By ETIM ETIM
Of all the Senators campaigning to be elected President of the 10th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Godswill Akpabio towers above all in leadership qualities and political acumen. Akpabio commands immense influence among his colleagues, has a national appeal, understands the workings of the legislature and is fiercely loyal to the President-elect and the country. I recall that it was the stepping down of Akapbio for Tinubu in the last APC Presidential Primary at Eagles Square, Abuja, last year, that set the stage for the withdrawal of other aspirants from the race, thus facilitating Tinubu’s victory. Given Akpabio’s deep experience in governance and politics, I trust that he will also give President Tinubu the required support and help to stabilize the polity if he is elected Senate president.
Akpabio has the full backing of the people of Akwa Ibom State and indeed the whole of the South-South region, unlike the other contender to the position, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu. A few weeks ago, Ohaneze Nd’Igbo, the sociocultural organization of South East people, has asked Senator Kalu to drop out of the race because he is not fit for the job. ‘’Igbos cannot present somebody with an EFCC case; Igbos can’t present somebody as Senate President with EFCC case that could be disgraced tomorrow; Igbos can’t present someone facing trial with EFCC’’, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the Secretary General of the organization said in response to Kalu’s aspiration.
Unlike Kalu, Akpabio has never been arrested or imprisoned. He served Akwa Ibom people creditably well as their governor between 2007 and 2015. He was elected Senator in 2015, soon after he left office as governor, and was unanimously elected Senate Minority Leader as soon as he got into the Senate, despite the fact that he was a junior Senator. Such principal positions are usually reserved for ranking senators, but because of the confidence his colleagues had in him, the requirement was waived for him.
Akpabio is also an asset to the APC. He worked with other APC leaders to secure 27% of the votes cast in the last Presidential election in his home state of Akwa Ibom for Tinubu. In Abia State, where Senator Kalu is from, Tinubu performed very poorly.
In all, I urge the President-elect, the APC as a whole and all the other 108 senators of the 10 Senate to support the emergence of Senator Akpabio as the next Senate President.