By Jonathan Ugbal
The National Vice Chairman South-South of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hilliard Etta on Sunday explained that the shift in the date of the gubernatorial primaries in Cross River State was due to the late arrival of materials and not its hijack as claimed in some quarters.
Briefing journalists in Calabar, Etta said the late arrival of the seven member election committee sent to the state also impacted on the shift in time explaining that the committee had to visit the Police, Nigeria’s secret police, and other security outfits.
“I have heard the allegation that I have connived to hijack election materials. Let me assure all our members that nothing is farther from the truth. We have just returned from visits to security services and INEC and the materials are in the custody of the Ali Magaji committee,” Etta said, adding that: “The materials will be distributed and by tomorrow (today) election will commence in all the 196 wards in the state.”
Former Culture and Tourism minister, Edem Duke and Professor Etim Nyong who are aspirants had alleged that materials meant for the conduct of the election had been hijacked by Mr. Etta and threatened protest votes against any favored aspirant since according to them, the information available showed that the committee members were not interested in conducting a free and fair primary election.
But, Etta denied convening an executive meeting in his house but maintained that by virtue of his position, he cannot stay aloof in the selection of a governorship candidate.
“I am not empowered to convene a state executive committee meeting and by the constitution of the party, you cannot hold that meeting in a private house.
“But I must say that as a leader, I am interested in who becomes my governorship candidate. It is not because I am a leader that I don’t have preferences. I am a conspirator and I have the right to convene a private meeting based my interest.
“I was a victim of injustice during the early days of my political career. I have the right to support any governorship aspirant of my choice,” he said.
Meanwhile, another aspirant, John Upan Odey in his message to party faithful called for a deep reflection on the value system that will determine the party’s flag bearer stressing that money should not erode the ideals that brought a formidable opposition to the state.
“Many of you have been in opposition all your life but now have the opportunity to decide whether to continue in opposition or not. The decision on who fly the party governorship ticket would go a long to determine the outcome of other elections. Please, make the right choice.
“Some people are just learning how to be in opposition as they just bought into the broom revolution. Some genuinely while many passively just to fulfill their desperate ambitions. Whichever category you belong, remember your decision would mar or make our party as well as the state going forward.
“As you go to the field today, remember our days of little beginning. Remember the cross we carried and the price we paid to form a formidable opposition to give Cross Riverians and Nigerians opportunity of a better alternative. We are not where we are today because we had all the resources but because of our sincerity of purpose and determination to give our people what they truly deserve; quality leadership.
“We have won and lost many battles together. The greatest battle we have won together is remaining as one despite how tempting and juicy the other divide have been.
“We didn’t stay together because we had all the money but because we have a common goal, a goal to offer Cross Riverians quality and credible leadership. We have won the war, now is time to win the battle,” a statement from his media council had read.
On money being a deciding factor, the statement read: “Money is good in politics but it doesn’t solve the problem of poor leadership. Ideas does. This is an area where Upan although the youngest yet stand taller than everybody in the race.”
Meanwhile, the trouble rocking the party may be far from over as some members of the party in posts monitored on social media claimed another aspirant and Niger Delta Affairs minister, Usani Usani had clinched the party’s ticket with some claiming that he had used fake electoral materials.
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