Akpabio, APC and the absurdity of a canonization (PART 1) By Dan Etokidem
A true leader do not manipulate people, he inspires them. Akpabio should stop playing poker with the destiny of Akwa Ibom.
Our Senator has done it again, but there is a way the immediate past returns to haunt the present, a classic case of political nemesis. Evil surely has its beneficial uses. As Norman Mailer observed, there are some devils working for good. In a sense, Akpabio deserves pity.
Akwa Ibom is in for the final episode of the Akpabio drama: let the playwrights ink their pens, the caricaturists their pencils and the satirists their wit. In the past few weeks, there have been some significant moves on the political chessboard. There is some tectonic rumbling. The geopolitical power plates are violently grating. Nigeria’s power blocs are on the move again.
The whole land is quaking with fright and premonition. One man whose political defection has been greeted by both celebration and outrage, perhaps in equal proportion is Senator Godswill Akpabio. Who says the Nigerian electoral throne is not a graveyard of reputations.
Before now, there have been speculations about his political future in the APC for a long time. His return, sorry, defection from PDP to APC has been as dramatic, eccentric as it is shameful. Akpabio’s final defection and the factors leading to the event has made the APC look like a man who is neither alive nor dead, happy nor sad, partying nor mourning, drunk nor sober.
We may call it a recovering coma. Sadly, the APC in the light of Akpabio’s migration earthquake is tempted to mistake the symptoms for the disease. Psychiatrists define neurosis as a relative mild mental disorder that affects only a part of the personality, whose symptoms include stress, anxiety, and obsessive behaviour. I suggest the ongoing political marriage provides a credible ground for modelling neurosis.
The current and unrelenting embrace of an ethically deficient defection is sickening. So sad that the APC is fast proving to be unable to reinvent itself. The party is proving to be an amalgam of only ambitious and misdirected politicians with short memory. Is this the change the party represents? With Akpabio as the new leader? Political insanity is doing the same thing all over again and expecting a different result. With Akpabio, any promise of change is nothing but a change of costumes and actors. For Christ sake this man was a major path of the decay he now claims he wants to evacuate. He cannot hope to be a central part of its revival. Indeed some people are in urgent need of a pack of the herbal medication ‘Kalms’ that aids sleep at night and keeps one calm all day.
In a swift genetic modification, Akpabio who we all know his DNA is expected to mutate into a rebranded saint, an anti-corruption crusader and an agent of change. They almost fooled us again. It doesn’t get more politically bizarre. As Shakespeare noted, if correction lies in the hand that committed wrong, to whom shall we complain? This is a man who lampooned Buhari, skewered APC, excoriated his opponents, needled his allies and disembowelled his critics. It hardly matters to him that his new criticisms of his dearly begotten son is full of wild contradictions or does it ever bother him when his panaceas are exposed for their puerility. To rewrite the rules of political science is one thing but to stand morality on its head is quite another. With a defection like that of Akpabio, celebrated by neither redeeming vision nor intellectual sagacity and sensitivity to the feelings of Akwa Ibom people, many questions remain unanswered.
August 8, 2018 will forever remain unique and memorable. Call it a case of the beleaguered honouring the undeserving and you will not be wrong. It was a moment hope collided with betrayal, disappointment and sad memories. It was the height of hypocrisy. A dark chapter was once again unfolding in our history at a time many had hoped that the darkest period of the night was about marking the gradual transition to dawn. So was it all a lie?
I know Akpabio himself is not a happy man considering how he was blackmailed to defect. With the EFCC opening his own book of Revelation for him to see how his own political apocalypse will look like if tried, convicted and jailed, he had no option. The documents were damming. It was a record of eight years of a cocktail of moral and ethical irregularities on the throne. It was the misfortune of political fortunes. The executioner was about to be executed. It was a serpentine ambush. Saying no to the defection carrot dangled meant a short walk to disaster. Humbled, hobbled, humiliated.
He was alone, stripped bare and unaided. Caught pants down, he had to supplement a doomed venture as what he feared most was about descending on him with unremitting vengeance. Like a cunning survivalist he is, he anticipated his tragedy. In his sheer confusion and disorientation, his utter hopelessness and loss of bearing, he surely had to break under such turmoil, as the EFCC beat him into whimpering quietude. A prophesy was coming to pass with chilling accuracy as there is a fate worse than death. He was forced to throw away the umbrella and pick up the broom, in humble obedient, he did and did it with the speed of lightening.
