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Akpabio’s Emergence As APC Senate Candidate ‘Not Recognised’ By INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) does not recognise the emergence of the former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, as the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate for Akwa Ibom North-West District for the 2023 elections.

Mr Akpabio, Thursday night “won” the primary for the district conducted by a faction of the APC in Akwa Ibom State that is loyal to him.

A source at INEC said on Friday morning, that the commission was not aware of a new primary for the district and did not monitor the exercise.

The source, who did not want his name mentioned in the report because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the commission only recognises Udom Ekpoudom, a retired deputy inspector general of police, as the APC candidate for the district.

The primary “won” by Mr Ekpoudom was conducted on May 28 by another faction of the APC in the state. INEC monitored the exercise.

The APC in Akwa Ibom has been torn into two factions because of a protracted battle between Mr Akpabio and the former national secretary of APC, John Akpanudoedehe, over the control of the party structure in the state.

The faction that conducted the primary, which Mr Ekpoudom “won”, is loyal to Mr Akpanudoedehe.

Mr Akpanudoedehe, a few days ago, defected to the New Nigerian Peoples Party and secured the party’s governorship ticket in Akwa Ibom after he was outmaneuvered by the other faction which got Akanimo Udofia, a man who joined the APC in less than a month, to be elected the 2023 governorship candidate of the party in the state.

As it is, Mr Akpabio’s ambition to return to the Senate in 2023 may not be realised, unless the former minister challenges and defeats INEC in court.

Mr Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom, was elected a senator in 2015 under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party. He later resigned from his position as the minority leader and defected from the PDP to the APC.

He, however, failed to win the senatorial election in 2019 under the APC, and was compensated with an appointment as the minister of Niger Delta Affairs by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The former senator resigned as minister to contest the APC presidential primary, but stepped down at the last minute for the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, who emerged as the party presidential candidate for the 2023 election.

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