The two geo-political zones of South East and South South have been in the firm control of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since the inauguration of the Fourth Republic in 1999. The All Progressives Congress (APC) made marginal inroads into the zones by taking over Edo State in South South and Imo State in South East. But all that is about to change with the realignment of political forces in the zones that is pointing to a change in the status quo.
The South south, for instance, is mobilising to ensure that the ruling party takes a firm root in the zone. Indications to this effect emerged last week when the National Committee of Buhari Support Group (NCBSG) opened their offices in Calabar, Cross River State, Uyo in Akwa Ibom and Benin in Edo State. It was a massive political event that attracted a large turnout of APC members and non-party supporters who sang and danced as they urged President Muhammadu Buhari to run in 2019 assuring him of their support.
It was an event that attracted political bigwigs from the zone and outside among whom are the National Chairman NCBSG, Alhaji Mustapha Habib,, interim Chairman NCBSG Board of Trustees (BOT), Senator Abu Ibrahim, APC, Katsina South former Governor of Cross River State, Chief Clement Ebri, the Senior Special Assistant to President on National Assembly Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, the Akwa Ibom state Coordinator of the group Obong Ignatius Edet, Cross River State coordinator for the group, Hon. Patrick Ene and the Edo State Coordinator of the group, Chief Solomon Edebiri.
Speaking at the ceremony, Senator Ibrahim said that commissioning of the offices in three states in the zone marks the formal beginning of the political process of deepening consultations and engagements with different stakeholders and shades of opinion across the South South geo- political zone, to ensure continuing peace needed for national cohesion and the sustainable development of the zone and the nation at large
He stated that NCBSG was providing a platform through which the process of agenda-setting would be commenced in earnest not only to secure the election of President Buhari for a second term (now that he has declared his intention to contest the 2019 elections), but to guarantee the sustained mainstreaming of South South interests in national discourse.
The former Senator said that the group was pleased with President Buhari’s commitment to put Nigeria back on the path of cohesive national growth and development which is hinged on her huge human and natural asset and commended him for working assiduously to put the battered economy of the nation back on track.
He maintained that there were indices on ground to show that president Buhari has gone extra length to ensure that inflation which almost ravaged the economy of the nation was controlled and managed effectively.
Senator Ibrahim pointed out that in the manufacturing sector, the APC government under President Buhari has witnessed consistent growth in output through friendly policies and added that the agricultural sector has not only put millions back to rewarding work but is making Nigerians inch closer to self-sufficiency in food production and become self-reliant. The BOT chairman noted that because the president was good in the area of managerial efficiency, certain policies and programmes initiated by his administration are leading to the thriving of small and medium scale enterprise, a scenario that is translating to renewed foreign investment interest in the economy.
According to him, the high-impact social investment programmes of the government have got hundreds of thousands of youths engaged, with millions of school children being fed with meals daily and tens of thousands of indigent citizens being provided succour through the cash transfer schemes. The former senator said that in addition to the fight against corruption which the President launched against the nation’s treasury looters, his prudent management style has seen the country’s foreign reserves approach a $50 billion threshold for the first time in many years .
He expressed his optimism that if Nigerians give the president another chance to lead the country, he would tackle the nation’s decayed infrastructure particularly in the areas of maritime, railway, and power. Senator Ibrahim called on all to remain steadfast in the onerous task of nation building and continue to support Mr President to ensure that the management of the country was for the good of all, and never again for the benefit of a few opportunists who use their positions to corner the common patrimony to themselves.
Chief Ebri , in his remarks charged the people of all Cross River State to come out en masse to support president Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election. He declared that with president Buhari, Nigerians would be sure of the future and added that the president was one of the notable and trusted Nigerians who have the requisite capacity to revamp the ailing economy of Nigeria.
In his brief speech, Enang assured people of the Niger Delta region that President Buhari would continue to give them special attention and dismissed as untrue allegations that the federal government planned to rob the Niger Delta region of oil proceeds offshore.
Hon Ene in his comments said that president Muhammadu Buhari has been most gracious to Cross River State. Today in the list of appointees, we have from Cross River, the Chief Judge of the Federation, the Auditor General of the Federation, the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, and over 20 various appointees into boards and commission and agencies among others. We are equally witnessing various infrastructural development including various road construction and rehabilitation.
Obong Edet, said NCBSG is the umbrella body established to structure coordinate and organize the numerous support groups and see to the success of President Buhari’s re-election come 2019. He described president Buhari as a man of the moment whose achievement in the last three years has been felt not only locally but internationally especially his war against corruption and graft.
Edet listed some achievements of the president to include his firm opposition to the era of profligacy, raising Nigeria from a near pariah status to its rightful place in the comity of nations, diversification of the nation’s source of revenue from solely an oil-based economy, an all-out war against graft, allowing the independence of the legislatures and the judiciary, encouragement of local content in production, protection of indigenous enterprise and businesses, strengthening institution of government and introduction of the National social Investment Programmes.
He called on the national leadership of the party for more support to ensure that APC captures Akwa Ibom in the coming general elections and gave the assurance that the people of the state would give their unflinching support to the president in 2019. Speaking in Benin, Edebiri, said that the group would align with all the principles and visions of Mr President to build a new Nigeria that will not be plagued by corruption but provide a platform of hope for all Nigerians.
Ita, a public Affairs commentator wrote from Ikot Ekpene