Until late last year, very little was held about the memory of Warsaw because of its brutish elements. But the Polish city gained prominence in Nigeria’s political lexicon when former Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) with search engines linking Akpabio with entries on Warsaw.
For the purpose of a brief introduction, Warsaw was the most damaged city of World War II. The Nazis killed many more people in Warsaw than even in Hiroshima and Nagasaki which suffered atomic bomb attacks. Warsaw also achieved its prominence as the capital of Poland. The death and destruction in Warsaw resulted from a long history of anti-Polish sentiment in Germany intensified by Hitler’s antipathy towards Poland and the Polish people. Hitler saw the Jews and Slavs as the primary threat to Germany.
Senator Akpabio during the build-up to the political campaigns had threatened that the APC which he had defected to, would take over Akwa Ibom State like German dictator, Adolf Hitler, took over Poland. Speaking about his defection at a funeral ceremony in Enugu State, the Senator said “..it was watched in 59 countries and somebody asked what happened there, and I said just how it happened in Poland. When they did ask Hitler’s minister of information about the war in Poland, and he said Warsaw saw war and war saw Warsaw…I will say that in 2019 Warsaw shall see war and war shall see Warsaw. The return will be a victory. May God grant us all victory”.
Since that infamous outbursts, it was believed that Akpabio had declared war on Akwa Ibom people following his earlier promise to stop the state governor, Udom Emmanuel, from having a second term in office. And in response to that, the people also prepared to match Akpabio albeit through the ballot.
Senator Akpabio has a penchant for unguarded utterances. His Warsaw anecdotes were preceded by a series of superficial boasts which alluded to his supremacy and all-conquering personality. He had told President Buhari, prior to the elections, that he was going to deliver Akwa Ibom State to the APC in an election he said would last not more than three hours. Given such a wide mouth, nobody will doubt that Akpabio had the state in his pockets, and can trade out anyhow he wishes. In another breath, he boasted that Governor Udom Emmanuel can never get a second term because the PDP died the very day he left the party.
These and many other vituperations, to a large extent, were vexatious to the people of the state who believed strongly that Akpabio’s power and influence were bestowed on him by the people, hence he could not have been invincible.
Indeed, his utterances built up a lot of tension while everyone was surprised over the sinister intention of Akpabio to unleash terror on the very people who made him ascend the throne, and on whom he still intends to represent in the National Assembly. The same feeling resonated at the party. The Peoples Democratic Party has been the party of the people and it was the same platform Akpabio rode to power, yet the same party he chose to abandon without any reasonable explanation. This explains why Senator Akpabio could not win a return ticket to the Senate. It was never in any way a result of compromise or manipulation but a perfect resolve of the people to whom power belongs.
To a large extent, the people’s resolve and prayers doused the mounting tensions and storms which gathered during the elections. Truly speaking, the All Progressives Congress bigwigs had orchestrated some dangerous gambits capable of instilling fear and violence in the state. It was strange to find the Army, for instance, launch Operation Show of Force few days to the election, in spite of the widely acknowledged peaceful nature of the state. Prior to the elections too, the commissioner of police had been changed twice. There were viral videos and audios exacerbating drums of war.
Indeed, most of these threats came to be during the election. On the first date where elections were eventually postponed, at least ten vehicles conveying electoral materials and personnel were burnt in Obot Akara in Akpabio’s Ikot Ekpene senatorial district. During the presidential and national assembly elections, Senator Akpabio was said to have allegedly abducted electoral officials in a bid to manipulate election figures. The same incident was also reported against him during the governorship and House of Assembly polls of March 9.
On Wednesday, stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district unveiled the many atrocities the senator and his agents and supporters allegedly committed during the election. At a press conference led by the party leader in the area, Chief Michael Afangideh, the party highlighted how electoral officials were manhandled in PDP strongholds in a bid to falsify election results in favour of APC.
