Immediate past minister of Niger/Delta Affairs and Senator-elect, Godswill Akpabio, may opt out of the race for president of the Senate in the 10th National Assembly to take appointment in the incoming cabinet.
Sources familiar with Akpabio within the All Progressives Congress (APC) told LEADERSHIP that the former Akwa Ibom State governor has decided to pursue a ministerial appointment in the cabinet of the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Akpabio who was former minority leader of the Senate resigned as minister of Niger Delta Affairs in the government of President Muhammadu Buhari following the provisions of section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act of 2022 to contest the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He, however, stepped down for Tinubu who later won the party’s ticket and also went ahead to win the keenly contested February 25, 2023 presidential election.
One of our sources further disclosed that Akpabio has escalated consultations to return to his ministerial position, specifically the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, where he resigned from in May 2022 to contest the APC presidential primaries.
Another possible push is also in the ministry of Petroleum Resources where it was learnt the former minister had vested interest too.
It was learnt that the Senator-elect has since informed his loyalists to tone down their campaign for his senate presidential ambition in the media to soften ground to achieve his ministerial reappointment in Tinubu’s cabinet.
Tinubu will be sworn in as president on May 29, 2023, barely two months from now and he is mandated by a new law signed by President Buhari in the constitutional alterations to form his cabinet within 60 days of assumption of office.
While some have publicly declared their intention to vie for the office of the Senate president, others are yet to do so.
Some of the contenders for the president of the Senate include a former Governor of Abia State and current Chief Whip, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu; Senators Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano North); Sani Musa (APC, Niger East), Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South).
Also speculated to be in the list against the ranking standing rule are former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari (APC, Zamfara West); the outgoing Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Umahi (APC, Ebonyi South), and a former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North).
“To avoid losing out Akpabio has since started reaching out to Bola Tinubu personally and through his allies to return to any of the plum ministries, which appears to be more favourable to the former two-time governor when compared to the Senate president position.
“His chances are very dim and he knows this, our Party and the President-Elect are committed to forming a Government of National unity and quell restiveness in geo-political zones in the country beginning with the Southeast by giving them the opportunity to produce the next Senate President,” the source stated.
I’ll Declare My Ambition For Senate Presidency At Appropriate Time – Akpabio
But in a swift reaction, Akpabio dismissed as “laughable and totally bereft of common sense” the rumour making the rounds that he has abandoned his quest for the 10th Senate presidency.
Speaking through his chief press secretary (CPS), Jackson Udom, the former Senate minority whip said such insinuation is borne out of mischief from certain quarters who are obviously afraid of his towering influence and credentials that clearly stands him out as the best for the office.
Udom said, “Those propagating and flying such kites that Akpabio has abandoned his quest to, instead pursuing to be a Minister, perhaps do not know that the former minister has won election as a Senator, and he can no longer become a minister at the same time.
“Several groups and individuals have been drumming support for him across the country, even when he has neither declared for the position nor openly expressed his rejection and dropping such ambition.
“Those canvassing such baseless propaganda should not overwork themselves over nothing. The Senator has meaningful issues to agitate his mind with, and that is to ensure the unity and development of the country, and how to address the challenges of his people who overwhelmingly chose him to return to the Red Chamber.
Udom urged Akpabio’s teeming supporters to disregard such distraction as the handiwork of some idle elements with the evil intention of overheating the polity, assuring that the “the Senator will come out soon with his position on the matter.”