With Sony Abang, Ndoma Egba, Mary Ekpere, Clement Ebri, Usani Usani, Alex Egbona, Okoi Obono-obla, and several other heavy weights in the central senatorial district, in my judgement, the district will be an easy sway to APC in the next elections. Bassey Otu in Calabar will be a great force to reckon with.
I will intentionally leave Northern Cross River state at the moment because they are still enjoying a political honey moon for winning the governorship slot for the first time in our state’s history. The state has three zones, at any point in time, the political calculations to control the state’s machinery will always be two against one.
This said, my major concern with Cross River State politics has to do with the grassroots follower-ship. PDP follower-ship among most Cross Riverians is like a religion. How we got to this position is devoid of any meaningful political scientific calculations.
When Jonathan lost to Buhari, some of my fans literally cried and cursed in disbelieve. What most young people fail to understand is that party politics and political affiliations are considered more as platforms to contest elections and not meant for such high religious affiliations.
Even if Ben Ayade defects to APC today, most of his ardent PDP lovers in Cross River State will stick with PDP. What is baffling is that, in most states especially northern Nigeria, once the party leaders swing to another party, the entire youth population follow suite. Why is Cross River State different? To me this is an assignment for a good PhD research thesis by a student in Political Science.
Since I started writing in support of PMB, I lost a great lot of fans, however due to the rot that Nigeria found herself, I stuck to my beliefs. As APC is penetrating Cross River State now, they should thread with caution.
While it is enviable to court the political giants and celebrate their defections, they should design a strategy on how to court the masses, the market women, students, social media hawks, and everyday Cross Riverians. They should also plan the defection of the masses and celebrate with them.
This is important because for 16 years, all what young Cross Riverians knew was PDP. Most Cross Riverians below 20 Years of age, since their birth and the time they grew up to understand politics, politics to them has been synonymous with PDP. This is an undisputed fact.
For some of this die hard PDP disciples, it is even easier and more comfortable for them to align with Labor Party than APC. The reason is simple: they grew up to understand that being in the opposition is a taboo, and most leaders in APC today stood out as opposition figures in the state.
It is only within this context that we can understand the situational hatred for opposition in the state. Most die hard Cross River State youths comfortably see APC as opposition, but see Labor Party as an exit platform to contest elections and return to PDP.
So the leadership of APC in the state have big work to do. Their strategy so far has been focused on recruiting the big guns to defect to APC, this is great, but not a sufficient strategy to turn the state around. In this social media age, the era of blind followership is gone for good.
As a trained political strategist, this approach may not yield the desired results at election time. The best strategy is to win the minds of younger Cross Riverians, considering the fact that they are more independent and in this era of social media more analytic, with a philosophy of every-man to his household.
The State APC machinery should come up with a job creation strategy either through direct employment, investment promotions, training or cooperative development as a means of gaining political capital among the youth population.
This is the only way to sway a die hard youth population who have been politically groomed into PDP from birth and childhood to look the other way. I stand to be corrected.
Princewill Odidi is a political scientist and strategist writing from Atlanta.
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