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Was Utomi Right Telling Akpabio To Shut Up?



Akpabio Eid-el-fitr

It was a shock hearing Professor Pat Utomi last Thursday telling Senator Godswill Akpabio to shut up.

Given the dignity of the office he occupies as President of the Senate, and also being the second in the order of succession, some may say that the learned academic should have been more restrained in his vituperation against the nation’s number one lawmaker.

Indeed, some would say that Utomi should have been more restrained despite his enviable academic and political pedigree from the eighties when his intellectual prowess registered him as one of the youngest presidential advisers in Nigerian history.

Utomi had following his trailblazing adornments in the eighties gone on to positively imprint himself in industry, academia, and good works.

Most recently was his behind-the-scenes role in the evolvement of the Obidient Movement that nearly upturned the nation’s political system last year.

Akpabio has also done well for himself but mostly on the political turf. Emerging as a commissioner, he successfully organized a rebellion against Governor Victor Attah who appointed him and emerged as his successor in 2007.

Unlike Attah, he was able to push forward his successor at the end of his governorship stint following which he did the unthinkable when as first term Senator in 2015, he emerged as Minority Leader of the legislative house.

It was a feat many say had to do more with that popular political phraseology that has been accredited to Akpabio, to wit, ‘what money cannot do, more money can do.’

It was perhaps in that phraseology that while responding to the unfolding social dissonance in the land framed by the withdrawal of fuel subsidy and the decision to freely float the naira, he alleged that the protests in the country were being sponsored.

He further alleged that the Federal Government had given N30 billion to each of the governors to manage the social and economic dislocations.

Some would say that Akpabio’s assertions reflect the phraseology of ‘what money cannot do, more money will do.’ That is throwing money at a problem instead of addressing the fundamentals.

Earlier, Akpabio had drawn much advertisement to his APC robe of ‘sinlessness’ when he publicly bemoaned the alleged sinfulness of Mr Godwin Emefiele, erstwhile governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. He had at a public function expressed aloud on what offence the government should charge Emefiele with.

It was, however, his economic enterprise of throwing more money into problems instead of addressing the fundamental political dislodgments that drew the ire of Utomi when the Arise News Television anchors sought his response to Akpabio’s comment last Thursday.

Utomi’s terse response was “Somebody should tell Akpabio to shut up, if he doesn’t know what to say he should shut up.” 

The seemingly indecorous assertion of Utomi, however, flows from the underlying role of the political class in the unfolding social-economic malaise in the land.

It is sufficient to say that the problem in the country is not fundamentally ethnic or even religious, but essentially political with that segment of society conspiring to mortgage the future of the country for personal gain.

As Utomi, many other Nigerians, and your correspondent have severally argued, the selfish political options taken by the political class have brought the nation to its knees.

For example, the decision by the National Assembly to throw scarce foreign exchange to purchase N160m worth of vehicles per person was a fundamental slap to Nigerian enterprise.

Not only did the National Assembly worsen the country’s foreign exchange position, but the lawmakers pointedly told foreign investors interested in the country that Made In Nigeria products would not be patronized by government. So, why bother coming to invest in a country whose government prefers foreign products?

That significant and unpardonable decision by the Akpabio-led National Assembly was about the most reckless decision that robs that arm of government of any moral scruples of passing judgment on Emefiele or any other as Utomi pointed out on Thursday.

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