Akpabio Resigns As Senate Minority Leader

Godswill Akpabio
Godswill Akpabio

Senator Godswill Akpabio has tendered his resignation as Minority Leader of the Nigerian Senate, Straightnews has gathered.

The resignation letter, dated 4th August, 2018 however did not state any reason for the resignation.

Senate caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has begun moves to replace the Minority Leader of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom North West and regretted not getting rid of him earlier.

A source said the PDP has already commenced plans to replace the Minority Leader once he steps out to his new party.

According to the senators, fear of overheating the polity and causing crisis in the PDP made them not to remove him as minority leader when they discovered that his commitment started waning.

The senators said they would get over the disappointment and appoint a very vibrant replacement who would lead the business of the party in the Senate successfully.

Meanwhile, a senator from Akpabio’s State said that he was still a member of the PDP, noting he would not leave the party.

The senator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Some months ago, it came to the knowledge of the Senate PDP caucus that the Minority Leader was having some challenges with leading the members.

”A number of our colleagues noticed it and called for leadership change, but the former governor went round, begging for cooperation. With emerging developments, those who moved for his replacement are now vindicated.”

Another senator said, “We got to know late that he was no longer one of us. We had thought of removing him as Minority Leader since last year and ostracise him from serious plans but two senators prevailed on us and pleaded that he would change.

”All along, we suspected that he was having contacts with the ruling party. Twice, it was reported that he visited the Presidential Villa and he never denied it. A number of our members were worried, what would a Minority Leader be doing in the Villa without the Senate President or other principal officers.

“For instance, apart from keeping away from all the campaigns on the governorship of our candidate in Ekiti State, he was actually linked with working closely with the ruling APC on the matter of that election.

“Even as tight as we thought we had kept our plans on the defection of14 APC senators on July 24, the ruling party and the Presidency were briefed on every step and our members were worried.

“We realised late that he was double-dealing with the Modu Sheriff faction during our struggle to reclaim our party from the hawks,” he said.

Another senator, however, lamented, saying ” he (Akpabio) was more interested in calling caucus meetings of the party in Senate than attend plenary because strategies of the party are always discussed at the caucus meetings.

”In that case, a few minutes after conclusion of such meetings, we would be empty as our resolutions would be flying all over.”

Another ranking senator said the lawmakers were aware of the “juicy promises” being dangled at Akpabio, adding that moves had been made to reach some of them.

He said: “Shortly after a recent meeting in the Villa, there were attempts to entice some of us. Some of us were told that the results of the next general elections would not matter and that plans have been concluded to ensure favourable results for the ruling party.

“We are just concerned that President Buhari had said in August last year in reaction to our caucus resolution days before that his unwavering stance is that whosoever is charged with corruption should face the law, irrespective of whether they are members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, or any other political party and that as far as the President is concerned, corruption has no political party, religion or ethnic group.

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“We are concerned that if the above still holds, we expect government to go ahead and conclude investigations and put on trial anyone that stole government’s money rather than provide a nest to harvest possible felons.”

Meanwhile, uncertainties on the political direction of Akwa Ibom State, arising from the planned defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC of the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio, continued Monday with political actors in the state strengthening their hands.

Akpabio’s move to defect from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP on whose platform he served two terms as governor of the state and handed over to his hand-chosen successor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, however, appeared to lose traction after all members of the state House of Assembly pledged loyalty to the governor.

Expectations of a possible reconciliation between Akpabio and Mr. Emmanuel were dashed Monday as the former governor continued with moves towards the planned defection. A meeting scheduled to hold between both men brokered by a mutual associate of the two men fell through following Akpabio’s dash at the weekend to London where he met with the vacationing President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Senate Minority Leader on returning to Nigeria Monday met with the APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the latter’s Asokoro, Abuja residence.

Vanguard gathered Monday that Tinubu played a key role in bringing Akpabio over to the APC.

At the meeting between both men, Akpabio was quoted as saying “this was where it all started and I have now come for final consultation ahead of defection,” a source privy to the discussion said.

Meanwhile, mixed reactions continued to greet the planned move by Akpabio with APC chieftains expressing readiness to welcome the former governor of the state.

Many PDP associates of the former governor were, however, unconvinced as at yesterday. Among those to have formally renounced Akpabio’s move was the speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Oniofok Luke who in a terse statement yesterday said he is a principled person who likes to remain consistent.

Debunking insinuations of his resignation from office in sympathy with Akpabio yesterday, the deputy governor in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ekikere Umoh, said there was no modicum of truth in the reports.

The statement said: ‘’The attention of the Office of the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State has been drawn to certain rumours and misrepresentations in a section of the media to the effect that the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Moses F. Ekpo, MFR, has resigned from office.

‘’The reports, particularly from the online community, further make allusions to the effect that the Deputy Governor has also defected from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.’’

He described the purported report as ‘’nothing but a poorly concocted piece of a malicious hatchet job and a pack of lies, and should be appropriately ignored.’’

‘’It is instructive to note that currently, His Excellency, the Deputy Governor is representing the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel as Special Guest of Honour at the 2018 International Convention of Ati Annang holding in New York, United States of America, and is yet to return to the state’’, the statement said.

It added: ‘’In his reaction to the rumour from New York on the phone today, the Deputy Governor said “I have not resigned. I have no reason whatsoever to resign or jump ship from a government that is both responsive and performing optimally while giving practical meaning to democratic dividends for the people of Akwa Ibom. I cannot, and will not jump ship.”

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‘’To that extent, he has called on Akwa Ibom people, both at home and in the Diaspora, as well as the PDP family in the state to remain resolute and committed to supporting the Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, to take Akwa Ibom to the next level.’’

Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Luke vowing not to follow Akpabio in a statement yesterday said:

‘’I am a full-blooded member of the PDP. I am a principled person, and I like being known for consistency’’, the Speaker said tersely while dismissing speculation in some quarters that he would soon defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Speaker noted that he started his political career in PDP and that he would remain in the party to prosecute his political ambition.

The speaker’s assertion came before a meeting between Governor Emmanuel and all members of the state House of Assembly where the members pledged their loyalty to the governor and his second term aspiration.

Meanwhile, former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh yesterday urged PDP members to refrain from harshly criticising Akapbio as he called on members to pray for him.

In a statement posted on his Facebook wall, Metuh said:

“If this rumour is true, I cannot guess his reasons. Many have claimed it has to do with threats of ….

“Yes, it is a lonely road when you are visited with state-sponsored media trial, your family name and reputation tarnished with falsehood. It is a lonely road when some of those you hoped will defend, console and support you are frightened even to assist in any manner whatsoever.

“Indeed it is a difficult path to tread when you envisage that they might even deny you access to prescribed medical treatments. But then, you are Godswill Akpabio, the uncommon governor. If lesser mortals have survived, how much more the ‘lion of the south.’ I still do not believe….

“If Akpabio leaves, I do not think he can criticize our party, he will find it difficult and will need more than a lifetime to explain and/or justify such a decision.

“In the meantime, Please do join me to pray for my friend and brother, Senator Godswill Akpabio to make the right decision in this circumstance.”

However, caucus leader of the APC in Akwa Ibom, Chief Don Etiebet yesterday said the defection of Akpabio is still a rumour until he personally confirms he has truly decamped.

He said, “I have been out of the country, and I have read all the rumours and statements from the third parties about Senator Godswill Akpabio decamping to the APC, and I even saw pictures of him visiting President Buhari in London. But I have not heard from Godswill himself yet that he has decamped. I am waiting to hear that from him before I express my excitement”.