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NIGERIA: The coming of Senator Akpabio

Godswill AkpabioWhen hopefully on June 2nd, 2015 the eight senate is inaugurated, Senator Godswill Akpabio would be the cynosure of many eyes. Three days before his inauguration, that is on May 29, 2015, Senator Akpabio would have handed over the governorship to his chosen successor and relocated to Abuja, having drawn the curtain on his eight years of uncommon transformation of Akwa Ibom State.

Senator Akpabio would not be the only one to be relocating from the Government House to the red chamber. A number of other incumbent governors also reportedly eyeing the senate would also have transformed from ‘His Excellency’ to ‘Distinguished Senator’.

However, while a number of other incumbent governors including Gabriel Suswam of Benue State, who has Senator Barnabas Gemade to contend with, would find it difficult, Akpabio’s entry into the senate would be a smooth sail.

Indeed, so confident was the uncommon transformation agent of his senatorial bid, that when the senate held a retreat in Uyo last year, that he told ‘fellow’ senators of his eagerness to join them as senator representing Ikot Ekpene senatorial district. It surely would have been one of the most embarrassing political outings for Senator Alloysius Etok, the incumbent representing the senatorial district. Even more remarkable is that Etok was the chairman of the organizing committee for that retreat.

However, if Senator Akpabio hopes to gain the ascendancy among other 108 equally ambitious senators, or bring an uncommon transformation to the senate the way he has been publicized to have done in Akwa Ibom, he would surely be in for a shock. The senate is a chamber that easily cuts down hard earned reputations.

But then Akpabio’s transformation into a senator would also depend on certain other variables surrounding the 2015 contest. If Jonathan drops out of the contest and pushes for a northern Muslim presidential candidate, it could also change the political calculations and make room for Akpabio’s consideration as a possible vice-president.

It is something Senator Etok obviously would be praying to happen as it would save his seat! It would be recalled that ahead of the 2007 presidential contest that Senator Abubakar Sodangi became one of the champions of the presidential aspiration of his then outgoing governor, Abdullahi Adamu both of whom are from the same constituency.

However, it was believed in many quarters that Sodangi’s support for Adamu was meant to keep the then governor away from the senate! After failing in his 2007 presidential bid, Adamu came out hard to successfully wrest the senate seat from Sodangi in 2011.

Indeed, many former governors have successfully relocated from the government house to the senate, but regrettably, many of them have been swallowed up inside.

There were, however, some momentary flashes of brilliance from that exponent of the Ebeano Phenomenon, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani. Your correspondent remembers at the peak of the intrigues of the Aso Rock cabal in February 2010, when Senator Nnamani came out to discountenance the practice of the Nigeria senate having a spokesman.

“With all due respect, I would not shy away from contributing to the issue of the Senate spokesman, Ayogu Eze,” Senator Nnamani began. “What we are practising is constitutional democracy. The issue of senate spokesperson is local and may be specific to the Nigerian democratic experiment,” he submitted.

Whereas many other governors have turned the senate into a retirement abode, one prominent productive exception is the case of the diligent and dutiful Senator Ahmed Makarfi, the former governor of Kaduna State. Even as he made a landmark as governor of Kaduna State, Makarfi has also established a legacy in the Senate through his duties as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance.

Despite his personal friendship with President Umaru Yar‘adua, Senator Makarfi was the one who insisted that budgets of the Federal Government should come with a revenue profile, an action that reportedly put the federal administration to check on its application of its income terms.

Besides him, virtually all other former governors in the senate have laid low in seeming retirement in the red chambers.

Senator Akpabio’s apparent ascendancy would certainly not change the practice. That is where his message of uncommon transformation would surely come to a full stop!

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