The string of false and malicious stories in the media in recent times against Governor Godswill Akpabio, his government and the governor’s cousin, Sir Emem Akpabio has been traced to Bishop Samuel Akpan and Honourable Opolupm Etteh, a member of the state House of Assembly.
The revelation about Bishop Akpan, a former vice chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, and Honourable Opolupm Etteh, has come as a big surprise to most political observers in the state because both politicians present themselves in public as allies and supporters of the governor.
A key foot soldier in Bishop Samuel Akpan’s camp who leaked the secrets of their clandestine media attacks on the state government said all the false reports are politically motivated. “It’s all about politics of succession ahead of 2015,” the source said, requesting not to be named for fear of reprisal. The source spoke to our correspondent after a strategy meeting of the group at the Ewet Housing Estate residence of the bishop of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star in Uyo.
According to the source, who is a coordinator in Bishop Akpan’s political group, the bishop had briefed the strategy session that the smear campaign against Governor Akpabio and his government was the first in a series of strategic moves to ensure that he, Bishop Akpan, win the PDP ticket for the 2015 governorship election in the state.
The coordinator revealed that Bishop Akpan informed his supporters at the meeting that he was working hand in gloves with Hon Opolupm Etteh to ensure victory for Eket Federal Constituency in the party primary next year and in the governorship election in 2015.
According to him, the bishop explained that he and Hon Opolupm Etteh have struck up an alliance to work together because the governor has refused to give him a commitment of support for 2015. The bishop reportedly said that an aspect of their strategy is that both of them have decided to use every resource at their disposal to support the once struggling Guide newspaper “to come out every week with scandalous, utterly false and malicious stories against the governor and his government in other to discredit him and incite the people against his government.” The bishop was reported to have boasted that so far the strategy has worked with a string of “hits.”
The source listed those false reports as itemized below:
• The recent rumour of the death of the PDP chairman in the state, a death wish said to be born of the failure of Bishop Akpan and Hon Opolupm Etteh to have their way in the choice of chairman of the party in the last state party congress. The chairmanship of the party was contested by the then incumbent, Prince Uwem Ita Etuk, who was the favourite of Etteh and Bishop Akpan, and the eventual winner, Mr Paul Ekpo, an ally of the governor. The sponsored false publication of the death of the party chairman by the two politicians, according to the field director of the bishop, was a way of telling the governor that his man would not be around to do his bidding in 2015.
• Another of their so-called hit was the fake story that Governor Akpabio, Emem Akpabio and Umana Okon Umana were the owners of Universal Energy, Septa Energy Gas Company Limited, Seven Energy Limited, among other companies in the state. A check with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) found the story to be false in its entirety as none of the people credited with the ownership of those companies were listed in their corporate filings with the CAC.
• The false publication that accused the governor and the SSG of organising an oath-taking session for members of the state House of Assembly at the home of Emem Akpabio, an allegation that has been denied and condemned by the house members.
• Another false story that originated from the evil imagination of Bishop Akpan and Opolupm against the current government was the one in The Guide newspaper edition of December 2, 2012, which alleged that the SSG had bugged the telephone lines of the governor. This was found to be utterly false.
• Still out of the fertile but evil imagination of the two politicians, according to the source, was the false story after last Christmas which alleged that the SSG had ordered the governor not to present his Ukana community with the usual Christmas gifts, even when it was widely reported that the governor had magnanimously feted and provided for his people during the festivities.
• In another smear campaign, the source said, Bishop Akpan and Opolupm Etteh consorted with Michael Ukanga Ekpo, Inemesit Ina and Emmanuel Sam of the Guide to peddle the falsehood that the SSG and about 13 other ranking members of the Akpabio administration had set up a hit squad to kill their political opponents. This allegation has attracted the condemnation of well meaning Akwa Ibom people, who have called on the security agencies to investigate and prosecute all those behind the story as they were capable of hiding under the allegation to carry out killings as it happened in the build up to the 2011 elections.
Analysts of political developments in the state have described the killer squad allegation as the worst of attempts at character assassination which clearly mirrors the depth of ill will which the authors of the allegation harbour against the current government for the sake of politics of 2015.
The analysts have wondered why these politicians prefer their hate campaign and false accusations against innocent people to bringing their track records into the open and asking the people to vote for them on those records. They suggest that it would infinitely help to move the political process in a positive direction if all the promoters of negative campaign tactics were to change course and seek to sell themselves to the electorate with positive stories of their achievements and how they would improve the lot of the people when they get into office.
Bishop Akpan was said to have told his operatives at the strategy meeting that his campaign of falsehood was important to make the governor and those believed to be in his good books look as dirty as possible. He said the stories they have so far planted on the pages of The Guide newspaper were yielding results. Their strategy for diverting attention, according to the source, was to have the stories first on the internet and subsequently reproduce them in The Guide.
Bishop Akpan reportedly told his strategy meeting that he had no reason to trust the governor, boasting that Governor Akpabio was a nobody until, he, Bishop Akpan, through his political organisation, sold him to the people of Akwa Ibom State in 2007. The bishop allegedly boasted that he would repeat the 2007 feat in 2015, with or without the support of the governor.
The bishop promised his supporters sweetheart deals once he becomes governor, reminding them of how he offered juicy appointments to loyal members of his political group, even when the governor was always against such recommendations, the source said.