Godswill Akpabio’s ambition to return to the Nigerian Senate suffered a major setback over the weekend, as some chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State said they would not support him in the forthcoming election.
Mr Akpabio, a former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, is the APC senatorial candidate in the Akwa Ibom North-West District in the 25 February election.
A multi-partisan meeting, chaired by the leader of the APC in Akwa Ibom, Don Etiebet, was held on Saturday at Mr Etiebet’s residence in Uyo where a decision was taken on Mr Akpabio’s political ambition.
Mr Etiebet, a former minister of petroleum, is a BoT member of the APC.
The communique issued after the meeting, which Mr Etiebet forwarded to PREMIUM TIMES, Sunday afternoon, said the APC leaders in Akwa Ibom North-West District resolved to support Mr Akpabio’s opponent, Emmanuel Enoidem, who is a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the senatorial election.
Their reason, according to the communique, is that the Abak Federal Constituency where Mr Enoidem hails from is the only federal constituency which has not yet produced a senator for 56 years, since 1963, whereas others, including the Ikot Ekpene Federal Constituency where Mr Akpabio hails from, has produced a senator multiple times.
“Ikot Ekpene Federal Constituency has produced five senators since 1963, three in the fourth republic alone,” it said.
Apart from the APC chieftains, members of the PDP, New Nigeria Peoples Party, Young Progressives Party, and Labour Party, from Abak, Etim Ekpo, Ika, Ukanufun and OrukAnam Local Government Areas attended the meeting, the communique said.
The communique did not, however, disclose the names of the participants, but said those in attendance included federal and state lawmakers, chairpersons of local government councils, members of government boards and commissions, as well as officials of political parties, community leaders, and heads of women groups.
“Barr Emmanuel Enoidem, the PDP Senatorial candidate was unanimously endorsed as the choice for the February 25, 2023 Senatorial election but members were urged to vote their respective party’s presidential candidates,” the communique said.
The participants at the meeting said they endorsed Mr Enoidem because he is “the strongest of the four candidates considered from the Abak-5 Community”.
“All Abak-5 Community eligible voters are enjoined to vote for Barrister Emmanuel Enoidem of the PDP irrespective of their party affiliations in the Community.
“The leaders of the Abak-5 Community led by Atuekong Annang, Don Etiebet, are enjoined to reach out to their allies in Ikot Ekpene and Ikono/ Ini Federal Constituencies for their understanding and support to vote for Barrister Emmanuel Enoidem to win the Senate seat of the Akwa Ibom North-West District,” the communique said.
Mr Etiebet, last month, rejected Mr Akpabio’s candidacy after the Supreme Court ruled that Mr Akpabio was the validly elected candidate of the APC.
The Director-General of Mr Akpabio’s campaign, Ubokutom Nya, in his reaction to the development, said the meeting was “doomed”.
He challenged Mr Etiebet to publish the list of those who attended the meeting.
“Those who support Senator Godswill Akpabio from Abak 5 are men parading huge political assets, not liabilities. Etiebet ran two national parties aground and crashed them to scraps.
“Those who support Akpabio are not faces behind the masks. They stand out to be counted in daylight,” Mr Nya said.
Mr Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom, was elected senator in 2015 under the PDP. He later defected to the APC in 2018, where he contested for a second term in 2019 but was defeated by the PDP candidate, Christopher Ekpenyong, who is a former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom.
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