By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent Follow @NaijaJonathan
Cross River Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu has fueled speculations that Governor Ben Ayade may not pick him as running mate as he seeks reelection in the 2019 general elections.
Esu said that Mr. Ayade had asked him to deputize for only one term and he is not willing to tie the governor’s hands as he will still campaign for him even of he were out of favor.
The Biase born academic and administrator stated this Thursday in Akamkpa at an endorsement town hall meeting for the duo by the people of Biase and Akamkpa federal constituency where he said that if his deputizing for Mr. Ayade in his second tenure is God’s will, then it will be done.
Addressing an overcrowded hall which held only about 20 percent of those who turned up for the event, Esu said that: “As a matter of fact, I don’t believe that I should have been included in that endorsement.
“Why? Because Professor Ayade asked me to run with him for one term; four years; we have done three years and now we are entering the fourth year.”
“You don’t know between now and then, he might change his mind and say he wants to run with somebody else,” Esu added with the entire crowd thundering a deafening “no.”
Esu said he was humbled by the turnout and reception despite his “shortcomings,” and on his decision to support Mr. Ayade regardless of what turns out, averted that: “I don’t want to get out of this place trying to tie the hands of the governor. We have come here to endorse Professor Ben Ayade for what he has done.
“If he decides that he still wants me to run with him, so be it. But, even if he decides that I will not be his running mate, I will still campaign for him, I will still work for him, I will still be in the campaign team to deliver him and hand over to him. So, that is what I want to tell you.
“But, I want to say that I am so humbled that you my people, have recognized, even with all my shortcomings, wish that I should go back. If that is your wish, that is God’s wish, it shall come to be.”
Speculations are rife that there is pressure from the other five local government areas that make up the southern senatorial district on Mr. Ayade to pick his deputy from among them.
Political watchers say the current deputy speaker, Mr. Joseph Bassey and Chief Whip, Mr. Okon Ephraim are candidates with unconfirmed information suggesting that Mr. Ephraim who is popularly referred to as ‘Baba’ may have been lined up to succeed either Mr. Ayade or Senator Gershom Bassey depending on who eventually clinches the gubernatorial ticket for the 2023 elections.
Meanwhile, the Akamkpa/Biase federal constituency are angling to retain the deputy governor’s position as it will best position them to succeed or have an upper card to deal in the 2023 elections.
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