Despite being stampeded to back down from the 2023 presidential race, forces against the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Godswill Akpabio, are not yet ready to let him be. Movement for the Survival of the Izon Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND), currently wants him to quit as a member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet for alleged lack of performance.
Akpabio last October took a swipe at Channels television for listing him as one of those eyeing the Presidential seat in 2023. The minister who berated the TV station for not respecting his request not to be linked with ambition for the post condemned the use of his photograph on the station’s platform for the same purpose.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Jackson Udom, Akpabio asked “that he be allowed to focus on the national assignment of assisting President Buhari to achieve his set goals for the people of the Niger Delta.”
“On Sunday, October 17, 2021, Channels Television’s political discussion and interview programme – Politics Today, anchored by Seun Okinbaloye, listed the name of the minister and went ahead to use his photograph as one of those purportedly eyeing the presidential seat in 2023.
“As a politician and a serving minister who understands the distractions such unsolicited action(s) could cause in the polity, the minister, has, therefore, for the umpteenth time, called on groups, individuals and media houses, either newspapers, television, radio or online discussion platforms, to forthwith, stop associating his name and picture whenever 2023 Presidential discussions are being held”, the statement said.
Udom asserted that his principal has neither consulted any individual or groups nor declared interest in contesting for the rumoured post in the upcoming election, adding, “what is topmost in the heart of the minister is how to assist President Buhari to leave a lasting legacy in the Niger Delta and to reposition the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to deliver on its mandate.”
The statement then warned other media houses and 2023 presidential election campaigners against the use of the former governor’s “name and photographs as one of the purported presidential aspirants in 2023, in any of their discussion platforms.”
In the meantime, MOSIEND is alleging that Akpabio has betrayed the hopes and expectations that heralded the announcement of his appointment as minister in charge of the Niger Delta, claiming that the minister is not representing the interest of the region.
According to them, Akpabio is of no value to the Niger Delta people, alleging further that the minister’s lack of transparency, high handedness, underperformance and treacherous manner of managing the NDDC for the past two years can be described as the worst in recent times.
MOSIEND’s National Secretary, Ambassador Amain Winston Cotterel, who made their position on Akpabio public in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, described his tenure as minister of Niger Delta as fraught with gross misappropriation when compared with his predecessors.
While noting that the oil and gas region has not witnessed any tangible infrastructure or sustainable policy framework that is targeted at promoting socio-economic sustainability and infrastructural development, MOSIEND said, “it is of note that from 2019 till date the NDDC has received well over N799 billion, from 2019 budget to 2020 budget, yet, the region still suffers gross underdevelopment with nothing to show for the huge sum.
“This is the first time that the presidency is giving full powers to the ministry to supervise the NDDC. It could be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 formally transmitted a letter to the minister of Niger Delta, giving him the full power to supervise the commission.
“This is a move that is targeted at accelerating development and democratic dividend if Sen. Akpabio was a sincere fellow. Akpabio’s reckless abandonment of the region for his selfish and personal gain can no longer be tolerated.
“Hence, MOSIEND is liaising with other sister organisations who share the same opinion and are tired of the impunity of the minister to continue to syphon the ministry and the region with every means necessary at its beck and call.
“MOSIEND is going to engage all known forms of civil disobedience to compel Akpabio to resign.
As it is now, the most important move to salvage the Niger Delta is to ensure that Akpabio resigns without being butted out of office for his own good.
“Akpabio’s manipulative tendency is becoming unbearable; his move to create disaffection among groups and disorganize the region if not checked will cause a breakdown of law and order soonest.
We wonder why the security agencies, like the DSS are not furnishing the presidency of the tension brewing in the region as a result of the unnecessary delay in constituting a board for the NDDC.
“To our brothers who go by the name Frontline ex-agitators, or ex-freedom fighters, who have stooped so low to bootlick for a paltry amount of money, mortgaging the development of the region by encouraging Akpabio to do a selfish bidding, that whatever happens in this region you should also be blamed.
“It is an eyesore how our brothers that were once respected have cultivated the habit of hobnobbing with the minister and continue to encourage him to adopt all kinds of ulterior practices in an attempt to pocket the commission.
“This we will disallow, and we will be disquiet about it, we vehemently oppose the fifth columnist approach adopted by Akpabio to milk the region dry”, and called on President Buhari to rise up to the occasion and appoint a substantive board that is independent of Akpabio’s manipulation in order to show the people of the region that he means well for them.
“Akpabio’s tenure as minister of Niger Delta is the worst recorded so far, a stitch in time saves nine; make hay while the sun shines. The youth of the Niger Delta should not be blamed if they decide to take the laws into their own hands in a course to compel the federal government to do the needful.
“They need not be arrested nor embarrassed by the security agents who by themselves are culpable of keeping silent and not transmitting true correspondence of the situation of the region to Mr. president for prompt action.
“For a paltry amount of money, they keep mortgaging the development of the region by encouraging Akpabio to do a selfish bidding, that whatever happens in this region you should also be blamed”, MOSIEND said.