By Ushang Ewa
Following the vacancy created by the decision of the incumbent Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Hon. John Gaul Lebo to run for the, Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency seat, shopping for a new Speaker for the 9th Cross River Assembly has commenced in earnest.
Two names are featuring prominently in CrossRiverWatch interaction with PDP leaders and members of the State House of Assembly. Hon. Eteng William Jones representing Yakurr II State Constituency and Hon. Mathew Olori, representing Akamkpa I State Constituency.
A top source in the PDP in the state told CrossRiverWatch that not much will change in the zoning arrangement of the ruling party.
The source who pleaded not to be mentioned explained that, the ruling PDP is not planning to take the position of Speaker away from Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency.
“If the new member coming from Abi was a ranking member of the House, or if Abi had two state constituencies with a ranking member from constituency two, that person would have automatically taken over from the out going Speaker to keep Abi there, since the Senate was still won by Etung LGA. But Abi has now won the House of Reps seat on another party, so the Speaker now has to return to Yakurr LGA that lost the House of Reps. There are two state constituencies in Yakurr and between the two members, Hon. Eteng Jones seemed to be more favoured for the position by party big wigs, stakeholders and the governor.” our source said.
Hon. Eteng Jones represents Yakurr II State Constituency. He has done two terms and will be returning for a third term in the 9th Assembly.
He is generally considered an establishment person and a loyal party man who, a member of a factional exco of the opposition APC in the state has said “will also be a Speaker who will not be independent minded and may continue to gravitate to the whims of the governor as we saw in the immediate past.”
Some members of the House of Assembly who also spoke to our Assembly Correspondent about the permutations shared mixed feelings.
While several said they were confident that Hon. Eteng will be the right leader, others accused him of being part of the out going leadership which refused to speak out and prioritize the welfare of members of the House.
“I don’t see what will the difference between Eteng Jone’s leadership and John Gaul’s leadership. Both of them are the ones running the House now. Eteng is Gaul’s Special Adviser as well, you know. John Gaul doesn’t take any decision without Eteng Jones. So what new thing is Eteng going to do? It’s just going to be a continuation of what we have now unless we get someone else before we can break away from that script.” One member of the House fumed.
“Some of us prefer Hon. Olori as a break from the past.” Another member simply responded.
A member of the current PDP State Executive Committee, who also pleaded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, claimed that contrary to what is been rumoured, the leadership of the party in the State is more disposed to having Hon. Olori as the new Speaker but the strings pulling from outside the exco seem to be stronger than the current exco.
“There are a lot of attempts to influence the outcome of who becomes Speaker by several forces from outside the leadership of the party and outside the House of Assembly itself. Majority of party leaders feel that the present leadership of the Assembly didn’t perform well which is why the incumbent Speaker lost election, so that position should not be given to someone who is part of a failed leadership. Let the position go to Akamkpa I where we have someone that the party can rely on.” The SEC member said.
As the search continues for who will handle the gavel in the Cross River 9th Assembly, whether it is Eteng or Olori or any other member who becomes Speaker, the general expectation of most Cross Riverians is that the 25 lawmakers who have been elected into the 9th Assembly, will elect for themselves, a Speaker that will be sensitive and responsive to the aspirations of the population.
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