AS PRESIDENT OF THE 10TH SENATE, AKPABIO SAYS “THERE IS WORK TO DO.”

“IF YOU WANT TO MAKE ENEMIES TRY TO CHANGE SOMETHING”, PRESIDENT WOODROW WILSON: THE TRUTH ABOUT THE ENEMIES OF THE SENATE PRESIDENT, GODSWILL OBOT AKPABIO

 

By Segun Adegbite PhD

Homer, the great Greek poet of antiquity who is credited as the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems that are regarded by most scholars as the foundational literary works of ancient Greece, said, “There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye, keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends”.

 

Senator Akpabio has confounded his enemies and delighted his friends with his new tectonic political relationship with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. For the first time in Nigeria’s political history, the executive and the legislative arms of government are being led by two proven, experienced, patriotic and highly accomplished Nigerian politicians. The days of accidental leadership is over. There is a determined reframing of Nigeria’s political map, our beloved nation will never be the same again. And permit me to re-echo the words of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the just concluded ECOWAS summit; after his inspiring address to the regional body he concluded by declaring emphatically, “Nigeria is back!” His words brought tears to my eyes, “Nigeria is back”, I kept repeating.

 

One of the brightest stars in President Tinubu’s new political infrastructure has to be Senator Godswill Akpabio. Fortunately his meteoric rise to the seat of Senate President, making him the No 3 man, has swelled the band of enemies snapping at his heels. I say ‘fortunately’ because of a Chineses proverb that says, “The wise man learns more from his enemies than from his friends.” Despite the distractions the new Senate President remains grateful and undaunted. It was President Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States of America and the leading light of the League of Nations who said, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something”. Going by his words, Senator Akpabio will always inadvertently marshal a platoon of unpatriotic haters around his flanks, the Senate President is a living agent of change. His nationally recognised and acknowledged nomenclature, ‘The Uncommon Transformer’, was bestowed on him by the common-man because of his inexhaustible energy and persistent vision for change. Senator Akpabio’s political trajectory has always led him on a collision course with agents of the neolithic redundant status quo that has pulled our society backwards. There is a Romanian proverb, “If you have no enemies it’s a sign that fortune has forgotten you”. Therefore if we want to count the number of enemies assailing the character of the current Senate President one can only conclude that good fortune is on Senator Akpabio’s side and he is walking the path of goodwill in his name, Godswill.

 

My personal advice to the Senate President would be, for him to watch out for three kinds of enemies a Persian proverb says, “There are three kinds of enemies, the enemy himself, the friends of your enemy, and the enemies of your friends”. A great man cannot avoid enemies because just like a tall tree is known by the length of its shadows great men are known by their enemies.

 

And to the sponsored campaign of hate against the Senate President. It is quite unfortunate and perhaps regrettable too, that there is a media underworld, sponsored and financed by certain individuals with the sole purpose of trying to destroy Senator Akpabio’s reputation by rehashing exhausted lies and fabrications. These people have a particular hatred and paranoia for the Senate President and they are paying huge sums of money to churn out deceitful material on the internet. These sponsors have media marksmen who have sold their craft to the highest bidder. And their motive is plain for all to see; and that is, to poison the hearts and minds of Nigerians against the transformational leadership of the new Senate President. But according to Paul Newman, the renowned American actor and director, “A man without character has no enemies”. Take it from me, Senator Akpabio’s indefatigable mission for change is at the centre of his character and it is the honeycomb attracting these sudden stinging bees.

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It would not be proper to dignify the poisoned pen of one of these marksmen columnist who has regrettably surrendered himself and his craft in exchange for filthy lucre, while masquerades bankroll his ink and paper. But it is time to speak the truth in order to stop the repetitive barefaced pack of lies by this merchant of envy, hate and falsehood. This fellow has continued to sound his broken drum spewing a vomit of lies.

 

This is what he wrote about the Senate President recently, he said, “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”.

 

What a lie! It is now time to bury this torrid fabrication and seal it permanently in the tomb of this writer’s selective amnesia. I am posting an official statement by Senator Akpabio as he then was, the State Governor of Akwa Ibom State. I am also bold to declare that, ‘Senator Godswill Akpabio Is The First And Perhaps The Only Governor In Nigeria To Refer To His Pension Package As Obnoxious And Ordered It To Be Expunged”.

 

Those of you who have forgotten the drama that followed the Akwa Ibom State 2014 Pension Bill, permit me remind you of that event. An amendment to an old pension bill was passed by the State House of Assembly and it caused a furore on social media all over Nigeria. This was not the first time Nigerians had reacted to the State Pension Bill of a State Chief Executive. The paid writer has perhaps forgotten what transpired afterwards. Governor Akpabio listened to the concerns of Nigerians over the newly amended State Pension Bill and had the Bill immediately reversed by the State Assembly. In fact Governor Akpabio, as he then was, referred to the amendment by the State House of Assembly as obnoxious, he said, “this is a democracy and you must listen to the voice of the people. What I have decided to do, in consultation with the state executive council, is to appeal to the House of Assembly to immediately expunge the obnoxious provision or that which is interpreted to be obnoxious.”

 

Governor Akpabio’s official statement further reads: “Because of the sponsored media comments and misinformation of the members of the public on the good intentions of Pension Act by the few opposition elements in the state, and because this government is a product of the people, we have, as a government decided to forward a request to the House that those areas which the opposition have capitalized on to misinform the people be expunged and the former law that had been in existence be made to remain the law. In the last few weeks, truth has come under siege by agents of falsehood in Akwa Ibom State. The good people of Akwa Ibom State have been unfortunately subjected to the cruelest and most unkind political gimmickry in the history of our state over the amendment of a sixteen-year-old law. This tidal wave of propaganda, misinformation, lies, falsehood, mischief and cynicism, we fear, may already have sucked in some unsuspecting members of the public who lack the ability to appreciate the salient points of this law and its ennobling attributes.

