Recuperating Akpabio; Which Treatment are we Paying for?

By Bolaji O. Akinyemi.

In my last article; The proverb of Akpabio collapses, I pointed out that the Senate President’s recent birthday celebration might have compounded his stress level which led to him collapsing, which the Senate President also re-itriated in his speech.

Few days ago, the Senate President released a statement stating that he had Malaria. Although he did not confirm whether or not he collapsed, he assured Nigerians that malaria and stress were the cause of his slump at his birthday party!

This is a very interesting development, because earlier this year, the counsel of the Senate President sent a letter to the EFFC, pleading that the investigations over alleged corruption be moved (or rescheduled) because Akpabio was scheduled to receive treatment abroad!

Here is an excerpt from Leadership Newspaper:

“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has summoned the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, for alleged corruption.
Though the details of the corruption allegations were not made public, it will be recalled that Akpabio has been under the investigation of the anti-graft agency for some time.”

In 2020, the EFCC said it was investigating corruption allegations against Godswill Akpabio as a Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
This was contained in a response letter dated August 14, 2020 to Foundation for True Freedom and Good Governance, a civil society group.

The EFCC, in a response letter by Adebayo Adeniyi, Head of the Economic Governance Section at the EFCC, said : “We write to acknowledge the receipt of your Petition dated August 3, 2020 in respect of the above subject and to inform you that investigation into the case has commenced.”

However, in a letter written to the anti-graft agency by the Chambers of Mr Umeh Kalu (SAN) dated March 27, 2023, the Counsel to Akpabio appealed to the EFCC to shift the date of his expected appearance before the Commission to a later date after the forthcoming Easter and Ramadan holidays.
The Chambers recalled in a letter of February 10, 2023 where they alerted the EFCC that the former Minister was undergoing treatment for pneumonia and cardiac arrhythmia.
They noted that Akpabio has also been advised to seek further medical help abroad.
The letter, signed ‘For Seasons Law Firm’ by Umeh Kalu (SAN), with the title: “Re: Investigation Activities – Senator Godswill Akpabio’s Appointment” reads: “We continue to act as Solicitors to Senator Godswill Akpabio and write you at his instance.”

“We write to convey our client’s inability to honour the scheduled visit to your Office on the 29th day of March 2022. due to ill health, and already-arranged medical appointments overseas.”

“As mentioned in our last letter to you dated February 10, 2023, our client is undergoing treatment for pneumonia and cardiac arrhythmia, and, has recently been advised to seek further attention abroad.”

“It is in the light of the above, that we respectfully request that our client’s appointment with you be rescheduled to a date convenient to your Officers. preferably after the forthcoming Easter and Ramadan.”

“This request is in no way intended to disrespect your high office, even as we regret every conceivable inconvenience that our request will occasion on you and your team of operatives.”

“Please accept the assurances of our professional regards, while thanking you for your understanding”, it concluded.

We would love to know, if the Senate President has gotten a clean bill to the illness which required urgent medical attention, hence preventing him from showing up for questioning.

While we sympathize with the Senate President on his health issues, his statement has raised eyebrows and prompted questions about the authenticity of the malaria claim!

As citizens, it is important that as we seek transparency and accountability from our leaders, we will also begin to scrutinize certain assertions.

While malaria is a common tropical disease, the timing and context of the Senate President’s announcement have triggered skepticism. Some have questioned whether the claim is a genuine health concern or a strategic move to gain sympathy or divert attention from other pressing matters.
To ascertain the validity of the Senate President’s assertion, it is essential to consider various factors. First and foremost, verifying medical claims often involves confidentiality, making it challenging for the public to independently confirm the diagnosis. However, the Senate President could opt for a more transparent approach, such as providing medical records or allowing an independent medical professional to verify the diagnosis.
Also, the history of public figures using health issues as a political tool adds complexities to the situation. Instances of leaders exaggerating or fabricating illnesses to manipulate public sentiments are not unheard of. We have seen persons who wore orthopaedic collars to senate probes, removed the same the moment the probes are over. As such, the public is justified in approaching such claims with a degree of skepticism.

While it is essential to respect an individual’s privacy regarding health matters, public figures, especially those in positions of power, whose medical bills are being paid by Tax payers, must be prepared for public scrutiny. The Senate President’s claim of having malaria warrants a thorough investigation to ensure that his pneumonia and cardiac arrhythmia have not relapsed. It is part of today’s corporate responsibility to ascertain medical conditions of individuals before hiring them. That is not the case with our elected public Stewards. Ours is a nation never learning, one would have expected that with our experience with Yaradua and the ongoing saga in Ondo. The Senate will help themselves and the nation by letting us know what is ailing The Senate President and how much it is costing us to maintain his pneumonia and cardiac arrhythmia which electoral victory as the Senate President have not allowed him to seek further medical attention abroad as advised by his Doctor based on the letter of his counsel to EFCC.

Public trust, more than anything is the greatest confrontation of a Senate President with files at the Commission unattended to. Or has the SP recuperated from corruption; the general political ailment?

Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi is an Apostle and Nation Builder President, Voice of His Word Ministries, Convener, Apostolic Round Table, ART. BoT Chairman Project Victory Call Initiative, AKA PVC Naija and CEO Masterbuilder Communications.