Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, took his famed profligacy to a new high Sunday, openly donating N1million to party chairmen from states in the South-South geopolitical zone who had converged on Port Harcourt for a party reconciliation session.
Party chairman Bamanga Tukur had led party leaders from Abuja to Port Harcourt for the South-south round of the nationwide trip the national leadership of the party is doing around the country to reconcile feuding factions and restore peace to bickering state chapters.
But the meeting suffered setback after two key players, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers and Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta walked out after they could not bear what appeared Mr. Akpabio’s improvident behavior.
Mr. Uduaghan had spoken at the meeting saying poverty is widespread among party members in the zone and that action needed to be taken to reduce the hardship faced by faithful.
“I join all my brothers in the South-South in welcoming you (Tukur),” the Delta state governor said. “Even in my position as elected governor, I must tell you this; even if you tar all the roads in the South-South without putting food on the table, our members will not appreciate the party.
“If you want to prevent our members from straying to other parties, you must put food in the stomach of our supporters.”
But shortly after Mr. Uduaghan spoke, Mr. Akpabio announced he would distribute N1million each to party chairmen at the venue as lunch money as a way of placating them not to leave the party.
He said, “My brother Governor, Uduaghan, said our members are hungry and that we must put food in their stomach so that they don’t stray to other parties. I am giving all the state chairmen of the party N1 million right now for Mr. Biggs. Our members must not be hungry.”
The donation suggested that the governor came to the meeting with several millions of naira in cash.
As the Akwa Ibom State governor spoke, party leaders at the venue exchanged furtive glances in embarrassment. And shortly afterwards, Messrs. Amaechi and Uduaghan walked out of the venue. Both didn’t return.
Mr. Akpabio however continued his speech asking all PDP members in the region to rally round their son, President Goodluck Jonathan.
“There is a hand of God in every position of leadership,” he said. “Bayelsa is, perhaps, the smallest state in Nigeria but God decided to choose Goodluck Ebele Jonathan from Bayelsa State to become the President of Nigeria.
“We must all support our brother to succeed. For us, we shall not fail and we will never fail.”
Mr. Akpabio has been widely criticized for what many Nigerians consider his profligacy.
His donation of a N50 million award for Nollywood, two SUVs to Tuface Idibia, and wife, Annie, and the acquisition of an exotic multimillion dollar bullet-proof sprinter luxury vans from US-based Texas Armoring Corporation (TAC), have sparked outrage.
On Saturday, the governor unilaterally donated N230 million on behalf of the newly-formed PDP Governors Forum to President Goodluck Jonathan’s hometown church. There are indications many of the governors did not give him their nods to make any donation on their behalf.