Collage photo of Senator Ita Enang and Senator John Udoedehe.

By Abasifreke Effiong

Three governorship aspirants in the All Progressives Congress Akwa Ibom State have rejected the primary election that produced Mr. Akan Udofia, as candidate of the APC , cautioning that the party risked not having a candidate in the 2023 governorship election in the State.

Senator Ita Enang, Senator John Udoedehe and Mr. Augustine Utuk who were vying for the party’s governorship ticket said the election committee chaired by Mr. Omoba Tunde Ajibulu, had postponed the primary due to a stalemate shortly after they committee arrived from Abuja.

The aspirants said they were surprised that after the committee had postponed the exercise and communicated same to INEC and the Commissioner of Police in the State, it went ahead to conduct the exercise around midnight after most of the delegates had left.

Consequently, the three aspirants have called on the National Executive Committee of the Party to cancel the exercise which they insisted was not conducted inline with the provisions of the 2022 electoral guidelines.

At a joint press conference on Friday, Senator Ita Enang and Mr. Augustine Utuk, said the nomination was not monitored by INEC as provided for by the Electoral Act 2022.

Senator Ita Enang said the winner of the primary, Mr. Akan Udofia, is not a member of the APC.

“One of the purported aspirants (Akanimo Udofia) is not a member of the APC, he is a member of PDP. He contested and lost the PDP nomination on the 25th of May, so there is no way his name must have appeared on the ballot of the APC for the governorship primary. The person in question was wrongly declared as winner.

“He had never defected and 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 peaceful and orderly conduct did not happen.”

He queried the process by which the acclaimed winner of the primaries emerged.

“The guidelines for the conduct of the primaries in the APC stipulate 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”.

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Senator Enang, who is the immediate past Senior Special Assistant on Niger Delta Affairs to President Buhari, called on the NEC of the party to cancel the exercise.

Another aspirant, Mr. Augustine Utuk, submission, said “I disassociate myself and my team from what happened at almost midnight on Thursday in the name of primary.”

Aspirants reject outcome of APC governorship primary in Akwa Ibom Mr. Augustine Utuk.

In a press statement issued on Friday, the immediate past National Secretary of the Party, Senator John Udoedehe, said the exercise which allotted majority votes to Mr. Akan Udofia was a “brazen criminality” which should not be accepted by the party.

Read full text of the press statement below :

There is need to issue this statement in view of the occurrences yesterday (May 26th, 2022), and the reports on the social and other media, of what was purported to be the conclusion of Akwa Ibom State APC governorship primaries.

Members of the Party’s Election Committee mandated to oversee the exercise flew into the State from Abuja, and en route Uyo town, I’m told, were joined by Party members who sought to escort them to Sheer-Grace Arena scheduled venue of the event.

I was later informed by my aides of a stalemate in Uyo between the Committee Members and Party faithfuls who according to later findings, wanted to prevent the Committee and materials from being diverted to a wrong venue.

Upon being notified of the stalemate which had caused a gridlock in a part of the capital city, I promptly called authorities of the Nigeria Police and the Directorate of State Services (DSS) to provide escort for the team.

Gratefully, both Commands responded swiftly by deploying their personnel to assist in the regard for purposes of safekeeping the Committee Members and the materials they came with.

Issues were not readily sorted out for the exercise to commence as scheduled, and during the process of late night negotiations on the venue, between political leaders with interests in the Primaries, the Chairman of the Election Committee, Omoba Tunde Ajibulu, communicated his decision to postpone the exercise for the day to Bar Mike Igini, REC, Akwa Ibom State claiming he was “traumatised”.

He communicated his decision via a telephone call to the INEC Resident Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State (Mr. Mike Igini), in the presence of the State Commissioner of Police (Mr. Andrew Aighemene), both of who were in the Sheer-Grace Arena venue where the event was supposed to hold.

The decision also, communicated well after midnight, was announced to the national and State Press outfits which were present, by the INEC Resident Commissioner, in the presence of the Commissioner of Police, and teeming Party loyalists.

This therefore advised the termination of any further proceedings for the day, on the strength of which parties retired for the night, with the expectation of communication on a new date, and other details for the exercise.

