Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON (born 9 December 1962), is a Nigerian lawyer and politician who is a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Senate's Minority Leader. He was also Governor of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria from May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2015.
Early life and career
Godswill Akpabio is the son of Chief Obot Akpabio and Madam Lucy Obot Akpabio (née Inyangetor) of Ukana, Ikot Ntuen in Essien Udim Local Government Area. He was born on 9 December 1962. He lost his father early in life and was raised by his mother, who inculcated in him the values of hard work, discipline and honesty.
He was educated at Methodist Primary School, Ukana, Essien Udim LGA, Akwa Ibom State; the prestigious Federal Government College, Port Harcourt, Rivers State; and the University of Calabar, Cross River State, where he obtained a Degree in Law.
While at the Federal Government College, Port Harcourt, he was appointed the General Senior Prefect. In the University of Calabar, his charisma endeared him to the students and he was elected the Speaker of the Students’ Parliament.
Family and personal life
Godswill Akpabio’s grandfather, Okuku Udo Akpabio, was the 1st Warrant Chief in Ikot Ekpene province. His uncle, Dr. I. U. Akpabio, was the Minister of Education/Internal Affairs in the then Eastern Nigeria. Justice Nsima Akpabio, his cousin, was a senator in the Second Nigerian Republic.
He is a Christian of the Catholic faith. Godswill is married to Ekaette Unoma Akpabio, the founder of Family Life Enhancement Initiative (FLEI), a non-governmental organization providing a platform for redirecting the focus of development efforts on the family as a strategy for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Akpabio and his wife have four daughters and a son. Also a son from another woman, Glenn Udosen.
Career and employment
Akpabio had a brief stint as a teacher and as an associate partner with Paul Usoro and Co., a leading law firm in Nigeria.
He also worked with EMIS Telecoms Limited, a pioneer fixed wireless telecommunications company in Lagos, Nigeria. In 2002, he rose to the position of the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the company. In this position, he helped in shaping the future of the burgeoning telecoms industry. He had earlier served as the National Publicity Secretary of the Association of Telecommunication Companies in Nigeria, (ATCOM), while a director of EMIS.
Appointments and politics
In 2002, he was appointed Honourable Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources in Akwa Ibom State. Between 2002 and 2006, he served as a Commissioner in three key ministries: Petroleum and Natural Resources, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, as well as Lands and Housing.
In 2006, he aspired for the governorship of Akwa Ibom State in a hotly contested primary election and defeated 57 other aspirants to emerge the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). His campaign with the slogan, “let God’s will be done” received mass support and was elected Governor in 2007. He was re-elected for a second term in office as Governor of Akwa Ibom State in 2011.
In 2013, he was elected Chairman of the newly formed PDP Governors Forum.
In 2015, he contested and won the Senate seat of the Akwa Ibom North West (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District to represent the district in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Running under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), he polled 422,009 of the 439,449 to defeat Chief Inibehe Okorie of the All Progressive Congress (APC) who recorded 15, 152 votes to be declared elected by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He was nominated for the position of the Senate Minority Leader by the South-South caucus of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), ratified by the caucus of the PDP in the Senate and announced by the Senate President as Senate Minority Leader on 28 July 2015. The PDP lost the majority to the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the 2015 general elections.
The advent of Godswill Akpabio as Governor of Akwa Ibom State on 29 May 2007 marked the beginning of the state's transformation.
Government policies and programmes in virtually all sectors of the economy have impacted positively on the lives of the people since Akpabio’s inauguration as the third democratically elected governor of the state, eight years ago, making a turnaround for good in the story of the state.
These strides have been referred to by the people of Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria at large as “Uncommon Transformation” and earned him the sobriquet, “The Uncommon Transformer”.
- Free and compulsory education.
- Completion of Ibom International Airport (Akwa Ibom Airport), which he met at site-clearing level and completed the first phase of the airport with 3.6 km runway. The airport comes with maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility. Domestic and international flight operations had since commenced at the airport. Work has commenced on the building of the state-of-the-art main terminal building of the airport and another taxiway. So far the airport has become the fastest growing in the history of aviation in Nigeria. The main administrative block had since been completed.
