My take on Senator Akpabio’s loss
By Iniobong Leroi Umoh
Before the 23th February Senatorial election, all projections pointed to a landslide victory for the Senator Godswill Akpabio but in the result released today by Inec, the reverse is the case.
Showmanship, oratory, humour, flamboyancy etc are aspects of Godswill Akpabio’s character that he, combined with access to billions of petrodollars, deployed to build a legacy for himself; A legacy of foremost infrastructural projects as governor of oil-rich Akwa Ibom, a legacy of philanthropy – turning paupers into instant millionaires and billionaires in the long term, a legacy of rebirth of the Akwa Ibom consciousnesss, a legacy of goodwill and acceptability by his people.
Control of enormous financial resources comes with a yearning for great political power and dominance, so Akpabio sought out to build a political dynasty for himself, starting from the grassroots and all the way to the top with him as the leader. This political movement brooded no opposition, any opposition was ruthlessly silenced in a gestapo manner. Loyalty was secured by extraordinary means.
‘God’s will must be done again and again’ was the motto and the underlying philosophy of ‘what money cannot do more money can do’ steered the political ship along the course.
Akpabio wielded so much influence in his state, he was treated as a demigod by his followers and admirers. In 2015, he installed his successor and his boys in all elective offices and then flew to Abuja to resume as Senator representing his Senatorial district. In the Senate he got himself the plum position of the minority leader of the senate as a first timer.
Akpabio would later decamp from Pdp to the Apc, he would later lose his minority leader position, he would later campaign for his re-election and the re-election of President Buhari, the man he had scorned in 2015, he would later boast of securing all votes in 3 hours, he would later lose his election to an unpopular candidate.
His loss was orchestrated by his boys of yesteryears on the other side of the divide: The people he had taught many things as the “great teacher”.
The reality today is that Akpabio has been beaten at his game, fair and square. The template and strategy he used for winning elections was upgraded and used effectively against him.
Buoyed on by his assumed invincibility, Akpabio failed to realize that there was a growing anti-Akpabio sentiment that has been building up since 2015, that anti-godfatherism grumblings and mumblings had risen to a crescendo even in his native Annang land. Akpabio underestimated the anti-Apc sentiment among the people of his senatorial district and state at large. He failed to realize that his people did not buy into his reason for defecting from Pdp to a party that he had once mocked as ‘a party of houseboys and slaves’.
Going forward, Akpabio might have lost the election but he has not left power. With Buhari likely coasting home to victory in the presidential election, and having secured the needed 25% of votes cast in Akwa Ibom, the outgoing Senator would likely be rewarded with an appointment that would put him in the national consciousness that he craves for. Also if Nsima Ekere the Apc governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom wins the election on 9th March, he will also take part in sharing of the spoils of victory.
The lessons we can learn from this remarkable loss is that of humility, avoiding being overconfident and accepting that the voice of the people is the voice of God.
Senator Akpabio has do away with the sycophants around him. He has to genuinely mend fences with and reconcile with the people that he has hurt in Ibibio land and shortchanged in Oro land and Annang land. Only then can he truly emerge as the final Obong Owo.