Akwa Ibom APC chair explains why party crisis lingers, blames Akpabio group
Ahead of 2023 polls, the factional Chairman of Akwa Ibom State chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Austin Ekanem, has offered an insight into why the crisis rocking the party is yet to be resolved.
Ekanem, in a statement made available to The Guardian in Abuja, blamed the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, for the problem, which, he said, may deny the party from fielding governorship and other candidates for various elective seats in the 2023 poll.
“Let me state here without mincing words that Victor Antai/Senator Godswill Akpabio should be held responsible for whatever happens to our great party the APC in Akwa Ibom State. But for his arrogance, we would’ve still had a party called our own,” he said.
On how the move for an out-of-court settlement between Akpabio and Akpanudoedehe failed, he said: “During one of the court sessions of the appeal filed by Akpanudoedehe against the judgment obtained by Stephen Ntokekpo and co in respect of the state congress of the APC in Akwa Ibom State at the court of appeal, the judges didn’t sit on time and afforded the legal counsel on both sides time to interact and share their experiences regarding such cases.
“The legal counsel on both sides agreed that this case will not help the party at that time, especially as the APC primary election was fast approaching. They decided that Akpanudoedehe, who was in court, should be approached and briefed about an out-of- court settlement.
“The legal counsel to Akpanudoedehe, Solomon Umoh SAN, offered to do the briefing and Akpanudoedehe agreed with them and the court was approached for an out-of-court settlement, which the court promptly agreed and set a date for parties to return to court with a resolution, otherwise the court will commence the hearing of the appeal.”
He said the legal counsel on both sides met, set a date and venue for the settlement meeting, each side was to set up a five-man negotiating team.
He recalled that on the date for the meeting, the Akpanudoedehe group, made up of five persons, led by Archbishop Akpan, appeared. Other members were Godwin Afangide, Akanimo Edet, Dr. Ndem Ndem and Rachel Akpabio.
He said: “On the other side, the ADF, backed by Akpabio, could not even raise the five persons required, they came with four persons, led by Victor Antai, with Dr. Emaeyak Ukpong, Imo Akpan and Pat Etete Ineme as members. The legal counsel for the teams briefed them on why the meeting was convened.
“Victor Antai was the first to respond as the leader of their team. He arrogantly asked: ‘On whose instance was this meeting convened? He told everyone seated in that meeting that they (his group) were comfortable with the situation as it is.’
He said the meeting ended in less than 10 minutes.
“That was how Akwa Ibom APC lost a golden opportunity to reconcile because of ego and arrogance.
“I want to ask Antai if he is still comfortable with the situation as it is today,” he added.