I’m not intimidated by Akpabio — Senator Etok
Senator Aloysius Etok, who represents Akwa Ibom North West on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been locked in a battle with his state governor, Godswill Akpabio over his attempt to return to the Senate for a third consecutive time. The governor is interested in the post. In this interview, Etok said Governor Akpabio came into politics to meet him and never played any role in his emergence as senator. Excerpts:
By Joseph Erunke
2015 is fast drawing close, what about your governorship ambition?
Actually, I am not going for governorship, I am returning to the Senate, so I am campaigning to return to the Senate.
On Governor Akpabio’s interest in his position
It can never be an election unless there is more than one person. So there will be election and the governor is free to contest and I am free to contest. I cannot demand to be a sole candidate. If the governor is interested in coming to the Senate, he can contest against me.
Senator Aloysius Etuk
If your constituents say since you have represented them for two terms that you should give way to the governor, what would you say?
Power belongs to God but mandate is of the people. Whatever the people want me to do, I will do. For instance, I can tell you to the glory of God that nobody has ever done a second term in my constituency.
But when I came and I desired a second term, I told them, I talked to them that it was a waste for the senatorial district to continue to send baby senators and freshers every time and they considered that and looked at it.
Now, that they also know that it pays better to send a very matured and a ranking senator back to the chamber, I think they will understand because they need my experience.
The Senate needs my experience and the nation needs my experience.
My constituents and my senatorial district will benefit more if I come back because I will be part of the system, the core part of the system than bringing somebody who is a fresher that will be at the periphery of the system.
On comments that there was agreement between him and Akpabio before his election to hold forth for the governor in the Senate
I don’t think so. I never had any such agreement because the governor was not even part of the arrangement for me to come to the Senate.
He was not part of the arrangement and so he wouldn’t have had any issue or arrangement with me to come and hold forth for him. I can’t do that, by every consideration, I would not do that for him because he didn’t bring me into politics.
Bringing people into politics
People bring people in to politics and instruct them on what to do but he came to see me in politics and so he cannot give me instruction.
Did he play any role in your emergence as a senator?
I wouldn’t say because one, I came out of a system that was for equitable share of offices within the senatorial district and in an answer to power shift in Akwa Ibom State. The other thing is that there was an agreement that when I am done with the Senate, the next federal constituency that has never produced a senator would now produce a senator and that federal constituency is Abak Federal Constituency, that is the only agreement on ground and not that I should hold forth for the governor for some time for him to come and take over from me.
Was there any tenure fixed for you in the Senate, so that the next constituency which you mentioned can take over?
No, no time was fixed for me
So, you can decide to contest as many times as possible and Abak constituency waiting?
By the way, even if there was any fixed time, it is the same people who fixed the time that can review the time.
Are you not intimidated that your governor will defeat you at the election with the resources at his disposal?
My governor is one of the richest governors in Nigeria but that notwithstanding, I am not intimidated by his wealth. I am only worried by the will of the people because the will of the people is stronger than the wealth, silver and gold.
I am worried over the will of the people and what God has said. If God said I am to go back to the Senate, irrespective of the quantum and value of his wealth, he will not mean anything.
Is your ambition to return to the Senate not affecting your relationship with your governor?
I don’t think so. The governor came into politics to see me and therefore, he should not feel bad that I am still in the business he came to meet me in. He entered politics to join me and therefore if he feels bad of me being in the profession he met me, then it is entirely left to him and that will be too private for him.
On his opposition to some state governors going to the Senate
I would say I didn’t oppose governors who are coming to the Senate; I only said some of them do not have any value to add to the legislative process if they come. And not all of them can be good legislators.
Being a legislator is entirely different from being a governor. Some of them will be good legislators and some of them will not be and some of them who will not be know themselves and they should stay away and maybe look for some executive positions to continue.
On whether his state governor would be a good legislator if he comes to the Senate
I don’t know and I can’t say. I have left that assessment and evaluation to individuals. They should judge and evaluate themselves and those who know themselves that they cannot do legislative work should stay away.
Legislative work is a service job which needs a lot of patience and personal input. It is not something that you will say maybe your consultants will do for you, commissioners will do for you. You have to put yourself down and do it.
On whether he can get the PDP ticket ahead of the governor in the PDP primaries given the governor’s influence in the party
There is no doubt, the primary is the fear but I have said it before that we need a cogent, level playing primary. If they do anything short of that, it will be too bad.
On whether he will leave the party if the primary is manipulated
No, I don’t think so. If you go to my state and count the real founders of the party, I am one of them. So I would not move away from the party for any other person. But I am sure and praying that the party will do the needful and be just and fair to ensure that they don’t lose grounds in the state.
On recent attempts to recall him by some members of his constituency
The members of my constituency never planned my recall, it was just the manipulation of the governor and his people, his cohorts. That was why they couldn’t go anywhere. They attempted to go to the field and the field sent them back and said no, that is our senator, he has not done anything to warrant a recall.
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