In this interview, former senate minority leader governor of Akwa Ibom, Sen Godswill Akpabio boast that the All Progressive Congress candidate in next year’s election will roundly defeat Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, the Peoples Democratic candidate
LOOKING AT THE POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE COUNTRY, WHAT ARE YOUR PROJECTIONS FOR THE COMING ELECTIONS?
I am not God and I am not also a prophet but sometimes God reveal things to people that he loves and I know God loves me because I love
God. The projection is that in terms of the political rigmarole that is going on in terms of alignment and re alignments, 2019 victory will belong to the All Progressive Congress (APC) and most especially President Muhammadu Buhari will be return for a second term in office.
I am saying so because God loves Nigeria. This is a man we have tried for so many years to be president of the country. One time he gave himself that he was no longer going , he thanked all the supporters but from nowhere, a group of people, some from PDP and APC came together and went back to appeal to him to come and they even opted to buy the form for him to come.
In spite of his resistance he came and then of course confusion entered into the PDP family and God is a master designer, he eventually emerged president. When he emerged president of Nigeria, the incumbent president that time did not even wait for the final result of the election, he immediately called him and congratulated him and Nigeria had a very smooth transition and very peaceful. I believe that in 2015 we all had our choices but God had his way and when God have a hand in something I don’t think God is a master of uncompleted projects, this was not a decision of man, this was a decision of God and therefore God can give him the second term through Nigerians and you can see while I will be bored enough to say so that you can see the kind of political personalities that he continue to attract despite the rigmarole of some members of his political party. That is why I can project that come 2019 general elections the APC will become victorious.
PEOPLE ARE STILL WONDERING WHILE YOU LEFT APC. WHAT INFORMED YOUR DECSION?
I left PDP in the national interest and I keep re-emphasizing that word in the national interest because I believe that the nation has to survive first before we have election but if you saw what was going on in the country there was an amalgam of forces to truncate the administration of Muhammadu Buhari even before the election but those actions were also capable of bringing democracy to an end, in other words the intention there was to crash the government even before the election. The major forces including states governors of APC extraction were defecting to my then party, the PDP and this was capable of destroying the polity.
At a time that we have a lot of security issues in the country when we are managing to contend most of the security challenges in the north east and all that there was a major distraction coming and when I look at it I said some of these characters were also the people who crash the then PDP in 2015 but they did not did so for national interest, they did so for their own personal interest and they went to a man who has followings, who stands at least 9 million votes in his pocket because of the number of the less privilege people in the country that support him.
But the same people probably because they are not satisfied now came out again and now attempted to gang to gang up again and conspire, not just to remove the government but to ensure the removal of the president even before election. So there is need for us as people who have stake in the country to come out and stabilize the polity before the election.
That was why I said I came out in the national interest. There was need for me to come out to support the president to stabilize the polity before even the election. When I was coming out I pointed out that I would like to join conspiracy where we conspire to end Boko Haram, to bring peace to the south east region and then bring an end to IPOP where we conspire to see the end of military and vandalization of pipelines and end employment, not to conspire to bring down the government.
It is not a good idea if people bring a government into being and then turn around to conspire to ensure the failure of that government so when I saw the defections that were happening, first in the senate where we had almost fourteen senators at that time going, the next thing was the senate president, number three citizen the country abandoning his party together with his governor, together with the governor of Sokoto, governor of Benue and all that I say there was need for me to put an end to this because some of the people that were enjoying the political nolly wood did not know the wide implication was an attempt to ensure the failure of the government even before the election and that was why I came out.
YOUR EXPLANATION SEENS TO DIFFER WITH ARGUMENT OF THE PUBLIC THAT YOU DEFECTED IN FEAR OF THE PERCIEVED HARRASSMENT OF POLITICAL OPPONENTS ON CHARGES OF CORRUPTION AND THE FEAR OF PERSECUTION OF THE SITTING GOVERNOR.
If Godswill Akpabio, the former governor of Akwa Ibom state so much loved by his people decides that he is going to APC it means that thousands of Akwa Ibom people who believed in him, were impressed by his uncommon transformation are also going along with him. When I was declaring for the APC I did not give invitation to anybody but didn’t you see a thousand of heads that is actually the effect of Godswill Akpabio defecting coming to your question about defecting because of APC, in fact as I am going back now the law firm that wrote petition against me to the EFCC just gave me an award in BON hotel. The reality is that the head of the firm was being used and then realize that those allegations did not carry any atom of evidence and so he withdrew his petition before the EFCC.
The boy went and swore an affidavit in the court that he was withdrawing the petition voluntarily. So there is nothing like me defecting because of EFCC harassment if I wanted to leave PDP because of EFCC harassment rather I would have say no that I won’t do that because former governor Darius who left from PDP and went to APC where is he today? Unfortunately he was jailed even though his case is on appeal and also a lot of people who have left and have corruption cases are still answering so if somebody saw such an experience will you want to run into APC because it is not a sanctuary for you to hide.
