A former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and senator-elect for Akwa Ibom North-west, Godswill Akpabio, has denied an alleged pact with the governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Bassey Albert, during the 18 March state elections.
The ex-minister’s spokesperson, Jackson Udom, said this in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.
Some members of the APC and supporters of the former minister in the state had alleged that Mr Akpabio won the senate election partly because Mr Albert directed his party’s candidate to step down and urged his party structure to support Mr Akpabio.
The senator-elect, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, was to reciprocate the gesture by directing APC supporters across the state to support Mr Albeert, the YPP candidate, during the governorship election.
An APC member in the state, Zion Umoh, who claimed to be an aide to Mr Akpabio on special duties, confirmed the existence of the pact on a live Facebook video, PREMIUM TIMES reported last week.
“YPP stood by APC in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, APC will stand by YPP in Akwa Ibom State,” Mr Umoh said in a Facebook post last week.
“In Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, the APC went on a ward tour. The YPP abandoned their own senatorial candidate, Emmanuel Ekon, and accompanied the APC on the ward tour. I am talking about the YPP stakeholders, they mounted the podium and declared total support for Godswill Akpabio in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District.
“They stood with us and we gave them that promise that we are going to stand with them for the governorship,” Mr Umoh said in the live video.
Mr Umoh had made a step further to ask the APC governorship candidate in the state, Akanimo Udofia, to step down for Mr Albert in fulfilment of the pact between Mr Akpabio’s APC pacts with the YPP governorship candidate.
He had argued that Mr Udofia had not campaigned and did not have the goodwill of the people to win the governorship election compared to the YPP candidate, whom he said, had a support base across the state.
“Akan Udofia has never supported the opposition party in Akwa Ibom State and has no clue on how to play the opposition politics in Akwa Ibom State and we the people must align with reality to chat a new course with YPP before we lose another eight years,” he said in another Facebook post.
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Many were made to believe Mr Umoh’s claim because Mr Akpabio’s campaign organisation did not issue a disclaimer condemning his utterances against the APC governorship candidate.
Also, Mr Akpabio was not seen campaigning for Mr Udofia in Uyo and Eket senatorial districts, a development that triggered speculations that he might have abandoned Mr Udofia after winning the senate race.
No pact between Mr Akpabio and Mr Albert – Mr Udom
Reacting to the allegations, Mr Akpabio’s spokesperson, Mr Udom, dismissed speculations that the former minister abandoned the APC governorship candidate.
Mr Udom told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Akpabio had to rush to Abuja shortly after the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, was declared president-elect to witness the presentation of a certificate of return to Mr Tinubu.
He said Mr Akpabio also waited to collect his certificate of return as a senator-elect before returning to Uyo.
“After collecting his certificate of return, he addressed the press that by the virtue of the victory of Mr Tinubu and his own victory that the people of Akwa Ibom state should rise and vote en masse for Akanimo Udofia for a seamless link to the national,” the minister’s spokesperson said.
He denied the existence of any pact between Mr Akpabio and the YPP candidate and urged the people to disregard such rumour.
“There was no pact between the two of them. I am not aware of that. I said there was nothing like a pact between anybody.
“No, Mr Alert did not tell anybody to vote for Mr Akpabio and leave their own candidate in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district. The people voted for Akpabio based on his antecedents and achievements in public office. So if other party members voted for him it is on their own conviction,” he said.
He challenged Mr Umoh who claimed to be working for Mr Akpabio as an aide on special duty to produce his evidence of appointment by the senator-elect and urged the public to disregard claims.
“Anytime you see him, ask him to produce his letter of appointment. I have mine. Anybody can say anything but what we know is that Mr Umoh is not an aide in whatever form to Akpabio. He has no right to speak on behalf of Mr Akpabio.”
Mr Udom said his boss was not aware that Mr Umoh had been attacking Mr Udofia, adding that a group from the Ikot Ekpene senatorial district had denied that Mr Umoh was working for the senator-elect.
He did not, however, say if the group’s disclaimer had the backing of Mr Akpabio.
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