By Elijah Ugani
The Cross River State northern senatorial district caucus leader, Chief Linus Okum (Ada Bekwara) has disclosed that they may convene again to see how the north as a family will cut down the number of governorship aspirants ahead of 2015 guber race to a single candidate.
Ada Bekwara made this known while delivering a farewell speech at the screening exercise for governorship aspirants in the state which held at Ogoja council ground.
Chief Okum asserted that if the north cannot come out to speak as one voice, they may allow all the aspirants go to the field.
The event witnessed a large crowd of supporters and party faithfuls from across the five local governments who came in solidarity with their various principals.
A total of 19 aspirants from the northern district alone presented their manifestoes to the caucus members.
Some of the aspirants included, Mr. Tanko Ashang, Mr. Legor Idagbo, Senator Ben Ayade, Mr. Francis Bullem, Mr. Patrick Okputu, Mr. Patrick Ugbe, Mr. Mike Aniah, Mr. Peter Ojie, Mr. Peter Oti, Mr. Gerald Adah, Mr. Larry Odey, Mr. Fidel Egoro amongst others.
Other aspirants that were conspicuously absent included former Information Minister, Mr. John Odey who was burying his late father the following day, Mr. Goddy Jedy Agba who is out of the country, Mr. Emmanuel Ibeshi, Reverend Father Francis Eworo who though was absent had a large retinue of supporters chanting songs in his support around the council premises.
All the aspirants waited in the office of the LG Chairman and were called into the council hall one after the order to present their manifestos to the caucus members in the crowded hall.
Meanwhile some of the aspirants in interviews with CrossRiverWatch were optimistic that the district will be able to harmonize and get a consensus candidate to become governor in 2015.
Former Commissioner in the State, Mr. Julius Okpotu who is also one of the aspirants told CrossRiverWatch that: “I have said to the world, Cross River state should export its brand of politics. You can see what is happening here. In the next couple of weeks, Cross Riverians will begin to see the emergence of a governor through the process of consensus building and understanding among the people. This is a natural process.”
Mr. Tanko Ashang, another aspirant while also responding to CrossRiverWatch said, “The atmosphere is nice. I believe that we are more relaxed, even in the room where we were waiting, we had some nice chat among ourselves and it was very interesting…..I believe that our people should be courageous enough to come out with a short list, a few number of people. I believe that it is an entirely a northern affair. There is nothing wrong with bringing between three to five people and present to the rest of Cross River. This idea that we must bring one person; why are we afraid of the primaries? We should bring a few number. We are five local governments so it won’t be out of place to bring five people from each local government to present to the rest.”
CrossRiverWatch also gathered that, there was a late night meeting of the aspirants on Friday night after the screening exercise all in a bid to see how some of the aspirants can collapse their structures into others.
Details of the resolutions of the meeting were not clear at the time of filing this report but an aspirant who attended the meeting told CrossRiverWatch that some progress was made but there is still “plenty of work and negotiations to be done.”
But before the meeting came to a close, the Chairman of the Caucus, Ada Bekwara announced to the crowd that the caucus was able to rake in 4 million Naira from voluntary contributions from the aspirants and 2.5 million Naira is to be shared by party faithfuls that graced the event from the five local government areas that make up the district; Ogoja, Bekwara, Obudu, Yala and Obanliku.
The chairman said he had to announce the financial details openly because the last time the governor met with the caucus at the ranch and gave them N10,000,000, he distributed N2,000,000 Naira to each of the five local governments but some of the chapter chairmen either under declared the amount that was given to them and others out rightly cornered the money.
Consequently, he asked the party supporters from the public address system if they wanted the N500,000 each LG was meant to get to be given to their chapter chairmen and the crowd thundered a loud ‘No’ demanding that the money should be handed to their Local Government chairmen who then collected their share and distributed among their various supporters who thronged the Ogoja council hall venue of the exercise which came to a close at about 7:30pm.
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