Akwa Ibom 2023: Aggrieved APC aspirants protest Akan Udofia’s victory

A renowned Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant in Akwa Ibom State, Akanimo Udofia, has defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), less than a month after submitting his 2023 PDP governorship nomination form.

Aggrieved governorship aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom, have registered their protest against the emergence of Obong Akanimo Udofia, as the candidate of the party at the delegates’ election held in Uyo on Friday.

Two of such aspirants, Senator Ita Enang and Mr Augustine Utuk, registered their grievances at a press conference in Uyo at the weekend.

Just a day after the winner of APC gubernatorial primaries, Obong Akanimo Udofia, was announced, Senator Ita Enang, the immediate past Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs, led other aspirants in the protest, stating that the outcome of the exercise was not in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 as amended.

Enang disclosed that Akan Udofia is not a member of APC in his ward and claimed that the exercise was heavily stage-managed to have a pre-determined outcome in favour of Obong Udofia.

According to him, all the aggrieved aspirants have a petition to the National Executive Council (NEC) of the APC, with a view to averting the crisis which, he observed, could lead to the party not having a governorship candidate, as was the case in Zamfara and Rivers state in 2019.

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He questioned how Udofia became the flag bearer in APC in Akwa Ibom, when his name and photograph was on ballot paper during their governorship primaries conducted at Godswill Akpabio International Sport few days before that of APC.

The lawmaker insisted that such irregularities and broad day robbery can dim the chances of APC in 2023.

“The name Akan Udofia, was a PDP member and governorship aspirants and had never defected officially to the APC, but was given the ticket at a primary that was not monitored and supervised by INEC and security agencies.

“By God’s grace, we all filed out, praying and wishing that one of us shall emerge in a duly conducted process. Unfortunately, that dream for a peaceful and orderly conduct did not happen.

I’m still wondering the process by which the acclaimed winner of the primaries emerged in the state.

“The guidelines for the conduct of the primaries in the APC stipulates that aspirants should be furnished with delegates list. The party did not make this important document available to us. Only one aspirant was supplied the delegate lists in the state, thus hedging the entire process in his favour”, he explained.

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Senator Ita Enang recalled that while party delegates and supporters were already at the venue of the primary, delegate tags were being issued at the country home of Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio in Ukana in Essien Udim council area of the state, adding that accreditation of delegates was not supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as required by law.

He stated that irregularities that marred the conduct of the APC Governoship primary was perfected from the arrival of materials at the Akwa Ibom Airport, where the officials were ambushed by paid thugs.

“The pandemonium had lasted for over four hours, before the team, chaired by Omobatunde Ajibula, with Ms Evelyn Okere as Secretary, were rescued by officials of the Department of State Security Services.”

He, therefore, urged the national leadership of the APC and other stakeholders to explore on a round table, a possible window to address the problem to avoid a reoccurrence of 2019 experience in Zamfara and Rivers State.

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