A former Nigerian minister and senator from Akwa Ibom State, John Udoedehe, has narrated how the state’s immediate past governor, Godswill Akpabio, regularly doled out huge amounts of money as “transport” to politicians, each time they had a political meeting.
Mr. Udoedehe, a former Minister of State for FCT, said caucus members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, were given at least N3 million each as “transport”, every night they met to discuss the party’s affairs.
He admitted the governor gave him a “special” sum, way more than the already outrageous N3 million others received.
“Godswill Akpabio used to give us at least N3million each as transport money every night we attended caucus meeting in Government House,” he said during an interview on Planet FM in Uyo on Saturday, November 7. “My own was special, it was more than N3million.”
The former minister said despite the largesse, he still fell out with Mr. Akpabio, who is now the senate minority leader.
He made the claim to buttress his argument that he could not be bought with money.
Mr. Akpabio could not be immediately reached for comments.
Mr. Udoedehe, who is now a Board of Trustees member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, also narrated how a Divisional Police Officer was held in his community by villagers, for attempting to illegally take away election materials during the April 11 governorship poll in the state.
He said the DPO was held for some time at Afaha Offot, Uyo Local Government Area, and was eventually rescued by a team of mobile policemen led by the commissioner of police, Akwa Ibom State.
Mr. Udoedehe did not give the name of the officer, but said he was from the “C” Division, Uyo.
Gabriel Achong, now retired, was the commissioner of police in Akwa Ibom State at the time.
A tribunal recently nullified the outcome of the polls in 18 out of 31 Local Government Areas of the state.
“What I did in my village, I need to tell you this. They came to carry the ballot boxes in my village. The incident is recorded at the police headquarters in Akwa Ibom State,” Mr. Udoedehe said.
“The villagers stopped the DPO ‘C’ Division and other policemen who came to cart away the (election) materials. In fact, the commissioner of police mobilised police from everywhere to my village to release the DPO,” Mr. Udoedehe said in response to a question whether he participated in the governorship election.
“So, did the election (eventually) hold in your village?” Planet FM went on to ask Mr. Udoedehe who is also a former senator.
“No, we had that incident,” Mr. Udoedehe responded.
“So, did you vote or did you not vote?” the interviewer pressed.
“I said we had an incident in my village,” he responded again.
Mr. Udoedehe said the incident was another demonstration that he should have been the governorship candidate of APC in the state – not Umana Okon Umana.
“What I did in my own ward (during the election), Umana Okon Umana (the APC governorship candidate) couldn’t do in his own village. I am giving you fact. My village did not allow the DPO to leave with the ballot materials. It took the entire mobile police base to come to my village. They shot guns and arrested the people,” he said.
Mr. Udoedehe said he deserved to be a governorship candidate of APC, and not Mr. Umana, because of his contributions to the party within and outside Akwa Ibom state.
Compromised APC leaders
He said APC leaders in Lagos and Abuja were compromised before the party primary that produced Mr. Umana as the APC governorship candidate, and that the primary was rigged in Mr. Umana’s favour.
“The party wanted to do to Timipre Sylva in Bayelsa State what they did to me here. But the good people of Bayelsa who supported Sylvia stood against it,” Mr. Udoedehe said.
“They succeeded against me because of the individuals we planted in the party. They betrayed me because their interest was money and position. They abandoned me because I didn’t make them to swear to mbiam (fetish oath). I trusted them. I loved them. People said I should not put them there, but I put them there. At the time they were supposed to support me, they left me without any reason,” said Mr. Udoedehe.
He said he was in court to challenge the APC primary that Mr. Umana won, and that he would fight on till the case gets to the Supreme Court.
But APC in Akwa Ibom State denied having any pre-election case in the court against Mr. Umana.
“The case exists only in the imagination of Udoedehe,” the APC Publicity Secretary, Akwa Ibom State, Ita Awak, told PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr. Udoedehe said in the interview that nobody in APC or PDP could use money to influence him to do anything that was against his conviction.
He denied the rumour that PDP paid him to go out and speak publicly against APC because of the fresh political battle prompted by the Akwa Ibom governorship Election Tribunal judgment.
“People go about telling lies that I am coming out to speak so that I could be given money, do I look like somebody you can pay? I have sustained opposition in Akwa Ibom state on my own, is it now that I’ll collect money from someone?
“When I had N1billion to pay as deposit for the Nigeria Newsprint Manufacturing Company in Oku Iboku, how many people in Akwa Ibom state, apart from government, had money? When they were selling Nigeria, through privatization, how many of them in Akwa Ibom had money to buy anything?”
To reiterate his claims that nobody can buy him with money, the former senator said he was bold enough to leave the then Akwa Ibom governor, Godswill Akpabio, and the PDP at a time Mr. Akpabio was doling out money regularly to members of PDP caucus in the state, of which he said he was part of.
“Godswill Akpabio used to give us at least N3million each as transport money every night we attended caucus meeting in Government House. My own was special, it was more than N3million. But even with this gift, I disagreed with him (Akpabio) and left him. I left because Akwa Ibom’s interest was paramount to me than any other thing.
“The main reason I quarreled with Godswill Akpabio is that the government derailed initially by bringing people that were not supposed to be in government. Government is so sacred. There are people that are not supposed to be in government. If you allow them in, then that sacredness would be broken,” Mr. Udoedehe said.
Mr. Udoedehe accused Mr. Akpabio, who is now senate minority leader, of misusing state funds and causing poverty in Akwa Ibom state.
“Development goes beyond infrastructure,” he said. “People in Uyo are now selling off their properties, including their fathers’ graves. It shows the level of poverty here.”