Ekanem To Akpabio: When You Don’t Have Delegates, You Withdraw Not To Step Down
As the 2023 presidential bid of the former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio ended dramatically Tuesday night, a factional chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State, Austin Ekanem, has criticised how Mr Akpabio withdrew from the party’s presidential primary.
Mr Akpabio, while addressing delegates at the primary in Abuja, announced he was stepping down.
He urged delegates in Akwa Ibom to vote for the former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu.
But Mr Ekanem, apparently responding to Mr Akpabio’s decision, said the former governor of Akwa Ibom State should have withdrawn from the exercise, instead of stepping down.
“When you don’t have any delegate, you withdraw; you only step down with delegates to support another aspirant,” Mr Ekanem said in a Facebook post, Wednesday morning.
Although delegates from Akwa Ibom state were accredited for the Primary, they did not vote due to a court order served on the party accreditation officers on Tuesday evening.
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, Wednesday, Mr Ekanem, however, denied knowledge of the Court order.
But he said he was in Court to claim his “mandate” as the “duly elected” chairman of the APC in the state.
He said the delegate election his faction conducted was monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but the list was rejected by the Party’s National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu.
The former national secretary of the party, John James Akpanudoedehe, who had been involved in a protracted political battle with Mr Akpabio for the control of the APC structure in Akwa Ibom, backed the Ekanem-led faction.
Mr Ekanem and other members of his executive were edged out of office under controversial circumstances by a man, Stephen Ntukekpo, who had forged the results of the APC Congress in Akwa Ibom to get a favourable court judgement at a Federal High Court, Abuja.
Mr Ntukekpo, with the political support from Mr Akpabio, is leading the other faction of the APC.
Mr Akpanudoedehe, after being outmanoeuvred at the APC Governorship primary in Akwa Ibom, recently defected to the New Nigeria Peoples Party and is now the Party’s Governorship candidate in the state.
Mr Ekanem told PREMIUM TIMES that the APC could not have used a delegate list from Mr Ntukekpo’s faction for the Presidential Primary because of the election that produced him (Ntukekpo) was not monitored by INEC.
He said doing otherwise would have invalidated the result of the presidential primary.
Although the delegates from Akwa Ibom could not vote at the APC presidential primary, the same delegates voted in the Primaries, including the governorship primary, organised by the party in the state.
The APC, as previously reported by PREMIUM TIMES, is walking a tightrope in Akwa Ibom, and may end up not fielding candidates for the 2023 general elections in the State.
Source:- Premium Times