AKPABIO @57: A LIFE WITH GOD – By Joe Iniodu

Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON, the Minister of the Ministry of Niger Delta turns 57 today. Unlike other remarkable milestones such as 40, 50, 60, 70 ,80, 90 and 100 as the one recently celebrated by Chief Michael Afangideh, Akpabio’s new age of 57 draws fundamental peculiarities that compel observations and perhaps closer study.

Not long ago in this State, December 9 had etched itself in the calendar of public events. Having come to occupy public space as the birthday of the then performing governor of Akwa Ibom State, Dr Godswill Akpabio, CON, it was a time of good business for media hounds who buffeted offices and politicians for goodwill messages on the occasion of his birthday. And people, various ministries and parastatals never hesitated as they found good reasons to celebrate the birthday BOY.

However, what has made this birthday most peculiar is that it is coming post an election that was presumed to be a nunc dimittis for Senator Akpabio. Many had boasted for reasons best known to them that they had retired him from politics. Some even went to the ridiculous extent of making a mock coffin to symbolise the burial of his political career and the end of his journey as a politician. But as it is often said, man proposes, God disposes. Like a cat with nine lives, Akpabio emerged overcoming the setback arrayed by his traducers and charting a new trajectory of national relevance and value.

Post March, 9, 2019 saw members of Akpabio political family at the lowest ebb of the tide. Many were forlorn and crestfallen. A grand conspiracy embracing many strata had swooped and scuttled his ambition to return to the Senate. But as a politician with deep reflection, he took it with equanimity and described it as a ” temporary setback ” . He approached the courts as expected and the matter is still awaiting full liquidation.

But while awaiting that, the God of all Grace showed up for him. Akpabio made the ministerial list that came 52 days after the inauguration of the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari. On August 21, he was sworn in as the second indigene of the State, after late Obong Uffot Joseph Ekaette as Minister in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. It subsists as one appointment that some people invested so much energy to truncate but God protected it as proof of His enduring grace.

The lessons in the 57 years of Akpabio are various and varied. The first is that when God says, YES, no man can say, NO. Nobody expected to hear much of Akpabio after the controversial announcement of the election result of Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District that many perceive was skewed against him in pursuit of a dubious agenda to shoot down his political career. But because our destinies are in God’s hands, the evil machinations failed and Akpabio has remained that ringing voice that rallies followership.

Another lesson is that no matter the circumstance you find yourself, do not deprecate God. Always remember that His thought for you is a thought of good, not of evil. Today Akpabio’s territory of influence has 9 States, 27 senatorial districts and 185 local government areas. This is certainly beyond what he ever asked for. Akpabio’s experience is again proof that God rules in the affairs of men.

Perhaps an important lesson that must not escape our purview is that we must practice religion that encourages forgiveness. We must all have forgiving hearts as Christians. God works with hearts that forgive and His will thrives only in such atmosphere. I have seen it in Akpabio and I believe it is the therapy that can bring solutions to our unending search for the grace of God which would make all good things possible in our lives.

As we celebrate Akpabio’s 57 years, I offer for internalisation the enduring lessons his experience has offered – disappointment, betrayal, seeming failure, overcoming spirit, eschewing hate, forgiveness and acknowledging the supremacy of God in all situations. Akpabio has seen the valley and been to the mountain in the course of life. We must always be ready to brace up for the valley, much as we are enthusiastic about ascending the mountain. We must always ask God to put us at the centre of His will whichever way life’s vicissitude takes us.

For Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON, I extend to you my hearty congratulations on your birthday and urge Your Excellency to keep up with the well defined life of FAITH that you live and the charity that you so generously exude.

Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst.