by crossriverwatch admin
The name, Venatius Ikem is not new in the politics of the ruling PDP. Vena as he is fondly called is a lawyer by training but has made a career in politics spanning over 25 years including being a former National Director of Publicity of the party. He has openly declared his support for one of the rumored 2015 Cross River governorship aspirants, the Group General Manager, GGM Crude Oil Marketing in NNPC, Mr. Goddy Jedy Agba. In this exclusive interview with CrossRiverWatch, he says that contrary to speculations that Imoke is not favorably disposed to Jedy’s ambition, the governor will soon realize that Jedy is the person with the right mix to hold the PDP family together.
The debate about which part of the state should produce the next governor has been lingering but an extended caucus of the PDP has clearly zoned the position to the northern senatorial district of the state, what is your reaction to that development?
Well, clearly it is a decision whose time, I would say is overdue. However, coming as late as it has, I still think it is a welcome development because it is the right and equitable thing to do. I thank all those who contributed to it across the state.
Do you think this development has foreclosed the ambition of some of the intending contenders from the southern senatorial district?
Legally, no but politically yes. Zoning is a moral guide and not a justiciable right. So while any aggrieved member of the party from any part of the state may still have a right to contest, he will be going against the spirit of zoning as agreed by the party. This is not usually advisable in politics because it hardly comes out well, being as it were foolhardy, but then this is not foolproof. To answer you directly, I believe this has finally settled the issue of which part of the state the next governor will be coming from.
You have openly identified with one of the aspirants from the north , Godwin Jedy Agba, OFR, what are your persuasions ? How has his present position impacted on the state?
As usual I don’t play hide and seek with my support in the name of “playing politics”. When I become convinced that a candidate meets my judgement on a scale worthy of consideration, I take a plunge. I am not afraid of the consequences of doing so no matter whose ox is gored. Goddy has clearly over weighed on that scale and to my mind should be thrown up to the public and the party for consideration.
For one, he is an eminent son of Obudu and so meets the zoning criteria. Secondly, he has served in the public service for upwards of 30 years and held several management responsibilities at the federal level which commends him highly, winning a National Honour in the process. Some see his lack of practical political experience as a draw back, but I see it as a major asset because the way the state is polarised now, we need a neutral member of the PDP family, which I strongly believe he is, whose judgement will not be beclouded by the dust of previous political skirmishes and tendencies, to become a rallying point for all party members.
How do you think your support for Jedy will affect your relationship with your erstwhile boss, Senator Imoke who is rumoured not to be favourably disposed to Jedy’s ambition?
Hahaha… I consider Governor Imoke as my friend even if we disagree politically. And I believe he knows me enough to understand my attitude in such situations. I usually like to follow my mind. He is my boss and will always remain so. There is no contest about that. I hope that the rumour is not true because I usually trust his judgement. In the entire horizon, if his judgement is not beclouded by other extra political considerations, I believe he will come to realise that Goddy is the best candidate with the right mix to hold the dream of the team. The truth is that the politics of succession can be very confusing for most incumbents and they need persons standing a bit apart like I am to help them make the right decisions.
The Central and Southern senatorial Districts under the ruling party have variously held their meetings and concluded that Senator Imoke, has the prerogative to select his successor. Don’t you think your independent campaign for Jedy Agba is an infringement on this prerogative?
It is true that I have heard that some friends of the Governor have expressed such a desire, but clearly, you know such desires do not have a place in our democracy, warped as it might be. If you go closer to look at the composition of such meetings, they are clearly laughable indeed. Nevertheless that is not even altogether correctly stated because the meeting of the Southern Senatorial District for instance, had in mind the distribution of other supporting offices and not only the prime office of Governor, which is understandable.
Clearly, we are governed by a Constitution and I will rather err on the side of constitutionality. There are clear guidelines on how a Governorship candidate of the party will be elected. I believe if we stick with that while exercising our fundamental rights of choice, we will produce an acceptable candidate for the party from the North.
The incumbent Senator representing CRNorth is from Obudu, the Senate has just confirmed Hon. Paul Adah from Obudu as the NDDC commissioner, etc.. In the spirit of zoning in your party, do you think it will not be lopsided to have the governor from Obudu?
Anybody who brings up the governorship in this context is either mischievous or is trying to be clever by half. First the Senator’s tenure expires with the present Governor’s tenure so is not in contention. It naturally will be zoned in the context of National Assembly positions within the senatorial district.
Secondly, the office of NDDC commissioner is not within the ambit of zoning as contemplated by the constitution being that it is not one of the major political offices under the Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria. For the avoidance of doubt such offices include, in the context of a State, the Governor of the state, the deputy governor, the speaker of the House of Assembly, The chief judge of the state, all which are a creation of the Constitution, and which are heads of the other arms of Government, excepting the deputy gov of course.
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