by crossriverwatch admin
Gershom Bassey is a contender for the Government House in Cross River State in the 2015 elections. Though Bassey is from the same senatorial district as Donald Duke, former governor of the state, his chances are high following the zoning of the seat to the northern part of the state. He explains how the next governor of the state will emerge. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports.
You belong to the group called the three musketeers in Cross River State. Talk to us about this group?
I think the three wise men tag or the three musketeers tag is a name that evolved from the populace. It wasn’t a name that we gave ourselves. I think it is a name that a lot of our well wishers gave to us. So really I don’t know how it came about but I do know that Donald Duke, Liyel Imoke and I in the early years around 1995 and 1996 had started a lot of discussions on Cross River State, and essentially we had talked about the direction we wanted to go as a state. I think it was from those discussions and series of meetings that we had that a lot of ideas for Cross River State came about. Of course, by that time we had no political power. We were just talking as idealistic young men and I think it was from there that God blessed our endeavours and our thinking. So he made it possible for us to achieve political power and try to implement some of those ideas that we had as young men.
How did you people come together?
We had all been friends for some time. I know Donald very well because we grew up together, attended primary school together, secondary school together and Liyel, I knew in the University and so on. All of us had come under the tutelage of Clement Ebri who was governor of Cross River State in 1991, and Liyel contested for the Senate and won. Donald was commissioner under Clement and I was one of Clement’s major political allies in 1991 when he contested for governorship position. So all of us had come under the tutelage of Clement Ebri and I think that that was when we started to understand that we had similar political ideology and that was how our political friendship developed.
And part of the resolve was that each of you would govern the state?
No. We had ideas for the state on how we wanted it to develop. As young men, we thought that under the military, the state was not really going in the direction that was best for it. It was more of a think-tank time but the quest for political power came later.
Most people seem to believe that you are likely to succeed Imoke?
The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. The issues have been said; the issues have been addressed, the governor has addressed them, the PDP caucus in Cross River has addressed those issues and there is nothing else we can say except to wait and see.
We have told you that the caucus has said it, the governor has said it and I think he said it on his birthday, all these things have been said and I don’t want to keep flogging this issue. I always tell people that these rumours are going to persist until we swear in this our governor from the north.
Governor Imoke has said severally that power is moving to the northern part of the state this time. Is that right?
It is not the governor that said power is going to the north. It is the PDP caucus and I am a member of the caucus. So, all of us said that power should go to the north or that the north should be given a chance to produce a governor. It is a collective decision. I don’t think I have declared for even the seat of councilor. Cleary, I have not declared for anything.
So why have you decided to contest?
I agree that there are a number of people who have come to urge me to come out and contest one position or the other; whether governorship or senate, but I have not declared. I am a complete team player and if we as a political family have said that look, let the north have a shot at this thing, then we have to stand by that collective decision.
That means you are not contesting the governorship?
What I am saying is that let the north have a shot at the governorship.
What future do you see for Cross River State?
I see a very bright future. I am confident that Cross River State will have a bright future.
Where are these posters coming from?
They are coming from supporters. I have played politics in this state for a long time. I am a founding member and convener of the PDP in the state and over the years, you gather people who have confidence and believe in what you have to offer and it is those people who have come out to urge me to run for one office or the other.
Left for you, which office would you love to go for?
The way we have played our politics, I am not sure that any of us has had ambition for ourselves. It is not about personal ambition, it has always been about a group ambition. That is the way we have played our politics and if the group has an ambition to be in a position to implement some ideas in Cross River State, then we now say to ourselves who is the best person to lead this change of power? In the case of 1999, it was Donald that we thought was supposed to lead the change and in 2007 we thought it was Liyel that was the best person to lead the change, but it wasn’t that they themselves came and said they wanted to be governor of Cross River. No. We said come and be governor. That is the way we have operated as a group. Essien Ayi is a good example. We said to him ‘go to the House of Representatives’ and even Victor Ndoma- Egba, we told him to go to Senate. So a lot of the time our family takes decisions for us.
How will Imoke’s successor emerge?
The party guidelines are clear. First of all, you must have the basic class and capacity to be governor and that involves certain things. You must have the ability to carry the three senatorial districts along. What are the positions the person has held before? Is he popular to carry the three senatorial districts along? As we all know, PDP is not the only party in this country. There are two big parties in the country now. The PDP cannot operate in isolation. We must be conscious of what the other parties are going to come up with.
What will you say is your own agenda for Cross River?
My personal agenda for this state is for this state to be the most prosperous state in Nigeria and I know that by the grace of God we are going to get there. I expect that the new governor will continue to grow the economy in line with what his predecessors has been doing. I expect him to be a continuation of what has been done in the past. I also expect him to bring fresh ideas, to be hard working, to be dedicated and above all, to love the state.
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