Fifth columnists have been trying to establish a discord between Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State and his predecessor and godfather, Senator Godswill Akpabio. Despite serial denials by the duo, those who actually want them to go their separate ways are not letting up, writes EMEKA SAMUEL
Both Senator Godswill Akpabio and his political godson, Governor Udom Emmanuel have jointly denied any rift, politically of otherwise between them, at least not for now. Despite firm denials, the rumour mills and mongers are not letting up.
The media has been awash with news that Akpabio was unhappy with Emmanuel for alleged wastage of public funds in attending the just concluded Akwa Ibom State Association in the Diaspora Convention in the United States of America.
It was rumoured that the former governor had advised Emmanuel not to embark on the journey because the trip was unnecessary, considering the cost involved. The rumour mills alleged that Senator’s grouse with the governor was because of travelling with a delegation of 66 persons and that he had asked the governor to avoid spending money on things that would not generate revenue for the state, but focus on attracting investors into the state.
There were also allegations that the Senate Minority Leader has not been happy with the governor over the choice of portfolios given to commissioners seen as Akpabio’s loyalists in the cabinet formed by the governor last month.
The alleged feud has turned out to be a hoax as the former governor has described the allegation as a blackmail.
Emmanuel has maintained that his relationship with his predecessor has remained cordial as demonstrated by Akpabio’s constant presence in most state functions and the retention of more than 11 commissioners who served under the Akpabio’s regime in the last administration.
Akpabio has himself at an interview with journalists recently in Abuja disputed the allegations reinstating his faith, belief and support for the governor, whom he extolled for defying detractors to take bold steps to respond to the yearnings of the Akwa Ibom people.
The Senator expressed displeasure that even after he had left office as governor, mischief-makers have continued to peddle lies and cautioned them to “leave Akpabio and Emmanuel alone”.
“I advise agents of disharmony to desist from their disruptive tendencies as Akwa Ibom State is moving forward to greater heights under the leadership of Mr Udom Emmanuel. I do not have the time to meddle into the affairs of the state, not because I do not care, but because my hands are full with matters as the Senate Minority Leader.
“Udom Emmanuel whom the entire state voted into office, is also more than capable to pilot the affairs of the state and take the state to greater heights,” he said.
He maintained that the conference has over the years become a viable forum for social and economic interactions between Akwa Ibom people from across the world and has provided the necessary interface between the government and its people in the Diaspora.
“Primarily, this network of kinship is a well-known provider of remittances. It also helps improve economic activities by creating and conducting business transactions across international borders and promoting foreign direct investment in addition to transferring new knowledge and skills.
“And moreover Foreign Direct Investment is the immediate direction of the state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel’s policy thrust,” Senator Akpabio had said.
The question is who wants them separated and who stands to benefit more in the event of their fall out? On the surface, nobody can say for sure who stands to benefit or in whose interest will be their fall out. But in politics, even shallow waters can run deep.
The persistent rumours of rift have been blamed on the political enemies of the two who feel they stand to gain should the incumbent and his immediate predecessor engage in a political quarrel. Recall that the elections that brought the duo into office are still being hotly contested with rumours that the elections may be cancelled. Any rift now in the calculation of their political rivals may make them lose concentration in successfully prosecuting the tribunal cases. This is a great political advantage to those who want Akpabio and Emmanuel engage in political fisticuffs.
However, both Senator Akpabio and his successor cannot afford to fall out now because divided the enemies must surely bring them down and bountifully reap therefrom.