Friday, 29 March 2013

Akwa Ibom Governor, Akpabio In Trouble

…Admits Rigging Senatorial Primary Election
By Chinedu Uchegbu
 

Akwa Ibom state governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio has run into a fresh storm of controversy following his admission that he helped rig the last senate election for one of his preferred candidate in Akwa-Ibom state.

The governor made the confession during the ‘Good Governance Tour’ visit.
In a barefaced confession to electoral fraud, Akpabio who is at the center of multiple ‘gift’ scandals involving state funds, admitted on live television, to falsifying a senatorial election result and personally replacing the winner with his preferred candidate.

Mr. Akpabio spoke during the federal government’s contentious ‘Good Governance Tour’ in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.
Information minister, Labaran Maku, led the several government officials and journalists on the tour which many Nigerians have dismissed as a jamboree.

While addressing the visiting delegation on his government’s achievements, Mr. Akpabio, seeking to impress his sense of even handedness on the audience, said he struck off the name of the winner of the Akwa Ibom North senatorial in his party’s primaries, and replaced same with Aloysius Etok.

Mr Etok went on to win the main election, and is currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters.
Mr. Akpabio, who in the past, claimed election in the state were amongst Nigeria’s freest and fairest ,laid bare in the speech to the federal delegation , captured on camera, how he deliberately masterminded a flawed process that produced Mr. Etok.

“The people of Ikono and Ini LGA from 1960 have never produced a Senator,” the governor narrated.
“I used my own hand to strike out the name of the person who has won before, and I said it is important for me to give that region a Senator in 2007, and I produced Senator Aloysius Etok for you; that’s where he comes from,” the governor said, before gesturing to Etok to who attended the session alongside his colleague in the Senate, Ita Enang to ‘take a bow.’

The disclosure jolted the audience and the governor’s associates who exchanged awkward glances.
Several minutes later, an aide to the governor passed him (the governor) a note, apparently drawing his attention to the devastating consequences of his comments.

Mr. Akpabio gave the note some attention, before backtracking on his earlier comments.
“So I must say that I thank all of you, including the members of the National Assembly, led by Senator Aloysius Etok. And when I said that I made Aloysius Etok to become a senator in 2007, I need to explain it so that you don’t think that I wrote his name and he became a senator,” the governor said.

“During the primaries of PDP, we zoned the senate seat to his federal constituency. And from the federal constituency, he made first in the primaries. That happened in the PDP. So we said since he was the first among the people who came from his federal constituency for the primary, then he must be the one to become the senator.”

“Then after that, we presented him before the general public in the election and he won. And in 2011, with my support, he had the highest number of votes by any senator in the National Assembly.”
Mr. Akpabio has been in the centre of the storm over his controversial use of state funds to for donations and gifts to celebrities, journalists, party officials and others.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) says it has uncovered a grand plot by the opposition to use the media to cause disunity in the PDP Governors’ Forum as well as discredit the Chairman of the Forum, Governor Godswill Akpabio and bring him to public disrepute.

In a statement by his spokesman, Olisa Metuh, the party said its investigations revealed that “the opposition, in a desperation to deceive Nigerians, have recruited political mercenaries who are heavily paid as hatchets men to fabricate and plant spurious and malicious reports in the media to stigmatise Akpabio and the PDP and taint then before Nigerians.”

He said those against the ruling party “have continued to portray Akpabio’s genuine benevolence and kind heartedness in bad light, all in a desperate attempt to disparage ad cause a division in the PDP Governor’s Forum,” adding that “all the governor of the PDP are united and there is no division in the Forum.”

“Also, the leadership of the PDP completely identifies of the PDP completely identifies with Gov. Akpabio and his landmark developmental projects with which he has brought uncommon transformation to Akwa-Ibom state,” the statement read.

The PDP has had a herculean task managing the fall out of its last reconciliation meeting in the South-South zone where Gov. Akpabio had doled out 6 million naira to party faithful to, in his words, “eat at Mr. Biggs.”
In a bid to downplay the 6 million naira gift, the PDP noted that it is only a group with a selfless interest like the opposition that will see anything wrong in Akpabio’s continuous gesture in helping the less privileged and the needy.

They maintanind that there is nothing wrong in Akpabio helping in mobilising PDP members who came for the party’s South –South zonal rally.
The N1 million Akpabio donated to each of the 6 state chapters of the PDP was not for an individual but to provide welfare for over 500 delegates from each of the chapters, who travelled all the way to Port Harcourt for the rally.





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