When Ben Ayade emerged as Cross River State flag bearer to represent PDP in the April gubernatorial elections, little did we know that the road to Peregrino House will be a rough one. Selecting candidates rather than popular elections had appeared to hold sway in PDP Cross River State for some time, however, the actors seeking Imoke’s seat would not buy that process without a fight.
Hardest hit in my estimation was Jedy Agba who resigned his plump job at NNPC to run as Governor, the man whom the establishment tagged “can never be Governor”. Jedy after the primaries, attempted to put on a mild fight, with rumors he was going to challenge the process in court, to a time it was alleged he will fly the labor party ticket and unto a time we learnt he settled as campaign fundraiser for Ayade. Whichever was the case, the final outcome is that Jedy graciously “let sleeping dog lie”.
Next in my estimation was Ntufam Ugbo, a man who it is alleged was ready to be governor from day one. A Man who resigned from his plump job as Executive Secretary, National Planning Commission, to seek the number one office in Cross River State. He is alleged to be first in picking screening and nomination forms, had the backing of some heavy weight within the state PDP establishment, a man considered an insider with strings within the state and in Abuja. Ntufam was skillfully schemed out by the PDP establishment during the primaries.
Initially we thought he accepted the will of the powers that be, his social media team even proceeded to congratulate Ayade, however, the scars could not heal so easily. Early in January, noticing the power fracas in southern zone and the defection of Bassey Otu to Labor, the outsmarting of Ndoma Egba (Central) from Senate, the defection of former Imoke’s Chief of Staff in (Central) to Labor, the rising influence of Sandy Onor in Ikom/Boki, the math’s became clearer.
Ntufam’s camp reasoned, defecting to Labor may imply he can pull Southern zone votes using Bassey Otu’s popularity and pull Central zone given growing popularity of Imoke’s former Chief of Staff in South Central and Sandy Onor in North Central, and all things being equal, he would share Northern votes with Ayade. A smart calculation that may send him to Peregrino House on the Labor platform. How this will work out remains to be seen.
Emmanuel Ibeshi never found it funny when he was outsmarted during the primaries. He had hoped the establishment will lean on him considering the fact that he stepped out of the contest in 2010 elections giving Imoke a smooth run to Peregrino House during his second tenure. It did not work out that way. In all humility he stepped aside and threw his support behind Ayade. For love of party and State, he stayed back to work with establishments’ choice.
However, not all contestants found the political scheming orchestrated by the establishment funny. Joe Agi gathered evidence to prove irregularities in the primaries, with his bag full of evidence he approached the courts. Just before the trail began, he brought additional charges calling for an amendment, claiming age falsification and perjury by Ayade.
Some of us political watchers saw this coming. Early January after the primaries, I posted this on my Facebook wall, referring to the PDP political establishment in Cross River State, it reads: Why circumvent a system to get a desired outcome, when if done right you will still get the same outcome. A people remain backward and regressive, if they are too scared to ask questions. Questioning injustice is not a form of disloyalty, rather it is an expression courage. We cannot learn if we fail to try. Society moves forward, if doing things right becomes a way of life. Good morning Africa”
Agi, took on the challenge and went to court. Do we join suit and meet him in court or can we settle out of court amicably? It is easier to settle out of court. I would opine, Hon Agi, come on, and let us reason together. Matters Arising: Is Joe Agi an honorable man? Yes he is. Does he have a legitimate case? Yes he has. Is he justified to institute a case against the establishment for stage managing the primaries to favor an anointed aspirant at the detriment of other aspirants? Yes he is.
Is he justified for instituting a case on age falsification against a candidate as a breach of electoral law? Yes he is. If the final suite is ruled in favor of Joe Agi, can he become Cross River State governor without the full support of the PDP establishment? No he cannot. If the ruling favors Joe Agi on the grounds that there were irregularities in PDP primaries that led to Ayade emergence, can the court further rule that since Joe Agi was the runner up, he automatically becomes the PDP candidate? No, it cannot, because, it is the very flawed process that produced Joe Agi as runner up, so he cannot benefit from a process ruled as flawed.
