There appears to be a widening political gulf between the Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke, and the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), over who succeeds the former on the one hand, and who represents the Central Senatorial District of the state after the general elections in 2015.
Though Imoke would not be seeking election again as governor, it is however speculated that pressure is being mounted on him to run for Senate so he could replace Ndoma-Egba who is believed to have the intension of going back as representative of the Central Senatorial District.
It is also strongly believed in political circles in the state that should the governor refuse to run, he would be persuaded to decline support for Ndoma-Egba and support another person. Already fingers are being pointed in the direction of Imoke’s wife, Mrs. Obioma Liyel-Imoke, or the representative of Obubra /Etung Federal Constituency, John Owan Enoh, as those who could aspire to replace Ndoma-Egba should Imoke decline to run.
On Saturday, 14th September, this year, while Mrs. Imoke’s non-governmental organization (NGO), Partnership Opportunities for Women Empowerment Realisation (POWER) was unveiling Power Political Advancement for Women,PPA4W, to raise funds to support female politicians in the state, Chairman of the fund raising event, Senator Grace Folashade Jackson Brent from Adamawa State, urged support for Obioma whenever she comes out to aspire for Senate, since she has served the people well in her capacity as first lady of the state. Brent even told the story of how she was able to make it to the Senate despite the fact that she is Yoruba and married a man from Adamawa State.
But, when it was his turn to speak at the event, Imoke dismissed such suggestion from Brent. He said: “No, I don’t think my dear wife would want to go to the Senate. I have been there. Having been there, it means both of us were there. Even now, she too is the governor because I am the governor. So, going for election as Senator, not now.We have been there.”
Enoh who is the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, has not been categorical as to whether he would be running for senate or not. “I am not too sure that I have called a meeting and formally announced to you that I am running for Senate,” Owan had stated in a recent interview.
Daily Independent gathered that the alleged political gulf between Ndoma-Egba and Imoke stems from the latter’s perceived support for the NNPC General Manager (CRUDE), Mr. Godwin Jedy-Agba to succeed him as governor in 2015. It is even alleged that the Senate Leader introduced Jedy-Agba to the presidency as the most suitable person to succeed Imoke, while the governor was recuperating from ill health between late last year and early this year.
But, the Senate Leader denied the allegation recently. He said: “First of all, Mr. President is alive. We know, quite a number of Cross Riverians have access to him. All you need to do is to ask Mr. President ‘is it true that Victor Ndoma -Egba brought anybody to you? And he will tell you no such thing has happened. It is just some fiction that they find very very convenient to peddle. They find it very convenient to peddle. A lot of Cross Riverians have access to the President. Just ask him ‘we hear Victor Ndoma-Egba brought somebody for you to endorse’. And the President would tell you no such thing happened.”
Besides, Ndoma-Egba recently held a contrary view from some politicians in his zone who came out openly to urge the governor to single-handedly pick his successor from the Northern Senatorial District, saying the governor would not do that unilaterally but through consultations.
“I believe that whatever position the governor takes at the end of the day would reflect the will of the generality of the members of the PDP, arrived at through a democratic process,” Ndoma-Egba said.
The gulf between both leading politicians has led to the split in the ranks of members of the PDP in the Central Senatorial District, in particular, and the entire state with different groups meeting and taking opposing stance with regards to the issue of Imoke’s successor and the Senatorial seat in 2015.
One of such meetings took place at the weekend at the old Ikom Guest House, in the Central Senatorial District, at the instance of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Fred Osim. The meeting, made up of political appointees and elected officers from Ikom resolved that: “The PDP family in Ikom remains strong, united and unshaken under the humane, imaginative and progressive Leadership of Senator Liyel Imoke. It is the sole prerogative of our leader (Imoke) to direct us on the choice of his successor; and that until he does so we will wait and continue to wait patiently.”
The resolution captioned: “October Declaration: A historic Declaration of the Ikom for Liyel Movement”, which was read by the member representing Ikom 1 State Constituency in the State House of Assembly, Mr. Simon Nkoro, stated further that:, “Any son or daughter of Ikom who begins to parade a governorship candidate behind our leader is ungrateful and is doing so only for his own or her own selfish reasons and does not have the blessings of the people of Ikom.”
A counter meeting also of politicians on the platform of “Ikom/Boki Political Forum”, believed to be strong supporters of Ndoma-Egba, met in Ikom on October 27, 2013, to discuss issues of common political interest.
A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting and signed by the former State Security Adviser to the Governor, Mr. Bassey Okim and three others for Ikom people, and Mr. Sammy Amkwor and three others for Boki, resolved, among other issues, to thank the Central Senatorial District for giving Ikom/Boki federal constituency the senatorial seat, which belongs to the entire central zone.
The participants commended the governor for the various developmental projects in Ikom and also pledged their loyalty to his leadership.
They condemned what they described as the new PDP and declared their support for Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as the National Chairman and also declared support for the state chairman, Ntufam, John Okon.
Enoh and another member of the House of Representatives Bassey Eko Ewa who was former speaker of the State House of Assembly, considered as Imoke’s political foot-soldiers, had convened a meeting at Jorany Hotel in Calabar on October 6, this year, where it was resolved that the people of the Central had resolved to support whoever Imoke nominates as his possible successor from the North.
“The big picture for Cross River State is the office of the governor. That is the one that unites the entire state and that is the one for which the central met today to take the position that it took,” Owan said.
But, barely 24 hours after the meeting convened by the two National Assembly members, Ndoma-Egba dismissed the meeting as a mere gathering of politicians who do not have the locus to convene a meeting of the Central Senatorial District. He remarked: “If they are calling a meeting to discuss issues relating to their federal constituencies in the Central Senatorial District, I don’t have to be there. It is like a member of a state constituency calling a meeting; I don’t have to be there. The only time I need to be present in a meeting is when it is a senatorial meeting, and the only person who can convene a senatorial meeting is me, a senator; any authentic senatorial meeting. So, if you are busy calling meetings and saying it is for the central senatorial district, then you are just a pretender.
“They are exercising their constitutional rights.” he said.
The gulf between the governor and Ndoma-Egba has been too obvious and the convening of the two separate meetings in Ikom last Saturday and Sunday, respectively, by opposing camps in the central senatorial district further re-enforced this. And it is unlikely that the animosity would recede anytime soon, given the stakes as 2015 approaches.
follow us on twitter @crossriverwatch
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.