By Bayo Adeyinka
As Godswill Akpabio drove into No. 5, Fomella Street, Off Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja office of the EFCC, he knew he had a tough job on his hands. It was going to be his first visit to their office and he didn’t actually know what to expect- given all the various stories from former visitors. He came fully prepared with a coterie of lawyers. As the Landcruiser Jeep came to a halt, one of his aides jumped down from the front seat and opened the door for him.
Dressed resplendently in a white ‘agbada’ and a blue cap to match, he walked into the waiting arms of three EFCC operatives kitted in their red petticoat. “Welcome to EFCC”, the three of them chorused as if on cue. Akpabio alone was led into an inner room that had only one table and chair in the centre of the room. He took his seat and waited. After what seemed like a few minutes, a tall, dark and lanky operative sauntered inside the room and bellowed out, “Uncommon transformer, you’re welcome. We want to screen you just like you screened our candidates a few days ago”. Akpabio couldn’t hold that signature laughter as he replied, “It’s a season of screening, my brother. You screen me, I screen you. God no go vex”. Now, Akpabio relaxed. Something told him the whole ‘screening’ may just turn out to be an anti-climax.
“We got a petition someone wrote to us about you. Is it true you stole N108b of your people’s money?”, the EFCC operative asked. “Let me say first that it raises the question of public understanding of the role governors, public servants and some may be surprised to learn that as a governor of Akwa Ibom State, I didn’t sign cheques, none of my commissioners signed cheques. I didn’t fix contract prices. It is an institutional process. The only training I have is that of a lawyer. Nobody can award contract over benchmark price. Throughout my tenure, I have been confronted with the price of things and the reality is that when you design a road, what you meet in reality when construction starts is usually not what you end up with. In all of these, nobody has alleged that I have corruptly enriched myself. I could not have been a master in computer and technology. I need something to do my work”, Akpabio answered looking straight into the eyes of the EFCC operative.
“But how come we saw some cash when we busted your domicile at the Government Lodge at the time you were out for medical treatment?”, the operative asked. Clearing his throat, Akpabio said, “The unfortunate thing about money is that it raises suspicion, even among brothers. My attitude was to see criminals as my competitors and in a competition, my desire was to use my resources to outspend my competitors, out-think the competition and out-maneovre the competition”.
“Is that why you built a hospital you could not use when you had an accident? Why did you have to travel abroad?”, a female operative asked this time. Flashing his trademark smile, Akpabio turned to the fair complexioned lady and said, ” Is it not better for you to catch me alive than dead? Am I not more useful to you that way? Do you remember my brother Alams? A living dog is better than a dead lion. A chicken that is alive will still eat corn for many more days”. All the operatives in the room burst out laughing but Akpabio was not finished yet. “Moses Ochonu said what you do is catch and release- not catch and keep. That is why I brought myself here. Those who ran away from you don’t understand how friendly you have become. Ask Ibori. Ask Diezani. Unfortunately, we can’t ask Alams again”, he said.
“By the way, why is it that it is only PDP people that are falling sick and need to seek medical attention? From Diezani down with cancer to Kingsley Kuku who had a knee surgery and then your good self who had an accident. Even the former VP Namadi Sambo has been treating a leg injury”, the lanky operative said to no one in particular. “It is the fear of Buhari”, the operative who had not spoken since said.
“How many boreholes and websites did you build with N108b?”, the female operative asked again. Fidgeting, Akpabio retorted, ” I didn’t do boreholes. I didn’t do websites. That is not my specialty. I only did bridges and roundabouts”. The EFCC operatives nodded in unison. “That must be why they call you the bridge builder”, the female operative said. “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, my dear”, Akpabio exclaimed.
“We saw the way you turned out during the screening of the ministers. What’s your concept of loyalty?”, the lanky operative asked. “As for loyalty, the concept of loyalty is a strange one. The real answer to that question is, may your loyalty not be tested. I always pray that my loyalty will not be tested because you might have to take a bullet for somebody. We discuss it loosely, but in public service, I have remained loyal to causes that I have signed onto and in all my life, nobody can fairly accuse me of giving my word and going back on my word”, Akpabio replied. He flinched a bit as he said this because Edwin Clark was on his mind. He knew the new sheriff in town demanded absolute loyalty. If it was necessary, he wouldn’t mind doing an Edwin Clark. It’s called self-preservation.
“Well, Senator Godswill Akpabio, we thank you for attending this screening and also for your cooperation. We will invite you again should we need your help. Please take a bow”, the leader of the team said. Smiling and bowing at the same time, he replied, ” I know one screening should not disturb the other. We still have someone to screen next week at the Red Chamber”.
As he stood to leave, Akpabio said, “Just one more thing. Will the Amazon of Rivers State visit here for screening anytime soon?”.
“It depends on body language”, the female operative replied.
I woke up with a start. I didn’t know the pounded yam I ate could lead to this nightmarish state. I looked at my watch. Time was 1.39am.
NB: EFCC, a beg this na satire oooo.