Prince Ukpong Akpabio: Fleeing the Curse of betrayal
By Osondu Ahirika
On Tuesday, November 6, at the Unity Hall in Essien Udim Local Government Area, something earthshaking and significant happened.
The Honourable Commissioner for Investment, Commerce and Industry, for Akwa Ibom State, Prince Ukpong Akpabio led his people and thousands of defectors from the All Progressives Congress, APC, to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to declare support for His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel’s reelection come 2019.
On the surface, this looks unimportant, given that, defections have become a hobby in our clime and no longer amuses us. Just that, in this case, our curiosity was stirred by his rousing speech to his people, surmised in all clarity Prince Akpabio said, “it was former Governor Godswill Akpabio that brought Udom Emmanuel and told us to support his aspiration for 8years, so the people of Essien Udim will always stand with Udom till 2023”
A little background to explain what inspired this resolution is pertinent. Until his shock defection from PDP to APC on August 8, 2018 and subsequent resignation as Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio was the ‘Poster Boy’ of the PDP and gave his all to ensure, Governor Emmanuel, who was, by a landslide, the best of the pack that aspired, emerged his successor in 2015, as Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
In pushing this forward, Akpabio pronounced as cursed, any member of his team who will betray the Udom Emmanuel for Governor project.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, for the construction the PDP Secretariat in the State on Thursday July 17, 2014, then Governor Akpabio rained curses on aspirants who he did not endorse for the 2015 governorship contest in the state, referring to them as enemies who betrayed him.
Pronouncing death on all the perceived opponents of his succession plan, within his cabinet and camp, Akpabio likened them to biblical profanities, such as Lucifer, Absalom and Judas Ischariot.
Without mentioning names, the crowd at the event who chanted loud shouts of Amen, could fathom, the angry Akpabio had his aides and political associates who fell out with him for supporting Udom Emmanuel, including, his Finance Commissioner Obong Bassey Albert, his in-law Mike sebastine , his erstwhile deputy Nsima Ekere, Senator Alloysious Etuk ,Chief Don Etiebet, his Secretary to State Government Umana Okon Umana, his Local Government and chieftaincy Affairs Commissioner Barrister Effiong Abia and Ambassador Assam Assam among many others in view.
Akpabio prayed, “Those who want to take power through the backdoor will die. They will die! And the PDP will continue. In Akwa Ibom State, those who want to betray, who were supposed to be our political children, of course, they will end like Absalom. But if they change their minds, then they will obtain favour from the sight of God.
“Almighty God recognized that even the people he worked with, and called them angels, that one of them was going to betray him, and that was Lucifer. What did God do? He threw him out of heaven. Has he entered Heaven till today? You empower your children so that they will be a pride to you. You don’t empower them so that they come and betray you. That is the lot of the World.”
Waxing more spiritual, he added, “I go back into the Bible, I saw the story of Absalom. And I said may God take away the spirit of Absalom from our midst.
“Who was Absalom? The son of David, the father trained him and empowered him as the would-be King of Israel. Because of impatience, Absalom wanted to take over before the age of 30. He wanted to kill King David. And the King said, leave him to his fate.
“Did it end well with Absalom? (Crowd response: Nooooo!) As a young man, he died, while his father continued.”
Akpabio’s livid rage and evocation of fear did not spare his cabinet. Before eventually sacking some of them in the build up to the 2015 Governorship polls, Akpabio had placed a curse on any member of his cabinet who didn’t support his agenda and charged them to resign.
Prince Ukpong Akpabio must have had all these in mind, to restate his fidelity with the avowal to stick with the candidacy of Governor Emmanuel, which Senator Akpabio extracted from and committed them to. That is honour.
Beyond this, there is a larger moral burden and the disturbing spite of history that ridicules and villifies , the otherwise great fame of the Akpabio dynasty of Ukana Ikot Ntuen.
Let me apprise us, in strict abbreviation, of that sordid past.
Late Obong ibanga Udo Akpabio, is fingered as the instigator who incumbated the Ibibio/Annang dichotomy of mutual suspicion.
Among the five Merchants of Light trained abroad by the Ibibio Union, he was appointed the first Principal of the Ibibio State College sited in his village and collaboratively built as the first Community School in West Africa, and was emblematic of the unity of the people.
By 1952, a Panel presided over by Late Justice Udoma Udo Udoma, indicted his administration for purported embezzlement of funds meant for developing the school. Ibanga Udo Akpabio in daring refute established another School a few metres away from the College.
Instructively, the School was christened, INDEPENDENT HIGH SCHOOL.
That was the beginning of segregation of the Ibibio stock along sub tribal fault lines. The feud lingers till date.
Again in 1953, Obong Ibanga Udo Akpabio was said to have betrayed his people who staged an agreed walk-out on Parliament, by staying back, and aligning with Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe to become Deputy Premier of the Eastern region. The betrayal of the Eastern minorities of the CORE State movement, to advance personal political goals were never forgiven.
Late Justice Senator Nsima Ukpong Akpabio (the father of Prince Akpabio) arrived the Senate in 1983, but had little time to make an impression as a General Muhammadu Buhari led military pustch, outsted them barely three months into the tenure.
Before the emergence of Godswill Akpabio, it was believed that, the immediate past Itai Afe Annang, Okuku Augustus Asiak, who was a first batch student of the Ibibio State College, in retrospective reflection, was reported to be opposed to an Akpabio emerging governor, when former Governor Victor Attah and the Ibibio Think Tank decided to shift power to the Annang nation. The late monarch expressed fear that, history will repeat itself and return to haunt the fractured memory of the defunct Ibibio Union should an Akpabio earn the slot.
Alas! Those who were privy to the private fears of the late Itai now rue how vindicated his projections have turned, given a holistic appraisal of the Godswill Akpabio Era, as Governor of Akwa Ibom State, and his current activities as Senator representing Akwa Ibom Northwest(Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District.
There is no doubt, Akpabio’s brand of politics, is the very co-effcient, of the vice he vaunted to detest most, in his hey days, which he spurned as, POLITICS OF THE TORTOISE.
Senator Akpabio has a baggage of betrayals of so many in his political adventure, locally ,and nationally. I won’t rub it down by churning out a list. Suffice it to say that, the nation now fears Senator Akpabio for his chameleonic political manneuvres. From his political camp at the home front, to the Nigeria Governor’s Forum, the PDP Governor’s Forum which he led as Pioneer Chairman, the PDP National caucus, to the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio has left a sour taste of brokenhearts and vows. His new partymen in APC and former foes will surely scrutinize his every utterance and action, being wary of the wiles he is capable of.
The moral burden is more weighty as he currently turned around to antagonize his preferred successor, for reasons still unclear to the discerning and just mind.
According to his Annang kinsmen, agwo ise inoho ukod ifen skip ibo nne tie(it is an abomination to give your in-law a spiked oilpalm fruit to sit on).
Udom Emmanuel is a son in-law of the Annang Nation and if Senator Goodwill Akpabio does not ingrain that sacred tie into his consciousness, his kinsmen do, and it transcends politics and political interest.
Prince Ukpong Akpabio, by daring to be different is walking the right path of fame. Head or tail, history will be kind to him. A time there was, post Nigeria civil war, when some members of the Akpabio family dropped the surname and adopted, ‘Umontuen’, we are told, because they were targeted for reprisals by so many. That scenario should not arise again. Being an Akpabio methink, must remain a noble heritage.
Such stigma must not arise a second time. Prince Ukpong Akpabio’s principled stand to keep honour and faith with the right will redeem the clan from infamy. He is becoming an unlikely hero and new face of the Akpabio clan.