Former governor of Akwa Ibom State and senator-elect for Akwa Ibom North West, Godswill Akpabio, has called on Nigerians and members of the incoming 10th National Assembly not to assess him using his brief tenure as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
Speaking during an interview with journalists in Abuja on Saturday night, Akpabio said he preferred to be judged by his record as a lawyer of 36 years, commissioner for six years and a governor for eight years.
Akpabio is one of the contenders for the office of the Senate President for the 10th National Assembly, scheduled for inauguration on June 6.
He was first elected to the Nigerian Senate in 2015 from where he became the Minority Leader on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party but later defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress.
Akpabio resigned his position as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to contest the presidential primaries of the APC for the 2023 general elections but later stepped down for the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Though he is the preferred candidate of the President-elect and APC, a former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, and the Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, have vowed not to step down from the Senate Presidency race.
“I do know that I have not changed in any way. I am somebody God has given the opportunity to be an uncommon transformer wherever I go. I will not like to be judged by ministerial appointment for Niger Delta, which everybody knows is a problematic place. But I would like to be judged by my record as a lawyer of 36 years, commissioner of six years and a governor of eight years,” Akpabio said.
It will be recalled that in July 2020, while in office as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Akpabio appeared before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Niger Delta in a forensic audit hearing of the N81.5bn spent by the ministry between January and July 2020.
A mild drama, however, ensued during the probe, when, while speaking to the corruption allegations levelled against him, the former Akwa Ibom State governor was told to “off your mic” by a member of the committee, leading to the popular phrase, “Honourable Minister, off your mic.”
On his Senate Presidency ambition, Akpabio promised that if elected, he would sustain the January-December budget cycle initiated by the 9th National Assembly.
According to him, the introduction of the January-December budget cycle is one the major success stories of the outgoing Assembly.
He also explained his relationship with some of his colleagues opposing his ambition.
“On the issue of whether somebody is supportive or not, that is not the issue. The issue is that we must continue to engage. God has put us together for the next four years.
“We must continue to speak to people so that whatever perception they have which are really not correct about me will be totally debunked,” he said.