Godwill Richman’s name may not be well known in the political circles of Akwa-Ibom State or even the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nigeria. For followers of Akwa Ibom politics, however, he has always been a major force in the background in the state.
He spoke about his ambition and other issues in this interview with the Daily Sun in Abuja, where he was visiting for one of the strategic and consultative meetings.
Have you calculated the cost of contesting the 2023 governorship election in Alwa-Ibom, which is made up of heavyweight politicians?
Let me state the obvious: a father comes before a son or a grandson, and a grandson cannot exist without a father. The political heavyweights you’re referring to in Akwa-Ibom State are entirely my creations from 1999 to the present.
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I began working with Ibrahim Babangida, the Military President, when I was 18 years old. In 1999, I brought in Amb Emem, who later brought in Ubong Victor Attah to succeed me as governor of Akwa-Ibom State. Because Victor Attah is my uncle, I worked with him as if he were a brother.
I advised him in particular where he needed to entice something from the federal government to the state, using onshore and offshore resource control as an example. During the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, I was instrumental in ensuring that Akwa-Ibom had both offshore and onshore resources to empower our people.
In 2007, I gave Godswill Akpabio a strong mandate to become the state’s next governor. Anyone familiar with the Wadata House will be aware of the story, and Godswill will not be able to deny me today. I collaborated well with him and gave him sound advice.
After a fundraising event, I told him to board the plane, but he confessed that he was afraid to enter Uyo because of one General Lakpan. But I assured him that General Lakpan would leave the state for you on that day. As a result, when we arrived in Uyo, I told my driver to take me to the General’s residence. I demanded that he explain why he was not supporting my candidate and that he park his truck and leave the state.
I told him that if he kept being stubborn, he should go get the gun he left in the Barracks and have it serviced for him. But the next day, he left the state, never to return. I even moved to his compound on election day to see how the General would influence the outcome, but he did not come out until the election results were announced.
Because I was in charge of five governors, my influence was not limited to Akwa-Ibom alone. Rotimi Amaechi, Timi Sylva, Niyel Imoke, and Ararume were among those who left because he refused to listen to my small advice. I also assisted Emmanuel Udom in his election as governor. In 2019, I told everyone to vote for Udom and the PDP.
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So, to directly respond to your question, I can confirm that I, Dr. Godwill Richman, have been in the halls of power since 1999. Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan are both familiar with Richman. I’m also a member of the PDP’s who’s who.
Udom has tried, as have others before him, but Akwa-Ibom has not yet reached the level of excellence that I desire for the state. I told Akpabio that in his eight years, I want to see Akwa-Ibom replicate Dubai. Through the federation account, I pumped money into the Akwa-Ibom government.
From 2007 to 2015, the state had the most resources, which was a good thing. He tried, just like Udom, but I want to make Akwa-Ibom the Dubai for all to see and know that with Richman in charge, what people think is impossible is very possible.
What percentage of the people of Akwa-Ibom have invested in your project?
I would not have bothered with publicity to sell myself before becoming the governor of Akwa-Ibom State if it had been left to me alone. To be honest, I only need a two-week campaign to become governor. However, in order for people to enjoy the campaigning process, I must adhere to all of the procedures.
I can tell you that before I even announced my intention, I received calls from all over the country endorsing me. All of the PDP members persuaded me not to leave the party six months after the 2015 general elections. All the women, youths, elders, and children are clamoring for Richman as I speak.
People are already selling their homes to support my campaign. However, the current issue in the state is that the governor has ordered that all campaigns for the 2023 elections be kept to a minimum. Because I am on a divine mission to transform Akwa-Ibom state into a model city, the elders have announced that they have pitched their tents with Richman, whom they know, trust, and believe in.
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In fact, as far as I’m concerned, there is no one standing in my way of becoming governor of Akwa-Ibom State. I don’t have any competition because the other PDP candidates are all my boys. They will not claim that they have not benefited from me in the past or present.
Besides, becoming governor is not a project for which one simply wakes up and declares his desire. Experience and savviness are required in a governorship race, and that is exactly what I am bringing to my constituents.
Is the zoning system beneficial to you, and are you a zoning proponent?
Zoning favored not only me, but also my neighbors. Under the Uyo Senatorial District, there are four federal constituencies. Uyo, Ibiono Ibom, Etinan, and Nsit Ubium are their names. Except for Uyo, the country’s largest constituency, all have been filled.
My colleagues have agreed that it is now our turn, and they have even micro-zoned the ticket to me. The governor has also instructed the elders to appoint someone from my zone as governor.
