Barely two months to the forthcoming general elections, tension has heightened in Cross River State as various gladiators have refused to sheath their swords. RICHARD NDOMA writes.
As the next general elections scheduled for February 2019 draw closer, political gladiators are beginning to get worried, particularly those who are pessimistic of their fortune at the polls.
Apart from the gladiators who may have become so worried because of the bleak political prospect, stalwarts and party supporters are also anxious because if candidates of their choice fail, they would lack what to hold onto.
In Cross River State, there is a raging tussle between riling Peoples Democratic People (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
Governor Ben Ayade had in one of the interactive sessions with journalists said he was not contesting elections with any one given his numerous strides in the area of employment opportunity which might have been in form of giving appointments to over 600,000 youths across the three senatorial districts of the state.
Unfortunately, the APC in the state is talking tough and has mapped out strategies on how to defeat the governor when the elections come.
But Prof. Ben Ayade has said that no one has the clout to defeat him, claiming that he has done well since he came on board.
To him, all the on-going capital projects with numerous appointments given to youths will speak volume for him when the time for reckoning comes.
The governor said he was not worried about his re-election in 2019, adding that the issue of his re-election a for second term was a done deal.
Ayade stated that: “If you ask me if I’m worried about my re-election, I will tell you I have no elections at all.”
However, as confident as the governor is over the issue of his being re-elected to power come 2019, those watching political development in the state claimed that winning elections in 2019 to return to office as governor wasn’t a tea party.
They insist it will be a tough exercise returning Ayade to office again, as they claim the road to office has been filled with a lot of brickwalls considering the number of political heavy weights who are in the opposition.
The political heavy weights that constitute the opposition APC in Cross River include the likes of former senate leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, who is also vying for the senate seat to represent the people of Central Senatorial District, former chief of staff to former governor Liyel Imoke, Chief Alex Egbona who is also seeking to represent Yakurr/Abi Federal Constituency at the lower chamber of national assembly; Chief Wilfred Inah, former commissioner at the federal character commission, and a host of others.
However, there is also uncertainty beclouding the governorship tussle within the camp of the APC.
At one point, tales were told to those who cared to listen that the minister for Niger Delta Affairs NDDC, Pastor Usani Usan, is the right candidate to fly the governorship flag for 2019 election for the party.
At some other time, the name of the senator representing Cross River Central senatorial district of the state at the national assembly, John Owan Enoh was mentioned as the right person.
Before the death of Dr. Mathew Achigbe who was purported to be the authentic party chairman for the Cross River State APC, a lot of APC members who were said to be staunch supporters of the party were said to be backing him. He was said to be Owan Enoh’s right hand man.
There were fears particularly in the Usani’s camp that Owan Enoh was the rightful owner of the governorship ticket.
With the death of Achigbe, a lot of persons in the party are of the opinion that Enoh would lose out.
Despite the claims and counter-claims brewing up from the two major political parties of the PDP and the APC stock, political heavyweights like Ndoma Egba said to be ardent supporters of President Mohammadu Buhari told the people of the state during the inauguration of APC campaign office for the John Owan Enoh’s faction that APC would oust Ayade to install an APC-led government next year.
Ndoma-Egba, who went as far as apologizing to indigenes of the state to forgive the PDP which he was a member of sometimes ago said the party woefully failed the people.
He said, “Under the PDP, we lost our oil wells. Under the PDP, the Esuene Stadium that used to be the mascot for the national team, each time they played an international match at Esuene’s stadium, we won. We lost the stadium.
“Under the PDP, we lost the hosting right for the national sports Commission. I mean it has just been a history of loses and loses and loses.
“For the loses that happened up to the point when I was a member, I am sorry”.
He said the APC was fully prepared to confront the PDP both at the national and state levels to ensure that power is seized from the PDP in Cross River State to install an APC-led government. He commended President Buhari for the numerous appointments given to sons and daughters of the state despite the paltry 28,000 votes that he got from the state. He therefore called on the people of the state to vote for the re-election in 2019.
Ndoma-Egba apologised to Buhari for the ill-treatment that he received from the people of the state in 2015 when he paid a visit to the state to canvass for votes.
“The U.J Esuene stadium was shut against him and he went to Atu Primary school to hold his rally”.
Meanwhile, the senator representing Central Senatorial District and gubernatorial candidate of the APC, SenatorJohn Owan Enoh disclosed that zoning will not save Ayade.
He said the zoning formula which the incumbent governor claimed to hinge upon will not help his re-election bid for second term.
Enoh maintained that having come into office through zoning in 2015, the governor’s re-election should be based on his performance and not zoning, stressing that it was an insult on the people of the state for Ayade to raise the issue of zoning and not performance after being in office for four years.
Enoh, who was accompanied by the National Vice Chairman South South of the APC, Hilliard Etta, the Chairman of the NDDC, Victor Ndoma Egba and a number of other chieftains of the party stressed that the APC was going to run an issue-based campaign to let the electorates know the failings of the PDP administration rather than trying to return to office under the guise of zoning.
In his words Enoh said: “The present government in the state cannot campaign because the governor has nothing to offer. After three years, the government has nothing to show in any part of Cross River State.
“Four years ago, the governor depended on zoning to assume office and after three years, he cannot still rely on zoning. Because he has done nothing and after three years, to comes back and depends on zoning is an insult on the people.
“Having secured the ticket in 2015 through zoning, the governor has to seek re-election through his performance and his decision not to campaign shows that he has nothing to showcase as his achievements after three years in office.”
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