By Our Editorial Team
There is certainly no doubt in the fact that over the years, Cross River State has acquired an enviable reputation in many areas among the comity of states in the Nigerian Federation.
Besides her naturally endowed resources, a diverse and extremely rich cultural heritage with a hospitable, peaceful, smiling and accommodating people, the state has consistently maintained a lead as the cleanest and green, aside the undisputable fact of being the flagship of the country’s tourism industry, if not the entire West African sub region.
The magnificent Obudu Ranch Resort with its cable car, Presidential Lodge/International Conference hall situated in the Obudu/Obanlikwu rolling; the forests of Boki/Akamkpa and the environ, rich in very rare species, the Agbokim/Kwa falls, the Tinapa Business Resort, the Calabar International Convention and Conference Center, the Calabar Carnival and the waters of Calabar among others are what stands the state out in tourism.
On the whole, the main motivating factor that had attracted businesses/companies including the International conglomerate, General Electrical (GE) to the state was the peaceful nature of the state and it’s near zero crime rates. These traits, qualities which have become synonymous with the state are what makes every Cross Riverian at home and in the Diaspora very proud wherever they are. Cross Riverians enjoy peace and cherish peace.
It should however be noted that the events which started unfolding gradually especially from late last year to the latest happenings in the state political turf as played out by our political actors especially those of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the party in power in the state, leaves many Cross Riverians and other Nigerians in the state in a perplexed state.
First, it was the issue of whether power should shift to the Northern Senatorial District that had not occupied the state number one political seat since its creation in 1967 and rechristening in 1976, or should be returned to the Southern Senatorial District, an arrangement that would have allowed the last man among the self-styled three wise men of Cross River State who were said to have entered a covenant to hold on to political power in the state for 24 years, to emerge as governor.
This issue was to create a political crisis in the state. We salute the courage of the state governor, Senator Liyel Imoke who stood by his word that the next governor of the state was to come from Cross River North Senatorial District.
Whether governor Imoke conceded power to the north willingly or not is immaterial at this moment, as far as our stance in CrossRiverWatch is, the important thing is that come 2015, a man or woman of Cross River North Senatorial District will be the one to call the shots in the political arena of the state, driving the dividends of democracy to all nooks and crannies of the state.
Having mutually conceded power to the northern senatorial district to produce the state number one citizen whom Senator Imoke will hand over the bastion of leadership to come May 29, 2015, and realizing the republican and egalitarian nature of the people of that area, the line up of 22 governorship aspirants under PDP alone, besides other parties was not a surprise to us.
What we expected from the leader of the party and the party executive in the state was to provide a level playing ground for all aspirants, and that if there was to be any qualifying examinations, it should be for all, including subjecting them to press debate.
CrossRiverWatch ventures to unequivocally state without fear or favor that the current political happenings that have rather placed the state in the front pages of the nation’s newspapers points to the glaring fact that those charged with the responsibility of managing the affairs leading to the emergence of a flag bearer for PDP in the forth coming governorship election in the state were never tactful enough to take into strong consideration the importance of providing a level playing ground for all the governorship aspirants, and the end result is the present political log-jam.
Again, we want to stand without contradiction that the political antics that one particular candidate was not a registered member of PDP in the state, coupled with the statements credited to the state governor that he “does not know who he will hand over to but know those he will not hand over power to” clearly placed his Excellency as an umpire who has publicly declared that he was interested in one of the contestants, and will only hand over to that contestant regardless of what anybody feels.
However, the state chairman of PDP is yet to tell Cross Riverians at what point the man he claimed was not a member of the PDP family in Cross River state suddenly became a member to a point that he was among those purportedly suspended for alleged manipulation of the ward congresses.
After publicly declaring the recent Ward congresses as peaceful, free and fair, within few days, the state chairman of PDP, Ntufam John Okon and his Executive purportedly suspended some members of the party in the state for alleged manipulation of the said ward congresses following alleged petition by some members of the party in the state.
The following day the party Secretariat in the state was sealed by law enforcement agents on a claim of forestalling the breakdown of law and order; but many Cross Riverians and other Nigerians believed that they may be more to it than the claimed prevention of breakdown of law and order.
Some of those allegedly suspended by the state PDP had described their purported suspension as a huge joke, while the state chairman went ahead to threaten that his leadership will not allow money bags to hijack the process, clearly indicating that the battle line has been drawn, an ominous signal!
While CrossRiverWatch, the people of Cross River State and other Nigerians living in the state may not be able to usurp the role of political parties in deciding who becomes the next governor, the umpires owe us an obligation of ensuring that all the aspirants are treated equally.
We make bold to state that ab initio, utterances and past actions of the leadership of PDP in the state are irrefutably the causa sine quanon of the current events, and as stakeholders in the entity called Cross River state, we in CrossRiverWatch, view the current happenings with serious concern, especially the devastating effect it will have on our fledgling democracy.
Cross Riverians take exception to the institutionalization of a tyrannical system subtly dressed in a democratic clothing to beguile and take advantage of the simple nature of our people.
We are not in a colony where colonial masters presided and decided what they did with our forefathers and our resources, nor are we in an absolute monarchy/dominion (absolutum dominium) where the king’s sayings are final. We are in a democracy, and we must be seen to be practicing it with its tenet.
We are completely abashed with the current repugnant attitudes of our politicians. We therefore call on all the politicians in the state especially those of them in the “PDP Family” to sheath their swords and bury their differences and come out with an acceptable flag bearer for the party.
The other political parties in the state should learn from what is happening to the PDP and strive to do what is right and be fair to all contestants to all elective political offices.
It is time our politicians and the various political parties learn to put into practice the democracy they so lavishly speak about and equally allow internal democracy to flourish and take proper roots so its beauty can be manifested in the larger elections in our state and nation in general.
Remember, the summum bonum of any democracy or civilized system, it is the Vox Populi that matters.
If at the end Cross Riverians say that their governor should be a man or woman of below 50 years or above 60 years, it should be their choice and not that of an individual or a few opportune politicians.
We call on the PDP leadership in the state to retrace its step from the path of self-destruction, and the journey to abyss it has embarked upon. It is not yet too late for it to accommodate all its aspirants and treat each with love and equity, as the hen does its chicks. That is what we are saying!
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