Former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, has spoken publicly about the trauma he went through after the road crash in Abuja involving his car and a vehicle belonging to the United States Embassy in Nigeria.
Mr. Akpabio, while addressing a large crowd of Akwa Ibom people, who gathered Wednesday at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo, to mark the 28th anniversary of Akwa Ibom State, said he had just returned “from the land of the death”.
Mr. Akpabio, minority leader of the Nigerian Senate, said he lost consciousness for about an hour because of the impact of the crash.
“When that accident happened, I was rushing in the morning to join my daughter who was ill in her school abroad and when it happened I lost consciousness and all I shouted was God take care of my children and my people,” said the former governor, who now represents Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District in the Senate.
Mr. Akpabio said when he regained consciousness at the National Hospital, Abuja, he was surprised to see Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State sitting by his side.
“I was moved to tears,” he said.
The former governor, surrounded by a handful of supporters and former aides, including his cousin, Emem Akpabio, entered the stadium around 5:45pm after Governor Udom Emmanuel and other dignitaries had long seated and the ceremony was underway.
He wore Akwa Ibom ‘chieftaincy’ attire. His entry into the stadium energized the crowd, his presence overshadowing his successor, and his speech, though somewhat uncoordinated, electrifying the gathering.
The climax of the anniversary celebration was the launch of a rebirth programme for Akwa Ibom people tagged ‘Dakkada’.
‘Dakkada,’ an Ibibio word, means stand up.
Apparently to dispel speculations that he was in the bad books of President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Akpabio told the ecstatic crowd in the 30,000-capacity stadium that the President telephoned to wish him well while he (Akpabio) was in hospital in London.
He said, “Let me place on record the support of President Buhari who did something extraordinary. The President called the hospital that I was in London. He called the hospital line, and said put me through to the Minority Leader of the Senate who is in your hospital. And they connected him. The room number was Room 215. And he spoke with me. He said, Akpabio we are praying for you. Insha Allah, it shall be well with you.”
The former governor seized the moment to explain why the ‘world class’ 20th Anniversary Hospital, Uyo, built during his administration, hasn’t started operation several weeks after its commissioning, saying the foreign doctors to be employed in the hospital were waiting for clearance from the Nigeria Immigration Services and relevant medical associations in the country before they could come in to start work.
He however insisted that the 20th Anniversary Hospital has superior facilities than the London hospital he went to.
“When people are talking about the 20th Anniversary Hospital, they should go there and find out, even the CT scan that I saw in London is not up to the one that you have in Uyo. That is the one they call 64 slides. Udom, the one that you have here is 640 slides. Ten times in magnification of what you have in Europe”.
He also spoke on the reported search of the Akwa Ibom Government House by the Department of State Security, dismissing reports that a large amount foreign currency was discovered in the building.
“They raided even your Government House to collect some of the money, but they did not find anything. The picture they are circulating was a picture taken in Iraq in 2011. That picture is on Google.
“If we have such money would I not build something greater than this (stadium)? Will I not build air-conditioners in all the streets so that when you are walking as an Akwa Ibom child you don’t need to fan yourself?”
Mr. Akpabio took out time in his speech to taunt the local press, which his aides say has remained critical of him even after completing his tenure as governor.
“The wish of the enemy has been defeated. All the newspapers in Akwa Ibom State, tomorrow your headlines should be ‘Akpabio rises again’, ‘Akpabio rises again’.
“Why will I not rise again when the governor has launched a very significant project in the state today, ‘Dakkada’?