Is there a possibility that the court may rule that fresh primaries should be conducted in PDP CRS before the elections? Yes it is possible. If fresh primaries are held today, and the PDP establishment puts their collective weight on Ayade, will he still emerge the candidate of choice without rigging? Yes he will. Are there constitutional provisions to accommodate scenarios of this nature given the time frame to elections? That’s a question I cannot answer because I am not an Attorney, so, let sleeping dog lie.
On age falsification, it is a sin too common in Nigeria. Nigeria is 55 years old, yet we are still battling with national identification cards with no proper birth and death registry. Hospitals have no accountable birth registers and in the event they have, there is no proper linkage between local hospitals and national population commission based on our analogue bureaucratic inefficient document filing system. Ministries of health have no updated births, health and death records, national population commission will issue birth certificates to anyone with a little bribe and write whatever you want written therein.
On the streets of Yaba in Lagos, criminals and thugs brandish notary stamps and issue birth affidavits for as little as hundred Naira to anyone who can afford it, even to foreigner in the full glare of the security forces. The majority of civil servants, government functionaries, and even presiding court judges have all altered their ages to enable them stay longer in the civil service. Is this the offence you will use to deprive a man considered the people’s choice from representing his party in elections? Let him that is without sin, cast the first stone.
On age irregularities, it is a systemic problem, while I do not encourage such acts if at all it is true, we cannot single out a man for prosecution in an attempt to resolve a systemic problem. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
In summary, let me explain why Ayade should be given a safe passage to Peregrino House. While I have openly endorsed Buhari for Presidency because of my personal believe in him, I herewith openly endorse Ben Ayade for Cross River State Governor.
Ben Ayade is said to have worked on Groundwater Remediation in Nigeria, and invented a sewage treatment plant based on solar energy. He won an award from the government of Japan for outstanding research into Global warming in Africa. His ability to have invented a sewage treatment plant powered by solar energy puts him in a unique class in human history.
In all human history, inventors are unique people. Let me share some information and characteristics traits of successful inventors in which Ayade represents and why he is good for Cross River State even if his election and age declarations were flawed.
Successful inventors share many of the same personality traits in common, including a mindset which helps them to make the best possible decisions at the right times. One of the keys to this mindset is that successful inventors have developed a bias towards taking action. This involves a shift in thinking which makes a successful inventor less inclined to procrastinate and sit on a great idea. Another aspect of this mindset is that the successful inventor is always prepared to seize opportunities which may present themselves.
Inventors prepare themselves to act as soon as they recognize a good opportunity, and they are able to move quickly but also intelligently in order to make the most of it. Similarly, they are also able to recognize problems quickly and act to minimize the damage or to neutralize the threat. Cross River state at a time like this requires an Inventor like Governor. A man who will be brave enough to work with independent minded people who may disagree with him but pursue a common good. This is a common characteristic of inventors.
Their quest to achieve their goal makes them dine with devils who may help them achieve their results. Cross River state needs an “Inventor like Governor” who can access our current debt profile, and come up with an invented idea on how to either balance, pay off, reschedule or consolidate our debt to a manageable level. Inventors are known to always create balance. Cross River State needs an Inventor like Governor who will not procrastinate on infrastructural development and job creation for our teeming youth population.
We need a man with ideas who can transform his vision to a mission. In Benedict Ayade having gone through his profile, I see that man. The primaries may have been flawed, age may have been falsified, or still these allegations may be framed up, but Ayade’s inventive genius, that, you cannot deny from him, for even western scholarship have acknowledged him for that, that is what the state needs now, and on that I tender my support.
No man is perfect, but in our imperfections let us find solace for the development of collective goodwill. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Let he that is without sin, cast the first stone. For democracy sake and for love of State, think Cross River first, Let sleeping dog lie.
Princewill Odidi is a social commentator who resides in the United States of America. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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