It was therefore with utter dismay and consternation that I awoke to reports of the conclusion of the Primaries by the same Committee Members who were safely in the protective custody of the DSS for the night; and the announcement of results by the Chairman of the Committee, allotting majority votes to Mr. Akanimo Udofia.

One is forced to wonder how on earth such an illegality could be taken to represent the conduct of a democratic process supposed to be free, fair and lawful.

One wonders how such brazen criminality, godlessness, and show of absolute disregard for the laws which govern the Party and the conduct of its democratic processes, could be reported as proper and lawful.

One wonders how credible leaders could ever be produced in any society which employs the vehicles of blackmail, insensitivity, illegality and extremely wicked desperation and depravity, to foist political representatives on a people.

I wish by this statement to intimate the public with the facts of what transpired on May 26th, 2022, and which dubious social media reports acknowledge as the exercise of an acceptable democratic process.

The architects of all the illegalities, who have notched up the dubious distinction of always behind the perpetration of this level, and more, of ungodliness and impunity over several years in the past, are at it again.

They would then go ahead to blackmail me with the allegation of compromise or negotiation with interests opposed to that of my Party, in their bid to conceal their dubious roles and inveigh the disdain of the public against me.

The present occurrences are another episode in their despicable series.

I wish by this statement also, to assure the public of my decision to resort to appeals at the highest levels to every authority directly or remotely invested with the power to investigate the sham which has occurred, with a view to full redress.

I also extend my gratitude to my teeming supporters and loyalists, who stood firm on the side of the law and the regulations which govern our Party, to resist within lawful contexts, the illegalities that occured.

I thank them for their unflinching support for me and my political bids over the years, and urge them to exercise all lawful restraints while the expected authorities look into the matter.

I believe justice will be done.

I will carry all aggrieved members along – Akan Udofia

Aspirants reject outcome of APC governorship primary in Akwa Ibom Mr. Akan Udofia. (Credit: Facebook)

Mr. Akanimo Udofia has pledged to carry all members of the APC in Akwa Ibom State who were aggrieved by the outcome of the party primary along.

Mr. Udofia stated this when he paid a visit to Senator Godswill Akpabio, the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and two term governor of Akwa Ibom State.

The billionaire businessman who recently defected to the APC, emerged winner of the APC governorship primary held in Uyo, on Thursday, after polling 1,227 of the vote, beating in the process eight other aspirants including his closet contender, Senator Ita Solomon Enang, the immediate past Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs, who scored 34 votes, and former Secretary of APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Senator John Akpan Udoedehe, who scored two votes.

Five others who took part during the election and lost to Obong Udofia are Professor Chris Ekong who got 21 votes, Uduak Udoh (seven votes), Richard Anana (two votes), Larry Esin (one vote); while Augustine Utuk scored zero even as 19 votes were voided

“I want to say that this is the beginning of a revolution. The Akwa Ibom APC has spoken very loud, you have indicated that true change will come to Akwa Ibom State come 2023.

“You have agreed that we are going to use our great party, the APC to institutionalize the dividends of democracy and it must cascade down to the last ward, to the last corner.

“We are going to build a greater Akwa Ibom State. It is going to be an enormous task but when I look at the resilience of each and every one of you party faithful, I know you are ready to join hands with me and together we are going to make Akwa Ibom a greater and better state”, said Obong Udofia, at the meeting with Akpabio.

He commended the ex-minister of Niger Delta Affairs Senator Godswill Akpabio for his efforts at building the party and called for support for his presidential ambition.

In his reaction early on Friday, Udofia who dedicated his victory to the people of the state, promised to bring prosperity to Akwa Ibom if elected governor in 2023.

His words: “As someone who has been blessed by God, my interest in the leadership of our state is clearly a function of my desire to give back to society through selfless and effective service.

“My emergence as the APC gubernatorial flag bearer today is a victory for every Akwa Ibom citizen, who desires development for our dear state and the prosperity of its people.

“As we progress into the forthcoming gubernatorial elections, I urge you to keep up the good work as we prepare to coast to victory.

“I hope to deploy my local experience, vast network and global connections, to make this collective dream for a better Akwa Ibom, a reality”.

With additional report from Itoro Bassey.