The joke did not end there. Akpabio’s triumphant entry into APC, his new Jerusalem, portrays the APC as a party without a sense of history, mission and destiny, synonymous to a burnt-out case of moral leprosy without any possibility of redemption. The feel-good atmosphere at Ikot Ekpene stadium where he defected was as despicable as it was disgusting. Welcome to the new APC, our new moral desert and political jungle. We seem to have arrived at that junction where fanciful reality meshes seamlessly with colourful fiction. Where Akpabio gets the flamboyant impression that he and he alone is the deciding factor come 2019 in Akwa Ibom baffles me. Does taking your cloths to the best dry cleaner enhance your looks if you were not already handsome? This is where nostalgia becomes a form of psychiatric disorder. With Akpabio in APC, there is an approaching hurricane Akwa Ibom people must brace up to vehemently resists.
The canonisation ceremony was so shameful both in conceptualisation and in execution, making nonsense and mockery of the so called fight against corruption. Or what could be more absurd and more jaw-dropping than Akpabio’s meeting with Osinbajo, his proceeding to London to see Pontiff Buhari who like a Catholic priest, heard his confessions, gave him penance and admonished him to go and sin no more, his coming back to Nigeria to meet Tinubu, his resignation as Senate Minority Leader and eventual uncommon defection? It was a precedent for all that is abominable in leadership. Principle matters and consistency with principles is what is meant by integrity.
The poorly written script has made the APC look like its suffering from moral inflation- outwardly big and bloated, internally empty and weak. Our values have been diminished in the eyes of the international community just because of a few elite political delinquents. With Akpabio’s defecting to APC as a purported condition for presidential pardon and clemency under a Buhari government that is supposedly fighting corruption, Nigerians are now unshockable because what would shock other nations is a permanent aberration in our country. Is this how barbarously low we have sunk? Can’t we always separate the man who suffers from the art that creates? This in itself is reprehensible, but that is for a party that has a modicum idea of what is decent and honourable and what is not.
Watching Akpabio dancing and smiling at his former victims on Wednesday as they too smiled along with him was indeed a sight to behold. Just take a look at Akpabio and his former tormented victims, the degeneracy of our politics is so complete and mutually reinforcing that it seems there hardly exist a possibility of redemption. Many stared at the apparition in wonderment and consternation as Nigeria’s most manipulative politician; excellent at feeding at the fears of his audience than appeal to their rationality spoke, labouring in vain to defend the indefensible. What a show, brilliant, radiant, electrifying yet tragic and disgusting. In Akpabio’s mind, he was like telling them: Those I fight I do not hate, those I guard I do not love. His purpose is to save the world; his method is to blow it up.
Quite strangely and very painfully too, this new messiah was the party’s new tormentor –in- chief who carried the game against his friends and allies to a serpentine venom. Akpabio, a man APC in the recent past considered and labelled to be a mortally flawed demagogue with a promise to probe his regime is now the face of the new APC. The feverish excitement of his defection contradicts the moral and ethical issues they have all turned a blind eye to. Expecting Akpabio to be the new APC messiah was like expecting to find a virgin in a maternity ward. Where did the rain start beating us for a man who fought and abandoned his friends for the same reason he is rejoining them: Self interest.
With Akpabio as the new leader of APC in Akwa Ibom, if anyone thinks we are not in even deeper trouble than imagined, then we must all have our heads re-examined. The man who rendered the balloting process a barren exercise in 2015 is a saint and democrat in 2018. What a transformation and transfiguration! These are indeed emotional times for Akwa Ibom. Chambers of reason are frying thin from the embers of rationality. One is now slowly coming to the conclusion that things will never get better in Akwa Ibom in one’s lifetime because of some people even as honour has been redefined in our culture.
Change with Akpabio, never came more cynically packaged. A mystery remains unresolved as I refuse to see what is not there or to sprinkle glitter on a toad and then pretend to be beauty incarnate. Akpabio’s reason for defecting, to bring change to Akwa Ibom is laughable. His message is as flawed as the messenger as he is not the shield he claims to be but a sword.
Are we a psychologically intimidated, morally depraved and politically naive people so indolent about our destiny, so unmindful of our dignity and so forgetful of our recent past? Are we so reprobate that we become so daft, so oblivious of the recent past? Those old enough to remember or curious enough to search would know that just not long ago, he was the architect and the creator of what he today despises without any justification. As far as am concerned, Governor Udom Emmanuel has not done to Senator Akpabio one tenth of what Akpabio did to his predecessor, former Governor Obong Victor Attah. History must always be our guide as we move into the future lest we perish as a people.
Despite Akpabio’s political grandstanding, Akwa Ibom people must not be too idealistic to ignore the doom and gloomy reality that comes with his new and never changing antics. The social consequences are too grave to be ignored. Rationale people at a time like this must always adopt what they consider the most effective means towards the end they seek and work towards achieving it. We must reject a way of life where some oddities are fast becoming our routine and culture. A corruption-compliant politician cannot bring change and what he seems to forget is that a revolt is not a revolution. Both are not the same.
