OpinionOPINION: Akpabio vs Gov Fubara @Isiokpo: When A Senate President Becomes Callously...

OPINION: Akpabio vs Gov Fubara @Isiokpo: When A Senate President Becomes Callously Flippant

March 13, (THEWILL)- The need for the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, to be re-educated on what constitutes a witticism and what should be handled with utter maturity and sobriety is no longer a call to duty, but a call to urgency.

How else do you describe the comments Akpabio made, especially the direct attack on the governor of Rivers state, Siminialayi Fubara, at the funeral of the former Access Bank chief, Herbert Wigwe, if not to say it was very unnecessary and at worst, outrightly callous?

Akpabio should be told if he is not aware yet that his recent actions have been a source of embarrassment to the Senate institution and the people of Nigeria, and have undermined his credibility as a leader of this great country.


This same Akpabio, last month, at a function in the Tai Local Government area of Rivers State, asked the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, to look for someone from Ogoni extraction to succeed the state governor, Sim Fubara, in 2027. The incumbent governor is an Ijaw from Opobo in the same senatorial district as the Ogonis- Rivers Southeast Senatorial District. It didn’t occur to him that the statement would pitch the Ogonis against the Opobos and by extension, the entire Rivers Ijaw. Is that not a blunder by a man who is supposed to be the number three citizen of the country?

Now at Isiokpo, he’s responding to a remark by the governor that has nothing to do with him, asking the governor to quit his office if the struggle is not worth it. Haba, mallam!

It’s on record that Governor Fubara had never had issues –political or personal with Akpabio. It would be recalled that although a PDP governor, Fubara, urged federal lawmakers-elect from Rivers State to vote for Akpabio as Senate president in the 10th National Assembly.

As the President of the Senate, Akpabio has a responsibility to conduct himself in a manner that is above reproach.

What entered his head to have begun his speech at Isiokpo by lamenting that Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential flagbearer in the 2023 general elections, received greater applause from the crowd than he got? Jokes, abi? Political jibes at a solemn triple funeral in one family? If this was not the height of insensitivity, what else was it?

Any sane person would wonder why the Senate President would decide to turn a sad moment when family and friends are mourning such tragic losses into a political jamboree and a day of a thousand laughs.

Governor Fubara, while giving his remarks at the burial had said: “This one has to do with our political class, what is all this trouble all about? You want to kill, You want to bury, what is all this struggle about?”

The Senate President then decided to directly hit back at the state governor by asking him to quit his political career if he thought it was not worthwhile.

His words: “What is the struggle all about? I will answer you. In 2006, I wanted to be a deputy governor, so the then-deputy governor invited me and told me that this office had no money, there was nothing in it. I don’t know why you still insist on removing me from here and taking over.

“So the woman who went with me said ‘Your Excellency, then don’t wait for impeachment, just resign since there’s nothing in it’. And he stood up and started punching the woman, and I told him, Your Excellency, don’t punch her, she’s telling the truth. There’s nothing in the office that’s why I want it, because you’re too big for it. So your Excellency, Governor Fubara, if there’s nothing in the struggle, don’t struggle.”

Every decent person must be really pissed off by Akpabio’s comments, as it was outrightly in poor taste. Is it because of the unscrupulous wealth he has gathered over the years or sheer flippancy that has become a characteristic that he no longer knows how to talk about?

How could such a mature man, who is from a culture that respects the dead, not talk of the tragic one as the case was for the Wigwes, stand before a seriously bereaved and emotionally battered family to complain that the people in the church didn’t give him the same applause and reception like they gave Peter Obi?

What was Akpabio’s headache in the rhetorical question asked by the Rivers governor, a question, which was not directed at him that he chose to give a piercing direct attack – not a joke – to Governor Fubara? Well, the officiating pastor gave it back to him there and then kowai!

As if that wasn’t sinful enough, he ended up telling everyone listening to him to join him in consoling the widow, who was in one of the three caskets lying right before him. Do you call that a joke or pure prattle insensitivity?

As a damage limitation measure, The Senate President should take a step back and reflect on his recent actions that have brought his person and the exalted office of Senate President to ridicule.

Akpabio should stay out of making jokes. He’s not cut out for it. He will think he’s making a joke and ends up making a mess of himself. Remember the one he did about letting the poor breathe and the other about sending prayer requests to senators’ mailboxes?

As the President of the Senate, Akpabio has a responsibility to conduct himself in a manner that is above reproach or else, we will “switch off his mic.” God bless Nigeria.

About the Author

Ifeanyi Izeze, THE WILL
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