“Honourable Speaker, off the mic! Off the mic! Minister Akpabio, off the mic!” This is the fragmented memory that often springs upon the mind at the mention of the name Godswill Akpabio. Whether this recollection is accompanied by amusement, helpless anger, or something altogether different, depends on the individual doing the recollection. Nevertheless, Akpabio remains an individual whose actions cannot be judged without an absorbing and concentrated gaze.
It is with growing helplessness that several news agencies reported that Akpabio, the honourable Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs and most prominent face of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has declared his intention to run for the president position in 2023. The aforementioned helplessness is not only because every reputable and disreputable public figure appears to be gunning for the position, but because it is Akpabio, a man whose ledger of controversies reaches to the moon, that is indeed the subject of discussion.
What is Akpabio’s legacy at the NDDC? Before Akpabio assumed the office of Minister of Niger Delta, he was already battling several individuals who were convinced that he had almost sunk Akwa Ibom, the State over which he was captain between 2007 and 2015. Of course, Akpabio was elected as a Senator after his gubernatorial tenure, but that period zoomed by without significance, some people say. It was the same spirit of flippancy that Akpabio waltzed into the NDDC.
Perhaps people would have ignored Akpabio’s presidential ambition if he had quietly announced it and left the podium. However, Akpabio made claims regarding what he did at NDDC, which according to some people, is nothing. The least Akpabio could have done before hightailing to Aso Rock would be to constitute an NDDC Board. But the man in question did nothing of the sort, and instead, in his words, “effectively repositioned the agency to meet its core mandate.”
Really, one cannot fault Akpabio. Political figures continue to thrive in Nigeria even when they have never actively contributed to the growth and development of the nation or its people.