The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Akwa Ibom State has said that the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State has no governorship candidate for the 2023 general elections.
This was contained in a report sent to the INEC headquarters in Abuja by the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom, Mike Igini.
“We wish to report that the APC governorship primary scheduled to hold on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at the Sheergrace Arena, Nsikak Eduok Avenue, Uyo, 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,” the report reads.
“The Resident Electoral Commissioner, the Commissioner of Police and the State INEC Monitoring Committee were present at the venue for the duration earlier stated, but left at about 10:30pm after the Chairman of the Primary Election Committee notified the REC on phone that they would not come to the venue.
“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.”
With the June 9 deadline for primaries now gone, the implication is that APC has no candidate for the 2023 governorship election in Akwa Ibom.
According to the report, despite the “multitude of delegates” present at the Sheergrace Arena, the APC election committee said they would not conduct the exercise there.
After hours of back-and-forth over which venue was the approved place for the exercise, the APC primary election panel was said to have eventually gone to one Obot street venue for the primary.
Akan Udofia, who recently defected to the APC from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was announced as the party’s governorship candidate on May 27 — but INEC maintained that its officials didn’t monitor that exercise.
The development comes amid leadership crisis in the party over factions loyal to Godswill Akpabio, former minister of Niger Delta affairs, and John Akpanudoedehe, former national secretary of the APC caretaker committee.
In October 2021, parallel congresses were held in the state, which produced two sets of executives — one led by Stephen Ntukekpo and the other by Austin Ekanem, with the former said to be loyal to Akpabio, and the latter backed by Akpanudoedehe.
In February 2022, when Abubakar Sani Bello, Niger governor, took over as acting national chairman of the caretaker committee, Ekanem was sworn in as the party’s state chairman.
Shortly after, a federal high court in Abuja nullified the swearing-in of Ekanem and recognised Ntukekpo as the party chairman.
Following the development, Akpanudoedehe filed a suit seeking a stay of execution and he also appealed the judgment.
However, in April 2022, Abdullahi Adamu, APC national chairman, swore in Ntukekpo as the chairman of the party in Akwa Ibom, despite an appeal court ruling ordering the parties involved to maintain status quo pending determination of the matter.
Meanwhile, Akpanudoedehe, who had also sought the party’s governorship ticket, has dumped the APC and is now the governorship candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).