By Kelvin Obambon
A presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Godswill Akpabio, says there has never been a time he stood against the interest of Cross River while serving as Governor of Akwa Ibom State for 8 years.
Akpabio stated this on Wednesday evening while addressing delegates of the APC in Calabar ahead of the party’s presidential primaries slated for 29th and 30th May, 2022.
Speaking on the controversial ceding of 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom, an issue that has always been a bone of contention between the two sister states, the presidential hopeful said, “As governor of Akwa Ibom State for 8 years, there was never a time in my life that I took Cross River State to court, instead I fought against it. But politicians will not tell you the truth because they have to tell you something to make sure you vote them into power. I advised against court. 40 per cent of Calabar is made up of Akwa Ibom people, so why fight each other?
“I wrote a letter to the then president and said whatever Cross River State was getting on the oil wells continue to pay them, and the sum of 18.6billion was deducted from Akwa Ibom’s money and sent to the government of the day in Cross River State at that time. But still, your government decided to go to court. The youths here, some of them were probably 7 or 10 years old, they won’t understand. The next thing they will come and say is “they took my oil wells, they did this…” did you understand the circumstances that your government went to court and lost against the advice. I set up a committee made up of Assam Assam, Anietie Okon and others to come and advice the government that we are too close, that there’s no way I can collect money or anything that belongs to Cross River State.
“Nobody has given me the opportunity to tell the truth. Today in APC we are a progressive party. We want to move forward that’s why I’m telling you this. Go and cross check, if you find out that throughout my tenure as governor in 8 years I ever took a lawsuit against Cross River State then don’t vote for me on the 29th.”
Continuing, Akpabio said, “When they lost that case they also ran to me. I negotiated a political solution with the power… I was chairman of the Governor’s Forum at that time. I negotiated that Cross River State cannot be left out. But has anybody given me credit for it? No body. I love Cross River State with a passion. You don’t need to like my face. But when you know the truth, the truth shall set you free. So I stand in front of you to let you know there’s no way God can take me to the Villa… Because God is taking me there, that I will not carry Cross River along. It is not your fault that Bakassi was ceded to Cameroon. A child of rape should not allow the circumstances of his birth to mar his future. It is time for us to close rank as Akwa-Cross.”
The one-time senator described Cross River as his home, adding “I couldn’t have said I’m going for presidency without putting my house in order and my house include Cross River State. Should I come and ask you for vote? No. You know what to do. You are the ones to become the disciples on Eagle Square to look for votes, even when you know you have your own to add for me.”
While mentioning areas in which the state might likely benefits should he become elected in 2023, the former Minister of Niger Delta said, “You know that there’s no way we will continue to suffer on the Calabar-Itu road. Or don’t you know that that road can carry a nylon tarred road? Don’t you know that that Odukpani Junction can become a major flyover or an intersection – so that when a car is coming from the Calabar area towards Ogoja or Ikom you go on top, if you are going towards Uyo you go under, if you are going towards the next road by your side you curve. Of course you know that we can link Calabar with Oron. That contract was signed under Minister Usani by the Federal Executive Council; and that was supposed to be the fifth section of the east west road, starting from Oron to Calabar with 13km of bridge and about 10km of road, but the story was that it ended in Hawkins street, where you have the cemetery and that people protested that there were so many things to be touched. The Federal Executive Council signed that contract at the cost of N265billion but I think your son (I’m not criticizing him) reviewed it to four hundred and something billion and so that contract was rested. It’s time for you to move from Calabar to Oron and get your fresh fish and come back here and get your crayfish.”
Akpabio said his capacity to lead Nigeria was however not in doubt because as governor he was able to develop the human capacity of an average Akwa Ibomite and impacted positively on the infrastructural landscape of Akwa Ibom with monumental projects such as the international stadium, international airport, standard roads and modernization of the capital city, which have all contributed to change the economic fortunes of the state by repositioning it as a one-stop investment hub in the south south geopolitical zone.
He promised that if elected, women will have 35 per cent stake in his administration, while efforts and resources would be directed towards addressing issues of security, youth unemployment, education, health, infrastructure, national integration, among others.