Cross River Central: Carrot And Stick BY SIMON UTSU

In Columnists, Opinion, Politics

Being the second of a three-part series by the author

The year has all but come to an end. I have decided to do a tripartite series on the politicians who deserve carrots and those who need sticks based on their outputs in 2019.

The Carrot…

There has been a lot of politicking this year across the State with the Central senatorial district experiencing its heavy share of activity. The biggest winner from that zone in 2019 is Senator Sandy Ojang Onor (PDP, Cross River Central).

He deserves a huge carrot for the singular fact that he was able to scale all the political hurdles placed before him and in the process, retire some political dinosaurs in that district.

Before now, the highest elective office he ever occupied was that of a Local Government Area chairman. Out of the six local government areas that make up Cross River Central, Etung is by far the smallest.

So, it was more of a David vs Goliath affair for Sandy Onor, locking horns with former Senate leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, four term house of Reps member, Bassey Eko Ewa and last but not the least, oil mogul, Chris Agara. Agara was his most formidable opponent – being Ayade’s bosom friend and backbone. Becoming Senator this year was supposed to be a stroll in the park for him (Agara) by virtue of all these but Sandy Onor emerged as the game changer, maneuvering deftly through all the hurdles in the primaries including an opposition from political godfather of the state, Liyel Imoke as it was also rumored then and clinching the party’s ticket.

He went ahead to squarely defeat veteran politician and former Senate leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba of the All Progressives Congress to win the election. As a first term senator, he was made Vice Chairman of the very strategic Tetfund standing committee. Another feather was added to his cap a couple of months back when the University of Calabar promoted him to the rank of Professor.

Senator Sandy Onor

The second political personality deserving of Carrot from Cross River Central is the All Progressives Congress’s gubernatorial candidate in the 2019 election, Senator John Owan-Enoh also from Etung.

This choice may sound controversial but looking at the bigger picture, it is a very deserving one. For the first time in the State since 1999, there was an election that kept the ruling party on her toes up till when collation was done and results were announced.

Owan-Enoh’s emergence gave Ayade sleepless nights and got him to spend much more than any governor had ever spent for a re-election in the State’s history.

Apart from having to contest against an incumbent Governor, Owan-Enoh had a lot of other forces to contend with viz serious party infighting, the zoning ideology which is still deeply entrenched in the psyche of the average, politically conscious Cross Riverian, paucity of funds at some point and even the almighty INEC.

All these factors notwithstanding, which served to put him precariously against the run of play, he was still able to get over a hundred and thirty thousand votes as against the over 300,000 garnered by Ayade.

There is no gainsaying the fact that he gave Ayade the political battle of his life. And his decision not to push his election tribunal case to the Supreme Court and by so doing, helping to reduce political tension/instability in the State is also worthy of commendation.

Senator John Owan-Enoh

Another politician deserving of Carrot is the speaker of the 9th Cross River State House of Assembly, Eteng Jones Williams (PDP, Yakurr II).

As expected, he was selected by the powers that be to be speaker due to his maturity and has not done badly since his selection was ratified by his co-members. Apart from when he was slow to act when a brutal communal war ensued in his Mkpani village, he has had a fair stint so far. A couple of times in the recent past, his attention was drawn to some dilapidated infrastructure in his community by a concerned constituent and he acted fast and provided complete intervention.

Eteng Jones Williams, Speaker of the 9th CRSHA

The Stick…

The one politician from centeal Cross River who deserves so much stick is no other person than the immediate past minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru.

My friend from Ugep told me last year that Usani was programmed by nature to be a spoiler/destroyer. His antecedents in politics from the 1990’s is a clear pointer in that direction. With Usani, the only meals up for grab on the political menu are “politics of rancor”, “politics of bitterness”, “politics of divisiveness “, “politics of backbiting “, “politics of unforgiveness” and so on.

He singlehandedly factionalized the APC from the get-go and maintained his divisive grip up until after the governorship elections. Suddenly, he has gone underground. No one seems to hear anything about him even offline. Thereby leaving everyone with an impression of someone done with a hatchet job.

Usani Uguru Usani

Another politician deserving of stick in Central Cross River is former Senate leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba whose immediate return to the scene after being schemed out by the Imoke group in 2015, made him come across to many as a political desperado.

His tenure as NDDC chairman between 2015 and 2019 was all but impressive and his decision to return to the Senate in 2019 further drove-in the wedge in the already fragile central eal Cross River All Progressives Congress set up.

Apart from thwarting the House of Representatives ambition of one of his younger political associates, Cijeyu Ojong by this show of selfishness, he also went ahead to attempt to impose his protege, Victor ‘Mature’ Abang from Boki on that ticket (Ikom/Boki federal constituency).

This did not go down well with former State House of Assembly member, Honorable Cletus Obun who was also gunning for that ticket and the rest like they say, is history.

Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba did not only lose the election to a less influential Sandy Onor on the political battlefield but also lost to him in the courts thereby bringing his illustrious political career to an inglorious end.

Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba

In 2017, I took to my Facebook wall to drag him before God in prayer. I asked God to retire him in 2019 if he failed to sit up and make some significant impact. Maybe that prayer has been answered.

That said, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) is a legal luminary; I hope he focuses more on his law practice forthwith. I wish him the very best even as he listens to my counsel and toes that path.

Simon Utsu-Ingwu, a Cross Riverian writes in from Lagos via simonutsu@yahoo.com

NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Simon Utsu and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.

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