Part of the communique read: “That after INEC had distributed materials to the Voting Units andPoints; Senator Godswill O. Akpabio used Military men in Armoured Vehicles and “Policemen” in 6 Hilux Vehicles to pack Election Materials and Ad-hoc Staff of INEC in some Wards and Units into his Coaster Bus and took them to the compound of Barr. Ibanga Akpabio where APC members thumb-printed the ballot papers in favour of APC. The Wards/Units affected were as follows:- (i) All the Units in Ukana West Ward 2 (ii) All the Units in Ukana West Ward 1 (iii) All the Units in Ukana East Ward1 (iv) All the Units in Ekpenyong Ward 1 (v) All the Units in Odoro Ikot Ward 2. The above malpractice was immediately reported by PDP Agents in the Units, Wards and Local Government to the Electoral Officer, Essien Udim Local Government Area in writing”.
It said, “Senator Godswill O. Akpabio used his brother, SUPOL Idorenyin Akpabio, who is O/C, Anti-Robbery at the Akwa Ibom State Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, in company of other policemen to shoot gun from Unit to Unit in the said Wards of theL.G.A to carry INEC materials and arrest some PDP supporters who were detained on that Election Day at Essien Udim Divisional Police Cell, Nto Nsek. Those detained were only released at the night of the Election Day”.
The stakeholders rejected totally the published Results of the 2 Wards of Adiasim and Ukana East which they said were procured under duress, and urged Senator Godswill O. Akpabio, “our son, to desist from further advertising of his declining and dwindling political status in the Country by false Press interviews that deepen his failing image before reasonable thinking members of the Nigerian society”.
Other instances of Senator Akpabio’s unguarded utterances could be traced to the past. During his reign as governor, the first of such missiles was his attack on his predecessor, Obong Victor Attah, whom he accused of leaving behind an empty treasury. This verbal attack ensured that Akpabio remained on a collision course with the elder statesman all through is eight-year tenure.
Akpabio had also bragged that he alone could determine who becomes what in the state. Thus, other than his official status as governor, he also ordained himself kingmaker of the state. At one occasion, he had intimated how he replaced the winner of an election by the crossing of his name.
His electoral conquests were often characterized by needless battles. This had set off a series of atrocities including kidnapping, assassination, etc, which characterized his eight-year reign of terror. A typical instance was the 2011 elections where so many people were kidnapped or assassinated as well as the theatre of blood which political campaigns eventually became. Thus, it was not to be taken with kid gloves when he proclaimed his Warsaw saw war and war saw Warsaw.
It must be noted that Senator Akpabio’s political life has been mendacious. Even when he preached zoning of political offices in the state, it was nothing more than rhetoric. For instance, everybody knew that Eket senatorial district would produce a governor after him, many including him had thought it would go to Oron extraction. Akpabio had nominated two people from Oron with corresponding empowerment with political appointments only to abandon them thereafter.
When he was about to step down as governor, his senatorial ambition was against the zoning principle in Ikot Ekpene. As at that time, it was the turn of Abak 5, but he overruled it. He got away not only because he was governor, but because he had the love and support of the people.
The lesson here is that his political exploits did not necessarily emanate from his prowess, but flowed from the kind support of the people. It must also be said here that in spite of his reign of terror, he could still sail through because the people were still behind him. His downfall came the very day he left the PDP because he lost the support of the people. Note also that the people here are at home with the PDP. His rejection by the people could be seen from the number of people that followed him to the APC – a paltry two commissioners (one his blood brother) and an initial one House of Assemblymember (from his constituency).
Evidently, his fall is a massive failure. Of course, it came first from his very own constituency. And then all the five former House of Assembly members that were to join him later in the APC, all lost their elections. It is the same story with the former commissioner who contested for Oron federal constituency seat. This is the testimony of a man who has been rejected along with everyone around him.
Senator Akpabio must begin to learn lessons in leadership. First, he must admit that the people made him and not otherwise. That the pride and arrogance to which he was soaked, are as always, the banana peels of leadership.
In this direction, it was unwise for the Senator to deride the outcome of the elections because of his failure. This is perhaps the first time any election conducted in the state has been peaceful, despite his threats of war. It is the first time campaigns went without blood – no kidnapping, no assassination, no gunshots anywhere. Now, peace has come to stay in Akwa Ibom State. Let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end. Akwa Ibom has been liberated from bondage, cultism, and occultic affiliations.
Akpabio only needs to retrace his steps and beg for forgiveness from Akwa Ibom people less he sinks into the abyss. As he rightly noted in his Warsaw chants, the return has brought victory, albeit not for him but for the people and the state.
By Emmanuel Ndon