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Akpabio’s holier-than-thou sermon on Emefiele



Akpabio’s holier-than-thou sermon on Emefiele
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Akpabio’s holier-than-thou sermon on Emefiele: Akpabio calling out Emefiele on allegations of corruption is tantamount to the pot calling the kettle black. It is sheer hypocrisy. If Akpabio, the new anti-corruption crusader, is sincere about his advocacy, he should first honour the EFCC summons and clear his name. Anything short of that is mere smokescreen.

Perhaps, the greatest tragedy that has befallen Nigeria is the fact that we have in power, men and women without character and honour; people whose positions on critical national issues are determined by self-interest rather than common good; persons whose fidelity to truth is zilch.

Such characters occupy the highest offices in the land and yet, Nigerians are wondering why their country has gone to the dogs. When a country has as leaders people who doublespeak when what is needed is sincerity no matter whose ox is gored, that country is on the precipice of disaster. With Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom State, as the President of the Senate, that augury is quite stark.

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How do I mean?

On May 13, 2023, former President Muhammadu Buhari held a valedictory session for his appointees leaving the cabinet to pursue their political ambitions. Akpabio, then Niger Delta Affairs Minister, who had indicated interest in succeeding Buhari, gave the vote of thanks on behalf of his colleagues.

Akpabio was at his fawning best. Toadying, he thanked their benefactor for giving them the opportunity to serve and contribute their quota to nation building, and described working with Buhari as a fantastic experience.

”As we step aside from FEC, I want you to know that you have disciples in us. I want you to know that it is time for us to propagate Buharism. I want you to know that we are going to be working closely with the Minister of Information and Culture to take your message of transformation, love, patience, administrative sagacity to Nigerians,” Akpabio crowed sycophantically.

The former minister intimated Buhari who was grinning from ear to ear that their exit exemplified the Spanish play of sadness and joy: “Sadness in the sense that we are going to miss the continuous daily and weekly interaction with a father and learning from him; joy because we now have an opportunity to go to the wider audience in Nigeria to speak more of your achievements for this country.”

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Lauding Buhari as the “best president Nigeria could ever have had at a time of difficult circumstances,” Akpabio had only one wish: “May one of us succeed you in order to continue the good legacies you have laid on ground. We have seen and know your vision. We know where you want the country to be.”

That was just last year. Today, the man who vowed to continue with Buhari’s “good legacies” is now castigating the administration, blaming it for the current asphyxiating economic woes.

Speaking on Sunday, February 18, in Koroma, Tai local council, Rivers State at Senator Barry Mpigi’s thanksgiving service, Akpabio had only harsh words for the Buhari administration, even as he singled out the embattled former Central Bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, for excoriation.

Likening the poor economic condition President Bola Tinubu inherited from Buhari to a pail filled with foam, but which underneath it has a small quantity of water, Akpabio with a condescending attitude of moral superiority, smugly said of Emefiele: “We did not even know what to charge him with; whether for putting foam on top of the pail, illegal firearm possession, or printing notes without income.”

To say that Akpabio is a clown is to say the obvious. But even clowning has its limits. The man who said last year that they knew where Buhari was headed and would ensure continuity so as to get to the destination is today blaming Emefiele when the administration in which he occupies the third preeminent position successfully took Nigeria to Buhari’s destination.

“So the kind of debt and economic mess that we are in, a lot of people will not understand but I remember President Obama saying that you cannot know Washington until you get to Washington. So, by the time we went in to look at the economic situation of the country, it was terrible,” the Senate President said. He was sanctimonious, self-righteous and indignant.

But Nigerians should not be deceived by characters like Akpabio. Granted, the Tinubu administration may have inherited a “weak economy” from Buhari but saying that the extant economic woes is as a result of the policies implemented by Emefiele is ad hominem fallacy.

Now, to be clear, this is not an allocutus for Emefiele. His case is before the courts, so, it is left for the Tinubu government to present its evidence against him and secure a conviction if they can. What should be unacceptable to Nigerians is the orchestrated media trial and desperate attempt by the Tinubu administration to convict Emefiele in the court of public opinion.

Hounding Emefiele and setting him up as a fall guy for his political incorrectness while he held sway as CBN governor cannot be equated to fighting corruption. It is sheer scapegoatism.

Suffice it to say that he was only an appointee of the Federal Government and not the President and Commander-in-Chief. It is, therefore, highly disingenuous for Akpabio, who was also an appointee in the same government and who praised its policies as the best thing that happened to Nigeria to turn around now and blame Emefiele for all that went wrong.