Akpabio even with his sanctification by APC, purification by EFCC and canonisation by Buhari remains a snake with a slashed tail- vicious in its scorched –earth tactic. How on earth do you expect Akwa Ibom people to forget the horrors of 2007-2015? This is callousness and cruelty at its most dastardly and despicable, all in the name of politics? How on earth can APC hope to summon a new Akwa Ibom into existence with Akpabio as the new architect, town planner and contractor? No matter what happens, a mouse will never become a monkey and a catfish will not mutate into a crocodile. What an interesting way to fighting corruption in Nigeria. Now nothing is what it seems. Everything is what it is not. Illusion is reality and reality is illusion. What a shame.
Akpabio, as mysterious as a midnight ghost and in his characteristically crafty manner says he is defecting from PDP to APC in the interest of the nation, much to the surprise of only those who don’t know or have chosen to so soon forget the man’s antecedent. You can be sure that the manipulation of human emotions has reached its zenith. In lying, he told memorable lies; and in self praise he was more grandiloquent. His reason for defecting has been a wonderful lie. It was a moment of mass deception. Against this backdrop, he made this statement demonstrating that he remains a conflicted man lacking a unified theme.
What can shock Akwa Ibom people? Is there a more shocking absurdity? What could be more ridiculous? Such claims are largely bogus and have fragile connection to reality. The wise use the truth as a light. The hypocrite uses it as a dagger because while beauty may lodge in the eye of the beholder, truth does not necessarily reside in popularly held opinion. If Akpabio seeks greatness, he must stop using Akwa Ibom and her people as a whipping post and bargaining chip. This does not speak of greatness. It speaks of opportunism joined by an ample sprinkling of political cowardice, coming from a man who will do anything no matter how demeaning to accomplish his goals and protect his interest.
Akwa Ibom people are determined not to be deceived twice. Akpabio thinks Akwa Ibom, this oil-rich state, is merely a toy for his eternal amusement. But as this royal python rumble in acute irritation, this architect of the very woes the APC was bemoaning is not coming to remake Akwa Ibom in APC. His goal is to cripple her. Reducing the state to the status of a crippled empire undermines her ability for progress and liberation. This breaks to his advantage and plan to keep us in perpetual enslavement. He reminds us of our mistake as a people, a mistake we must not repeat. Repeating such nightmare can only be counterproductive.
The consequences of some of his past actions have forced the state to function at a level far below her economic possibilities. Now he is at it again, accompanied by some willing tools who defected with him (I respect their right to freedom of association for convenience though) and have always been a willing tool in the hands of their manipulative master. But you see, come 2019, Akpabio must become a product of a determined historical process which must eventually unravel before his very eyes because the fate of a state is far more important than the fate of an individual however important or self important he claims to be. We are our memories. Once we forget, we are lost.
The truth is with Akpabio’s migration, hope may not be scattered to the four winds but it has been exited from its dwelling place. We must remain awake and keep vigil till the danger is over. With Akpabio as the new leader of APC in the state, the artificial peace and unity that prevailed in the party will soon evaporate. The state has now moved from the possible dawn of a new day into the darkness of nights already long passed. Who are we fooling? Or do some politicians think we are all zombies? Akwa Ibom people must brace up for the worst from Akpabio or be prepared valiantly to reclaim our state or what is left of it from him.
These points are raised not to embarrass or exalt anyone but so that we may better understand the political dynamics unfolding and be better prepared for what is to happen next, be it to avail ourselves to the approach of good tidings or brace ourselves for a coming storm.
Once again, Akwa Ibom is the target of a hostile takeover bid, the paradox is baffling and it speaks to the core contradiction of a man out to bitterly polarize the state for his personal gains. But we must take due historical cognisance of the grave import and the collective danger of letting Akpabio having his way this time represents for the future of this state. Akpabio must be told loud and clear that we respect him for whom he is but that forcefully tampering with the destiny of a people have a way of returning the compliments in an even more devastating manner. His overall approach to politics is fast becoming absurd, offensive and provocative with the possibility of him suffering a political misadventure that may force him to seek asylum if he is not careful.
A true leader do not manipulate people, he inspires them. Akpabio should stop playing poker with the destiny of Akwa Ibom. The social fabric that binds us together is about to collapse, leaving in its wake, a state of hair-raising anomie. We must not allow it to happen as there are times when sharpening contradictions suddenly mature, forcing a people into a fundamental rethink about its future.
The priest of war has resurfaced at the altar, preparing to sacrifice truth so that the clouds of war might once more gather over us. Akwa Ibom people, peace is in jeopardy. Pray that it endures. Cherish it while it last. The present is compromised and the future imperilled if we allow Akpabio again. Let’s prove to Akpabio come 2019 that Akwa Ibom people are not adult in diapers.