by crossriverwatch admin
Recently, the Cross River PDP state caucus met and officially zoned the governorship position of the state in 2015 to the Northern Senatorial District.
This decision had precipitated reactions from a wide section of Cross Riverians and Nigeria especially the political class. When some time ago the governor of the state Senator Liyel made a public statement suggesting that it was only fair and just for the Governorship position to go to Northern Senatorial District in 2015, many political observers and actors had different opinion about his position on the issue.
While many agreed with his reasoning some dismissed it as his personal opinion which may not matter at the end. But true to his words and convictions Imoke ensured that equity prevailed. It was only a matter of time.
It is for this reason and others that the former Secretary to the Cross River State Government now Executive Secretary of the National Planning Commission Ntufam (Barr) Fidelis Ugbo in this interview did not hesitate to declare that Senator Liyel Imoke is a man of integrity whose words are his bond, adding that history will always remember him for standing for equity and justice.
Recently, the PDP state Caucus officially zoned the Governorship position for 2015 to the Northern Senatorial District. In your opinion, what is the import of this action to the politics of the state?
It is a very healthy development because it is clearly an indication that the political leadership in Cross River state has good plans for the state. It was a decision in favour of equity and social justice.
Before this decision was arrived at, insinuations and speculations were rife that the leadership of the Party was not really serious about letting the governorship go to the north but all these have been put to rest now despite the governor’s earlier position that it would be the turn of the north…
Most people have come to be poisoned with the notion that in politics you can turn white to black but times have changed and Nigerians especially Cross Riverians have become more politically matured. There are still people in politics that have good conscience and still believe in equity; who believe in integrity and one of such persons is the governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke. He made a public statement to the effect that this will be the direction that things would go but a lot of people did not believe him. Others even said it was his personal opinion; that it does not matter; that after all it is politics but he went ahead to prove that he is a man of integrity; that he cannot swallow his words. Then he went to ensure that the party took and adopted the same position. For this demonstration of integrity and commitment to equity, history will always remember him.
The governor has shown clearly that his word is his bond by keeping to what he says but having said that, there is still another hurdle to cross which is helping him to ensure that he gets a credible person to succeed him and continue the good works he has started in the state. I believe that is the next level of challenge.
Are you saying that there are no competent persons from the senatorial district who can comfortably fit into Imoke’s shoes; why is this going to be a challenge?
No. We have competent persons from the north who can succeed Imoke but the best judgment in respect of this would be the governor’s because he knows the abilities of everybody. He has had cause to work with a number of people from the north including my humble self. So he knows what these persons can and cannot do. He has repeatedly said that as a democrat he does not select but believes that Cross Riverians who know the state and what they want from government should be able to choose who will succeed him. And we will look forward to that time when the people will use their good judgement to know what is good for them and the state and do the appropriate thing by choosing their next governor.
As one of the political leaders and PDP stalwart from the north, what was your reaction when it became obvious through the PDP caucus decision that the governorship is for your zone in 2015?
I took it as very healthy development. I took it as a catalyst for the peace and cordiality that exist among the parts of the state and I also saw it a challenge for us the political class to put ourselves together and come up with credible sons and daughters who can help to advance the cause of the state in the capacity of governor.
How united are the political class towards taking up this challenge of ensuring that come 2015 a credible candidate is put forward from the north to take over from Senator Liyel Imoke?
We are totally united. If you recall, there was a meeting some time at the instance of the former Deputy Governor, Dr Mathias Offorboche where he kick started the process of bringing all the aspirants and political leaders from the north together to talk about the need to think about the north and the state beyond individuals; on the need to work as one to be able to actualise the collective dreams of the people of the north and those of all the aspirants. That meeting ended very well with a resolution that we are going to work as a unit, one united front to be able to present credible candidate for Cross Riverians to choose.
Going forward, do we expect to see a situation where aspirants would be narrowed down to may be three persons for the Party’s primary?
In the PDP which I belong, we have a system of arriving at consensus to get aspirants or candidates. That system is still open to us to use. We also have a system of ensuring that if there is no agreement or unanimity at the end, then three aspirants are brought up and I can see the process going into a situation where you will have three of four aspirants in the race contesting the primary. Then at this point, the party delegates will have to decide who they want to fly the party’s flag in the election.
Like they say ‘there are politicians and there are also politicians’. Some may have the pedigree while others may have the popularity which may not go beyond the northern senatorial district but we are talking about aspirants or candidate who does not only have the pedigree but aspirants or candidate whose popularity cuts across the length and breadth of the state much like Imoke’s. Can we find such persons from the North?
I am very confident that there are a number of aspirants or candidate with such pedigree and popularity from Northern Cross River who can succeed Imoke and make Cross Riverians very proud of. Mind you we have pockets of opposition springing up and the PDP is quite mindful not to give them any chance of settling in Cross River let alone thriving. So the party will certainly put forward the best candidate who is credible and very popular; who can build bridges across the state and can be acceptable to all the senatorial districts, the leaders, elders and faithful of the party in the state as well the electorates of the state. When the time comes, I am very certain that the party will make the right choice.
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