By Jonathan Ugbal
A christian leader in Cross River, Pastor Gabriel Joseph has distanced himself from a group seeking to stop the reelection of the state governor, Senator Ben Ayade.
Pastor Joseph who is the General Overseer of the Blessed-Hope Gospel Ministries International in a statement titled; ‘Re: You Don’t Deserve A Second Term – Christian Leaders Tell Ayade’ signed by him said the convener of the group that made the call, Bishop Josef Bassey never consulted him to seek his consent before going to the press.
He said his attendance was premised on the fact that he respects Bishop Bassey and thought it will be for a church programme not a political event and only heard Bishop Bassey’s position while he was addressing journalists.
The statement issued Friday in Calabar read: “I write to dissociate myself from the news purported to have been sponsored by Cross River state Christian Leaders Forum and published on some national dailies and online platforms on June 23, 2018 berating the people’s Governor His Excellency, Senator Prof Ben Ayade as unworthy candidate for re-election in 2019.
“Let me state here and categorically too that I was not consulted nor disclosed to, the content of the brief until when it was read to the press.”
Explaining further, the Pastor Joseph said: “Bishop Josef Bassey called me at about 11.00pm on the eve of the briefing and asked me to see him by mid day the next day and as a leader in the faith, I did not hesitate, I prepared the next day I went to his office as we agreed.
“On arrival I noticed huge present of the press men already waiting for him in the hall and as usual each time he has crusade, I thought the briefing was about his revival programme which publicity was all over town and was still running on local media houses.
“As he directed, I prayed for the state, lawmakers, and the entire citizenry that our people will be stronger, prosperous, live in peace with God and one another bearing in mind the rival clashes in Calabar south and other skirmishes in some parts of the state.
“Little did I know that I was acting the script already written by Pastor Josef Bassey to castigate the people’s governor.”
The cleric who said he is “non partisan,” added that: “I do not do things that heats the polity rather what I do always is pray and advise that right and correct approaches be adopted in governance to keep the state’s socio-economy afloat.”
“I therefore without hesitation, disassociate myself from the purported news conference prepared and read by the Bishop without my consent and that the content of that press conference does not in any way represent me nor reflect my position and true character in the faith,” the cleric said, maintaining that: “Bishop Josef Bassey was the sole masterminder and orchestrated the media meeting and that I heard the content of that briefing for the first time as the same time press men were hearing and subsequently reported.”
Furthermore, he averred that: “I am a peace loving Nigerian and would not do anything to incite, heat up the already fragile fabric of the state and the polity but always.”
Bishop Bassey who is the general overseer of God’s Heritage Center had gathered some clerics under the aegis of Christian Leaders Forum to criticise the Ayade’s administration.
“This administration came up with so many promises, but we are yet to see them coming to limelight. We have numerous communal and cult clashes on daily basis across the state; something must be done to safe Cross River from sinking,” Bishop Bassey had said and called on stakeholders to rise above partisanship and vote Mr. Ayade out
He also claimed people were scared of speaking out; allegations which Mr. Ayade’s spokesperson, Mr. Christian Ita denied.
Mr. Ita in a statement said those seeking to stop Mr. Ayade’s reelection bid were either suffering from, “optical illusion or alien to the truth.”
Mr. Ita said Mr. Ayade has performed beyond expectations especially given the fact that, “Cross River receives the least allocation from the federal government.”
He listed several projects completed or nearing completion in the state to include the Cross River Garment factory; the 21 Megawatts power plant; the 100 hectares banana plantation in Odukpani; the toothpick factory in Yakurr; automated rice mill in Ogoja, Cocoa processing plant in Ikom; Boki East-West road among others.
Also, the governor has been endorsed by dozens of political as well as non political groups, associations, unions, organizations and body corporates.
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