Nduke Udobong, theprofilenews.com

National Headquarters of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has revealed that Sen. Godswill Akpabio’s defection from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, was sealed about a year ago, hinting that its perfection was stalled by some chieftains of the party in Akwa Ibom State.

Godswill Akpabio, Senate Minority Leader, who was elected on the PDP platform in 2015 to represent Akwa Ibom North West (a.k.a Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District in the Red Chambers, is the immediate-past governor of oil-rich Akwa Ibom state, South-South Nigeria. He became Senate Minority Leader via what many say was against the Senate Standing Rule, being a first time senator.

Our paper gathers that the relationship between Akpabio and his successor, Governor Udom Gabriel Emmnuel became sour following attacks hurled at the former by the latter’s loyalists, after he complained last year that ‘All is not well in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District’ (where he represents), accusing his successor of abandoning projects he initiated in the area.

Pundits say Sen. Akpabio had also sounded a veiled warning during last month’s rally organized in his and his successor’s honour in Ikot Ekpene, when he noted that be it PDP, CUPP or whatever; any party he identified with would deliver victory for the people of the state.

Reacting to questions on news of Akpabio’s imminent defection to the ruling APC, a source at the Abuja’s National Headquarters of the party said it was a “done deal”, adding that “that would have happened about a year ago but for some obstacles by leaders of APC in his state (Akwa Ibom)”.

Our source who preferred anonymity citing that it was not yet time to speak on the ‘issues’, named some of those he accused “had beefs with the Senator”, of constituting hindrances against Akpabio’s defection into APC.

He alleged that Obong Nsima Ekere, Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, who has yet to declare officially for 2019 governorship in Akwa Ibom state, was totally against Akpabio joining APC. Also accused is a former Petroleum Minister, Chief Don Etiebet, who is the APC State Caucus Chairman.

“The national leaders of APC had since given him (Akpabio) the clearance to join the party. But you know sometimes politics is beyond what reasonable people can explain. We asked him to go home and formalize his membership of the party but we understood some of the leaders there like the NDDC MD, Mr. Ekere and the State Caucus Chairman, Chief Etiebet, opposed his joining the party. That is why it was delayed”.

When asked if their opposition could cause rifts now should the Senate Minority leader join the party against their wishes, he replied swiftly, “The present leadership of the party does not give room for sabotage. The APC does not belong to one man. It is a political party for all. With the ongoing political developments in the country as it relates to the APC, any such moves would be counter-productive. That is why this time around the national leadership did not wait for their approvals”.

Meanwhile, our paper gathers that Ekere’s objection to Akpabio joining APC was to forestall any threat to his 2019 governorship ambition as according to sources; the former governor may not support the NDDC boss’s ambition having allegedly had his preferred aspirant for the position.

It was also learnt that Don Etiebet’s objection was due to unsettled political scores they had during Akpabio’s tenure as governor between 2007 and 2015.

Effort to speak with the former petroleum minister was unsuccessful at press time. Obong Ekere could not also be reached as calls to his known numbers were not responded to. WHATSAPP text message to his Media Aide, Mr. Inem Inah was not replied