The Akwa Ibom Governor made the statements during the ‘Good Governance Tour’ visit.
In a barefaced confession to electoral fraud, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, who is at the centre of multiple “gift” scandals involving state funds, has admitted on live television, to falsifying a senatorial election result and personally replacing the winner with his preferred candidate.
Mr. Akpabio spoke during the federal government’s contentious “Good Governance Tour” in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Information Minister, Labaran Maku, led several government officials and journalists on the tour which many Nigerians have dismissed as a jamboree.
While addressing the visiting delegation on his government’s achievements, Mr. Akpabio, seeking to impress his sense of evenhandedness on the audience, said he struck off the name of the winner of the Akwa Ibom north senatorial in his party’s primaries, and replaced same with Aloysius Etok.
Mr. Etok went on to win the main elections, and is currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service matters.
Mr. Akpabio, who in the past, claimed elections in the state were amongst Nigeria’s freest and fairest, laid bare in the speech to the federal delegation, captured on camera, how he deliberately masterminded a flawed process that produced Mr. Etok.
“The people of Ikono and Ini (Local Government Areas) from 1960 have never produced a Senator,” the governor narrated.
“I used my own hand to strike out the name of the person who has won before, and I said it is important for me to give that region a Senator in 2007, and I produced Senator Aloysius Etok for you; that’s where he comes from,” the governor said, before gesturing to Mr. Etok, who attended the session alongside his colleague in the Senate, Ita Enang, to “take a bow”.
The disclosure jolted the audience and the governor’s associates who exchanged awkward glances.
Several minutes later, an aide to the governor passed him (Mr. Akpabio) a note, apparently drawing Mr. Akpabio’s attention to the devastating consequences of his comments.
Mr. Akpabio gave the note some attention, before backtracking on his earlier comments.
“So I must say that I thank all of you, including the members of the national assembly; led by Senator Aloysius Etok. And when I said that I made Aloy(sius Etok) to become a senator in 2007, I need to explain it so that you don’t think that I wrote his name and he became a senator,” the governor said.
“During the primaries of PDP, we zoned the senate seat to his federal constituency. And from the federal constituency, he made first in the primaries. That happened in the PDP. So we said since he was the first among the people who came from his federal constituency for the primary, then he must be the one to become the senator.”
Then after that, we “presented him before the general public in the election and he won. And in 2011, with my support, he had the highest number of votes by any senator in the entire national assembly.”
Mr. Akpabio has been at the centre of the storm over his controversial use of state funds for donations and gifts to celebrities, journalists, party officials, and others.