• Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Great news from Uyo is about akara, not Akpabio

IF Senate President Godswill Akpabio addresses him as an uncommon politician, who should contest his point? Which politician’s trajectory has been on ascendancy thus – Commissioner for eight years, Governor for eight years, four years as a ranked Senator in his first term, Minister of the Niger Delta for four years during which he was basically the Sole Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC?

Akpabio is the one. Do speak of this intentional politician, who speaks his mind, in envy? We can doubt the quality of the mind but Akpabio likes to be heard, lays fervent claims to intellectualism and would even prefer the quantity of his words to quality.

He has been embedded in Nigeria’s political swings in the past 24 years. That alone he wears as a badge of honour for which he has the same inclination as wearing a cap with the President’s political insignia to the chambers as Senate President.

The eclipse of the Senate’s independence was confirmed in that apparel. Akpabio was the President’s Senate President, an uncommon Senate President, who marked the rest of us as poor in his “let the poor breathe” retort at a Senate session. He is rich unlike the multitude of us. Trained as a lawyer, he has been a professional politician in the only distinguished part of his life.

Akpabio amply missed two major windows to elevate his Senate Presidency considering it is all about him. First was his opaque clarification of the Senate’s decision on a war across the border with Niger Republic. The President was not permitted to go to war but should take all necessary actions to restore democracy.

Next was his visit to the President when the screening of Festus Keyamo, a ministerial nominee, hit the rocks. Akpabio had reportedly attended a security meeting with the President on Niger Republic.

Keyamo’s name was in the second batch of the ministerial list. Voices opposed to the nominee made the session rowdy. Keyamo was the embodiment of everything a Minister should not have been. In 2021, he shunned invitations by the Senate to explain a N52 billion job-creation programme, and accused the National Assembly of corruption, according to Senator Darlington Nwokocha (Labour Party) from Abia State, mover of the motion for the suspension of the screening of the former Minister of State for Labour.

After Akpabio’s visit to the President, an apology smoothened Keyamo’s clearance. He was asked to “take a bow”. Some thought Keyamo’s screening was an opportunity for the Senate to have asserted its abhorrence of Ministers belittling its powers without consequence.

Akpabio had none of that ambition. He would miss no chance to please the President. His garrulity birthed a testy moment when he announced that a token had been paid into Senators’ accounts to enjoy their recess.

“In order to enable all of us to enjoy our holidays, a token has been sent to our various accounts by the Clerk of the National Assembly,” he said. “I withdraw that statement,” he said, to abate the confusion, on realising that he was on live television. “In order to allow you to enjoy your holiday, the Senate President has sent prayers to your mail boxes to assist you to go on a safe journey and return,” was Akpabio’s feeble attempt at rescuing himself from self-inflict trouble. Was he trying to account for some money? How much did he budget for Senators’ recess? What was the source of the money? The announcement has resulted in some constituents camping at the gates of their Senators for a share of the “token” that was N2 million to each Senator. Figures roaming the media are as high as N35 million per Senator. Senator Jimoh Ibrahim’s alert that is public reads N2 million.

A hard time awaits Akpabio with Senators when the Senate returns from recess. Many Senators are yet to come to terms with the fact that he exposed them to such harm and embarrassment over N2 million.

Back in Uyo which Akpabio brought to some prominence during his tenure as Governor, the University of Uyo was up to something great on Thursday. I missed this ground-breaking event. Ohi Alegbe, my elder colleague, sent the invitation to me. I decided to share it as a message on universities’ relevance to the concerns of their immediate communities.

Akara, the delicacy from fried beans paste, has not be accorded its economic and cultural place in our society.

Thanks to the brains at the University of Uyo for being at the fore-front of the promotion of akara, our culture, and breaking out from the tall fortresses that ignore native economic impacts of our foods like akara proceeds of which have made great impacts to the society.

What I like about this otherwise ordinary symposium is the multi-dimensional approach that transverses culture, gender economy, production, technology, health and the historicisation of akara production a location on Ibiam Street by Enenwan Linus Hanson in Uyo over 40 years!

Each of the areas lends itself to vast exploration with ranging linkages to other foods and economic activities that hold real value chains. Remarkably, it was at the instance of the University’s Department of History & International Affairs which pulled in the Department of Food Science & Technology, Department of Home Economics, and the Centre for Gender Studies.

Thankfully, the researches that would lead to the realisation of these efforts are just a fraction of the cost of those government-acquired SVUs that populate our roads. I implore all those who see the expanses of the Uyo dream to collaborate to bring it to fruition.

Read also: Akpabio under fire over lawmakers’ ‘money for holiday’


HUNGER, anger, frustration are wracking the land as Nigerians grope for survival. Platitudes like “let the poor breathe”, and “I feel your pain”, mock, rather than address the issue.

DOES the President have any qualms about his actions that can drown the sinking economy? Why is he raising the cost of governance with 48 Ministers, over 20 senior aides, he would appoint more, whose exquisite, imported vehicles, commodious residences, unknown salaries and allowances, would further drain public funds?

NOTE how different we are from the developed world, so called. Their sense of the sovereignty of a nation includes the World Bank withdrawing development assistance from Uganda over the country’s anti-gay law. An assistance has become a reason to determine a country’s laws. We should all be serious about developing our countries by ourselves.

PRESIDENT Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s version of equity is appointing only five Ministers out of 48 from the South East. Perhaps, it is important that he confirms the South East’s belief that even if he appoints 10 Ministers from the zone, they would join those for whom representation means looking after themselves.

HAS the war with Niger Republic started? Any answer would be trite and most likely wrapped in diplomalese. Pilots, logging extra two hours on the Lagos-London, to avoid Niger’s shut air space, should know.

DR. Diaso Vwaere, who died in a lift in a Lagos General Hospital, has been buried. The report of the government panel that investigated the incident dwelt on the cause of the “elevator failure” and not those whose irresponsibility killed Vwaere. The incident could have caused more deaths as doctors in Lagos went on strike to protest her demise.

PROFESSOR Ebiegberi Joe Alagoa, Fellow of Nigerian Academy of Letters, Ijaw nationalist, historian, documentarian, would formally mark his 90th birthday on 26 August in Yenagoa. He turned 90 on 14 April 2023. He has just completed a book on nationalist and pioneering journalist Ernest Sissei Ikoli, first Editor of Daily Times, who died in 1960.

.Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues