Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel, and his predecessor and godfather, Godswill Akpabio, are at war against each other.
The public, for several months, has been fed with the information that the two leaders were enjoying the best of relationship, until during the yuletide, when Mr. Akpabio, the Senate Minority Leader, publicly accused the governor of neglecting his area, the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District.
The senator, at a get-together organised for the chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in his district, said it was better to inform the governor that “2018 is less than one year to election, all is not well.”
Referring to the governor, apparently, he added, “Don’t allow anybody to deceive you that all is well.”
Thereafter, things went sour. A rejoinder from Governor Emmanuel’s media aide, Aniekeme Finbarr, who enumerated all the ‘good things’ the governor has done for Mr. Akpabio’s senatorial district, attracted a rebuke from the senator’s media aide, Anietie Ekong.
“Looking at it on its face value and for whatever it is worth, what Mr. Finbarr sought to do is to reply Senator Akpabio that contrary to what the Senator had said, indeed the concerns by the elders, youths, women, leadership and the entire people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District is (sic) misplaced,” Mr. Ekong said in a statement he issued in a response to Mr. Finbarr.
“It’s like telling Senator Akpabio, ‘shut up, sir’,” Mr. Ekong said in the statement.
And then the governor himself on Wednesday dropped the bombshell: He threatened to deal decisively with anyone trying to cause trouble in the state, irrespective of his status.
Mr. Emmanuel, according to a Government House statement, said he was aware that people would try to “change the narrative in order to score cheap political points” because 2019 election was around the corner.
“This year is going to be a little bit busier in terms of politics and once you enter into a political terrain of this nature so many things come up.
“But let me also use this platform to warn any Akwa Ibom person that with the sacrifice we’ve made to maintain peace in the state, we won’t tolerate anybody, anybody underlined, to breach that peace.
“You can see that people have made a lot of sacrifices in the last three years to maintain peace in the state,” the governor said, apparently referring to the remarks from Mr. Akpabio.
The statement quoted the governor as saying that he was shocked at the “emerging political theory whereby excellence is sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity”.
“Let me also say here that it’s just a new political theory where a postgraduate student would score 100 per cent and you say it’s a mock examination and is a failure.
“So if you score 100 per cent and under the new dispensation of a political theory, it is a failure. It means we have to go back to the drawing board and know what the pass mark is.
“If 100 per cent under the new political theory is a failure then it holds much to be desired,” the governor said.
Mr. Akpabio’s grouse, going by his public remarks, is that Mr. Emmanuel has abandoned the Four Point by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene and the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road started by the senator when he was the governor of the state.
Mr. Akpabio’s thinking, as expressed by his media aide, Mr. Ekong, is that if he (Akpabio) could dualise the road from Uyo to Ibesikpo-Asutan, where the former governor of the state, Victor Attah, is from, even when Mr. Attah did not want or support him as governor, then there is no reason why the present administration that he birthed and has been supporting could not complete the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road.
Governor Emmanuel is said to be angry and frustrated with the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road because of the huge amount of money allegedly taken out for the road project by the Akpabio administration, without completing it.
An audio clip from the Government House was leaked to the press in November, last year, in which Governor Emmanuel was heard saying, “Some people would go and write ‘Oh, he has abandoned Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road’! Do you know how much I pay to Julius Berger?
“Immediately I got into office, I went and borrowed N6 billion from Zenith Bank and gave to Julius Berger for them to continue that Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road, they took the money and claimed that it was for past indebtedness.
They didn’t put one naira on that road.
“There’s no single month that I don’t give Julius Berger at least N1 billion to run that road,” the governor said.
The governor also spoke on the Four Point by Sheraton Hotel.
“For the Ikot Ekpene hotel, that one I can’t help it. We must still put in more money. A lot of people have started making noise that the government has refused to open the hotel. Sorry, building is different from hotel.
“I need $7.2 million to turn that building into a hotel. And as at today, I have paid a deposit of $4 million, remaining $3.2 million. And I am still looking for the $3.2 million to pay so that I can turn that building into a hotel. It is not yet a hotel,” he said.
People from different walks of life, as it is expected of this kind of war, have jumped into the fray to express their loyalty to either the governor or the senator.
Clement Ikpatt, a former aide to Mr. Akpabio when he was the governor took to Facebook on Thursday to criticise Governor Emmanuel for “yelling out” a “last warning” threat against Mr. Akpabio.
“General peace is not being threatened in Akwa Ibom State since former governor, Godswill Akpabio, said that all is not well with his people and district. So, why the warning?
“In an election year, folks are going to take strong positions and wield strong partisan influences as is expected in a free and democratic society.
“Udom’s ‘last warning’ threat is uncalled for and grossly undemocratic. If he cannot stand the heat, he should leave the Akwa Ibom State political kitchen by simply resigning from office,” Mr. Ikpatt said.
“Democracy must and will thrive in Akwa Ibom State,” he added.