So I don’t think people should link movement with either ticket or EFCC because some people do things on the basis of their personal conviction so I was a ticket giver in the PDP so I actually come from a senatorial district that my people have a lot of respect for me and they even show it. The entire opposition in Akwa Ibom state, APC was formed against me as a governor so when I went there they were over joyed it was like reconciliation and they honoured me. There were about two people who bought forms for senate, I also bought form for the senate and the two persons stepped down to honour me so I was unopposed. In the PDP nobody would have buy form against me in my senatorial district.
THERE ARE FEARS THAT ATIKU WILL END UP DEFEATING PRESIDENT BUHARI. DO YOU SHARE THIS VIEW?
If Atiku were to defeat President Buhari, then what is happening in many states inccuding Akwa Ibom will not be happening, PDP members are moving in thousands on daily basis declaring for the APC to support BUhari. Does that not send a signal that all is not well, even when the PDP finished their convention, didn’t you hear the confusion. Have you ever seen where you bring a running mate then the whole region is reject the running mate so I don’t want you to dwell on the attitude of the speeches of the elites who have access to social media, there are some other persons in the villages, farmers who know very well that President Buhari is a man of integrity and that he loves Nigeria and that if he has his way this country will change for the better. I have no doubt in my mind that the APC and President Buhari will win in 2019.
I don’t know about you but for instance, let me say that daily politics is local so may be my spirit is as a result of what I’m seeing around the south south region. Today, even when we were complaining we have three senators right now in APC in Rivers. After convention, the senator representing Port Harcourt now decamped to go and join APC it means something is wrong.
we now have three APC senators in Rivers state you come to Akwa Ibom that you did not even have a councilor you two senators. You have at least 3-4 members of House of Representative and then you have many members of the house of Assembly and here we had none in 2015 and even 2016. So politics is about people, as I speak now the deputy state chairman of PDP Akwa Ibom has decamped. Many commissioners and special assistants have left the government.
In fact the latest one that left was the special assistant on electoral matters in the PDP and that one I think they couldn’t take it so some hoodlums went and shot him and barely escape with his life. Even the governors of south south are talking to me and asking me what percentage they can give to the president so my belief is that let us look from the angle that in 2015 the president did not make much impact in the south east and south south as a result of the fact that a son of the soil president Goodluck Jonathan was contesting but in 2019, the entire south east and south south is a battle ground for APC and PDP and APC has an upper hand so I don’t know how much impact we have been able to make in the north as far as PDP is concern I don’t think they make any impact in the north, I have not seen.
Even in Sokoto there was a massive earthquake when the governor left it like he left alone with some commissioners. When we came in in 2015 PDP was in control of Ondo state but today is APC, when we came, Ekiti state was controlled by PDP today is APC. As I speak now APC is in control of Osun and Edo state in the south south.
WHAT ARE YOUR ACHIEVEMENT WHILE IN OFFICE IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY?
Well in the national assembly I don’t like to be boastful I believe that when you are in the leadership you really have to help to make sure that things function well then you have a specific role you must set up certain specific motions and also make your contributions. Many of us don’t just sit there.
On a personal note, I think my people never had this kind of representation before. In my many senatorial briefings I highlight what and what I have been able to do to my people.
The major one I will remember is the fact that within two years I was able to constituency projects that were earth quaking, we trained over a thousand six hundred people in different skills and that first year we did the training I also gave them money to buy implement and there after I did a major empowerment skills nobody has ever seen.
It cost over 2. 6 billion and I thank the president of Nigeria for the assistance because most of these things came from various agencies. At the same time we gave out buses to about 274 young people and then we also gave out scholarships to university students, about 20 of then that will take up to masters levels. 274 people that will gave our buses they were selling at 100,000 naira each and the children were very excited. I have ten local governments so if you look at that it means at least 27 per local government and that was in the first phase and I have helped a lot of them to also secure employment by making recommendations here and there.
At the same time, I gave the women about 250,000 grants to about 430 of my people, majority of them were women to assist them in agriculture and
also for those who are involved in one kind of trade or another. I also have at least 68 computer projects and some of them have to do with solar power boreholes. We also build at least two long market stores per each local government, the first set was about 20 and now we have increased the number and then we have six classrooms blocks complete with solar power boreholes and light in all the local governments in my senatorial district among others in other local government. As I am talking to you now, there are so many other uncompleted projects yet to be commissioned, classrooms, water, electrification and all that, giving transformers to some places.
So like I said, 68 projects are still counting under constituency projects. I am not actually that senator who sits in Abuja, monthly I am meeting with my either stakeholders, youth in my area or women. I am a grass rooter I am very close to my people that is why I got effective representation.
SOME ALLEGED YOU OF TRYING TO WAGE A WAR AGAINST YOUR PERCIEVED ENEMIES IN YOUR STATE. WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THIS?
The APC in Akwa Ibom is actually the victim but the facts on ground are different. I am not trying to wage a war, it is based on understanding. I always tell people that not always the person who report case to police station wins when serious investigation is being made. The DG of the PDP campaign in Akwa Ibom made a statement on the 5th of August during a town hall meeting when the rumours hit town that I may be entering APC and he said your Excellency this is the time to recruit your own that it is going to be war and a survival of the fittest.