Attracted by his uncommon manifestations of leadership as governor of Akwa Ibom State, where he literarily turned the state to a fascinating reference of infrastructural valour, so utilised was the resources of the oil-rich state that accolades, awards and pleasurable reviews greeted Godswill Akpabio. It was this resounding governance template that got President Muhammadu Buhari’s attention and in no time, machinery was put in place to have the man integrated into his next level government- little did Buhari knew that he was bringing a man that would stain his administration with insatiable greed. If what is coming out from the ongoing probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is anything to go by, we can conveniently say that President Buhari has entered a next level of “one chance” – with Akpabio as the head driver!
What would have moved Senator Akpabio to be enmeshed in this infamous heist? Is he a victim of manipulation or powerplay? I still can’t wrap my head around the damning revelations that the uncommon man superintends over this mess at the commission. If this man could cave into the weight of the debauchery at the NDDC – a place he was wholeheartedly called upon to salvage, then we should forget any form of redeeming light for the devastated oil-rich region of Niger Delta. A former governor, senator and now minister aptly suits the profile of a real driver of change and total emancipation of the Niger Delta, Alas! He seems at the forefront of its ruination following the filth in the NDDC.
How can such a trusted man that was a darling reference amongst governors suddenly become a stutterer in the circle of former colleagues? It was a pitiable Akpabio at the mercy of lawmakers meandering in embarrassing gibberish. So harassed was he that he kept talking and talking incongruently – a once vibrant and eloquent speaker now drawn in whispers and incoherent mumbles, for his mind, has been corrupted and his tongue stitched. Such a fall of a man given a shinning crown of greatness. He hasn’t only betrayed his good name but the painful memories of Isaac Boro and Ken Saro-Wiwa. Poor Ken who gave his life for the people of Niger Delta would be weeping and tossing in excruciating agony in his grave. Those who ought to make his heavenly abode a resting place have desecrated his honour and the pen warrior and hero live half dead in anguish. The people of the Niger Delta are worse than when he was alive.
Senator Akpabio may not be guilty of the fraud at the NDDC but he lays his integrity for all these to happen under his watch. President Buhari defied all odds to entrust the whole of Niger Delta to him, as such, it becomes Senator Akpabio’s responsibility to ensure the vision of the president for the region is achieved. Like unwilling lieutenants that abound in Buhari’s government, Akpabio left everything to fate, cronyism and laxity as the NDDC became a cesspit of corruption. Mr Festus Keyamo should thank his God that he was edged out of the ministry, otherwise, he would have been in the room of this embarrassing situation where a few people ‘barbaricly’ cornered what was meant for the development of their region into personal use.
Akpabio and companions hold every citizen of Niger Delta huge apologies, they haven’t only betrayed their people but have impoverished them silly. It’s sickening to witness this display of shame. Imagine this!
The blow by blow accounts by both former and current acting managing director of the NDDC, Ms Joy Nunieh and Prof. Keme Pondei, respectively, have not just a chilling but gory rots in the commission.
Imagine, fainting Pondei saying the agency disbursed N5million to youth groups in each senatorial district in the nine Niger Delta states. Women groups and the physically challenged got the same amount. With each state having three senatorial districts, the nine Niger Delta states collectively have 27 senatorial districts. Meaning for these three groups – of youths, women and the physically challenged – N405,000,000 in each state! If this is multiplied by the nine Niger Delta states, it adds up to N3.6billion. Pondei said this was in addition to food items which were purchased and distributed in the region as COVID-19 palliatives. With the population of Akwa Ibom State standing at 5.4million and that of the entire Niger Delta region estimated at about 30 million, each citizen from that part of the country could have received N3million as COVID-19 relief. As things stand, it would not be wrong to assume that the effects of Pondei’s did not get to the city centre of the Niger Delta states, let alone the rural areas, apologies to Nse Obong Ekong.
Conclusively, Senator Godswill Akpabio is in the eyes of the storm, he has a heavy burden on his shoulders, his integrity is at stake, and everything at the NDDC under him is in ruins as Buhari looks in forlorn the fate of the man he thought was the right driver of his next level agenda. For now, it is another “one chance” of change.