The polity is awash with high expectations and permutations as usual. Heightened by the growing internet penetration that has ensured that you can no longer give anyone ‘news’ that is new, because in the remotest corner of our country and State, someone somewhere has a smart phone that conveys to his palm almost in real time, the latest gossip, the latest Buhari gaff, the latest Atikulated arrival or departure and the latest Ayade dance step! It’s promising to be interesting indeed.
But what are some of the issues that promise to define this round of political non debate?
1. Decampings, 2. Ayade’s performance, 3. PMB’s eligibility, 4. Zoning.
In this election more than any I have experienced in my career, decamping (movement of persons across political divides) has been promoted to the level of an art. I have been caught in it and should know.
I will not say too much about why people move, maybe a little about why I moved.
The truth is that for the first time since 1999, we are about to witness an election at the state level with a semblance of a challenge. Since Donald Duke’s elections of 1999, the politics of Cross River State has seen the lowest of its development in terms of a credible challenge at any election. Sycophancy took center stage and what has existed since then has been civilian oppression of the electorate into consistent submission. PDP rode roughshod over the state and what came to be known as ‘election’ left a sour taste indeed in the mouth.
Mediocres have since been promoted to undeserving leadership and the quality of leadership has suffered irreparable damage. The House of Assembly that Donald Duke once described as mere “25 sharing centers” has since lost even its capacity to negotiate its share! The members struggle for who is the better informant of the Governor to be able to get favors. Indeed I hardly hear Cross Riverians discuss anything about the House of Assembly. I am not sure many people know beyond their representative! And maybe the Speaker. Issues like Public Accounts are moribund. Budgets are manufactured elsewhere and the speaker signs off and the members concur later! Commissioners say the State EXCO meets “often” without telling you how often! Anyway, back to decamping.
For the first time, Cross River State has found herself in an opposition party, i.e, one other than the one in Government at the center, thus creating what initially promised to be an alternative platform for dissent and resistance to unacceptable political impunity.
That wave was so strong it threatened the very survival of the Ayade’s governorship and indeed the PDP in the state as the governor himself came very close to jumping ship.
Unfortunately, that wave came to a rude and shock end after the controversy surrounding Senator Ita- Giwa’s crossing and later spat with the Governor.
The congresses of the APC in the state soon exposed a party that many who had moved to, were ignorant of: inherent, irreconcilable differences. Indeed there was no party! Since then the migration has been in reverse order.
Senator Ita-Giwa showed courage by accepting the truth we all had come to be confronted with, but refused to deal with out of pride. PDP, after all is said and done, was a better party to be in and to coexist in, warts and all. I know that deep in his heart Senator John Owan-Enoh knows this. But what can he do now?
What exists as the APC in Cross River State are pockets of bickering groups of incoherent strange bed-follows, pretending that they could win elections! Unfortunately, none of them can win any elections without establishment support! The reason the polity is rife with rumors of who is working for Governor Ben Ayade and so on from amongst the candidates of the APC! Those holding appointments at federal level are not beholden to anyone, certainly not the party in the state, apart from their pockets. The remaining top officials of the party are permanently looking for the next new comers from PDP that have a deep enough pocket to salvage them by way of funding as they are permanently looking for money to pay party office rent or pay salaries!
There you can understand Senator Owan-Enoh’s entry and eventual hijack of the soul of the ‘party’ that was indeed on auction! There are people with sense in APC, certainly, but that sense is inhibited by practical reason. Practical reason dictates that individuals’ survival comes before the party! And indeed who is the party? There is at the end, no party!
All the candidates hope to pull some magic by winning an election knowing fully well that they have no organization behind them! It is a surprise then that as campaigns begin I read and hear about threats to the reelection of Governor Ayade! What is posing the”threat”? Like I said and I repeat for emphasis, that I have not seen any of the gladiators show any capacity to win without the official support of the Governor! That is why there is high level betrayal and connivance with the powers they pretend to be fighting!
I don’t seem to see any threat to the reelection of Governor Ayade barring any unforced errors on his part and his handlers. However, having said that, the perceived weaknesses of the Ayade government and politics cannot be excused from the semblance of a threat to his reelection.
First, any accidental loss of several or any key seats to the APC in the first round of elections may become a potent threat in the near future. Namely the loss of two Senate seats, even one, by the PDP may create a bandwagon effect going into the governorship elections two weeks later. These weaknesses include, but are not limited to the lack of leadership cohesion, lack of candidate cohesion and lack of funding cohesion.
While there are enough funds to deliver the elections, the cohesion between the candidates in utilising the funds seems lacking, because of distrust arising from some of the primaries and egos. Truth is that if these mistakes persist as we move into the campaign this week the opposition will be emboldened. For now, the so-called reception of APC in the north is just a mere social media hype. I know my people better than that. As the governor kick-starts his campaign this week, we shall see the difference.
Governor Ayade’s recent deft moves have been nothing but spectacular! As he likes to say, maybe his seeming weaknesses are actually his strengths. His above the mark endorsements, his maneuvering of the key centers of political discuss, have been anything but amateurish. I think he knows what is at stake, understands what needs to be done and is showing enough courage in confronting all issues.
Apart from Yala where Jude Ngaji has been impressive with his grassroots mobilization, nothing is happening anywhere! Most of what is left in APC in the north are traders waiting to explore two pay points! And the Jude effect is largely because he has been left unchallenged due to the discordant tunes between the Governor and the House of Representatives member for Ogoja, Honorable Jarigbe Agom.
With equal capacity, if enhanced Jarigbe remains the indisputable force to take Jude out of the scene. Whatever are the governor’s inhibitions, the place to start to put Jude on a retreat is Honorable Jarigbe. Honorable Legor Idagbo is either lost in the skirmishes or is playing the Governor-has-no-choice game! If he wasn’t in the governor’s constituency, I will bet that he has to look for another job! Same with Senator Rose Oko, who has proven that luck is all you need! I hope her luck will hold through. She has no business being reelected.
To be continued…
Barrister Venatus Ikem is a Chieftain and former National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are solely attributable to the author, Venatus Ikem and do not in anyway represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organisation the author works for/with.
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