FORMER Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, has insisted that he did not lose the just concluded senatorial election in his state.
Akpabio said this during an interview on live television at the sidelines of the brief ceremony where President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo were presented with their certificates of return on Wednesday in Abuja.
Akpabio was the former minority leader of the 8th Senate, but towards the end of 2018, he surprisingly dumped the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on whose platform he twice won the governorship election in Akwa Ibom State, and the Akwa Ibom North senatorial seat, to join the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
However, after the collation of last Saturday’s national assembly election in Akwa Ibom State, the returning officer, Peter Oban, a professor, announced that Akpabio scored a total of 83,158 votes, while his opponent, Chris Ekpenyong of the PDP scored 118,215 votes and is, therefore, the Senator-elect.
Speaking shortly after President Buhari had received his certificate of return, Akpabio alleged that there were irregularities during the election process which resulted in his purported loss, but that in the real sense, he did not lose.
“I won, I won,” Akpabio said. “It’s a temporary setback and that is why there are processes. If, for instance, you feel that you were cheated, or that there was wrong collation, you have recourse to the courts.
“I didn’t fail, I can’t fail. I did not fail. I believe strongly that there must have been some wrong collation somewhere. So those things will be corrected.
“We have processes in the election. It’s from one stage (to another) now. You have to do registration, you have to vote, you have to collate, and then if there’s a mistake anywhere, you go back to the court and you get your mandate.
“My mandate is solid and waiting for me. I can’t fail election. I cannot fail. Do you expect me to fail? Wouldn’t you love me to be your senator?” he queried the interviewer.
Indeed, Akpabio has never lost an election before that of Saturday, February 23, 2019. He made his foray into politics as an appointed officer in 2002, when he was named the Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources by the then Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah.
He would later serve as a commissioner in several other ministries in the state, including that of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, as well as Lands and Housing.
Akpabio then contested for the post of governor when Victor Attah’s second tenure came to an end in 2007. He won that election, and four years later, in 2011, he was re-elected for a second term.
In 2015, having concluded his two tenures, Akpabio handpicked Emmanuel Udom, whom he had appointed as the Secretary to the State Government, to succeed him as Governor, while he (Akpabio) ran for the Senate. Both Akpabio and Udom went on to win the election.
However, Akpabio wasn’t as lucky this time around, as he had fallen out with Udom and dumped the PDP for the APC. But whether he would regain “his mandate” in court as he bragged about, is yet to be seen.
Already, the APC in Akwa Ibom State has called for the cancellation of the senatorial elections in the state, citing late arrival of electoral materials, as well as non-use of smart card readers during the accreditation of voters.
“The purported elections (should) be cancelled and a new date set for fresh Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state,” read a statement signed by Ini Okopido and Augustine Ekanem, the Akwa Ibom APC Chairman and Secretary, respectively.
Akpabio is just one out of the several so-called ‘traditional election winners’ who lost their senatorial seats on Saturday.
Others include, Senate President Bukola Saraki (Kwara State), Shehu Sani (Kadun State), Barnabas Gemade and George Akume (Benue States), Mao Ohabunwa (Abia State), and Andy Ubah (Anambra State).