- When he assumed office he declared that death never makes a distinction between federal roads and state roads and therefore he was going to repair all roads to stop Nigerians from unnecessary deaths on them. Many of these roads are dual carriageways with streetlights. Over 300 new roads, totalling over 1,000 km (including about 200 km of Federal roads) have been constructed. Also constructed are four concentric flyovers in Uyo. These roads, along with urban roads, have remained pothole-free under the Operation Zero Pothole programme initiated by him. Many of these roads are dual carriageway with streetlights. The Etebi-Ewang bridge, constructed by his administration, is one of the longest in the country.
- Construction of a brand new state-of-the-art Governor’s Lodge.
- Construction of West Africa’s first digital library – the Ibom E-Library. A state-of-the-art facility with capacity for multifarious internet utilization and over 60 million eBooks.
- Initiation and implementation of free healthcare programme for children (five years and under), expectant mothers and the elderly.
- The initiation and completion of the 3.7 km underground drainage project using pipe-jacking drainage technology in Uyo. The first of its kind in Africa. Another one had also been done in Abak.
- Construction of five new general hospitals and a specialist hospital of international standard.
- Completion of Ibom Power Plant project. Started by the preceding administration, it was at 65 percent level of completion when Governor Akpabio assumed office. It currently generates 191 megawatts.
- Construction of a gas processing plant, Ibom Gas Plant, with 69 km of pipeline to supply gas to the Ibom Power Plant.
- Comprehensive rural electrification scheme, which has linked additional an additional 1,700 communities to the national grid, by embarking on 800 electricity projects. His administration has, therefore, achieved over 85 percent electricity coverage, from the 35 percent level he met at assumption of office in 2007.
- The rural electrification projects and school buildings are done under the Inter-ministerial Direct Labour model. In addition to its success in these areas the Inter-ministerial Direct Labour Agency has provided 300 water projects for 958 communities. The model has been a major source of empowerment for the people, who these jobs are given to and this has accelerated human capital development. All in all over 4,000 projects have been completed through this scheme.
- Construction of a world-class business and entertainment resort – the Tropicana Entertainment Centre. This one-stop entertainment facility comes with a five-star, 250-room hotel housed in 16-storey edifice; an ultra modern shopping mall; an international Convention Centre with a seating capacity for 5,000 people; games parks (wet and dry); a cineplex (already completed and open to the public); a monorail and a lot more. The main building is on the verge of completion.
- In the area of agriculture he released over N2 billion to 8,000 women under the Women Agro Entrepreneurship Development Programme (WAEDEP) at the rate of N250,000 each. His successes in this and in the training and empowerment of thousands of youths under the Integrated Farmers Scheme, in which young school leavers are provided with capital to start farming after a three-month period of training earned him the Central Bank of Nigeria Award as the Best Governor Infrastructure (2012).
- Improved security with the provision of patrol vehicles, armoured personnel carriers and gunboats to boost security operations in the state. He launched two security outfits: “Operation Thunder” and Quick “Response Squad.” These checked the activities of kidnappers and led to a drastic decrease in crime in the state.
- Improved worker’s welfare packages with the payment of a thirteenth month bonus salary every December, fondly called “Akpabiomber” by workers in the state. He was the first Governor in the country to accept to pay workers the N18,000 minimum wage. The least paid worker in the state takes home over N21,000 monthly. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) proclaimed him the most labour-friendly Governor in the Nigeria.
- He began opening up Nigeria more to international trade with the development of the Ibaka Deep Sea Port. The Ibaka Deap Sea Port, has one of the deepest ocean depths in the country. It is designed to be one of the components of Ibom Industrial City, a business resort which will house refineries, petrochemical plant, dockyard, housing estates and oil and gas support services. The Federal Government bought into the project at partnership level and the required licenses were issued for its take-off.
- The administration set to construct 10,000 housing units in the state before 2015. So far over 1,000 units of the first phase consisting of 2,000 housing units spread over the three Senatorial Districts have been completed.
