From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Former Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, has formally joined the race to contest the Akwa Ibom State governorship election, picking the party’s N50 million expression of interest and nomination forms.
Speaking to newsmen after presenting him with the nomination forms, he debunked the speculations that he dragged the party to court, stressing that he is even a third defendant joiner to the suit.
“Let me use this opportunity of obtaining nomination form to debunk the impression created in certain quarters that I am in court with the party. No. It can never be. Having been a National Secretary I understand the rules.
“I was also part of the decision making that we cannot take the party to court. The reality is that we are actually third defendants in the case that Stephen Ntukekpo instituted against the party. He is the person who took the party to court.
“He sued me as a national secretary, they also sued me in my personal capacity. And they actually tried to…in the affidavit that I mentioned, in the letter to the national chairman, blackmail my person and my tenure as a national secretary.
“So I have a duty to defend myself in the Court of Appeals. Not that I initiated a case against the party. I have never, and I am not doing it. So, that impression is blackmail. I am not the one, and it will never be.
“I am not in the court against my party, I will never do it. I am a true party man. I am in the court to defend my integrity because of my children and my grandchildren, my character and what I stand for, that is all,” he said.
The former party’s chief scribe also spoke on the mode of primary he would prefer, opting for direct and claiming that since the party has membership register, it would be the most preferable.
“Because of what is going on now, I will appeal for direct primaries, because I don’t want the PDP to take us to court or anyone to institute case against us. It happened in Rivers, it happened in Zamfara. I don’t want that.
“We want a direct mode that will involve all members. After all, we have a register now, they will cast their votes. Well monitored by INEC and being represented by all the candidates, and must be satisfied that the right thing is done. And that will bring unity to the party and that will make us win.
“But leaders, don’t look at yourself. Let me not look at myself. Because the problem of most people is that you look at the office you are holding, you are not looking at democracy. That’s why the President says that the party should be returned to the grassroots, one man one vote.
“When you come for sharing, and say ‘give me’ I am Senator this, give me I am this, give me and that no. Democracy is not about personalities. It is about the people. I will subject myself to a thorough, transparent democratic process,” he said.
On how much he is mobilising after obtaining the form, he said: “I don’t want to be arrogant. After all, it was a bad judgment that they used in killing our Lord Jesus Christ. So I’m not going to be arrogant about it. I am just appealing for democracy. And for the sake of our party, to allow democracy to take his place.
“I cannot brag or boost, because bad judgment was used to crucify Jesus Christ.So he died for me. So no bad judgement can be used to crucify me because I’m not Christ. He has taken that pain on my behalf. So you cannot crucify me again.
“So, I cannot talk about mobilisation. After all you know, the capacity and belief of the people in me. Akwa-Ibom people, everybody believes in me, they have been with me since 2009. They will continue to support us, and we need everybody.
“We need people. If you love this party we need to sit as elders, we need to sit down. Look at the way forward. What is in the interest of the party? What do we benefit from? What do we gain?” Senator Akpanudoedehe asked.