As the clock ticks towards 2023, the supremacy war between the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and the Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) national caretaker committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, has gotten messier in Akwa Ibom State.
Investigations reveal that with Akpabio allegedly vowing to do everything to frustrate Udoedehe’s 2023 Governorship ambition, the two are neck deep in a showdown that has further polarised the party, threatening what is left of its existence in Akwa Ibom state.
Akpabio, since his appointment as Minister a year ago, has completely sidelined the former junior Minister for FCT, in all his dealings, getting only his core loyalists from his tribe, Annang, into available positions in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and sidelining Udoedehe and all his supporters, mostly Ibibios.
Reliable sources in Akpabio’s camp confided that his dream of relegating Udoedehe into obscurity was threatened when President Muhammadu Buhari, surprisingly made the latter, an acting National Secretary of the ruling party, an automatically positioning him as the leader of the party in Akwa Ibom.
Udoedehe, has repeatedly fumed at the ‘orchestrated attacks’ by the Minister against another Ibibio son, Obong Nsima Ekere, following Akpabio’s repeated comments that Ekere was among those who caused the rot in the NDDC “by stealing from the pulpit and also stealing the pulpit”.
The renewed war between the two chieftains of the party has further led to the boycott of the forthcoming local government areas election in the state.
It was gathered that Akpabio believes any election now, Udodehe would have the upper hand in selecting candidates of the party, hence his decision to collude with acting state chairman, Mr Ita Udosen, to announce a total boycott by the party.
Sen. Udoedehe had in a recent chat with the Coalition of Online Publishers in Akwa Ibom State (COOPA), announced that the 2023 Governorship election would be his sure win, and that nobody would stop him.
It would be recalled that Udoedehe had a fierce battle with Chief Akpabio in 2011, during the latter’s reelection bid, culminating in the loss of several lives and properties, as well as the incarceration of Chief Udoedehe for several weeks.
The two only united in 2018, when Akpabio defected suddenly to the APC, ahead of the 2019 elections, with Akpabio opting to support Nsima Ekere ahead of Udoedehe as gubernatorial candidate.
There has not been any meeting of the leaders of the APC in the state since its abysmal show in the last general elections, a situation further compounded by the recent demise of the state chairman, Mr Ini Okopido.
“Udoedehe had hoped to use the local government election, to reinforce his structure in the state, a decision, which unfortunately, has been thwarted by the boycott.
“So far, you can see that all those appointed recently to take part in national assignments, have come from Udoedehe’s loin, making Akpabio to be very uncomfortable,” the source concluded.