Nigeria: Akpabio Showcases Leaders’ Profligacy and Indifference in Lavish Birthday Celebration

Mr Akpabio’s extravagant events demonstrated wastefulness and insensitivity to the suffering of Nigerians who are already facing dire situations.

Despite the Nigerian government failing to provide relief to its citizens amidst economic difficulties caused by the removal of petrol subsidy and foreign exchange reform, Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, spared no expense in celebrating his 61st birthday on 9 December.

Although the government agreed to provide relief to workers and the most vulnerable citizens after protests by the labor movement, it has struggled to extend this relief to the majority of Nigerians or maintain the token N35,000 it announced for its own workers after the initial payment in September.

Mr Akpabio’s extravagant event, held in two cities, can be described as a display of wastefulness and insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians who are already making sacrifices to rescue the economy from the consequences of the country’s leaders’ extravagance and incompetence.

The celebrations began on Sunday when senior members of the political class flew to Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, in private jets and chartered aircraft for a lavish party at a 30,000-seat stadium built with state resources and named after Mr Akpabio during his time as governor of the state.

The guest list included the president’s wife, Remi Tinubu, state governors, ministers, senators, and members of the House of Representatives. They were escorted to the stadium on the outskirts of the state capital in a long motorcade of luxury cars, where they were greeted by supporters who had been transported to the venue from across the state.

The festivities continued in Abuja on Thursday with a live broadcast of a colloquium at the Transcorp Hilton to honor the senate president.

A list of 74 senators pledging approximately N150 million in support of the events circulated on social media. It was also alleged that a large sum of money was taken from the Senate’s accounts, although these claims have not been independently verified by PREMIUM TIMES.

Mr Akpabio’s media and publicity advisor, Eseme Eyiboh, denied that funds were taken from the Senate account and government agencies for the event. However, without access to the National Assembly’s budget details and expenditure, it is difficult to verify Mr Eyiboh’s statements.

Nevertheless, the extravagance and timing of the Senate President’s 61st birthday celebration only reinforce the perception of Mr Akpabio, and his fellow Nigerian leaders, as wasteful, out-of-touch, and indifferent to the struggles of the people they govern.

Akpabio’s reputation for extravagant spending

During his time as governor of Akwa Ibom from 2007 to 2015, the Senate President gained a reputation for lavish spending. He used state resources frivolously, engaging in activities that were widely reported by PREMIUM TIMES as excessive and unnecessary.

In 2013, Mr Akpabio shocked fellow leaders of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by publicly announcing a gift of N1 million to each state chairman of the party for their lunch during a South-south zonal meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

At the same event, Mr Akpabio unilaterally donated N230 million on behalf of the newly-formed PDP Governors Forum to President Goodluck Jonathan’s hometown church, sparking controversy as it was done without the knowledge or consent of the other governors.

These are just a few examples of Mr Akpabio’s lavish spending and disregard for fiscal responsibility.

His behavior, along with other Nigerian leaders, contributes to a culture of wastefulness and lack of accountability in public financial management. While ordinary Nigerians struggle with rising costs and economic hardships, government officials continue to allocate resources to their personal comfort, prestige projects, and frivolous expenditures.

Nigeria is currently facing one of its worst economic crises, with rising inflation, increased poverty, and widespread insecurity. The removal of fuel subsidy and foreign exchange reforms have further exacerbated these issues. In light of these circumstances, it is essential for public officials to lead by example and share in the sacrifices being made by the citizens.

The government needs to regain the trust of the people by demonstrating responsible and prudent use of public funds. However, Mr Akpabio’s extravagant birthday celebrations and the behavior of other Nigerian leaders only serve to incite public outrage and highlight their indifference to the struggles faced by ordinary Nigerians.

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