A foremost Professor of History, the Pioneer Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, the eminent Prof. Emmanuel Ayandele in the early 1980’s following the endless discordant tunes by the State political class described Cross River State as “an atomistic society perpetually in conflict with itself”. The definition came after the University of Calabar; a campus of the University of Nsukka (UNN) was granted autonomy to function as a full-fledged Federal University. Rather than celebrating the emergence of a new University, the political class went into chasing shadows, making unfounded and unmerited allegations against the Vice Chancellor, a man not a push-over and a nonsense advocate. Prof. Ayandele was a proud Yoruba guy who knows his onions.
It is important to opine that, events relating to the political attitudes, and behavioural style of the political class at the time, supported and corroborated his definition of the State. Whilst some argue that, the definition was apt, others argue otherwise. However, sooner than later, it became clear that the erudite historian was guided by the consistent and endless political conflicts amongst the political class to reach the conclusion.
For instance, the then ruling party, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was undergoing irreconcilable conflicts and factions in its fold. It was a near violent situation as the conflict was intensed. The Lagos front was led by Dr. Joseph Wayas, then Senate President and Chief Clement Nyong Isong, a sitting State Governor led the Calabar front. The Lagos front finally replaced Clement Isong with Don Etiebet as Governor of old Cross River State. Surprisingly, the National Republican Convention Party (NRC) that followed later also went into factions again to wit; Dr. Joseph Wayas’s faction and the Chief Anthony Ani’s. Chief Clement Ebri of the Wayas faction won the party’s (NRC) primaries to defeat his closet rival, Chief
Wilfred Inah of the Chief Ani’s faction. Ebri became the State Governor.
Similarly, the APP that came later and became the ANPP was not spared the trauma and so also the PDP. Thus, the initial internal struggle in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was between Godwin Kanu Agabi (SAN) and the Donald Duke/Late John Okpa group, which conflict saw Donald Duke having an upper hand to become Governor. However, this pandemic virus still pervaded the Cross River State political landscape with a permanent seat/home in the State APC. There has been no love lost since then.
The APC in the State has been a classical example of Prof. Ayandele’s definition of a people in perpetual conflict with themselves, with the centre never to stick together. Everybody is a suspect of an ambition. The party has never from inception known peace, due to the dangerous antics and political maneuvering of some self-styled capacity packed guys from within it fold. Certainly, it will not be wrong, out of place, and or an exaggeration guided by Prof. Ayandele’s definition of a society to quickly nickname the State APC as a “Party Perpetually in Conflict (PPIC)”.
The political divisions therein are intriguing, rattling and a sign of selfishly contrived conflict with no end insight. To this extent one lacks the adjective to describe the selfishness and the unprofitable factionalization in the party. Both the old and the new comers must produce a Governor from among them. The dog/marriage principle of “fall down for me and I fall you” is strange to the APC family. However, it would not be wrong again to opine further that, the sustained and endless conflict in the State APC family is due largely to what some political analysts associate with EXCESSIVE GREED, INTOLERANCE, EXTREME BAD BLOOD AND BAD “BELLE”, VAULTING PERSONAL AMBITIONS, FAKED SMARTNESS LACED WITH THE OVERZEALOUSNESS OF SOME SUSPECTED CAPACITY FILLED MEMBERS. A claim punctured in the 2019 general election.
It has also been forcedly and rightly argued in my candid opinion too, that, aside from the initial conflict caused by the alleged political intolerant between Ntufam Hilliard Eta and Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, the APC conflict reached its peak following the intrigues of some “smart characters” who against all noble arrangements sold out in the State congress organized during the tenure of Chief Oyegun as APC National
Chairman to elect between Hon. Etim John and Dr. Mathew Archigbe. This later started the unprofitable arguments of authentic and unauthentic State exco.
It is important to stress for the records that, the above classical betrayal ignited and blossomed the endless divisions in the APC to its present frightening dimension. It further subjected the party to multiple Court actions and finally climaxed the shameful outing of the party in the 2019 election where the party suffered a crushing defeat in all its cases/petitions at both the Tribunal and the Appeal Court. The gist of the judgment is that since the two factions presented different candidates for each of the contested elective positions, the party to that extent had no candidate. Prof. Ayandele’s definition came out glaringly perfect in the State APC, where up till today no one in the party is ready for peace.
Otherwise, why would a political party again present separate public statements concerning a local Government Council election postponed not by the personal designed of anybody but in fact postponed due to an act of God. The party in one breath issued a public statement to the effect that the APC would not participate in the 30/5/2020 council election and signed by Sir John Ochala with one Francis Ekpenyong promptly countering the Ochala’s statement. Mr Ekpenyong publicly called for the APC participation in the rescheduled election.
By this sad and shameful development, the APC has technically conceded defeat to the PDP 18 Local Government Chairmen candidates and also to the 196 councillorship candidates. It is only a clown and an unobjective critic who under the above circumstances parade his/her self as an APC candidate for the 30/5/20 rescheduled council election because the electorate are already confused.
Again no sane person will under this avoidable circumstances created by the APC conflicting statement will attempt to blame Governor Ayade, the PDP or CROSIEC for any outcome of an election the party purportedly boycotted or participated with a divided house. The inability of the party to present a common front is a further manifestation of the saying implied in Prof. Ayandele’s definition that a house as divided as the state APC against itself cannot win an election. This was exactly the scenario in the 2019 general election. Why would a party made up of such caliber of politicians not be able to put their house in order where everybody wants to be governor, senator and a Mr. Fix It?
The pertinent questions to ask are many but for the purpose of time and space, let the members find out from it leaders, why would a party boycott an election it candidates were rejected by the electoral body? Where would such a party acquire the locus standi to challenge the outcome of the election? Again, why did the APC sue Governor Ayade and the State electoral body in two separate suits praying the Court to order them to hold a democratically elected Local Government Council elections as specified by Section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution? Why would the party not be ready for the elections it got two court orders for it to be conducted? Were the two suits handled by the law firm of one Chief Utum U. Eteng & Associates not decided in favour of the APC? What has the State party done to stabilize the party after the latest judgment of the Court of Appeal?
The State APC leaders must be told in very clear language that this unprofitable grandstanding attitude about the 30/5/20 council poll be put to an end and be ready to accept the painful defeat awaiting the party.
Has the party so soon forgotten the alleged claim by Governor Ayade that, there is no opposition political party in CRS to cause one sleepless nights? Who is really thinking, working and planning for the APC in the State? Will it be wrong to say that we are not a cursed political party? The electoral body has the constitutional power to call and to reschedule Local Government elections including the one for 30/5/2020. It is a failure of leadership if the APC refuses to take part in the rescheduled election or to participates but fails to get a win.
The Cross River State people at the Local Government level are anxious and desirous to have a Local Government election nearly 5 years after the life span of the previous council. Let all of us collectively give a chance for the growth of democracy at the grass root level. The state APC deserves to have one leadership if it desires to move ahead to holistically unbundle to its logical end the APC problems in Cross River State.
Chief Utum Eteng is a Private Legal Practitioner and a Chieftain of the All Progressive Congress, APC, in Cross River State. He writes from Calabar.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Chief Utum Eteng and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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