By Kennedy Nsan
Max Ogar, a lawyer and Cross Riverian based in Abuja is a regular commentator on this platform. He has continued to speak about events as they develop in his home state. CrossRiverWatch sought his opinion on the PDP primaries in the state and other issues.
You were very active in the social media on Cross River politics before the primaries, what is your assessment of the journey so far?
Yes, I opted to make my little contribution and to integrate with the system back home, but I had serious setbacks – my candidates lost out. The situation at home (‘one party system’) and the need to integrate with the system saw me supporting two PDP aspirants for governorship and Senate; I passionately supported the Senate Leader (Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN) and Prince Goddy Jedy-Agba, OFR. I published a book to promote Jedy-Agba’s campaign and together with some allies (Missang Oyama, Obi Neji Abang, Ken Nsan etc) we put together a book chronicling the legislative strides of Senator Victor Nchor Ndoma-Egba, SAN which couldn’t go to the press before the 7th December, 2014 charade in Ikom. These I did even when I am not a member of the PDP. The manner in which PDP ‘candidates’ emerged in Cross River State leaves so much to be desired.
So what’s your reaction to the Senate Leader’s resolve not to leave the PDP and Jedy-Agba’s extension of a hand of friendship to Prof. Ben Ayade?
From the little I know about Chief Victor Ndoma-Egba, I can pointedly tell you that he is not a desperate person who will switch over just because of a temporary setback of ‘losing’ party primaries. For Goddy Jedy-Agba with whom I have, thus far, had only one direct meeting, I highly commend him for his role in the entire process leading to the emergence of a Northern Senatorial District guber candidate for the PDP.
How do you mean, sir?
I can tell you authoritatively that Governor Liyel Imoke’s real intention was not for the North to produce the PDP guber candidate. The entry into the race by the ‘King of Guys’ changed the game. Without Goddy Jedy-Agba in the race, Gershom Bassey would have been the PDP guber candidate as we speak.
Specifically, what is your reaction to Jedy-Agba’s resolve not to fight Ben Ayade?
It is the smartest political move anyone can make within the circumstances we find ourselves now. The elections that led to the emergence of Prof. Ben Ayade fall short of any acceptable standard, but Ayade was not responsible for the infamy. The emergence of the Obudu-born Senator, in my opinion, was a face-saving measure by a brutal cabal which had an anti people agenda. Refusing to contest the choice of Ben Ayade and opting to remain in the PDP, reveals that Goddy Jedy-Agba’s quest for the governorship of our State was absolutely altruistic. It would have been a serious minus had Jedy-Agba (a son of the Paramount Ruler of Obudu) made any move against Ayade (another illustrious Obudu son). For me, both men should rejoice and celebrate the fact that the governorship train finally landed in Obudu. I applaud the maturity of Jedy-Agba.
What is your take on the candidature of Prof. (Senator) Ben Ayade?
Primarily, I will say the Senator having not just stumbled on the position, will do well. I have consistently maintained that power is what people should prepare for, work and earn. This is where I score Atiku Abubakar (like his mentor, Shehu Musa Yar’adua) very high. Ben Ayade cannot be said to be an accidental governor; he prepared for it. Secondly, I have always advocated for people with tested career backgrounds being leaders – I don’t subscribe to just picking people without private or public sector experiences and entrusting them with leadership. In other words, I don’t have issues with the ‘quality’ and ‘content’ of Senator Ayade.
Back to your Senatorial District! You are known to be a campaigner for equity and fairness, how comes you zealously pushed for Senator Victor Ndoma Egba’s ambition to return to the Senate for the fourth time when other people ought to be given opportunity?
I must say that every human being is selfish; I merely manifested that inherent weakness in every man. Ndoma-Egba (who, undoubtedly, has done well) is my name sake (Nchor), my professional colleague and my kinsman (from Nkpanjen-Akparabong, Ikom). Knowing that that position will naturally not return to Ikom in the next four decades and thinking that Boki will keep the House of Reps position, I had to be selfish about the whole thing. I felt sick for two days when eventually the curtain came down on 7th December, 2014. What happened to Victor Ndoma-Egba in the contest between him and Governor Liyel Imoke is humiliating to the Ikom man. But eventually, I think it is the Boki man who lost (after all the support for Imoke); the House of Reps position left Boki and returned to Ikom. For me, Senator Ndoma-Egba remains the issue; I will remain with him without apology to anyone.
Did I hear you say ‘the contest between Ndoma-Egba and Imoke’?
Yes. The battle was simply fought by Imoke on the other side. It was a proxy war and unfortunately, I blame the leader of the PDP (President Jonathan) who, for selfish reasons, allowed the governors to play ‘emperoric’ roles.
What’s your reaction to Cross River State’s potential representation in the 8th National Assembly?
We will be having three freshmen Senators and four freshmen out of our seven House of Reps members in the 8th National Assembly. That’s not good enough for us as a State. In the legislature, ranking is very important. We were privileged to have two very sensitive and impactful legislative positions in the Senate and the House of Reps (the Senate Leadership and the House Appropriation Committee Chairmanship) in the 7th Assembly, rather than consolidate on this we blew up everything; good planning required our returning the two Lawmakers occupying those ace positions.
Unfortunately, the Northern Senatorial District will almost have ‘no’ representation in both the Red and Green Chambers in the 8th National Assembly. If you ask me, in the current dispensation i.e. the 7th National Assembly, Senator Ben Ayade is the only voice for the North while the Central has the Senate Leader and the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation as very vocal and impactful voices. In the Southern Senatorial District, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo has been very visible in the Green Chambers but we will miss her in the 8th National Assembly.
Do you agree that the Northern Senatorial District owes Governor Imoke gratitude?
Gratitude for what? Is it for impoverishing their sons who were made to resign from their positions in government or for being taken for granted? The man we all owe gratitude is Prince Goddy Jedy-Agba, OFR; he was the ultimate game changer.
What’s your parting shot?
Without prejudice to the well-established position that ‘it is at the absolute discretion of a political party to choose its candidates – by election, selection or appointment’, Governor Liyel Imoke didn’t do well. How can you ignore former Governors of the State, former Senators, sitting Senators (including the Senate Leader) and other party elders in the process of choosing party candidates? I know that every right reasoning person will be interested in who succeeds him, but modesty and decency are required in influencing the outcome of results as opposed to the brigandage witnessed in Cross River under the Garrison Command of Mr. Liyel Imoke. I wish Ben Ayade well even as I assure Liyel Imoke that he cannot remote control Ayade for more than six months post May 29, 2015.
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