All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, appear heading for a showdown over what INEC described as “non-conduct” of the party’s governorship primary in Akwa Ibom State which should have held on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at Sheergate Arena, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The primary election failed to hold.
Meanwhile, 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 took place in Akwa Ibom South senatorial district.
The APC chapter in Akwa Ibom State and its national headquarters in Abuja are troubled by the development even as a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, says he clinched the senatorial ticket at another primary held late Thursday for the North West District of Akwa Ibom which was not monitored by INEC as required by Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022.
INEC sources said, at the weekend, that two separate reports highlighting the activities leading up to the botched senatorial primary in Akwa Ibom South 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 reports applied for and given to stakeholders.
One of the reports, for the governorship primary, dated May 27, 2022, and signed by the Akwa Ibom Resident Electoral Commission, REC, Mike Igini, was stamped received in the Office of The National Chairman.
The report, titled ‘REPORT OF THE NON-CONDUCT OF THE ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC) GOVERNORSHIP PRIMARY SCHEDULED TO HOLD ON THURSDAY, 26TH MAY, 2022 AT SHEERGATE ARENA, UYO, 8/10 NSIKAK EDUOK AVENUE, UYO, AKWA IBOM STATE’, reads:
“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 necesary action.
“Also, the Monitoring Team from INEC, in concluding in 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 of yesterday evening, no new governorship primary has been conducted by APC in the state and monitored by INEC.
According to Section 82 of Electoral Act 2022, any new Guber primary requires fresh 21 days notice.
Legally, therefore, APC does not have a validly nominated candidate monitored by INEC for the 2023 Guber election in Akwa lbom State.
A source narrated 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 4pm, 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”, the source said.
“At about 10.30pm, 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 primary and that all activities be postponed until he gets back to the Commission.
He never did”.
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 27th May, 2022.
INEC in 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 27th May, 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 drama that characterised the APC primaries in Akwa Ibom climaxed Thursday night when Akpabio was said to have been duly nominated for the same ticket at another primary where he was said to have scored 478 votes.
But INEC in the state said no such primary was monitored.
To validate the Commission’s claim, a report of the Monitoring Teams for the three senatorial districts has been sent to INEC at its Abuja headquarters.
The report, dated June 8, 2022, and titled, “COLLATION AND FORWARDING OF THE REPORTS SUBMITTED BY THE SENATORIAL DISTRICT MONITORIG TESMS ON THE ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC) PRIMARIES HELD IN THE THREE SENATORIAL DISTRICTS OF AKWA IBOM STATE ON 28TH MAY, 2022”, was signed by Arit Eschor, for the REC.
The report reads, “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 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.
According report, leaders like Chief Don Etiebet and Senator Ita Enang have been calling for a truce.