The maiden visit of Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s president to Akwa Ibom State on Friday, December 28, 2018 for the flag-off ceremony of the All Progressives Congress, APC, South South campaign rally did not come without inconceivable hurdles, Straightnews has exclusively learnt.
As critics and cynics were still in shock how a high profile visitor and President’s wife- Her Excellency, Aisha Buhari- was brought to the state for Senator Godswill Akpabio’s empowerment programme, the news of Buhari’s visit dropped like a thunderbolt in the ears of many.
“No sooner had the news seeped out than some paid agents, blackmailers and backstabbers went to work to sabotage the planned visit.
“While few politicians embarked on surreptious moves to truncate the visit, other political bigwigs in the state and in the country developed goose pimples erroneously believing that Senator Akpabio might have plotted the ‘coup’ to hijack the soul of the party from those they called ‘ APC’s aborigenes and the early joiners,” one source told Straightnews.
According to the source, “The mischief makers thinking Akpabio wanted to use the rally to launch himself the more into national limelight and warm himself heavily into the heart of President Buhari and APC powerhouse went to work to disparage his image and to give insecurity colouration to the proposed visit.
“They secretly sponsored iniquitous writings and opinions in some newspapers while some sponsored some persons to denigrate the image of the Senator in the social media especially Facebook.”
The source further said “Others worked from the angle of the state APC and made sure some Akpabio’s faithful were tactically excluded from some key planning committees or where they made the list, the plotters shrewdly sidelined them in the fund disbursement to pay for the ‘sins’ of their master.
“The rest worked from the state government angle using some security operatives in the state to send a damning security report to the National Security Adviser and Office of the President to give impression that militants would make the much-trumpeted peaceful state unsafe for the president.
“Some security operatives bandied threats as insecurity report that some militants in the South South region would strike if the Buhari visits, a report that seemed to have purportedly discouraged the President to have considered cancellation of the visit.”
“A week to the visit (Sunday), the Protocol unit of the Presidency rolled out a programme of activities covering Monday to Saturday for the President but the visit to Akwa Ibom for APC rally was conspicuously missing.
“Seeing that the programme from the Presidency had excluded the visit to Uyo, the mischief makers went to town partying that their plot and subterfuge to truncate the visit of the President had yielded result.
“Aisha was rumoured to have stepped into the ring a wife by convincing the President to have a change of heart by attending the rally that the insecurity painted by some people was mere distraction,” another source confided in Straightnews.
The same source recapped “Few months before this time, some groups had petitioned EFCC even the President to probe and prosecute Senator Akpabio for looting the state without doing anything with allocations accrued to the state and that the socalled projects executed during his regime were unduly hyped.
“Again, a ‘privileged citizen’ in the state joined to malign the reputation to silence the Senator politically. The man went to Aso Rock with a 65-page petition bordering on allegations that the Senator then as Akwa Ibom governor might have tampered with the treasury and purportedly handed over the petition to President Buhari to order for his arrest and prosecution.
“Buhari stared at him for sometime and asked: Who is Akpabio to you? He answered. He asked him again ‘Do you remember a day Akpabio brought and introduced you to me, telling me that you should work with me?
“The ‘Akwa Ibom son’ bowed his head in shame and Buhari stood up and walked away from him seeing him as the worst betrayer and backstabber in the history of mankind.
“The President walked away from him and apologised to some eminent Nigerians who waited to see him for delay in seeing them and painted the picture of the ‘man’ to the visitors. From that day till now, Buhari sees the ‘man’ as a person who should never be trusted.”
Straightnews gathered that a night prior to the Uyo rally, Adams Oshiohmole, the APC National Chairman had to call Akpabio by telephone and poured encomiums on him for making him proud, breaking the news that the President has given a nod to attend the rally in the state.
“Outside the state, a serving minister from one of the South South states had mounted a stiff opposition to bar President from visiting Akwa Ibom State for the rally, reasoning that the rally should have been held in his state.
“At home, the Central Planning Committee was alleged to have schemed out the Senator as the state party leader but included him as one of the guests without giving him any role to perform during the rally, the insider narrated.
According to him, “When President Buhari arrived at Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo, he exchanged pleasantries with the dignitaries including Governor Udom Emmanuel. By this time, Senator Akpabio was arranging with the Presidency Protocol Unit for the President to go with Nsima Ekere, the APC governoship candidate in the same car.
“Contrary to Senator Akpabio’s expectation, Buhari beckoned on him to join him in the same car to Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo.
“At the stadium, some of persons used Abike Dabiri who was the Master nof Ceremonies (MC) to stop Akpabio from featuring even when Oshiomhole had passed a note to her to allow Akpabio speak but the paper was intercepted by one of the prominent sons of Akwa Ibom.
“Upon Buhari’s insistence that Akpabio be allowed to speak at the rally otherwise he would not address the mammoth crowd, the MC invited the Senator to the surprise of the state Central Planning Committee members.
“As the President was heading back to the airport, he asked Akpabio to join him again for a ride in his official car.”
This was how President Buhari turned Senator Godswill Akpabio, the immediate Senate Minority Leader and APC national bigwig to a poster boy- a man of unassailable qualities and tenacious capacity, who contributed to the recent hosting of the rally in Uyo, Akwa Ibom capital.