Where are Buhari and his henchmen from a particular section of the country? As I argued last week, any claim of fighting corruption that does not invite Buhari for questioning is a mirage. Even if no criminal charges are brought against him – I don’t see why not having presided over a criminal enterprise in the name of governance – he should be put on trial for not doing his job well enough and leaving Nigeria on the brink of bankruptcy and social anomie.

Fortunately, Nigeria will not be the first country to tread that path. In an article in The Guardian of London on April 9, 2023 titled “From Trump to Sarkozy: the political leaders who have been prosecuted,” Jon Henley noted the interesting case of Geir Haarde, former Prime Minister of Iceland, who was tried and convicted for not doing his job well enough.

“Geir Haarde was the only politician in the world to face prosecution over the 2008 financial crisis. He dodged three more serious charges, but ended up being convicted, in essence, of not doing his job well enough,” Henley wrote.

Akpabio talked about huge debt profile, yet as Senate President, he has chaperoned the red chamber of the National Assembly into approving more loans for Tinubu strictly for consumption.

Any dispassionate observer of the economic disaster under Tinubu’s watch will come to the inevitable conclusion that it was self-inflicted. No-matter how bad things were under Buhari, a more astute leader would have at least halted the drift to ensure that things don’t degenerate any further.

Instead, Tinubu firmly planted his foot on the accelerator driving the country to economic perdition. The harebrained economic policies of subsidy removal and floating of the Naira are the reasons for today’s disaster, not what Emefiele did as CBN governor. And that is why Akpabio who has become a Buhari apostate is not telling Nigerians what Tinubu is doing differently from his predecessor.

So, this Emefiele hoopla is a distraction. Nigerians are being distracted from the unfolding tragedy that is Tinubu’s stewardship. In nine months, the self-acclaimed master strategist, has driven Nigeria to economic Golgotha.

But isn’t it said that whoever comes to equity must do so with clean hands?

Is it not laughable that Akpabio is now pontificating on corruption? Has his file with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which is fatter than an elephant, been shredded now that he is the Senate President?

Of course, that won’t be a surprise. After all, this is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government. Nothing is impossible.

But Akpabio does not have immunity. One of his predecessors, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was tried for alleged financial crimes while he was a sitting Senate President. So, why not Akpabio, who, more than any other Nigerian today has the fattest corruption file with the EFCC?

In any other clime, such characters will be hiding their faces in shame. But here he is insulting Nigerians with his Emefiele ranting, knowing, of course, that Nigerians have very short memory.

In April last year, the EFCC invited Akpabio, for the second time in one month, for interrogation over an investigation concerning corruption allegations.

The anti-graft agency had earlier invited him for questioning on March 29 but his lawyer, Umeh Kalu claimed that he was suffering from pneumonia and cardiac arrhythmia.

While pleading with the EFCC to reschedule the questioning to a new date, Kalu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said Akpabio would be unable to honour the invitation because he had already arranged medical appointments overseas.

“As mentioned in our last letter to you dated February 10, 2023, our client is undergoing treatment for pneumonia and cardiac arrhythmia, and, has recently been advised to seek further attention abroad. It is in the light of the above that we respectfully request that our client’s appointment with you be rescheduled to a date convenient to your officers, preferably after the forthcoming Easter and Ramadan holidays,” the letter from Kalu dated March 27, 2023, read.

But that was a fat lie. Akpabio was hale and hearty. He was simply not man enough to account for his stewardship. So, even when EFCC wrote again on April 13, 2023, in a letter titled, ‘Investigation Activities Re: Senator Godswill Akpabio’s Appointment Letter Of Invitation’ which was signed by ACE II SM Ala, Head, CMU-1, requesting Akpabio to come to its headquarters in Abuja on May 9, 2023 for questioning, he demurred. Instead, Tinubu installed a man with allegations of N40 billion fraud perpetrated in the Niger Delta Development Commission under his watch as President of the 10th Senate.

The EFCC also has a file on over N86 billion contract scams involving Akpabio and a former Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei. In the past, the anti-graft agency had also arrested Akpabio over an alleged theft of N108.1 billion of Akwa Ibom funds when he was governor.

These are the real reasons for the debilitating economic situation and challenges faced by Nigerians today, including the hunger and the struggle to afford three square meals a day that Akpabio is hankering about and not the monetary policies of the CBN under Emefiele.

Akpabio calling out Emefiele on allegations of corruption is tantamount to the pot calling the kettle black. It is sheer hypocrisy. If Akpabio, the new anti-corruption crusader, is sincere about his advocacy, he should first honour the EFCC summons and clear his name. Anything short of that is mere smokescreen.

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