- The Le’ Meridien Hotel, which was uncompleted at the time he took office and had just about fifteen rooms had since been completed and over 150 rooms added to it. It has become one of the choice conference centres in Nigeria and has the best golf course in Africa, according to the World’s leading golf magazine, “Golf Weekly.”
- He also started a micro-credit scheme in which money was given to the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Muslim Community to use as vehicles for the disbursement of loans to their members to start small-scale businesses and expand their existing ventures. This has been hailed by the Christian and Muslim leaders in the state.
- The urban transformation of the present administration in Akwa Ibom State must rank as one of the most massive in history. Uyo, the capital, now boasts of three concentric flyovers, at its entrance with fountains and gardens, at the entrance into the city. Three more flyovers are under construction on the Third Ring Road. Urban roads have been done in all the major cities in the state and Uyo, the capital wears a new look as fountains have become a regular feature of many of its junctions.
In 2008, Sahara Reporters claimed Akpabio gave a $500,000 Mercedes Benz GL 450 to Farida Waziri, the Chairwoman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In an attempt to debunk the corruption case, Akpabio arranged for certain reporters to a private viewing that the car was in fact one of those in the governor security details. The ploy was uncovered when the chassis number WDC 1648722A390877 on that displayed car was different from the car that was given as bribe to Waziri, which had chassis number WDC 1648711A 390877.
Another damning evidence against Akpabio was that the car's licence plate SB 456 AAA, which Governor Akpabio claimed was in his security pool, was issued to one Chief C. Orizu of Adotolo Nnewi in Anambra State, and not to the Akwa Ibom State Government.
To lay the case to rest, the Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Akpabio, Usoro Usoro on Tuesday, 1 June 2010, invited journalists to Government House, Uyo, to confirm that the said car was still in the governor’s fleet. Checks by the journalists confirmed that the chassis number of the car quoted in the report actually belongs to one of the security vehicles used by the governor.
Usoro emphasised: “Gov. Akpabio is not under any investigation by EFCC, hence, has no reason to offer bribe to anybody. He does not even believe or support bribery in any form as that would be contrary to his firm stand against the entire body of corruption”.
His milestones as Governor of Akwa Ibom State have earned him several honours and accolades around the world.
- The Congressional Certificate of Recognition of the United States Congress (2011).
- Africa Lifetime Achievement Prize awarded by Millennium Excellence Foundation in Kenya.
- The Gold Humanitarian Services Award of the Republic of Niger 2008 conferred on him by Niger’s Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Alhaji Moussa Ibrahim.
- Exam Ethic Marshall 2009: Exam Ethic International, Ghana.
- Best Governor, Infrastructure Development 2009: BEN Television, London.
- Honorary citizen of the city of Georgia, New Jersey in United States
- Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON).
- Best Governor Infrastructure and Empowerment Award of the Central Bank of Nigeria (2012).
- Most Prolific Governor by the National Councillors’ Forum.
Academic & professional honours
- Doctorate of Management Science, Honoris Causa, Nigeria Defence Academy (2011).
- Doctorate of Law, Honoris Causa, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (2010).
- Doctorate of Law, Honoris Causa, University of Calabar, Calabar (2009).
- Doctorate of Law, Honoris Causa, University of Uyo, Uyo (2009).
- Doctorate of Public Administration (Honoris Causa), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (2009).
- Doctorate of Management Science (Honoris Causa) Federal University of Technology, Owerri (2011).
- Doctorate of Public Administration, Honoris Causa Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), Enugu (2013).
- Doctorate of Human Resource Management (Honoris Causa) Wesley University of Science and Technology, Ondo.
- Honorary Fellow of Nigeria Society of Engineers (2010) (Only fourteen non-engineers have so far been so honoured in Nigeria).
- Fellow, Kazaure Polytechnic, Kazaure (2008).
- Fellow of the Yaba College of Technology, Yaba (2011).
- Fellow of the College of Education, Bichi, and a host of others.
