The former minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, will run for a seat in the Nigerian Senate after stepping down for the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, at the just concluded presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mr Tinubu polled 1,271 votes to defeat 13 others in the race.
Two sources familiar with the development said that Mr Akpabio, Thursday night, filled the party forms that would get his name entered as the APC candidate for the Akwa Ibom North-West District election in 2023, even when he did not take part in the party primary in the district.
All party primaries for 2023 elections end on June 9, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Jackson Udom, the media aide to Mr Akpabio, confirmed Thursday night, that the former minister will contest for the Senate.
Mr Udom said on Thursday at 10.30 p.m. that “people were still voting” in a “rescheduled” primary for the district.
“He (Akpabio) is contesting,” Mr Udom said. “Obong Ekperikpe Ekpo has stepped down for him.”
Ekperikpe Ekpo, a former member of the House of Representatives, was earlier this month declared the winner of the APC senatorial primary conducted by a faction of the party that is loyal to Mr Akpabio.
Udom Ekpoudom, a retired deputy inspector general of police, won a parallel APC primary in the district – it was conducted by a faction loyal to the former national secretary of the APC, John Akpanudoedehe.
Messrs Akpabio and Akpanudoedehe have been involved in a protracted battle over the control of the APC structure in Akwa Ibom.
Mr Akpanudoedehe, a few days ago, defected to the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) and secured the party’s governorship ticket in Akwa Ibom after he was outmaneuvered by the other faction which got Akanimo Udofia, a man who joined the APC in less than a month, to be elected the 2023 governorship candidate of the party in the state.
Mr Ekpo, the man who is being replaced by Mr Akpabio in the race for the Senate, declined to comment when contacted Thursday night.
The candidate of the other faction, Mr Ekpoudom, said he was not aware Mr Akpabio had entered the race.
Meanwhile, the APC in Akwa Ibom may not field candidates for the 2023 elections because of the legitimacy issues over who leads the party between the two factions.
If cleared by INEC, this would be the second time Mr Akpabio, a former Senate minority leader, would contest for the Senate after his first term in the National Assembly in 2019.
Mr Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom, was elected a senator in 2015 under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party. He later resigned from his position as the minority leader and defected from the PDP to the APC.
He, however, failed to win the senatorial election in 2019 under the APC, and was compensated with an appointment as the minister of Niger Delta Affairs by President Muhammadu Buhari.