Friday, 2nd June 2023

Uncertainty in Akwa Ibom over APC governorship, Senatorial tickets 

By Azeez Olorunlomeru
12 June 2022   |   2:43 am
There are strong indications that the All Progressive Congress, APC, may be on a collision course with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC

Abdullahi Adamu, newly elected chairman of the ruling Party All progressives Congress, (APC)

No Gov Primary In Akwa Ibom – INEC Report

There are strong indications that the All Progressive Congress, APC, may be on a collision course with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over what the commission termed ‘non-conduct’ of the governorship primary which should have been held on Thursday, 26 May 2022, at Sheergate Arena, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The governorship primary did not hold.

Similarly, only two senatorial districts in the state – Akwa Ibom North East and Akwa Ibom North West – held successful primaries on May 28, 2022. No senatorial primary was held for Akwa Ibom South senatorial district.

This development is already unsettling the hierarchy of the APC chapter in Akwa Ibom State and its national headquarters in Abuja, as a former minister of Niger Delta Affairs and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio is celebrating his victory at another primary held late Thursday for the North West District of the state not monitored by INEC as required by section 84 of the 2022 Act. 

Two reports detailing the activities leading up to the senatorial primary and non-conduct of the governorship primary in the state have been submitted by the state office to headquarters in Abuja and certified copies of the report have been applied for and given to stakeholders. 

Sources at the Zambezi Street headquarters of the commission in Abuja made the reports available for sighting. One of the reports, for the governorship primary, is dated May 27, 2022, and signed by the Akwa Ibom Resident Electoral Commission, REC, Mike Igini esq, was stamped and received in the Office of The National Chairman.

Addressed to the chairman, the report, titled, ‘Report Of The Non-Conduct Of The All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship Primary scheduled to hold on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at Sheergate Arena, Uyo, 8/10 Nsikak Eduok Avenue, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, stated as follows: “I forward herewith, the Report of the Non-conduct of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship Primary, scheduled to hold on Thursday, 26th May, 2022, at Sheergate Arena, 8/10, Nsikak Eduok Avenue, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, for your information and necessary action.”

Also, the Monitoring Team from INEC, in concluding its report, which is before the Commission’s Chairman, concluded that the governorship primary did not hold “because the APC Primary Election Committee did not come to the venue and did not hold the Primary in any other venue monitored by the Commission.

“…. Equally, the APC state chapter executives and the entire state delegates were at the venue but the Primary election did not hold because of the failure or refusal of the Primary Election Committee to come to the designated venue. As late as yesterday evening, no new governorship primary has been conducted by APC and monitored by INEC.

“According to Section 82 of Electoral Act 2022, any new Guber primary requires fresh 21 days notice; and none had been conducted since. Legally, therefore, APC does not have a validly nominated candidate monitored by INEC for the 2023 Guber election in Akwa Ibom State.” 

It was gathered that “in the morning of that day INEC Akwa Ibom received from INEC Headquarters the five-man list of the APC Electoral Committee assigned to conduct the Governorship primary and at about 4 pm the INEC monitoring team, including the Resident Electoral Commissioner, accompanied by the Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State, moved to the designated venue for the primary (SheerGrace Arena, 8/10, Nsikak Eduok Avenue, Uyo). A mammoth crowd of delegates was already at the venue. 

“While at the venue messages came in that APC Electoral Committee members from Abuja were blocked on the road by some APC members on their way from the Akwa Ibom airport and the DSS was called in to salvage the situation. Later the Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Mr. Ajibulu, spoke with the Resident Electoral Commissioner on phone and confirmed that they were actually at the office of the DSS, who had taken all of them in for safety.

“At about 10.30 pm the Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Mr. Ajibulu spoke again with the Resident Electoral Commissioner and stated that for safety reasons and the fact that he was traumatized they could no longer leave the DSS office for the venue of the primaries and that all activities be postponed until he gets back to the Commission. He never did”.

Also, Section 84 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022 mandates all political parties seeking to nominate candidates for elections in Nigeria to hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions and all such primaries are to be monitored by INEC and all political parties are to give 21 days’ notice to INEC, in line with Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022.

In line with Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, the APC notified INEC of its intention to conduct its Senatorial Primaries across the country, including that of Akwa Ibom State. The date fixed for that of Akwa Ibom State, according to the Commission’s timetable was May 27, 2022.

INEC, Akwa Ibom State, constituted a five-man monitoring team for each of the three Senatorial Districts and they all monitored the primaries as scheduled for the three Districts on that May 27, 2022.

The five-man INEC monitoring team for Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District duly monitored the Primary at the designated venue and submitted its report, which showed clearly that Mr. Udom Udo Ekpoudom had the highest votes (of 338) and was declared the winner as the APC Candidate for that Senatorial District.

The new twist that was introduced late Thursday night was the celebration by Senator Akpabio as having been duly nominated for the same ticket at another primary where he was said to have scored 478 votes.

Sources at INEC, Akwa Ibom chapter insisted that no such primary was monitored on Thursday.

Already, a report of the Monitoring Teams for the three senatorial districts has been sent to INEC at its Abuja headquarters.

The Report, dated 8th June 2022, titled: “Collation And Forwarding Of The Reports Submitted By The Senatorial District Monitoring Teams On The All Progressives Congress (APC) Primaries Held In The Three Senatorial Districts Of Akwa Ibom State On 28th May 2022” has been sent to the commission’s secretary in Abuja. It was signed by Arit Eschor, for the REC.

The report concluded that “Two (2) Senatorial District Monitoring Teams reported that APC Senatorial Primaries were successfully held in the two Senatorial districts they monitored, while the monitoring team for Akwa Ibom South district reported non-conduct of primary.”

The report listed Mr. Udom Udo Ekpoudom as the winner of Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District.

Leaders of APC in Akwa Ibom State have been having a running battle against each other, leading to the resignation of Senator Akpanudoedehe from APC.

Meanwhile leaders like Chief Don Etiebet and Senator Ita Enang have been calling for calm.