A former minister of state for the Federal Capital Territory, John Udoedehe, has alleged that the immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, administered fetish oath to politicians in the state to extract absolute loyalty from them during his administration.
Mr. Akpabio, who represents Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, is now the Senate Minority Leader.
Mr. Udoedehe made the allegation, Saturday, during a live radio interview on Planet 101.1FM, Uyo.
Mr. Udoedehe, also a former senator from the state, was in the radio studio to continue his media war against the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state for expelling him from the party. He only veered off in the course of the interview to talk about Mr. Akpabio in order to buttress a point that he (Mr. Udoedehe) was the only credible opposition leader in the state.
“None of those who are crossing over from PDP to the APC can challenge Akpabio,” Mr. Udoedehe said in the interview.
“Akpabio is not like me. You must be under oath because he doesn’t trust anybody. There is no appointment, commissioner, secretary to the state government, governor, deputy governor, you must be on oath. You cannot escape that. You cannot challenge him.”
Umana Okon Umana now MD of OGFZA had served as Secretary to State Government under Akpabio for many years before being sacked while Nsima Ekere (now MD of NDDC) and Patrick Ekpotu served as Deputy Governors in the same administration.
When the programme host requested to know what kind of oath he was referring to, Mr. Udoedehe explained that he meant “mbiam”, an Ibibio word for fetish oath.
“That is why they can’t challenge him. They can’t speak ill against Akpabio because of the oath they swore to.”
The former minister absolved himself of such oath-taking, saying “I don’t do politics of ‘mbiam’ that is why they can betray me”.
Mr. Udoedehe was Mr. Akpabio’s campaign manager in 2006 when the latter was running for governor. Both of them later parted ways after Mr. Udoedehe was nominated by Mr. Akpabio in 2007 to serve as minister of state for FCT in late President Umar Yar’ Adua administration.
He decamped to then defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, where he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2011 against Mr. Akpabio.
Mr. Udoedehe, 56, has continually laid claims to being the champion of modern opposition politics in Akwa Ibom. He has already indicated his intention to contest against Governor Udom Emmanuel in 2019.
His kind of outspokenness is rare in the politics of the oil-rich state.
“I have those who believe in me. I will speak like (Donald) Trump, and even if I do the unexpected, they will still stand with me,” the former minister said in the Planet FM interview.
Mr. Akpabio’s spokesman, Anietie Ekong, dismissed Mr. Udoedehe’s remarks as a “careless talk that shouldn’t be given any prominence”.
“How come those who served under Governor Akpabio as commissioners and SSG but later broke away from him are still alive if it is true that they swore to mbiam?
“What about someone like Umana Umana, the APC governorship candidate in 2015 who worked as SSG under Governor Akpabio? Did he swear to any mbiam? How come he is still alive today despite breaking away from Akpabio? It is because there’s nothing like that, that is why the man is still alive.
“People should know Senator Udoedehe by now. He has said so many things about other people, and some of these things are unprintable,” Mr. Ekong said.