South-south Group Challenges Akpabio’s Critics

Godswill Akpabio
Godswill Akpabio

Tobi Soniyi

South-South Youths for a United Nigeria has challenged those opposing the nomination of Godswill Akpabio as a minister to name someone else in Akwa Ibom who is more deserving to be appointed a minister than Akpabio.

The group’s president, Mr. Gabriel Uduak who spoke with THISDAY said that rather than condemning President Muhammadu Buhari for nominating Akpabio as a minister, he should be commended.

According to him, Akpabio is a bridge builder who jettisoned his personal interest in order to promote the interest of the people of the South-south.

He explained that Akpabio’s decision to dump the People’s Democratic Party for the All Progressives Congress ensures that the South-south was not left behind in national development.

“Sentiment aside, it is the people of the south south in general and Akwa Ibom in particular that stand to benefit from his appointment as a minister”, he added.

Despite been a leading figure in the campaign for APC to secure votes in Akwa Ibom state, a state in the hand of the PDP, opposition continues to mount against Akpabio’s nomination as a minister.

Those who were in APC before he joined the party felt sidelined when the president chose to nominate Akpabio as a minister.
But South-South Youths for a United Nigeria described those opposed to Akpabio’s nomination as under-achievers who could not compete with the towering success of the former Akwa Ibom governor.

The group urged them to prove to the people of Akwa Ibom that they were better than the senator, saying Akpabio’s credential as a statesman who supported a united Nigeria was never in doubt.

He recalled that Akpabio was instrumental to the creation of the Southern Senators Forum at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in 2017. The forum unequivocally pledged its support for a united Nigeria at a time when agitations by some ethnic groups seeking secession were prevalent.

Akpabio, who then was Senate Minority Leader, announced the birth of the forum said urged support for the ongoing efforts by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to dialogue with the various agitators, saying the move prompted their coming together under a platform.

Uduak also said that in recent time, it was difficult “to find anyone who had contributed to the development of Akwa Ibom as much as Akpabio. It is partly for the proactive thinking of people like Akpabio that the South-south remains an active player in the nation’s politics.

“We would have been schemed out of things if not the decision that he made. Instead of condemnation, Akpabio deserves commendation for his foresight.”

Speaking on behalf of the organisers, Soma Brown recounted the numerous achievements of the Akpabio administration in Akwa Ibom State, citing the free, compulsory and qualitative education policy; free medical care for pregnant women, children and the aged; and the massive infrastructural investment as key reasons for the award conferred on Akpabio.

Just after his defection of August 8, 2018, Akpabio empowered his constituents with two hundred and fifty thousand naira each, and about four hundred and fifty farmers benefited from this gesture in collaboration with Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, (SMEDAN).