As the quest to take over the hot seat in Cross River State by 2019 becomes hotter, observers are wondering if the All Progressive Congress (APC) which seem to be divided in the State at the moment can dislodge incumbent governor Ben Ayade from the glass house. RICHARD NDOMA writes.
With barely four months to the general elections, political gladiators from major political parties, especially the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) have commenced intensive lobbying of community and religious leaders and even holding nocturnal meetings with friends amongst others to ensure that they are able to lock horns in the final contest for governorship position scheduled for February 2019.
As the saying goes that in politics, there is never a permanent enemy nor friend and that the only thing that matters in the business is permanent interest.
Prior to its controversial party prmaries in the State which has left the present Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani and a serving Senator, Enoh at loggerhead, the APC has bee reciting an anthem of “we are work¬ing to remove Ayade in C/River .
The opposition APC in Cross River State led by Chief Hilliard Etta have always declared that it will be a miracle for Governor Ben Ayade to get a second term.
This is even as the Vice Chairman of the APC in Cross River Central, Cletus Obun, said their party will win in 2019 be¬cause Ayade did not perform well.
With this in mind, the APC dusted up many marketable persons, who they said had the clout to con¬front Ayade in 2019. One of them Senator Owan Enoh who they have so much faith in as they believe he is already springing up and championing his qualities .
Surprisingly, the fallout of the party ‘s primaries has rather put the party as a house divided against itself, thereby giving the incumbent an upper hand. Protests, outcry and several other allegations has been the order of the day.
Looking at events which played out at the just concluded governorship primaries of the APC and that of the Peoples Democratic
Party, it goes a long way to attest to the fact that politics is indeed a dirty game.
Wondering about how the leading opposition APC which would have put their house in order to enable them make do their threat of sending the incumbent governor Ayade out of their much dreamt about government house, one gets shocked that they have rather chosen to be chasing the shadows over who gets what.
The ugly event that played out during the just concluded primaries lives one with the belief that those who contested to be the party’ flag bearers never had the interest of the masses at heart.
Recall that during Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo’s era, it was believed that onece a party man emerges as winner in a contest other party men queue behind the winner and work for the interest of all.
But today, the reverse is the case. The question now is why would Cross River APC be unable to produce one of its candidates as party flag bearer even when primaries have come and gone/.
The major headache waiting to be cured by the party’s principal actors and their supporters in the State remains, who quits for the other so that the original flag bearer for the party can emerged?
It is so sad, that months after the party primaries ended, aggrieved members of party have turned the courts to their party headquarters, just in a bid to reclaim what they term as stolen mandate.
This ugly event has made their admirers lose faith in them. For many, APC cannot win the big battle ahead of them except they return to their senses and quickly put their house in order.
With both sides making claims and counter claims on the real candidate who is to fly the flag of the party in 2019 to enable him slug it out
with incumbent Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State who returned unopposed as party flag bearer for the same poll in a circumstance which critics alleged was a kangaroo process.
Though AYADE is not a saint, there have also been rancour within the State chapter of the PDP as to how the governor who was said to have been issued a red card by his predecessor and party heavyweight suddenly became a consensus candidates.
While Ayade has been accused of conniving with the leadership of the PDP at the national level to frustrate every other aspirant to pave way for his emergence as a sole candidate for the party, those who criticisd him include Mr. Ben Odey who blatantly accused him of refusing to pay impress to MDAS.
Odey had insisted that the development, was responsible for grasses not being cleared at the various ministries and offices across the state. “Cant you see how the backyard to the ministry of finance in Cross River State is looks?
Unfortunately the APC which controls power at the centre came to Cross River state and did worse when it set a bad precedence that almost caused the party a tarnished image with the controversial primaries it conducted in the State.
The beauty of the guber primaries was lost due to the fact that the process lost its credibility as a result of the bad behavior exhibited by party men who allowed themselves to be enmeshed in greed and unnecessary appetite for power even when fate was against them.
They organised two separate exercises to produce their governorship candidates. At one end was the minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, and at the other end stood the senator representing Cross River Central senatorial District, Sen. John Owan Enoh both from same senatorial district? Can this men embrace peace and let the Party goal reign above their interest?
Those watching the political scene in the state are accusing both politicians of fighting the battle for the sake of “stomach infrastructure and greed.
