The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has decried as politically motivated and unnecessary, the controversy which has trailed his attendance at the burial of the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Nsikak Eduok over the last weekend in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The media space has been awash of an alleged fracas between security men attached to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Emmanuel and Senator Akpabio at the event. But the Minister said he had not complained to anyone about any disrespect to his person at the event.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Minister, Mr Anietie Ekong said: “We wish to state that Senator Akpabio has not complained to anyone about any disrespect to his person during the burial ceremony of his friend and icon, Air Marshall Nsikak Eduok. The Honourable Minister who arrived Uyo in the morning of the burial ceremony and went straight to the venue from the Airport was even too happy to meet the event at commencement.
“It is a fact that after taking his seat among the people, Gov Udom Emmanuel’s aides approached Sen Akpabio several times at the ceremony to persuade him to join other VIPs on the red carpet but Senator Akpabio declined but instead opted to sit among the people.
“A burial is like a market and people go shopping at different times. While some may choose not to attend the church service, others very close to the deceased may prefer just graveside attendance whilst others may attend condolence visits or send their condolences.
“Senator Akpabio, CON has attended many events in the state where the Governor could not make it maybe due to other pressing state matters.
The Honourable Minister is not an appointee of Governor Udom Emmanuel and therefore not expected to be seated in an event with Commissioners, Special Assistants before his arrival, particularly functions the aides had pre knowledge that the Governor would attend.
“Again Sen Akpabio is a former Commissioner, former Governor, former Minority Leader of the Nigerian Senate and now the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs with tentacles all over Nigeria. Has the sponsor of the campaign of calumny ever imagined that such a personality could have more than one event in a day?
“Senator Akpabio has respect for the dignified office of state Governor even if the uniformed aides of the state Governor with jack boots have none for seating Honourable Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and/or former state Governors. Anyway they are a new creation and soon their Boss will join the former Governors’ club.
“The discussion should focus on the great Akwa Ibom son we have lost not Senator Akpabio. As for the unnamed APC member who claimed Akpabio has no respect for time as he kept him at his gate from morning till 6pm only to be told to come back another day, such incident NEVER happened. It is the figment of the imagination of the author. The unknown Chieftain should next time identify himself and not make false allegations hiding under a purported assertion of being an APC faceless Chieftain.
“If the sponsored writer is an Akwa Ibomite, his conscience will tell him that Senator Akpabio loves Akwa Ibom people, connects with the people and has never hidden his love and respect for quality infrastructure for the people,” he said.
The statement described as “laughable and infantile” the assertion that Akpabio always distributes money for people to accord him standing ovation anywhere he goes in the state. “How much money can buy the hearts and minds of the people? If almost six years after leaving office Akpabio’s ovation has not ceased, just contest and become a Governor and attempt to beat his record of achievements. When you exit the people will honour you with claps and ovation the way Akpabio is perpetually honoured.
“These politically sponsored hack writers should honour the memory of the late Air Marshall Nsikak Eduok by not stoking controversy where none exists. They should let Senator Akpabio be and allow his icon, former Minister of Aviation and ex-Chief of Air staff, Air Marshall Nsikak Eduok to rest in peace,” he cautioned.