Wednesday, 6th December 2023

Akpabio’s emergence ‘renews hope’ in Niger Delta region

By Godwin Ijediogor and Monday Osayande (Asaba), Julius Osahon (Yenagoa) and Tina Agosi Todo (Calabar)
16 June 2023   |   3:09 am
Stakeholders in the South-South region of Nigeria have hailed the emergence of former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, as new President of Senate, describing it as a sign of equity.

Nigeria’s Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, reacts after emerging as the Senate President of the 10th Nigeria National Assembly in Abuja on June 13, 2023. (Photo by KOLA SULAIMON / AFP)

Stakeholders in the South-South region of Nigeria have hailed the emergence of former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, as new President of Senate, describing it as a sign of equity.

They stressed that beyond the issue of equity and justice, Akpabio possesses the administrative acumen and capacity to lead the 10th Senate, and by extension, the National Assembly.

They also lauded the All Progressive Congress (APC) for being resolute that the Niger Delta produced the first Senate President since the return of democracy in 1999.

National President of Niger Delta Non-Violence Agitator Forum (NDNAF), Wilson Ikuli, said Akpabio is an outstanding personality, who has successfully institutionalised his great name in Nigerian politics because of his good works, as his footprints and legacies in Akwa Ibom State remain unmatched and unequalled.

“He is a leader that believes so much in team work and a true nationalist, which is the reason he has built a political bridge across the country.”

He does not subscribe to parochial and primordial sentiments that characterise some leaders that do not think or see beyond tribal and religious sentiments.

“So, his election is a further confirmation of his general acceptance in the polity and also has put a balance to the political equation in the country.

“The people of the Niger Delta (South-South) are, indeed, grateful to members of the 10th Senate and to Tinubu for finding him worthy for this national assignment.”

Spokesman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Dr. Ken Robinson, said without raising too much expectations, he hopes the choice of Akpabio would bring a new dispensation in the affairs of the South-South region, especially in terms of response, sincerity of purpose and genuine concerns for the issues of the Niger Delta “that was absent in the last eight years of Buhari administration.”

This, he stated, is in addition to Tinubu’s demonstration of fairness in his support for Akpabio to emerge as Senate President.

“So, we hope that during his time, it’s going to be a new era in the issues of the Niger Delta and we hope that there are better days to come.”

On his part, Newuwumi Omolubi, said it is a good development and a plus for the people of the region, being the first time someone from there is occupying the position.

While congratulating Akpabio, Omolubi said: “We hope and believe that he will bring his experience in governance to the Senate and address all the myriad of underdevelopment, exploitation and deprivation in the region, which has been laying the golden eggs.”

Omolubi urged Akpabio to ensure, among other things, the quick completion of the dilapidated East-West road, quick intervention in the NDDC crisis, completion of the Koko-Oghere Road, which was awarded since 1966, end oil theft and begin the second phase of the amnesty programme.

Leader of the first phase ex-agitators forum, Charles Kurobo, said: “Niger Delta critical stakeholders and political leaders are in support of Akpabio to make a positive difference in Tinubu’s administration.
“The best is what we want from the Niger Delta people, in terms of human empowerment, infrastructural development, social amenities and human capacity building”, he stated.

The Bayelsa State APC Chairman, Dennis Otiotio, while congratulating Akpabio, added: “We are happy that the senators listened to the advice of our party and President in voting for him. We believe he is going to bring his wealth of experience to bear in ensuring that they work in harmony with the executive arm of government to bring democracy dividends to the people of Nigeria.

“This is the first time the South-South is producing the Senate President, we believe Akpabio will use his position to attract development to the region. We pray to God to give him the wisdom and knowledge to pilot the affairs of the senate.”

An APC chieftain and former member, Presidential Campaign Committee, Dr. Ndem Udoudo Ndem, reckoned that with Akpabio’s emergence as Senate President, there would be a new vista of hope, as the National Assembly will have a very robust engagement and would carry out legislative business in the interest of Nigerians and Nigeria.

