"Senate President Akpabio Issues Apology to Governors Amidst Political Fallout"

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 "Senate President Akpabio Issues Apology to Governors Amidst Political Fallout"

A week ago, the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, caused his media office to issue a statement indicating his apologies to the 36 state governors, whom he had earlier accused of collecting N30 billion from the Federal Government to end the food crisis in the country.

Akpabio, during plenary on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, spoke regarding “an unverified cumulative sum of about N30bn to the sub-national governments by the Federal Government for various interventions to ameliorate the food situation of our citizens at the sub-national governments.”

But a  statement by Akpabio’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Eseme Eyiboh, spoke of misconceptions in the public domain about the senate president’s comments at the Senate plenary, adding that the “unfortunate conjectures” are “regretted.”

However, two days after issuing the statement, it emerged that Akpabio again met with representatives of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), before whom he tendered an unreserved apology regarding the gaffe on the Senate floor.

Insiders in the National Assembly told the Sunday Tribune that the decision of the senate president to issue an apology and then follow it up with a physical meeting to further plead for forgiveness from the governors was informed by the high stake politics already being weaved around his seat in the aftermath of the statement.

Sources in the National Assembly had told newsmen that there had been some love lost between Akpabio and especially members of the Northern Senators Forum (NSF), who felt that he had been leading the Senate astray.

It was further gathered that immediately after Akpabio made the statement, those who had already disliked his leadership started reaching out to the governors on the need for them to back the senators’ bid to oust the Akwa-Ibom senator as senate president.

A source stated that while the governors all felt enraged by the allegation, many of them, especially those belonging to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), were reluctant to enter into the feud in the Senate without hearing from the presidency on the matter.

It was further gathered, however, that with indications emerging that the presidency may not defend Akpabio on the matter, the ranks of governors willing to move against the senate president swelled.

Another source, after that, confirmed that it was based on the realisation of the extent of the threat coming from the governors that Akpabio had to issue an apology and further begged for forgiveness at a meeting in Abuja.

Sources in the Senate had hinted that the fear of impeachment had heightened in Akpabio’s camp, especially in the last months of 2023, following the tense moments raised at the different meetings of the Northern senators, where issues were raised against the senate president.

It was confirmed that it got so bad that the senate president had to set up some teams to spy on the offices of some strategic senators.

A source in the know said: “Anytime two or three senators converge in the office of a particular North-East senator, the alarm would go off, and the said senator would receive a call from the Senate Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, asking, ‘leader, are we safe?”

Sources further said that Akpabio was specifically worried that the gaffe could sweep the rug off his feet given a statement President Bola Tinubu was said to have made to him (Akpabio) in May last year, just before he was finally endorsed for the senate presidency.

It was learnt that while President Tinubu was settling the misgivings between Akpabio and an influential Northern senator, the senator, who had been reluctant to support Akpabio up to that point, was said to have promised to support the former Akwa-Ibom governor because of the president’s intervention but warned that he may not be able to save Akpabio if the South-South senator caused trouble among senators by his action or inactions.

“The Northern senator was said to have told President Tinubu that he would not be the architect of Akpabio’s removal as senate president but that the senate president could be the architect of his downfall through his actions or inactions,” a source stated.

The president, in his reply, was said to have told Akpabio that if that happened he (the president) would also look the other way and that Akpabio would be on his own.

“That statement by President Tinubu had been ringing in Akpabio’s head all along and immediately he heard that senators opposed to his leadership were already wooing the governors, he knew that could be a source of danger and a red flag,” a source stated.

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