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The governor, in his infinite wisdom, has promised to keep it open in my zone. So, after consulting with my God, family, and political allies, I can declare that I am the anointed one. I can confirm that the ticket is valid.
Are you not overconfident to the point of dismissing the APC’s threat?
There is no Jupiter under the sun, no dragon under the sea, and no maggot beneath the earth, in my opinion, that can prevent Richman from becoming governor of Akwa-Ibom State.
As I speak, every APC member has told me that once the ticket is given to me, they will rally behind me because they know no one can challenge or match me. In Anan, Akpabio is no match for me; Akpanudoedehe is my bag boy, Sam Akpan is my messenger; there is no one who can compete with me.
Because I taught them all the system and integrated them into it, there is no one in the APC who can challenge me. If the ticket is given to me, the APC in Akwa-Ibom state will die.
If they incite my wrath, I will hold elections in three states in addition to my own. I’m not afraid at all going into this race because there’s no reason to be. I’m already beaming because I see a bright future ahead of me with no adversaries.
What kind of support have you gotten from people on the national level?
I’m in Abuja to meet with all of the parties involved. I’ve already established contacts and
We’ve made plans. I want to reassure you that during consultations, I have stepped outside of my comfort zone. If
When I become governor, I am obligated to work with any party in power at the federal level to ensure the country’s and my state’s success and development.
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If you are elected governor, how do you plan to achieve your goal of establishing cement companies in three different locations across Akwa-Ibom?
As governor of Akwa-Ibom State, I will construct the heaven that I require and ensure that I remain there. I envision a scenario in which the president of the country comes to my state for a loan to pay federal salaries, and I will ask him how much he requires.
The mineral resources deposited in Akwa-Ibom are simply too great for a single state to handle. What we need now is my political will to explore the deposits and bring development to the state and its people. It will cost less than $5 billion to develop a standard international cement company, and the state already has more than that.
A standard international refinery will cost at least $10 billion to build, and while we have the technology, we lack the political will. We have the raw materials in an LGA that can last 50 years or more. The state has raw materials for the ceramics industry as well as other deposits. For the development of my state, I want to focus on solid mineral exploration.
I am aware that it is more valuable than oil money. As I speak, I have people from Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, China, and even Israel interested in coming to Akwa-Ibom to develop the state’s solid minerals. We’ll explain why we’re so reliant on oil money.
As governor, I will not travel to Abuja to request oil funds; instead, Abuja will travel to Akwa-Ibom to request a loan, which I will gladly grant. The task at hand is to develop our mineral deposit and make use of our land, sea, and air infrastructure.
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How do you intend to engage the throngs of unemployed youths?
One of my five goals is to create jobs. Others include revenue generation and attracting foreign exchange through the development of solid minerals. We would have created massive employment in the state if I built three international standard poultry farms in each senatorial district, as well as three ceramics industries and cement companies in three senatorial districts.
There will be no indigene of Akwa-Ibom at home or in the diaspora wasting time looking for work during my first four years. During my second term, I plan to hire people from neighboring states to work in Akwa-Ibom companies. Of course, I’m sure you’re aware of Ibom Air’s current recruitment efforts. We haven’t even discussed land and sea transportation, which will create a lot of jobs.
By the time we bring our seafood out of international waters, develop all of the maritime areas and turn them into cold rooms, and bring in all of the international investors to train our people in the international fishing system, the Fulani will be parked off the streets because no one will eat cow meat anymore; instead, people will come to Akwa-Ibom to eat and source seafood, which they will buy into their warehouses. We’ll also improve the land transportation system so that anyone can get to our state.
What are your plans for the state’s security?
After spending time in Israel, I want to use the Israeli security architecture and model to secure the country. Even though Israel is surrounded by enemies, it continues to stand strong. Akwa-Ibom will be well-protected under the Israeli security model, allowing businesses to thrive.
Ordinary citizens will be able to start small businesses if they so choose. Today, it’s rare to see Land Cruisers or other exotic cars on the streets of Akwa-Ibom State. Keke and bicycles will be prominently displayed.
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We’ll change the system because, with our mineral deposits, Akwa-Ibom should be able to compete with other states, and Keke will no longer be able to control the transportation system. When we arrive, we will equip people with taxis to create a model city transportation system.
We will also use a microfinance system to empower market women, Akara sellers, and small and medium-sized businesses. Because they know their citizens, we will make the village heads the chairmen of that soft loan. We will empower at least 50 people in each village, and Alwa-Ibom State will be free of poverty in three to four years.