More endorsement messages have continued to pour in, in support of the ambitions of Senators Godswill Akpabio and Jibrin Barau, for the office of the Senate President and Deputy respectively, with the latest coming from the South South Indegenes, led by former acting National Chairman of the APC, Ntufam Hilliard Eta.
In a prepared speech delivered by the party chieftain, he described the ambition of Senator Akpabio as that whose time has come, saying, “your brothers and sisters have come to solidarise with you and to publicly endorse your aspiration to lead the 10th Senate and by extension the National Assembly. This is your time to join hands with the incoming President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to move Nigeria and Nigerians to greater heights.
“You remain one of our best 11 in the south south. Your imminent emergence as the number three citizen in Nigeria means a lot to Nigerians and particularly, the people of the South South geo- political zone”.
In his response Senator Akpabio, who received the group on behalf of the Solidarity Group in Abuja, thanked them for the support for his ambition to lead the 10th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to the former Minister Niger Delta Affairs, ” Let me thank the leader of the group, for the steps you have all taken today as the people of the South South geo- political zone. It is a good thing for you to go out there and if you have a problem you return home, but when the home front is stable, it means your outward movements would be fruitful.
” The 10th Senate comprises of about eight different political parties. We are working to build a synergy inorder to always reach a consensus on issues, so as to advice the incoming administration of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu. We have a lot to do for this country. We have a lot of challenges and it is not going to be a tea party.
” The 10th Senate will make laws to protect the people and take care of their welfare because that is the primary purpose of government”.
Speaking further, the former Senate Minority Leader, charged the people to hold talks with their Senators-elect on why they should support the choices of the party, saying,” our great party, the APC has made a very strong recommendation that the Senate President be zoned to the South-South after due consultations with critical stakeholders of our party and the President-elect.
“I thank the south south for rising to the occasion. As minorities, I believe strongly that we have to tie ourselves to the apronstring of national politics. Our job as APC leaders is to integrate our people into national politics and that is why we are working across party lines.
” When the northern governors decided to support a president from the South, people worked for it to come to manifest. In the same vein, I implore you all to work very hard in your Senatorial Districts and talk to our Senators-elect for them to see the need to support the choices of the party, that Senator Akpabio should emerge the next Senate President in the 10th Senate,” he stressed.
The South South peoples’ statement reads:
“Your Excellency, I thank you sincerely for making this solidarity visit in view of your very loaded schedule. Sometimes, there is so much to say but so little time available. At other times, there is so much time but so little to say. But today, there is so little time and so few things to say. There comes a time when a people, while making a hard choice, after counting their teeth with their tongue, decide to take a plunge and leave their unknown future in the hands of the all-knowing God.
“That was what we, the good people of the South South geo political zone, like other Nigerians, did on February 25, 2023. We trooped out and voted massively for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to be the next president, trusting that God, the All-Knowing, who hides the fruit in the seed, will watch over the seed for a bumper harvest.
“Today Your Excellency, what our people planted on that great day and which our great leaders like you watered, God has brought the great increase. The icing on that increase is the Presidency of the 10th Senate which, by the grace of the Almighty God, is in our kitty. Congratulations, Sir.
This is not a long speech. It is neither a long visit. We know that your daily schedule is tight as we countdown to the inauguration and proclamation of the 10th National Assembly. But permit me to make a few statements for the records.
“When I was initially approached to lead this powerful delegation of South South people to pay you this solidarity visit, I had no hesitation whatsoever. I was told that I was best suited for the role because I was the political leader from the region who last succeeded Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the Acting National Chairman of this great Party, the All Progressives Congress.
“While I do not want to recall the sad memories of the circumstances that led to our unconstitutional dissolution as NWC which we knew was because of our widely-perceived deep interest in Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s presidential bid, I am indeed happy that I was in the seed that has today produced a fruit in Godswill Obot Akpabio Senate President within a Bola Ahmed Tinubu Nigerian Presidency. God is a mystery indeed.
“Be that as it may, Your Excellency remains one of our Best Eleven in the South South where so much development challenges still stare us in the face. Your imminent emergence as the No. 3 in the national hierarchy means so much to us as our people eagerly look forward to a major change in their fortunes. We know that you are bringing your uncommon touch into the issues of growth and development of the South South and Nigeria as a whole.
“We have not forgotten how, on November 14, 2011, the entire world watched you step out at the International Conference Centre to be conferred with the prestigious and well-deserved national honours award of Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON, for setting the pace in uncommon transformation and people-oriented leadership.
“Little wonder that today, in the far-flung corners of Akwa Ibom where your solution-driven administration touched, they call you the architect of modern Akwa Ibom State. If the constitution of our country allows for 3rd and 4th term for individuals to contest the office of governor, from the information we gathered, your people would have gladly voted for you again and again. The reason for this is simple. As Governor of Akwa Ibom State, your legacies are there for all to see. It is clear from the presidential election results that you worked tirelessly to deliver votes for our President-elect in the last general elections. The results of the elections are there for all to see.
“By our findings, the Nigerian Senate will clock 60 years on October 1, 2023. It was created by the 1963 Constitution and formed part of the Parliament. The parliament under the 1963 Constitution was composed of Her Majesty (then Queen Elizabeth of England, the Senate, and the House of Representatives). The first President of the Nigerian Senate was Late Prince Abyssinia Akweke Nwafor Orizu, from the South East. It will therefore be a thing of great joy for the South South people that our dear son, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, is at the helm of affairs when our revered senate turns 60! Your Excellency, this is not a mere coincidence that you are 60 years and the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is also turning 60 this year. This is divine orchestration.
“We expect that as you emerge as the next President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria and bearing in mind that the last time a South Southerner was Senate President was 1979-1983 in the person of Late Senator Jeseph Wayas, from old Cross River State, the interest of the South South, nay Nigeria, will be uppermost in your mind. The Senate President is the Presiding Officer of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You will be next in succession after the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the hierarchy of leadership in Nigeria. This is no mean fit. We will continue to pray for you even after your emergence in June.
“As I end my speech, let me draw your attention to a worrisome perception by party men and women that the party abandons its supporters whenever it forms government. It is believed that this feeling has turned many people away from the party. A situation where party faithful who worked tirelessly to give the party victory are abandoned and forgotten does not bode well for the good health of the party.
“We believe that a conscious and deliberate reward policy that prioritizes political appointments, contracts and other forms of patronage is necessary to keep members. Your drive for votes for the party in the last elections appears to be the beginning of such reward system in the party after eight years of using and dumping men and women who worked their hearts out to bring the party into power.
“Many APC members are dissatisfied with the total lack of deliberate policies to reward hard work and loyalty. The near-absence of gains or incentives to propel creativity and energize the spirit to excel needs your quick intervention. We believe that genuine lovers of a reward system in the party will do everything to ensure that Your Excellency becomes the President of the 10th Senate. We are behind you.
Your Excellency, our next visit to you, by the grace of God, will be in your office in the Red Chamber as Chairman of the 10TH National Assembly and as, President of the Senate. I thank you for receiving us and for listening.”
NTUFAM HILLIARD ETA
FORMER ACTING NATIONAL CHAIRMAN,
ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS
19TH MAY, 2023