He was appointed as Commissioner for Petroleum Resources under the tenure of His Excellency, Obong Victor Attah. He came from Lagos State and arrived Akwa Ibom State via night bus alighting at Ikot Ekpene motor park to the warm embrace of family members. And that began the journey of the political ascendancy of Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, a lawyer and businessman who in the course of his service to Akwa Ibom State rose through the ranks of leadership to rule.
He became Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs under Obong Attah and in 2007 when the Governorship elections were held, he brushed aside a stiff political contest of over 58 aspirants based on the zoning arrangement of power rotation which favoured Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District to emerge the Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.
His dream of becoming a Deputy Governor under Obong Attah had been dashed when Obong Christopher Ekpenyong, the erstwhile Deputy was eased out of his office as his quest for becoming ambitious became noticed.
His victory in the 2007 Governorship elections set him on a collision course with his predecessor who had made a choice in his son in law, Dr. Udoma Ekarika and the no love lost between the duo prevailed all through the two term tenure of Senator Akpabio.(2007-2015)
Under his tenure from 2007-2015, the increased oil revenue gave Akwa Ibom State an oil producing State an increased allocation which led to the famed ‘’ Uncommon Transformation years’’ of the Godswill Akpabio era.
He distinguished himself nationally and internationally with landmark projects and set Akwa Ibom State on the national and international map of excellence and service.
His many landmarks of achievements adorn the State and was heralded as a leader whose vision will lead the State into many generations for the prosperity of the collective future the people.
In 2015, he won by a landslide victory to represent the people of Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District, otherwise known as Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District in the Eighth senate and made history by being the first Senator who was a first timer to emerge as the Senate Minority Leader under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.
He excelled in his schedules and had a cordial relationship with his State Governor, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmnanuel.
Then things started falling apart (in the words of Chinua Achebe) and the rumours started flying of the rift between Akpabio and his successor. Most political pundits were cautions on commenting publicly on the perceived spat between the duo but on August 8, 2018, Senator Akpabio finally dumped the Peoples Democratic Party, a Party which gave him the platform to gain national prominence to the All Progressive Congress.
THE BEGINNING OF THE FALL
That historic defection left many of his followers in shock and disbelief especially when over the years as the leader of the Party he had sustained the ideology of the abomination of the ‘’ Broom Party’’ as a symbol of slavery which must never be accepted in Akwa Ibom State.
A great orator, Akpabio described his defection as being in the interest of the State and stated that he was a nationalist who had identified with the ruling Party at the centre to bring development to Akwa Ibom State.
At every campaign stop in the run up to the general elections he took swipes at his successor and was given the task of coordinating the South South for the APC during the Presidential flag off campaigns in Akwa Ibom State late last year.
His defection led to his resignation as the Senate Minority Leader and he boasted that he will deliver the South South zone to the APC amidst jeers at every fora and was quoted to have said that elections in Akwa Ibom State will finish within three hours. He promised to use federal might and he was linked with all the postings of the State security architecture to suit his plots.
He even told the world on international network during the Presidential Campaigns in Uyo on how his heart was with the APC during the 2015 general elections and how he betrayed President Goodluck Jonathan.
He considered the contest between himself and Dr. Christopher Ekpenyong as one way ticket under rating his opponent with loud mouthed boasts painting a larger than life image of himself beyond his subjects. A David and Goliath scenario.
The February 23, Presidential and National Assembly elections which he had proposed will be three hours completed became a total nightmare for Senator Akpabio as the biggest political battle of his life stretched into three days. He begged and begged the powers that be to allow him have a soft landing.
Once a national icon and man who walked along the corridors of power, Akpabio saw power slip off his fingers from an unlikely defeat against an opponent he under rated. He lost eight out of ten Local Government Areas in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District namely Abak, Etim Ekpo, Oruk Anam, Ukanafun, Ikono, Ini, Obot Akara and Ika Local Government Areas.
Once regarded as the emerging Tiger in Nigerian politics, the rise and fall of Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio has sent shock waves across the nation as he has been rejected by his people and the plot by him to be in charge has been humbled by God whom only can give power unto whom He chooses.
Akpabio failed to deliver the South South States to the APC in the Presidential elections as all the six States in the region were won by the PDP. His desperate attempt to manipulate the results before it was announced by the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) drew widespread criticisms across the country as pressure on the INEC REC in the State Barr. Mike Igini clearly said he will protect his integrity to protect the wishes of the people.
The loss of Akpabio finally gives the people of Akwa Ibom State, a praise of joy to God for ensuring that the wishes of the people has become a reality and the end of an era to a man, who stood tall and fell like a pack of cards when the true test of battle beckoned. The end of a paper tiger indeed.
For Akpabio, the ability to rise will be his greatest challenge, but one thing is certain, this political scar will not heal, as the wounds will remain very fresh especially coming from a man he had several years back plotted his unceremonious exit as the Deputy Governor. A clear case of the hunter becoming the haunted. Indeed, Lions do not eat grass and walking back the lonely road for Akpabio will be the longest stretch of sadness along his path.