Cross River 2015: Where Are The Aspirants?

In Columnists, National News, Opinion, Politics

by crossriverwatch admin

Cross River State
Cross River State

One thing is certain in the politics of silence currently pervading the political landscape in Cross River State and that is the reality that, like the other thirty five states in the country, on May 29, 2015, Senator Liyel Imoke, the governor of the state would vacate office and handover to another person after two terms in office.

What however, is not certain for now is who his successor would be owing to the conspiracy of silence that has seemingly shrouded the subject in the state especially on who the prospective successor would be among the array of contenders quietly jostling to step into the shoes.

Although, there exists a long list of speculative aspirants jostling for the exalted position, the bulk of whom are aides and associates of Governor Imoke, significantly, these aspirants still operate behind the scenes owing to the uncertainty and fear of incurring the wrath of the governor.

Though Governor Imoke had at different fora alluded to the fact that one of the “members of the PDP family” would succeed him, and the person will be younger than him, he has not given any direct clue as to who the likely person would be or from which local government area in the Northern senatorial district where the governorship has been zoned.

This has kept many reading his lips and at different times , as it suits them, putting forward names of who supposedly are receiving the governor’s backing to succeed him.

Speaking recently in Ogoja, the Northern Senatorial District headquarters, Senator Imoke asserted that though he does not know who will succeed him, he sure knows who will not and “ My successor may as well be in this room and at the appropriate time, which may not be far from now, we shall behold him”. He attracted a loud applause for this statement.

With the position effectively zoned to the Northern Senatorial District of the state, potential occupiers of the position have lined up and these include Mr Larry Odey, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr John Odey, former Minster of Environment, Mr Fidel Ugbo, Secretary of the National Planning Commission, Mr Legor Idagbo, the Commissioner for Works, Dr Julius Okputu, former Commissioner for Environment, Senator Ben Ayade, the Senator representing the Northern Senatorial District of the State, Mr Fidel Egoro, the State Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Dr Rose Oko, the member representing Ogoja /Yala Federal Constituency, Former PDP Spokesman, Hon Emmanuel Ibeshi, Mr. Gerald Ada, SA to Imoke on Investment Promotion, among a host of others.

From among these plethora of aspirants, people of the state are frequently being assailed with names as the potential successors by different interest groups.

The first name to be bandied about is that of Barrister Fidel Ugbo, the former Secretary to the Cross River State Government who was moved by Imoke to Abuja to occupy the state slot as Secretary of the National Planning Commission.

To give credence to their permutation, they claim that his elevation to the position of Secretary of the National Planning Commission is to accord him the leverage to make contacts at the Federal level which he will need when he assumes the exalted office in 2015.

Ugbo’s name was on the lips of most people as the governor- in- waiting until the fancy of the names peddlers moved to that of the youthful commissioner for Works, Mr Legor Idagbo.

A similar reason was also advanced for the adoption of the young man and that is that the governor having moved him from the post of local government chairman to become commissioner in order to under study him to give him a grip of what to do when he becomes governor.

Not done yet, they have moved from Legor and the one that is currently making the rounds is that of Mr Gerald Ada, the Special Adviser on Investment and Promotion and his adoption, the clan claim is occasioned by his pedigree and high profile performance by attracting investment in excess of 10 billion dollars to the state in less than three years.

This impressive performance, they assert, has captivated Senator Imoke who has often harped on capacity and integrity as qualities his successor must have in abundance and in addition, his age bracket and that of Legor Idagbo falls within the 40 to 45 that the governor wants.

The bandying of names notwithstanding, these preferred aspirants are even yet to come out to declare their intentions to contest for the post as fear and uncertainty pervades the political climate in the state.

Most of the aspirants including the preferred candidates are fearful of offending the sensibilities of the governor who is yet to give any inkling, covertly or openly on who among them is his choice.

Expectedly, the climate of fear has forced them to restrict their consultation and political activity within the confines of hush -hush within their cycle of friends while hoping that the governor will hear about their ambition and adopt them as the party’s consensus candidate.

But recently at a gate together to mark the second year anniversary of the incumbent state PDP executives at Peregrino House in Calabar, the governor gave the green light to aspirants to go ahead and begin consultations.

Though the clearance came with a caveat to restrict the consultation within the PDP family, it was expected that we will begin to see more of the gladiators coming out boldly to declare their intention to afford the electorate the opportunity to begin to scrutinize them. Only Mr. Emmanuel Ibeshi has done that by making increased presence in the media with his plans for Cross River State.

But long before now, the only sign of polarity among those contending for the number one position is the one the governor and party leaders in the state have tagged: “outsider”, Mr Goddy Jeddy Agba who has been criss crossing the state and boldly erecting political structures on which he hopes to mount to succeed the governor.

Agba who is a General Manager in the NNPC is throwing everything into the contest through his foot soldiers, Dr. Sandy Onor and Mr. Venatius Ikem former members of the State Executive Council doing the job for him while he puts finishing touches to his resignation plans from the NNPC.

His boldness notwithstanding, the prospects of Goddy Agba emerging as the candidate of the PDP seems far fetched, at least for now as the party hierarchy see him as an outsider and therefore not suitable for the job.

They claim he is not a card carrying member of the PDP in the state and as such cannot contest for the post of governor of the state. The State Chairman of the PDP, Ntufam John Okon said recently that the party has rules which spells out eligibility for one to run election under its platform and Goddy Agba being a civil servant is not qualified to contest election on its platform.

But expectedly, Jedy Agba’s camp have insisted that he is a registered member of the party and they have evidence to back their claims. “We have a photocopy of the ward register where Goddy Agba’s name is registered and at the appropriate time, we shall produce it” Venatius said.

The opposition All Progressives Congress, APC in the state is also not showing signs that it will recover on time from the prevailing wrangling within the party to offer a better alternative.

The bitterness, a fall out of a bungled congress has seen a factional state chairman emerge after thugs invaded the venue of the state congress to disrupt the voting process.

The party is still embroiled in the crises.

With barely seven months to the conduct of party primaries as stipulated by the rules, Cross Riverians are still at lost as to who are the people they will be going to the polls to elect from come January.

A wide spectrum of Cross Riverians who responded to CrossRiverWatch inquiries are worried that they may not have enough time to properly scrutinize their prospective governorship candidates before they are imposed on voters.

Respondents expressed greater willingness to participate in the political process and called on intending aspirants to declare their intentions on time and allow the voters enough space to interact and access them properly before the election and not wait to be anointed.

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