be told, it is beginning to show you as someone who would do anything and everything to damage and destroy any form of competition. This is very unnecessary and extremely tragic. Indeed that was not the view of you that I formed and took away from that chance encounter in Uyo. I saw you as a man who wanted to live and let others live.
You were elected to serve and promote the best interests of Akwa Ibom and not to run errands for the Federal Government. You can do your job very well without getting involved in the pettiness being foisted on our nation from the very top. What shall it profit the Presidency if it achieves its crooked ambition of removing Amaechi as Chairman of a social club called the Nigeria Governors Forum? More importantly, what shall it add to your own curriculum vitae if Amaechi is eventually impeached as the Governor of Rivers State?
I believe you have gone too far and too deep into this matter that it would seem there was a personal animosity between both of you when there may not be any. However perception is key and public opinion even more so. There is no reason, whatsoever, for you to get involved in a matter that concerns one of your colleagues. The Federal Government is big enough to fight its own battles. It has Ministers, Special Advisers and many hangers-on who are willing to act as cannon fodder or even suicide bombers. You are too big and far too important to be used as a human King Kong. You stand to lose more than what you can gain if you persist and continue on this dangerous road to perdition. What I can see very clearly is that you’re eroding and wasting your excellent equity on a worthless venture.
Please, permit me to refresh your memory a bit. Once upon a time, there were Governors that were supposedly close to President Olusegun Obasanjo. They included `Diepriye Alamieyeseigha, Joshua Dariye, James Ibori, Peter Fayose, Olusegun Osoba, Gbenga Daniels, Bukola Saraki, Peter Odili, and several others. They wielded stupendous powers, or so they thought! What happened to them? One by one, they were cleverly elevated to a point where they felt comfortably secure before being surgically removed and clinically eliminated. It is not in the character of our leaders to entrust power in more competent and charismatic subordinates. They always promote the dregs of society whom they believe lack ambition, vision and ultimately, the grit to challenge them. Popularity and fame are veritable sources of irritation to such leaders. This is why you should be very careful.
No matter how much you portray yourself to be humble and absolutely loyal to the Him-on-High in Abuja, it is a wasted effort. Your future ambition screams from afar. Anyone discerning enough would know you’re heading somewhere and don’t President Jonathan is fooled about your voluptuous desire. You’re an irrepressible soul, and when the time comes the Nigerian Mafia will try to cut you down to size. Your aura is such that is so sharp and palpable. Take it from me; the forces that control our nation would never go to sleep with two eyes closed while you’re around. Right now, what they are thinking is that you’re just pretending to be with them in order to achieve a pre-determined mission. That was how your predecessors ran into troubled waters. Most of them were used and dumped. I cannot see your case being any different.
nt letters to him at different times testifying to the giddy success of Alams’ administration in the space of a few years because of the developments that he had witnessed in Yenagoa on both occasions that he had visited. All it took to hack him down was a rumoured romance with the then Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Chief Olusegun Osoba and President Obasanjo are of the same Egba tribe. I remember the wedding of Kofoworola Obasanjo in London, Aremo Osoba was the father of the day. He wore the same Agbada with the President and they looked very chummy together, blood brothers on a mission only they were privy to. However, one thing led to another and Obasanjo decided he needed to grab the South West to prove his manhood to the PDP. In this calculation, Osoba was expendable. His interest was inconsequential, notwithstanding whatever pact Akinrogun imagined that he had extracted from the Generalissimo. No consideration was given to his feelings and he was simply squashed underfoot and erased from the equation.
The case of Dr Peter Odili was particularly instructive. He worked assiduously and traversed the whole nation promoting his Presidential dream. At a stage, everything looked promising and it was just a matter of time before his mission would be accomplished. That was when the axe-man moved in and sliced him to pieces. Even when he was promised the Vice Presidential slot, it was merely a ploy to buy time and pave the way for a man they foolishly thought was stupid but later turned out to be smarter than his sponsors, Dr Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who was the Governor of Katsina State at the time.
Let me take one more example out of so many that I can assemble. The story of Chief Ibori was more dramatic. Somehow, he was able to out-manoeuvre the fox and made himself one of the most prominent kingmakers in Nigeria. But the principalities never left him totally out of sight and when it was time they moved in on him. What was strange was it was a President from the same geographical zone who smoked him out of the hole that eventually exposed him to a couple of years of detention in Dubai and a long prison sentence in London. If anyone had foretold all these tragedies would befall the ‘Ogidigborigbo of Africa’ some years back we would have called the person a fake prophet of doom.
I have laboured to write this epistle because I adore your capabilities and positive energies. If I were you, I will dream bigger than you are doing presently. I will remove myself from the present mess and mind my own business. There are bigger targets to fix your gaze on beyond the shores of Nigeria. Forget about going to the Senate and forcing your way through. You don’t need such distraction. As a matter of fact, such moves have become the trend and are just too predictable.
As one of the better materials we have in Nigeria today, you should climb the world stage as a Statesman and not as a local champion. I expect to see you teaching Leadership courses in Harvard and propounding practical theories. The world should be able to benefit from your wealth of experience. You have the chance of also joining world figures as global Ambassadors and can earn a decent living from speaking engagements and by so doing turn your back on the plundering of the nation which doubles for governance in these parts of the world.
I’m seriously pleading with you to change how we do things in our around here and help to open new vistas and set new standards in public life. I pray you will see the sense and sincerity in my brotherly advice and act accordingly.
If you do, I’m sure you will find yourself on the threshold of honour. It is not too late to achieve this possibility. Stay blessed as the future beckons…
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