- Most Education Friendly Governor in Nigeria (2008) by the National Parent-Teacher Association.
- Best Booster Governor Award for Promoting Science, Technology and Mathematics by the Science Teachers Association of Nigeria.
- Goodwill Ambassador of the Nigerian Medical Association.
- Best Governor in Africa, Africa Development Magazine.
- Governor of the Year 2012, Leadership (newspaper).
- Man of the Year 2011, Sun (newspaper).
- Best Governor in Nigeria and Outstanding Human Brand 2010: Billboard World.
- Man of the Year 2010: National Daily Newspaper.
- Governor of the Year 2010: Nigerian Tribune.
- Award of Excellence for Outstanding Performance 2010: Nigeria Union of Journalists.
- Nigeria’s Emerging Tiger 2009: Thisday Newspapers.
- Man of the Year 2009: The Daily Independent (Lagos).
- Man of the Year 2009: National Daily Newspaper.
- 2008 Most Outstanding Governor in Nigeria (South South): National Daily Newspaper.
- Governor of the Year (South-South): City People Magazine.
- Best Governor Infrastructure 2009: Encomium Magazine.
- Best Governor (South South): Encomium Magazine.
- Excellency Award as Best Governor South-South 2009: Global Excellence Magazine.
We had no doubts (in our minds) because light is stronger than darkness. We had no worries because with the momentum of our collective faith we can cross the widest river, climb the highest mountain, and topple the most fearsome Goliath
Excerpt from a speech entitled, “The Battle Is Over”, delivered at an interdenominational thanksgiving service in Uyo on 24 March 2008, following his victory at the Court of Appeal in Calabar, Cross River State.
Democracy is an objective, and democratization is a process; and we as a nation are democratizing and getting nearer the mark everyday
Excerpts from an address to the people of Akwa Ibom State on the occasion of the 13th Anniversary Celebration of Democracy Day, 29 May 2012.
History is a thread which stretches from the past into the dim horizons of the future
Being an excerpt from the second term inaugural address as Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria on 29 May 2011.
Together we can build a bridge between a past we would rather forget and a future, which brims with hope
Excerpt from a keynote address on the occasion of the opening of the Workshop for Heads of Maritime Administration in West and Central Africa, in Uyo, 18 June 2012.
inequality in the creation of local governments among the various states is invariably an inequality in revenue distribution
Excerpt from an address presented at the 4th National Roundtable for Proactive Laws and Good Governance in Nigeria, held in Abuja on 28 July 2008.
I am a working person's person. After the death of my father when I was just six months old, my mother brought me up to believe that anything was achievable. Some of you belong to labour by employment; I belong to labour by birth
Excerpt from an address presented on the occasion of the 2010 May Day Celebration held at Ibom Hall Grounds, IBB Avenue, Uyo, on Saturday, 01 May 2010.
The doctor who does not value the life he saves more than the pay he earns is a shame to his profession
Excerpt from an address presented on the occasion of the 2010 May Day Celebration held at Ibom Hall Grounds, IBB Avenue, Uyo, on Saturday, 01 May 2010.
Ideas drive human progress. Whether the dream is about reaching marooned villages in the back waters of a third world country or conquering the moon, the very first step needed takes place in human thought
Quote from a newspaper feature report (Sunday Punch, 04 December 2008, page 16)
I believe strongly that power is ephemeral. Today you have it, tomorrow you have not. Do not allow power to get into your head
Excerpt from an address during the swearing in of local government chairmen in Uyo, 27 June 2008
I came into government to correct the ills of the past
Excerpt from an address during a reception in his honour by the people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, 02 June 2008
I am only a servant of the people of the state. So whatever the people say, that I will do
Excerpt from a press conference in Uyo, April 2008.
Our people will no longer be used by others as servants and hewers of wood. Our government is engaged in a war against poverty and infrastructural decay. We must win for our children to have the freedom to engage in industry and commerce
Excerpt from an address to the people of Akwa Ibom State to mark his one year anniversary as Governor of the state, 29 May 2008.
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