By Emmanuel Aziken
Senator Godswill Akpabio’s jaunt into the diplomatic circuit as number three citizen was on the springboard of a lush background of accomplishments in the domestic arena.
His arrival in Launda, Angola last October for the 147th meeting of the International Parliamentary Union, IPU, was as simple as he arrived at the Akwa Ibom Government House in 2007. Just as he left the Akwa Ibom Government House with the adornment of the Uncommon Governor, he similarly left the IPU summit with resounding glory, having won for Nigeria a place in the IPU Executive Committee. It is a feat that had not been achieved for Nigeria for 59 years. Nigeria last sat on the IPU Executive Committee in 1964 during the First Republic.
Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media, Hon Eseme Eyiboh, seducing the new garnish on his boss with a trifle of his own tinge of embroidery, equated the ambassadorial decoration to “a diplomatic Nobel laureate” for Nigeria.
The election of Akpabio into the Executive Committee of the 179-nation network of national parliaments is significant, not for Akpabio alone, but for Nigeria. It reflects a significant milestone in the solidification of democratic roots in Nigeria given the fact that parliament is the bedrock of democracy in any nation.
Eyiboh even sees the election of his principal on a grander scale with a prospect of the makeover of Nigerian travelers who have in recent times been harassed on account of the green passport they carry.
According to his spokesman, Akpabio’s “uncommon emergence as an executive member of the IPU has opened the door and not the window for an average Nigerian to be respected, including with the ease of obtaining Visa for travels.”
The outing in Launda was, however, not a sole errand for the Senate President who went with a strong delegation of the National Assembly with the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu as the top man from the House of Representatives.
Many like Eyiboh expect the upshots from the elevation of Akpabio into the IPU executive committee to go beyond more respect for the Senate President and Nigerians with the green passport. Many also see Akpabio using the position to provide navigation for Nigeria in thorny issues that may confront the country where the executive branch may be otherwise hampered.
We have seen past Speakers of the United States Congress (the second in the order of succession in the United States just like the Senate President in Nigeria), leverage the office to project the clout of the legislative branch in the international arena. As Akpabio settles as an influential member of the Executive Committee, as he is bound to be, no less is expected from him, given his antecedents as an uncommon converter of infrastructure and processes.
Indeed, as his official orator, Eyiboh said in the sparkle of the IPU appointment, “The average Nigerian should now be proud of the Senate because the present Senate is going to give Nigeria a new image that will translate into prosperity and growth plans. “This Senate will be the best in our annals if they consistently follow their growth template as is being led by the president of the Senate.”
Besides, the splurge at the IPU, the Senate President has also used interactions with the Diplomatic Corp in Abuja to project Nigeria. On Tuesday, October 10, he received a delegation of the United States mission in his office during which he challenged the American government not to tire in its responsibility as a big brother to Nigeria, plying its presidential system of democracy hook, line, and sinker.
Receiving on a courtesy call the diplomats from Ireland led by the Ambassador of Ireland, Peter Ryan, and his entourage earlier in November in his office in Abuja, Akpabio reminisced on the very warm relationship between him as governor of Akwa Ibom State and a former Irish ambassador to Nigeria.
Unlike some flops he may have had here and there in his stewardship of the Senate which are really not unexpected in the milieu of the political twists and twirls of the legislature, Akpabio’s sexcursion in the diplomatic arena has been largely eventful. That in effect is a reflection of the uncommonness in his persona.
Aziken is a journalist and public affairs analyst.