Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom state has reportedly begged President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for forgiveness over a series of errant behaviour and disrespect to the person and office of the President.
Apart from personally begging the President for his untoward behaviour, and a promise to turn a new leaf, we learnt that Akpabio also sent elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, to plead with the President on his behalf.
Akpabio, who is also the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum was accused of being disrespectful to President Jonathan by the trio of Aniekan Ukut, Victor Usenekong and Ifreke Mbang, who are Akwa Ibom indigenes and trustees of Citizens Arise, an Abuja-based advocacy group that focuses on corruption, impunity and bad governance.
In a full page advertorial published on page 46 of The Nation newspaper of Wednesday, March 5, 2014, the Citizens Arise trustees listed a catalogue of inappropriate conducts by the governor, noting that they felt deeply scandalized by the many disrespectful conducts of Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio towards the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele.
“On Saturday, 8th February, President Jonathan was in Sokoto to formally welcome back the former governor and leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, to the PDP at a colourful and well attended rally at the Shehu Kangiwa Square. Two hours after the event had started, Gov. Akpabio sauntered in. He went straight up to the podium where Gov. Liyel Imoke was making a speech on behalf of the governors, grabbed the microphone from him and started talking,” the group alleged. “Although his lateness to the event was a breach of protocol and disrespect to the president, Akpabio offered no apologies other than to blame his tardiness on the president himself.”
Another instance of this very reprehensible conduct by Mr. Akpabio, according to the group, was the award night for the 100 persons who were honoured by the President as part of the event to mark the nation’s centenary. The group alleged that the event, which had former presidents and heads of state, foreign and Nigerian dignitaries in attendance, was progressing well and President Jonathan was at the podium giving out awards when Akpabio waltzed into the hall, again in utter breach of protocol and disrespect to the president and other dignitaries. “We noticed that the governor was inappropriately dressed in a black suit and shirt without a tie. As soon as Akpabio arrived, instead of taking his seat at the back, he moved from table to table, kneeling down to talk to dignitaries, notably the First lady, Mrs. Patirnce Jonathan, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Muhammadu Buhari, thus creating distractions to other guests.”
The trio concluded the advertorial by apologizing to Mr. President for the errant behaviour of the governor. “He does not reflect the true character of an Akwa-Ibom man which include honesty, respectfulness, humbleness and sincerity,” they said.
Perhaps, as a demonstration of repentance, Akpabio did not only attend the Ilorin and Minna rallies on time but also shared in the attires worn by the President and other dignitaries at the occasion, a clear departure from the errant behaviour at the Owerri when Akpabio had turned up late and in a different attire from what the dignitaries wore, our source hinted..
It would be recalled that the President had reportedly, once, banned Governor Akpabio from the Presidential villa over inappropriate conducts of spraying dollars on security personnel and other presidential aides.
Whether or not the sobriety and remorse being shown by the Akwa-Ibom State Governor would stand the test of time is another matter, altogether.