Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has formally joined the All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential race for the 2023 election.
Mr Akpabio made the declaration Wednesday before a mammoth crowd at Ikot Ekpene Stadium in Akwa Ibom State.
It was at the same venue Mr Akpabio announced his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to the ruling APC three years ago.
Mr Akpabio, a former two term governor of the Akwa Ibom State and immediate past Senate Minority, promised to place priority on security and economy if elected.
Meanwhile, the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has denied knowledge or support of a banner supporting the presidential declaration of Akpabio at the Ikot Ekpene township stadium.
The PDP said the banner was the handiwork of mischief makers aimed at smearing the pristine image of the party.
Drama had greeted the sight of a PDP banner, hanging conspicuously in solidarity with the presidential aspiration of Akpabio.
The banner tagged, “Peoples Democratic Party, Akwa Ibom State Chapter in support of His Excellency, Chief Dr Godswill Akpabio for President in 2023?, was erected at Ikot Ekpene Township Stadium, the venue of the Minister’s presidential declaration.
The controversy was anchored on the fact that the State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, who is a PDP stalwart, has already thrown his hat in the ring for the presidential race in 2023.
Reacting to the banner, however, the Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Borono Bassey in a statement on Wednesday, said mischief-makers were out to use the name of the PDP to score cheap political points.
The PDP spokesman wondered why the trouble makers would choose such a day to “embarrass their principal by reminding him that his political aspirations amount to nothing if it is not on the platform of the only ruling in the state.
The statement reads in part “We have seen a photograph of a banner with an inscription to the effect that a party with the name – “People” Democratic Party is in support of the presidential rally of the Minister of Niger Delta, Chief Godswill Akpabio.
“Whereas the aforementioned “Party” does not exist as a duly registered Political Party in Nigeria and certainly not in Akwa Ibom State, we understand that the innuendo that the mischief-makers set out, but failed to achieve was to use the name of our Party – The Peoples Democratic Party to score points.
“In light of this, we are moved by sympathy to wonder why Akpabio’s handlers chose a day like this to embarrass their principal by reminding him that any of his political aspirations will amount to nothing if such aspiration does not come on the platform of the only Party in Akwa Ibom State – the Peoples Democratic Party.
“As a Party, we are glad by this overwhelming decision by Chief Akpabio and his handlers to again admit the obvious truth, that without the platform of the PDP, electoral victories in the state are impossible.
“More importantly, we are motivated by the reverberating message by Akwa Ibom People that the only party they have come to accept is the Peoples Democratic Party.
“Our commitment as a Party in Akwa Ibom State is to continue to stay as a platform for the emergence of leaders and representatives who offer superlative stewardship to our people.
“Again, we must remind the mischief-makers and people with unrealistic political ambitions that although we will not be the ones to throw the first salvo, we will stop at nothing to visit our sledgehammer on any political fly that wants to perch on and abuse our pristine image as a Party.”