By Sonala Olumhense_
Following his swearing-in, Akpabio was singing like a very happy bird atop a tall tree.
The 10th Senate, he declared, will “work to renew the hope of Nigerians via people-oriented legislation.”
He declared that the 10th Senate would hit the ground running and make sure that our constituents are proud of us,” and that “ the dreams, aspirations and well-being of Nigerians would be at the heart of legislative activities.”
But who are Nigerians, from experience, to trust the Senator or his record?
lt is his work or his words?
“Months after he left office as governor in 2015 but as a member of the PDP, Akpabio began a regime of hide-and-seek with the EFCC, the commission arresting him over allegations of stealing N108.1billion in Akwa Ibom funds.
THOSE ALLEGATIONS HAVE NOT BEEN DISCHARGED UNTIL THIS DAY, …but things began to change in January 2018 when Adams Oshiomhole, the new APC chairman, made the APC philosophy clear to all PDP stalwarts:
“Once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven,” he declared.
Akpabio accepted that invitation, and for a while, his pains eased: Buhari put him in charge of the Ministry of Delta Affairs and its honeypot, the Niger Delta Development Commission.
In July 2020 in this column, I reflected on Akpabio’s activities at the NDDC.
Remember that also in 2020, the EFCC announced that it had begun an investigation into an N86 billion scam involving Akpabio and the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei.
Also that year, the National Assembly waded into allegations of a N40 billion fraud against the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC that Akpabio headed, appointing an ad hoc committee to investigate.
“The following year, Akpabio was detained by the EFCC following allegations of trying to bribe the agency’s chairman with $350,000.
Even as he takes the gavel of the 10th Senate, Akpabio continues to flee from justice.
As the EFCC tried to arrest him three months ago, he was deploying layers of lawyers, pleading that he was sick and obtaining treatment abroad.
But all of this is current history. Perhaps his most infamous exploits occurred when, as he left office as state governor, he authored one of the most shameless pension schemes for a state governor.
I reflected on that law in an article which carried his name: “As Greedy as Governor Akpabio,” a scheme by which he continued to double-dip even when he became a Senator the first time, and then a minister.
So tell me: that is the man who will lead Nigeria’s legislative branch for the next four years, collecting its infamous salaries and allowances alongside the vast “pension” he collects from Akwa Ibom?
AKPABIO IS THE MAN, WHO — APPARENTLY NO LONGER SUFFERING FROM PNEUMONIA AND CARDIAC ARRHYTHMIA AND SEEKING TREATMENT IN FOREIGN HOSPITALS– — will ensure “that the dreams, aspirations and well-being of Nigerians are at the heart of legislative activities?”???
“Akpabio, who has admitted to no offence of any kind in any capacity, or to compromising the hopes and dreams of millions of Akwa Ibom families so he and his family can live in luxury 100 times over, is the man who will renew the hope of Nigerians and empower them?
I am not saying that this is impossible. The Senator may have recently received divine inspiration, for which I would congratulate him.
In that case, however, he is starting the race by breasting the tape first, and that has always been where power — and particularly powerful Nigerians — get it wrong.
PENANCE FOR A PUBLIC WRONG CANNOT BE DEPLOYED WITH THE BENEFICIARY ASSERTING POWER AND ENJOYING THE PRIVILEGE DERIVED FROM THAT WRONG.
Akpabio ought therefore first to apologise to the people of his state for plundering their resources, and to Nigerians, and turn himself in to law enforcement agencies he knows he has been evading.
The subtle message is this: if you can grab political power, it is yours and it matters not how you do it or how you get there.
The subliminal message to our children is that if you can steal it, you can keep it.
And of course, if you can steal one, that the next steal is not only easier, but it would be even less questionable.
This must be why APC, the party which speaks of hope, installs as Senate President a man who, for eight years, has either been on trial for corruption or on the run.
No, it is no coincidence that first, the executive branch and now the legislative, are now headed by men with similar stories of plundering of our resources.
OF GREATER IMPORTANCE, ONE BEGINS TO WONDER IF THE APC HAS SETTLED ON A PLAYBOOK, ONE IN WHICH TOP OFFICE HOLDERS MUST FIRST POSSESS AN UNSAVORY CURRICULUM VITAE FULL OF STEALING OF PUBLIC FUNDS.
“Because anyone can pretend to be a patriot once armed with power, but public policy does not implement itself, and it is in implementation, over time, that officials are tested, and fail.”
WHAT DO WE NOW TELL THE CHILDREN? THAT CHARACTER, HONESTY AND INTEGRITY ARE NOW MYTHS?
Olumhense Sonala …a columnist.