By Joe Iniodu

The stepping down of Senator Godswill Akpabio from the APC presidential primary for Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu has generated misinformed comments as well as few salutary remarks. Those who have decided to excoriate him for that decision do so largely because of preconceived prejudice. They have failed to recognize that you can win a war without winning the peace. And that he who fights and runs away leaves to fight another. So to more liberal and far-sighted people, Akpabio is a hero, a strategic thinker, an iconic leader and a politician who understands the nuances of the game and when to pull the brakes in the interest of his people and indeed the country.

Before arraying fiery darts at him and railing at the decision, it is important to put that well thought out decision in perspective and deconstruct the avalanche of salient notions traceable to *that* action. In the build up to the recently held primaries in the major political parties in the country, news were rife that the North was not ready to relinquish power come 2023 after eight years of uninterrupted occupation of the exalted office of President. This fear was exacerbated when Northern aspirants began to throw their hat into the ring from the two major political parties. The strategy of the North was simple; just fill one or two persons in the race from the North while the South would fill in droves and split the votes.

The former governor of Akwa Ibom State was confronted with this scenario in the matter of his ambition. While there was a preponderance of aspirants in the South, the North had just a few suggesting the possibility of garnering block votes from that region and producing a candidate while southern votes were to be shared among the many aspirants of the South. Akpabio was quick to see the intrigue . He recognized that his ambition was against the interest of the South in the context and could jeopardize the political goal (s) of the region. Akpabio may have weighed this odd clinically and came to the irreversible conclusion that unless he makes that sacrifice, the South stood the risk of being imperilled. And because Akpabio is not only an iconic statesman, he is also a leader who loves his people passionately.

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The scenario painted above played out in the recently concluded PDP primaries. A surfeit of aspirants from the southern part of the country squared up with a few in the North. The southern aspirants shared the votes while the northern aspirants showed understanding as in the case of Governor Aminu Tambuwal who stepped down for the former vice president, His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. This concession gave Atiku the day against the projected expectation of a southern candidate. Governor Nyesom Wike , the closest rival to former vice president lost because contestants from the south were intransigent and unwilling to engage in such horse-trading. The reality is that the South lost, giving the North a chance of another possible eight year cycle of domination. This happened because contestants from the South did not show the humility of such concession in the interest of the South.

It is safe to say that Akpabio is someone well heeled in the act of sacrifice. This he has demonstrated beyond borders and season. As a child, the mother appealed to him to withdraw from school for one year so that she could use the meagre resources she mustered to pay school fees for the sisters. Godswill Akpabio readily accepted not because he did not love education but he saw the need to make the sacrifice for the sisters. He missed one year in school in sacrifice for the sisters. One can not forget how he relinquished his position as Senate Minority Leader, leaving a comfort zone to join cause with other progressives to build APC for the 2019 general election.

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Great leaders are judged by many factors. One of such factors is the sacrificial impulse that undergirth conduct and actions. Oftentimes, this trait is noticeable in the character of the leader. Akpabio in character and deed has the attribute of sacrificing for others. It is why sacrificing his ambition in the interest of the South and indeed Nigeria came to him naturally. When you allow personal ambition to overwhelm and becloud the cause of collective good, then the sense of sacrifice is jaundiced. For Akpabio, it is a habit to make sacrifices and he should rather be commended than villified .

Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst

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