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The GOVERNORS AND DEPUTY GOVERNORS PENSION LAW was first enacted in 1998 as the Special Grant (Former Chief Executives) Edict. It was amended in 1999 by the Special Grant (Former Chief Executives (Amendment) Edict of 1999) and was retained in Cap. 122 Laws of Akwa Ibom State 2000. It was amended in 2002 by the Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law 2002, which was later repealed by the Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law 2006 assented to by my predecessor in office on 26th April 2007. In the course of its implementation, we noticed a lacuna in the 2007 law, particularly on account of its open-endedness in the provisions relating to the medical expenses and provision of funds for the employment of domestic staff for the former Governors and Deputy Governors and working with the House of Assembly, we sought to protect the law from abuse by putting a ceiling on the medical expenses for the treatment of these senior citizens of Akwa Ibom State. The ceiling, which was pegged at N100 million per annum for former Governors and N50 million per annum for former Deputy Governors, was never meant to be given either in part or in whole to anybody at anytime for any reason. It was meant to be paid to health institutions involved in the treatment of the former Governors or former Deputy Governors and their spouses. It was, therefore, deliberate falsehood and organized misinformation to claim that the said money will be paid to former Governors or Deputy Governors every year. This has never been the practice and the amendment has added nothing to give credence to this obviously politicized orchestration. Former Governors and Deputy Governors and their spouses who were not sick were not to receive a dime from the fund. These sums, which were for the Governors and the Deputy Governor’s medical treatment, suffered the most bashing from a mischievous vocal minority who sought to reap political capital out of it. In their frenzied desperation, they even claimed that the law was made for my personal benefit. They lost sight of the fact that I am not among the beneficiaries as I am not on pension. The other sickening claim was that we excluded some categories of eligible former Deputy Governors and Governors. This is absolutely incorrect. Since the Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law 2006 referred to above, a new eligibility provision beyond just being a former Governor or Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State origin was introduced by the last administration whereby certain persons who served in these two offices and who would otherwise have benefited from the pension, were excluded on account of resignation otherwise than on health grounds, impeachment or holding office for a period less than three years. Section 3 of the 2006 version of the Law attests to this, and this provision, retained in section 3 of the 2014 version of the Law has attracted unsavory comments as though it was a new provision just inserted. It is distressing to all patriots in our state that this well reasoned and thought-out solution to an open-ended law, which common-sense indicates can be subject to abuse. I share the sense of revulsion of all decent Akwa Ibom people in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in particular and the entire State in general at these politics of blackmail. I believe in the Akwa Ibom project as evidenced in my work in the state. I am under oath to protect the constitution of this great country, and this I have done to the best of my abilities. I am obligated by the mandate given to me by the good people of my state to do good to all manner of people and I have not been found wanting in this responsibility. This amendment was undertaken, with the patriotic understanding of the House of Assembly, in fulfillment of these articles of faith. I reject in its entirety the unwarranted condemnation of this altruistic amendment. I am deeply saddened by the vilification of the Honourable Members of the House of Assembly for undertaking a course of action, which we as a state, we should applaud. Truth has been under siege and today I have decided that we should lift this evil siege by proposing to the House of Assembly that the parts of the amendment putting a N100 million ceiling and a N50 million ceiling on the medical treatment of former Governors and former Deputy Governors respectively be expunged from the amendment. Let it REVERT to the open-ended situation inherent in the law, before the amendment. I will further advise, in observance of the articles of faith guiding the discharge of the Office of Governor that, through extant circulars, a medical insurance scheme be put in place for the authentic and proper management of the medical treatment of former Governors and Deputy Governors and their spouses in order to ensure that the open-ended nature of the law is not abused.

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The purveyors of falsehood will never publish this statement by the former Governor and they will never inform Nigerians that Senator Akpabio had publicly described the amendment as obnoxious and advised that it be expunged from the bill. They wouldn’t say he further advised that the Pension Bill be reverted to the situation inherent in the law, before the amendment. This attack of falsehood on the character of the Senate President must stop, the man has work to do for the nation. His haters need to listen to Senator Akpabio’s first address to the nation on becoming Senate President , he said,

 

“We have a job to do for Nigeria, the 10th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the National Assembly that I have just been elected the chairman, will take the issue of youth restiveness very seriously. We will work to ensure that we dot the i’s and cross the t’s. We will revitalise and review existing legislations to bring them in line with the current realities. The world is going into artificial intelligence and one of the problems of the country is insecurity. We will work with the current President to ensure that insecurity is brought to the barest minimum. We will support him through legislation. We will support him through appropriation. We will support him in anyway possible to make sure that you can sleep with your two eyes closed. We will make necessary laws to assist him to actualise his vision of ‘Renewed Hope’, in the hopeless state of many places and some neighbouring countries. For me I have seen so many friends here. If you want to know your friends be out of office but if you want to attract many friends be in office”.

 

Stop the hate. Let us together support Senator Akpabio as he brings his unique transformational leadership as Senate President of the 10th National Assembly. Change is imminent and his transformational legacy inevitable. Under him the National Legislative arm of government in Nigeria will find new life, a new purpose and a renewed hope with an intentional focused and patriotic direction. I know our great nation will never be the same again under Akpabio’s legislative leadership. He has the support of all patriotic Nigerians.

 

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

Adegbite (A current affairs analyst).

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