Peter Ohiozojeh Akpatason’s name has in recent times followed a trail of failed constituency projects at Akoko Edo constituency in Edo State, which he has represented since 2011. In his pictures, he is always in a kangol cap, one of the markers of activism in the country, before they transition to full-blown politicians, like a rite of passage.
Before he came into power, Akpatason had sought power in other ways, the most common was through activism when, in 2001, he became the President of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), where, just like former labour union leader, Adams Oshiomole, he led nationwide strikes. This was just one of the ways of getting public recognition for a position he was eyeing: the Senate.
In between, he went for managerial courses, boosting his CV along the way; a course in Turin, Italy, another in South Africa, and another at the Harvard Kennedy School, and even another at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Plateau State. These certificates were supposed to be evidence that not only had he seen the world and attained relevant degrees, he was a different type of politician.
A social media commentator who defined Akpatason’s politics as “politics without scrupples” noted that the politician, prior to his political career, had spoken from a position of moral superiority over other politicians.
From 2001 when he became President of NUPENG, and solidified his position by being the National Trustee at the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), he gave support to Oshiomole’s 2007 governorship candidature.
Akpatason’s target was the Senate; and in 2011, hoping to be rewarded for his deeds, he sought to contest for the Edo North Senatorial seat. He was however only offered the option to contest for the House of Representatives, where he is currently the Deputy Majority Leader.
His third term contest came with its own troubles. Akpatason, who himself had opposed Tunde Akogun, running for House of Representatives for a third term, had his election in 2019 nullified by the Appeal Court.
The primariy that would decide between himself and Kabiru Adjoto as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Akoko-Edo constituency, ended in violence and no results were declared. In April 2019, the Appeal Court declared Adjoto as the APC candidate.
This was however a short-lived victory. Shortly after being sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court gave a ruling in June 2019, in which Akpatason was returned for a third term, to serve as the Chairman, House Committee on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
Akpatason has in the past few days become infamous for the poorly executed federal projects in his constituency. Projects worth millions of naira were either abandoned, or shoddily done.
On July 8, in an attempt to divert public opinion from the poorly executed projects in his constituency, Akpatason released a five minutes documentary on constituency projects he had done. He was the facilitator of the Unu-Ese Bridge Ojirami Afe Road in Akoko-Edo.
The project was allocated N50 million. But instead of a bridge, what was in place was an abandoned appendage that dangled above a flowing river, putting users of the bridge at risk.
This was just a tip of the iceberg of the mediocre projects Akpatason was going to be associated with.
Akpatason came under further criticism over a 200-meter link road constructed at Igarra community. The road was of very poor quality and was allocated N65 million.
Akpatason pointed fingers at Philip Shaibu, the Deputy Governor of Edo State, stating that the road was vandalised. However, from videos, the road was just patched and no serious work was done on it.
Under the same project, drainages worth N30 million were to be constructed, but they ripped apart with bare hands by the complainant who did a video showing the shoddy job. The drainage did not lead anywhere the water would flow to, and was only made up of cement. The project was under the 2020 and 2021 Federal Government’s Zonal Intervention Project.
While Akpatason has asked that the details of the awards be sent to him, it has raised concerns on why all three projects under his constituency were poorly executed. All three projects did not just fall below standard but raised concerns on the pattern of mediocrity the lawmaker had created. Suddenly, the motivations for his labour union antecedents are now questionable
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