Here are Mr Akpabio’s six most embarrassing public comments as compiled by PREMIUM TIMES.
Table of Contents
1. N1 million lunch money for ‘hungry’ PDP chairmen
Godswill Akpabio, in March 2013, while he was the governor of Akwa Ibom State, stunned fellow Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders during a South-south zonal meeting of the party in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, when he said publicly, in front of television cameras, that he was doling out N1 million to each “hungry” state chairmen of the PDP for them to go have lunch at a fast- food outlet called Mr Bigg’s.
“My brother Governor, Uduaghan, said our members are hungry and that we must put food in their stomachs so that they don’t stray to other parties. I am giving all the state chairmen of the party N1 million right now for Mr Biggs. Our members must not be hungry,” Mr Akpabio said.
The then National Chairman of the PDP, Bamanga Tukur was at the meeting. He had led party leaders from Abuja to Port Harcourt for the meeting which was meant to reconcile feuding factions and restore peace to bickering state chapters.
The party leaders at the venue exchanged furtive glances in embarrassment over Mr Akpabio’s remarks. Shortly afterwards, the then Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and his Delta State counterpart, Emmanuel Uduaghan, walked out of the venue. Both did not return.
Mr Akpabio, however, continued his speech, asking all the PDP members in the region to rally around their son, President Goodluck Jonathan.
2. Akpabio confessed to rigging election on live TV
Mr Akpabio shocked Nigerians in March 2013, when he confessed on live TV how he had rigged the PDP senatorial primary election in Akwa Ibom State.
Mr Akpabio, still the governor of Akwa Ibom then, said he falsified a senatorial election result and personally replaced the winner with his preferred candidate.
He said this while he was addressing a delegation led by the then Minister of Information, Labaran Maku on a “Good governance tour” to Uyo.
While addressing the visiting delegation on his administration’s achievements, Mr Akpabio, seeking to impress his sense of evenhandedness on the audience, said he struck off the name of the winner of the Akwa Ibom North-West District in his party’s primaries and replaced same with Aloysius Etok.
Mr Etok went on to win the main elections and was later appointed the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service matters.
“The people of Ikono and Ini (local government areas) from 1960 have never produced a senator,” Mr Akpabio narrated.
“I used my own hand to strike out the name of the person who has won before, and I said it is important for me to give that region a senator in 2007, and I produced Senator Aloysius Etok for you; that’s where he comes from,” he said, before gesturing to Mr Etok, who attended the session alongside his colleague in the Senate, Ita Enang, to “take a bow”.
The disclosure jolted the audience and the governor’s associates who exchanged awkward glances.
Several minutes later, an aide to the governor passed him (Mr Akpabio) a note, apparently drawing Mr Akpabio’s attention to the devastating consequences of his comments.
Mr Akpabio gave the note some attention, before backtracking on his earlier comments.
3. ‘Honourable minister, it’s okay, it’s okay. Off your mic!’ drama
Mr Akpabio took on federal lawmakers, on 20 July 2020, while he was the minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
He accused members of the National Assembly of cornering most of the contracts in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) during a National Assembly investigative hearing.
“Most of the contracts in the NDDC are given out to members of the National Assembly, but you don’t know about it,” Mr Akpabio said to a female member of the investigative panel who was aggressively throwing questions at the then minister.
Rattled, the chairman of the panel, Thomas Ereyitomi, asked the minister to discontinue his testimony which was broadcast live.
“Honourable minister, it’s okay, it’s okay. Off your mic!” Mr Ereyitomi kept shouting.
An enraged Mr Akpabio, after the public hearing, went ahead to name lawmakers who allegedly got contracts from NDDC.
But he later made a U-turn and denied accusing members of the National Assembly of benefiting from NDDC contracts.
Mr Akpabio himself had been accused of inserting N500 million worth of projects into the 2017 budget of the NDDC when he was the Senate minority leader, an accusation his spokesperson, Anietie Ekong, dismissed as “nothing extraordinary”.
4. ‘Fear God, gun, and government’
In the heat of the campaign for his election as president of the 10th Senate, Mr Akpabio, in May, made a brief appearance at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, where the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, was meeting with members-elect of the House.
The meeting was convened to persuade the lawmakers-elect to support President Tinubu’s choice as the new speaker.
“Yesterday, I met the party. I actually left a sentence with them or thereabouts. Should I leave the sentence with you?” Mr Akpabio said to the lawmakers-elect.
“In your daily dealings, my late mother told me that I should be aware of the 3Gs: The first G is God; the second G is Gun and the third G is Government.
“The first G is God Almighty. The second G is what? Gun and the third one is (the) Government. May you conduct yourself mindful of the admonition of my late mother, by respecting the 3Gs, particularly the government,” he said.
The senator’s remark was clearly a veiled threat to the lawmakers-elect to support Mr Tinubu’s candidate or be ready to face some consequences.
5. ‘What money cannot do, more money can do’
Very similar to Mr Akpabio’s ‘fear God, gun, and government’- comment is this one which is perhaps considered as the senator’s most infamous comment – “What money cannot do, more money can do”.
Mr Akpabio reportedly made the comment when he was the governor of Akwa Ibom State. The remark, which apparently means that any man could be bought over if enticed with a huge amount of cash, underscores the influence of money (corruption) in Nigeria’s politics.
Mr Akpabio is not known to have denied making the comment.
6. ‘Prayers to senators’ mailboxes’
Mr Akpabio earlier this month made a gaffe during plenary when he mistakenly revealed that money has been sent to senators to “enjoy” their recess.
The Senate president, who forgot that the proceeding was being streamed live, began to address his colleagues before adjournment motion was moved at the end of the Senate’s ministerial screening.
“In order to enable all of us to enjoy our holidays, a token has been sent to our various accounts by the Clerk of the National Assembly,” he said.
When he was immediately informed by his colleagues that he was speaking on live television, Mr Akpabio quickly withdrew his comment.
“In order to allow you to enjoy your holiday, the senate president has sent prayers to your mailboxes to assist you to go on a safe journey and return,” Mr Akpabio rephrased the comment, apparently to correct what was considered an embarrassment.
Nigerians were outraged by Mr Akpabio’s revelation, given the economic hardship in the country.
It was later confirmed that the 109 senators got N2 million each, and that the “holiday allowance” was illegal as it is not provided for in the remuneration package approved by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, the body authorised by law to prepare salaries and allowances for public servants.
“He made a very wrong statement, and I warned him immediately that his comments were unbecoming of an elder.
“In fact, we are even planning to take drastic action against him if he continues making unguarded statements and acting as if we are kids,” the Senate Chief Whip, Ali Ndume said of Mr Akpabio’s embarrassing comment.