By Bassey Etuk
The former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Godswill Akpabio managed the government of one of the richest states in Nigeria. He came into power when the state started to enjoy 13% oil derivation fund, which was accumulated as his predecessor, Obong Victor Attah was in battle with the federal government over resource control. The battle resulted in the federal government taking the state to court and won the case, but it was later settled politically, and the state started benefiting from the money and this put it ahead of other states in terms of allocation.
Although the former governor used a fraction of the money to build fewer roads and a stadium of international standard, his critics believe he looted more than half of the money that came to the state. They cited the position of the former finance minister, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who said that what the government of Akpabio did in the state was not up to 10% of the money collected from the federation account. But the supporters of the governor were of the opinion that he was the best governor in the country when compared to what he did in the state. They failed to mention that he collected the largest amount of money from the federal treasury. And as the old saying has it, “To whom much is given, much is expected,” but only for the state government to declare a debt of over N67b. While Akpabio was collecting awards all around the world, his critics believed he used the state money to buy those awards, and he never merited them.
Information has it that there are over one thousand corrupt petitions against the former governor with the EFCC. It is believed that with the current chairman of the anti-graft body, Ibrahim Lamorde, Akpabio would have no cause to worry as he had been paying billions of naira to have him to protect him and throw all petitions about him under the carpet.
As they said, “Every good turn deserves another,” it is the turn of Akpabio to rise up in defense of the EFCC chairman who is accused of diverting over a trillion of naira he recovered from corrupt officials. Puch Newspaper reports that Senator Akpabio leads a team of PDP senators to kick against the invitation of the EFCC chairman to appear before the Senate Committee on Ethics.
“The EFCC boss, according to a petition before the Senate, has been accused of diverting N1tn said to have been recovered from a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha; and a former Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun.
The petitioner, Dr. George Uboh, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Panic Alert Security Systems, had petitioned the Senate through the senator representing his Delta North constituency, Peter Nwaoboshi, alleging that Lamorde, in connivance with other EFCC officials, short-changed the Federal Government in the remittance of funds and properties recovered from Alamieyeseigha and Balogun.
The probe of the EFCC boss by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions has been scheduled to begin on Wednesday (tomorrow).
After an earlier arguments over the propriety of the investigation by the Senate, the PDP senators later in a statement signed by the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio; his deputy, Emmanuel Bwacha; Minority Whip, Philip Aduda; and his deputy, Biodun Olujimi, rejected the planned probe.
The PDP senators’ statement, issued late on Monday, partly read, “It has come to the notice of the PDP leadership in the Senate that the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions would begin a public hearing on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 and the committee has invited the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to appear before it.”
Senator Akpabio is believed to be the richest politician in Nigeria after he had converted a large portion of the state’s money to his pocket. It was speculated that he paid each of the PDP senators the sum of N20m each to support his emergence as the minority leader. Akpabio is a first term senator and it is the tradition of the senate not to give such position to a new comer where there are senior senators in the house. He was earlier quoted to have boasted that he will use his money to sponsor an impeachment against president Buhari if he continues in his effort to probe corrupt officials, which he cannot escape any search light of corruption turns on his direction. He has sworn to block and fight against any effort of President Buhari on corruption. It is generally believed that the sole reason Akpabio imposed the current governor of the state, Udom Emmanuel on the people was to shield him from being exposed.