In addition, Ndem said the senate was bound to experience peace and unity, as the new president is a bridge builder and a man of vast experience, having served as a two-term governor and a minority leader of the 8th Senate.

“As a lawyer, two-term governor and former minority leader in the 8th Senate, it is my firm belief that he will surely hold the senate together in unity and function effectively for the benefit of Nigerians,” he said.

While commending the senators for choosing Akpabio, Ndem also expressed confidence that the senate under him would cooperate with President Bola Tinubu-led executive to ensure that his ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda is achieved for the good of all Nigerians.

Legal practitioner and former minority whip of the House of Representatives, Dr. Samson Osagie, said Akpabio election marks a new beginning with renewed hope.

He stated: “It is the expectation of all Nigerians that this 10th National Assembly would provide the requisite legislative support for the ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda of President Tinubu’s administration to improve the living conditions of Nigerians and elevate the social and economic development of our dear nation.”

Osagie, while congratulating all the elected members of the National Assembly for this historic moment and in their individual careers, coming at a time the country is witnessing a smooth transition of power from one democratic government to another, said Nigeria is certainly on a trajectory that offers hope and progress for its citizens.

He said: “This is certainly a new beginning for the nation with the assurance of a renewed hope in the capacity of our country to triumph over the many challenges besetting its social, economic and political fabrics.

“Nigeria remains our only option as the country God has given to us and we must do everything to jealously protect it for the benefit of its citizens.

“This is a new beginning, with Nigerians having very high expectations from the present administration and I am convinced that this National Assembly will deliver on its constitutional mandate,” he stated.

Asaba-based Anglican priest, Kingsley Odiete, said as soon as Akpabio won his senatorial ticket, “I knew he is somebody that is very smart, a go-getter, who always stands out for the best. And with his closeness to the presidency, he will get a lot for the South-South region, which he represents.”

He, however, advised him to calm down, listen to the masses and do what is expected to better their lives.

A leader of the Southern Nigeria Youths Congress, Emordi Ugochukwu, applauded those who supported Akpabio to emerge, saying it has brought equilibrium to the political system of the country.

He noted: “It is important for a Southern Nigerian to pilot the affairs at the National Assembly as we begin another phase of our national journey.

“For those bringing up the argument that the Senate Presidency should go to the North, because Tinubu is from the South, they should be reminded that the eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari saw Dr. Bukola Saraki and Dr. Ahmed Lawan from the North as senate presidents.

“It is, therefore, only right for the position to now rotate to South and we are glad that Akpabio has won and will do the needful because he is qualified, experienced and possesses the needed capacity to effectively perform as a senate president.”

To the immediate past commissioner for Rural Transformation in Cross River State, Mr. Edem Okokon, there is no doubt about Akpabio’s capacity to lead the senate, expressing optimism that if given the needed support by his colleagues in the senate, he would replicate his developmental strides in Akwa Ibom State in the senate.

Okokon said: “I’m happy for Akpabio, from his activities and the progress he recorded in Akwa Ibom State, if the same energy is replicated in the senate as its president, he will do well. All we need is someone who can make Nigeria work for us, and I see Akpabio in that light.

“For the other senators who have lost out in this race, they should work together with him to ensure that the Nigeria of our dreams comes to be.”

An environmentalist, Mr. Martins Egot, believed Akpabio’s election has gone a long way to show the direction and the trustworthiness of the Tinubu administration, as it strives to address the issues of equity, justice and fairness in the polity.

“For me, it’s laudable that Akpabio has emerged as the senate president. It shows that this administration is ready to consider fairness and equity in the discharge of the functions and the distribution of positions.

“I commend the members who sat together and considered that yes, it is good for the South, particularly the South-South to have the senate presidency this time.”

Also speaking, Augustina Akamo said it feels good to know that somebody from the South-South zone has emerged as senate president, adding: “South-South is blessed to have Akpabio there. He did well when he was the governor of Akwa Ibom State, so I believe he will represent us well in the Senate.”

In this article