Going by claims made by supporters of Usani, one Mr. paschal King, to them, Sen John Owan Enoh is an outsider who just came from the PDP only to high-jack the party. He insisted that Usani has paid the price of loyalty ever since democracy was enthroned in 1999. He said Usani has always played the role of opposition stressing that Sen. John John cannot come from the blues after enjoying the booty from the PDP who and to jump to the APC to upstage him boss.
On the other hand, a kin supporter of Senator Enoh John , Ben Agbor said the fact that John has been able to sustained himself in power places him as a good politician wealth of experience. He described Enoh as an assert to Cross River State and to the APC.
To Owan’s supporters their candidate’ has all it takes to reshape and return the state to its lost glory. He however accused Pastor Usani of scheming to be recognised as the party’s flag bearer so that he can cheerfully negotiate with Ayade who has agreed to hand over the mantle by 2023. Recalled that prior to the conduct of the the just concluded controversial primaries of the APC, the National leadership of the party headed by APC chairman, Comr. Adams Oshiomhole, had inaugurated the state executive headed by Dr Mathew Achigbe, unfortunately, another faction, led by former Council Chairman for Etung LOCAL Government Area, Hon. Etim John sprang up claiming that the exco , superintended over by him was the authentic one.
This controversy sparked resentment in the party, and dampened the morale of party men and women of integrity. As a result of the controversy, the two factions in their bids to outsmart the other went ahead and held two separate primaries via their secretariats.
Whereas the new secretariat managed by Usani’s controlled exco ran its activities along the Ndidem Usang Iso road, Marian road close to the minister’s residence, also went ahead and conducted their own governorship primaries, with both factions adopting the direct primary method.
From the Etim-John faction, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Uguru Usani, emerged as the winner of the primaries scoring 47, 313 votes.
And the result of that exercise was happily announced at the collation centre in the factional secretariat. The Chairman for the Gubernatorial Election Committee, for Usani’s faction, Mr Emmanuel Annom, told those present at the venue of their primaries that Usani, having scored the highest number of lawful votes in the primaries, was a winner for the contest and as such is the governorship candidate for the party.
According to the faction, Sen. John Owan Enoh scored 1,486 votes adding that other aspirants like Prof. Eyo Etim Nyong pulled1,168 votes, john Upan Odey 1,099 with Edem Duke who is a former Minister for Culture and Orientation under the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration but decamped to he APC scored 1,322 votes.
The Usani’s faction took advantage of the fact that Dr. Achibe’s led exco which was inaugurated under the supervision of Adams Oshiomhole was unable to conclude its primaries and perhaps announced the result of 196 wards across the three senatorial districts of the state.
Those in support of Usani casted aspersion on the person of the National Vice-Chairman for the APC, South-South zone, Ntufam Hilliard Etta, alleging that he took side with the Achigbe’s led exco even when he faulted that claim.
To Etta, elections was conducted and John Enoh Owan swept the poll. But a top party source who preferred anonymity alleged that materials were not evenly distributed to wards. Besides, the source alleged that some wards got fake result sheets while others got fake voting materials, an indication that the process was flawed.
Other factors to be x-rayed as it concerns the just concluded primaries for the APC in Cross River include the alarm also raised by the other two contenders who were involved in the contest. High Chief Edem Duke and Prof. Eyo Etim Nyong, who out of fear of losing out or in outright dissatisfaction in the process of the conduct for the primaries, registered their displeasure that the party structure was being hijacked by Ntufam Eta to favor Sen. John.
As small as the party is in Cross River State where the PDP is playing the lead. APC cannot settle the rift which broke out as a result of the controversial primaries Despites having men and women of proven integrity in the caucus of the party still flows steady in acrimony in Cross River State with scores to settle among the contending factions.
The big question now is, what is the way forward for Cross River APC?
For keen observers, if the party cannot manage affairs for its members in the state, given the arrays of prominent politicians of Cross River extraction which makes the membership, what makes the APC think they can govern the state if given the privilege?
Cross River State alone has a population density of about 3.5 million people with serious differences in tribes, culture and languages to cope. So If the APC is unable to cope with the management of its meagre party affairs how then can it manage the State?
Our correspondent reports that the APC is already dusting up many marketable persons, who they say have the clout to confront Ayade in 2019. One of them is a former Director of Crude Oil Sales at NNPC, Godwin Jeddy Agba who came up in 2015 but had to drop because of sudden illness. Much faith is invested in him in recent times and groups are already springing up championing his qualities and capability
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