The former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, says it was “laughable” to see people jubilate on social media over the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to publish his name as a senatorial candidate for the 2023 elections.
Mr Akpabio, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), contested in the June 7 APC presidential primary but stepped down for the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, who emerged as the presidential candidate of the party.
A few days after, the former minister went back to his Akwa Ibom North-West District to take part in a controversial APC senatorial primary which he “won” easily.
It appeared the APC leadership conducted the “rescheduled” primary solely for Mr Akapbio’s interest – to pave the way for his senatorial ambition.
But INEC did not monitor the primary election as stipulated by law, and, therefore, refused to recognise Mr Akpabio’s emergence as a candidate.
The names of the Senate President Ahmed Lawan and the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, are also missing in the list of the senatorial candidates published by INEC on Friday.
“The Senator Godswill Akpabio Senatorial Campaign Committee views as laughable the frenzy on the social media alleging that Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON, has been disqualified from the senatorial race of North West Senatorial District,” Mr Akpabio’s campaign organisation said in a statement on Saturday.
The statement said the “jubilation” on social media showed that Mr Akpabio’s political opponents were intimidated by his senatorial ambition.
The statement said INEC’s decision on the matter is not final, and that Mr Akpabio has met all the electoral and constitutional requirements to contest the election as the APC candidate for the Akwa Ibom North-West.
The campaign organisation described the removal of Mr Akpabio’s name from the INEC list as a “dubiously guided manipulation orchestrated by forces from the axis of evil”.
It said the law “clearly precludes INEC from rejecting names from parties which conduct its primaries in substantial compliance with guidelines.”
“The matter on hand therefore shall soon be addressed in accordance with the law with assurance of (a) favourable outcome for Senator Akpabio,” the statement said.
Besides the controversy around the APC primary itself, the APC faction in Akwa Ibom that conducted the primary is also facing a legitimacy crisis.
The chairman of the faction, Stephen Ntukekpo, had used forged documents to obtain a court judgment which removed from office Austin Ekanem, the man who was validly elected the chairman of the APC in Akwa Ibom State.
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