Revealed: APC’s Plot to substitute Ekperikpe Ekpo For Akpabio during Ikot Ekpene’s Senatorial district rerun
By Bassey Abang, South South Correspondents, Triune News
The All Progressives Congress, APC, Akwa Ibom State has perfected plans to substitute Obong Ekperikpe Ekpo for Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio as their candidate in the court ordered rerun for the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District Seat. This is coming about a month since the Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar, Cross Rivers state cancelled the elections in Essien Udim Local Government Area on grounds of the prevalence of violence in the Local Government Area during the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
Senator Christopher Ekpenyong of the PDP had defeated Chief Akpabio of the APC at the February 23, 2019 at the polls to claim the seat at the National Assembly.
Our source gathered that the Akpabio delegation was at the INEC headquarters in Abuja yesterday to execute the planned substitution.
The decision by the APC to substitute Obong Ekperikpe Ekpo as their candidate in the election is occasioned by Chief Akpabio’s uncertainty about the outcome of the rerun and his indisposition to resign from his office as the minister of Niger Delta. Close sources to Senator Akpabio informed that the minister sees the election as “a most uncertain adventure”. Chief Akpabio who spoke yesterday at an event to mark his 57th anniversary confirmed this when he stated that he cannot throw away a gold in hand to seek for a bird in the woods, in his words:
“I thank God today that against the thoughts of some people, I am alive, my wife is alive and we are not retired politicians, but rather God has taken us many steps higher…I return all thanks to God and I cannot fail him by abandoning the golden opportunity I have to better the lots of my people as the minister, Niger Delta for any reason whatsoever…”
A legal practitioner ( names withheld) who is a member is the legal team of APC in the state told our correspondent that the decision by the APC to substitute Obong Ekpo for Chief Akpabio was sound in law and had a valid precedent in the case of Yahaya Bello of Kogi state who was substituted in a rerun for Late Prince Abubakar Audu, the main candidate of the APC in the 2015 Kogi gubernatorial elections who died before the conclusion of the elections. He said that Obong Ekpo can inherit the votes of Chief Akpabio just as Yahaya Bello inherited the votes of Prince Audu.
Another APC Chieftain stated in an interview with our correspondent that Akpabio is afraid that if he resigns as a minister to contest in the rerun, a defeat would mean a certain end of his political career and political relevance. He further added that Chief Akpabio would have contested in the rerun if the presidency had given him the consent and extra backing to contest, while still serving as a minister. He maintained that substitution was the only way out for the APC in the state to have a candidate in the race as he was certain that a smart and egoistic Akpabio would never resign as a minister to seek rerun for a seat at the senate against Senator Ekpenyong and the PDP who have maintained a record of victory in Akwa Ibom State for the past 20 years.
Efforts by our correspondents to reach Chief Godswill Akpabio or the APC Chairman, Akwa Ibom State, Ini Okopido had been fruitless at the time of filing this report.