Opinion

Venatius Ikem: Redrawing Cross River State Political Map

For me, the mantra of Change is not new. Some believe it passionately while others hate it. Some even hate me for just the thought of it. The truth is, like it or hate it, or even hate me, the idea that there is a likelihood of change in the Cross River State political environment is a given?

The funny thing about it is that the issues and events shaping this change are self-inflicted by those that are opposed to it. Simply put: Political change here is driven by sheer arrogance of power and the misread political environment that suggests that those holding temporary power hold a permanent franchise on how we think and behave politically.

Take the scenario that the powers that be are attempting to foist unpopular aspirants as the PDP flag bearers on the electorates in this age and end time of an almost eclipsed influence of a dying hegemony, then you get the full picture.
I cannot speak for the Southern Senatorial District but from interactions it is clear that the regime’s preference for a senatorial candidate is symptomatic of a system bent on destroying itself. I cannot think of a worst indifference to public opinion and a crass arrogance on how not to attempt to foist an unpopular candidate on a people. I don’t want to sound like I have an opinion on who should be because it is not my constituency.

The scenario at Central is a bit tricky, yet not entirely different. The challenger to Senator Ndoma Egba may be populist in outlook but people are beginning to think again about the reasons they are fed or on why a prominent and capable representative like the Senator should be replaced because someone said he offended his sensibilities!

It is not helpful that his candidature is offending the sensibilities of the party at the centre which sees the senator’s challenger as at best a marginal PDP member who joined the rebellion against the party to form a cabal that has served their selfish interests in the House of Reps amassing a huge fortune for themselves in public project patronage.

The Governor’s continued accommodation of this rebellious group in the state remains suspicious as his cozy relationship with the leadership of the rebellion has not gone unnoticed at the highest level. It is remarkable that the Speaker of the House has never missed an occasion in Cross River State, even if it is a football match or an innocuous declaration or empowerment programme, especially if organised by one of the members of this rebellious group who he has sufficiently empowered with juicy committee chairmanship in the House.

It makes sense to recall with hindsight that John Owan-Enoh was the first minority Leader of the Cross River State House of Assembly at inception as an elected Member of APP as it then was. He only crossed to the PDP to save his career which has blossomed unbelievably under the leadership of Gov. Imoke.

The questions that easily arise are: Is the governor one of the patrons of the rebellion or a mutual friend and sympathiser of it? How loyal is a friend whose friends are your “enemies”? The answer my friends, is blowing in the wind. Only PDP National knows best. But the PDP I know does not reward disloyalty with promotion. Having benefitted so much from disloyal conduct in the House of Representatives I see no disincentive to do otherwise should the Honourable member gain promotion to the Senate.
When we as innocent citizens keep asking why our Governor, Chairman of the South South Governors’ forum from where the President comes, acclaimed bosom friend of the President and member of his kitchen cabinet, cannot influence anything to our state in four years, not even a symbolic solidarity visit, in the absence of any project for the President to come and commission, then there is a critical problem of doubtful loyalty.

The only citizens of our state who are loyal and playing at the centre of the President’s attention are not just “enemies” of our Governor, they are haunted and if need be removed from office. That is the calamity of the vilification of Senator Ndoma – Egba, Leader of the Senate, a very loyal member of the Senate and one of the most cerebral members of Nigeria’s legislature who must be stopped “by fire by force” to please the powers that be.

As our dear governor prepares to bow out of office, it is clear that he does not want to leave behind any capable representative of the state at the Federal level except those he has adjudged as owing personal loyalty to him and him alone. The interest of the state is secondary. One would have imagined that a state deprived of oil revenue as Cross River State will leverage on its human resources capacity to add value to its citizens by making maximum use of the experience and contacts of her citizens at the Federal level. But alas! They are chased and fought to oblivion by the very people who swore to protect them in the name of politics!?

Thus, Senator Otu is to vacate his seat for the Governor’s buddy Gershom Bassey; Daniel Asuquo for the Governor’s cousin, Dr. Emil Inyang; Essien Ayi for Dominic Oqua Edem; Nkoyo Toyo for Ita Mbora. By this calculation Frank Adah and Bassey Ewa will remain as a mark of their “meritorious” service while Senator Ayade vacates for Rose Oko.

In Governor Imoke’s calculation there should be no ranking senator from Cross River State by 2015 at the National Assembly so that he can rule cross river state by proxy if his still-born effort at single handedly nominating a puppet for the governorship of the state were to succeed. But for the first time Cross Riverians are saying loudly: NO! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! And Governor Imoke is not coming to terms with this new Cross River anymore, not knowing that his conduct has radicalised an otherwise docile and peaceful people.

Never mind that the Governor’s talk about second term being okay, but third term unacceptable! Senator Otu, Nkoyo Toyo and Dan Asuquo are serving their first terms, while Bassey Ewa is serving a second term already. Is it double talk? Think again, some animals are more equal than others!

We must make the point that it is high time we made loyalty count in PDP Cross River State! Ninety per cent of the foundation members of the party have become onlookers unless you share a cult like following with the Governor! That is why a retired Clerk of the House of Assembly will be foisted on the party as chairman barely two months after retirement! What a glorious legacy of service and loyalty our Governor wants to leave as a parting gift to us all!

For those who still think the struggle is not about them, when it gets to you there will be no one else left to fight for you.
The “loyalists” amongst you are the opponents of yesterday and potential opponents of tomorrow!

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Mr. Venatius Ikem, former national publicity secretary of PDP, wrote from Calabar, Cross River State.

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