Gov Udom, Akpabio Romance Hit The Rocks

•  Gov Rejects Benefactor’s Nominees For Speaker, SSG Demolishes Ex-Aide’s Filling Station  

The blissful political romance between immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, and his successor, Udom Emmanuel, may have hit the rock.
Close observers of political events in the state are ready to swear that the dalliance would not survive the next six months.
The last two weeks have seen Governor Emmanuel acting his own man in clear antagonism to a supposed Akpabio script.
The development would effectively rubbish the basis of Akpabio’s selection and support, against all odds, for Emmanuel as his successor.
As political godfatherism goes in Nigeria, political godsons are supposed to act the script of their godfathers, but it seems Emmanuel has demonstrated early that he has his own script.
This is apparent in his most recent decisions which observers consider antithetical to Akpabio’s interests, or those of his associates.
Again, the development flies in the face of earlier expectation that ex-governor Akpabio was projecting Emmanuel as a mask behind which he’ll retain his grip on the state.
For this reason, some people in the state had cynically referred to Emmanuel’s administration as Akpabio’s third term.
Judging from activities before, during, and shortly after the inauguration of Emmanuel’s administration on May 29, observers liken former governor Akpabio’s view of the transition to that of a wealthy businessman stepping aside for his son to run the family’s business while taking instructions from the father who would not be subjected to any form of protocol or disagreement.
For this reason, it would probably come to many residents of the state and even Akpabio himself as a shock that his minion has rejected the nomination of his (Akpabio’s) elder brother, Sir Emem Akpabio, as Secretary to the State Government.
Emmanuel has instead opted for the Chief of Staff to the immediate past administration, Etekamba Umoren, as SSG.
Apparently irritated by the impunity of the Akpabios in the State, Emmanuel dealt yet another blow on the former number one dynasty in the state by approving the demolition of a filling station belonging to ex-governor Akpabio’s Personal Assistant and brother, Prince Ukpong Akpabio.
The filling station is sandwiched between Power Chapel Church and Sammies eatery, along Nwaniba Road in Uyo.
It is believed to have already been compensated for, by the former governor in the sum of N150m.
While the Akpabios may have been raising eyebrows over these actions and plotting how he could be cut to size, Emmanuel threw up yet another surprise and proved critics wrong by decisively resisting attempts to impose a speaker on the sixth Assembly.
Many who witnessed the inauguration of the sixth Assembly and the drama that preceded the emergence of Aniekan Uko of Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency as Speaker, would attest to strong evidence of power tussle in the state and the improbability of the governor ever becoming anyone’s stooge.
A very authoritative source who confided in Daily Independent noted that while the former governor preferred Hon. Ime Okon of Ibiono Ibom state constituency as Speaker, his wife Unoma wanted Felicia Bassey of Okobo state constituency, against Hon. Onofiok Luke, believed by many to have gained the sympathy of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Although reports of administration of fetish oath to 80 percent of the House members by the Akpabio’s family as effort to rip out commitment could not be confirmed, delaying the inauguration of the sixth assembly till past 7pm suggested a fight between elephants.
To further prove his worth and ability to defend the opportunity and trust extended to him by the entire state, therefore, our source said, having learnt about the effort by the Akpabios to pocket the legislature, Emmanuel formed contact men across the 26 state constituencies, using PDP elders and leaders to further hold firm to the majority of the House members on a daily basis before the date fixed for the inauguration. This arrangement, the source said, paid off as it resulted in 18 members redirecting loyalty to him.
This loyalty, Daily Independent gathered, contributed immensely to the emergence of a speaker, Aniekan Uko, and Deputy Effiong Bassey.
The source said: “People may try to tell you that the emergence of a first timer as speaker is to ensure even spread of political positions, in this case I will tell you authoritatively that it is false, Aniekan Uko emerged as the best option to imposition.
“Akpabio wanted Ime Okon, his wife wanted Felicia Etim and Onofiok Luke would have been preferred by Governor Emmanuel, but for peace to reign, let a neutral person emerge, otherwise the Akpabio’s family would continue to fold this state into their family pocket.”
Giving another reason to substantiate the belief that the Akpabio/Udom relationship may have gone sour, another source who pleaded anonymity said when fully confronted with expected pressure from the huge debt profile of the state, which stands at about N12b for external debt and over N60b owed various companies handling contracts in the state, any governor would be angry and disappointed at whoever left such debt burden.
“You see, by the time Udom takes a careful look at the debt burden left behind by his predecessor, and when he is confronted with the reality that such huge debt would hinder his ability to perform as he would have loved to, he will definitely scream.

“Remember that Akpabio’s problem with his predecessor, former Governor Victor Attah, started when he said that he met an empty treasury. What do you think this one would say when he is tired of concealing the fact that he did not only meet an empty treasury but a huge debt burden.”
Although acknowledging the fact that former Governor Akpabio took Akwa Ibom beyond the level of many neighbouring states in terms of infrastructural development, the source however queried the fact that most of the projects the previous administration budgeted for and actually expended billions of naira on could not move beyond site clearing levels as at the time that administration bowed out.
“Now let me ask you, a project like the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Center, for instance, I understand N100b has so far gone into it, at what stage it is today, 40 percent right? What economic value do a cinema center and a small shopping mall have? The international conference center was proposed with 5000 seat capacity and the actual design came with 500 seat capacity. I understand they managed to force in 1500 seat capacity, yet that aspect of the project cannot be said to have been up to five percent done. The 16 storey building hotel remains where it was before Akpabio laid the foundation stone for the Sheraton 4-star he commissioned in his area as patting gift.”
“Let me take you to another project, Ikot Amama was a well-known anthem of former governor Akpabio, have you visited that community? That road is not tarred, so the community got such publicity for eight good years in penury.
“Akpabio preached Etibe Enwang Bridge as the longest in West Africa, budgetary allocations were made and funds released and spent, yet the project is less than seven percent done.
“The people of Ibaka may have been very elated during the ground breaking ceremony of Ibaka Deep Seaport project, today I am sure that even the people cannot locate where such ground-breaking took place. About N10b was earmarked to carry out a road show for this project in London to attract investors, how far did that go?” he queried.
The source, who appeared bitterly disappointed at the number of uncompleted projects of the immediate past administration, said his concern was not on projects not completed, but funds released for such and actually expended without physical evidence on the ground.
While many have continued to read meanings to Governor Udom Emmanuel’s actions or predict a clash between predecessor and successor, the pleasantries exchanged (though not the usual warm embrace) by these leaders during the thanksgiving mass organized in honour of the latter by the Catholic Diocese of Ikot Ekpene, however, points to a possibility that the relationship, despite individual differences and interests, may still endure as the two prominent men have good reasons to unite,  in the interest of the state.
Daily independent. 
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