Cross River North: I Cautioned APC About Joe Agi, But As In 2019, Was Ignored BY INYALI PETER

In Breaking News, Columnists, Opinion

Prior to the 2019 general elections, I was a constant critic of some of Governor Ben Ayade’s policies. At some point, I was even attacked by thugs loyal to the Governor in my home Local Government in Obudu because of my critical stance against the government.

In 2019, however, as a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), I decided to support Governor Ayade and not my party in the governorship election out of sheer protest for failing to keep to the agreement reached in 2014 about zoning of key party positions including governorship ticket.

Recall that in 2014, the APC had decided that since Cross River North was the only Senatorial district yet to produce Governor, its ticket should be zoned there. And so it as as Mr. Odey Ochicha, from Bekwarra Local Government Area emerged candidate in a primary keenly contested between him and Barr. Lazarus Udie from Obudu.

The APC primaries that produced Ochicha held before that of the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), that produced the incumbent Governor, Sir Ayade. Contrary to the notion that zoning was a PDP thing, APC was the first major political party that zoned and produced a governorship candidate from the North in the current democratic dispensation.

But unfortunately, while the PDP which was the second major party to fill candidate from the North in 2015 kept to its zoning arrangement in 2019, APC did not. The two factional governorship candidates were all from central Senatorial district. A lot of party leaders who should ordinarily speak up, either activated silence mood or decided to lie to themselves that there was no zoning in the party.

As a foundation member of the party who had followed developments from its inception, I cautioned the party against fielding a candidate from the central that had produced State Chairman in late Dr. Mathew Achigbe in line with the party’s zoning arrangement to complete the tenure of Pastor Usani Uguru who had been appointed Minister, but nobody listened.

A lot of APC leaders pretended not to know the truth, and a few who spoke the truth were tagged all kinds of unprintable names. I was abused, attacked, blackmailed and called all sort of names because I told my party the truth.

Those who chose to deceive themselves lied that the zoning which was referenced was a PDP thing. Others bragged about capacity and federal might, claiming that the governorship candidate that had the backing of the National leadership of the party was going to win because he had never lost elections. I reminded them that there’s always a first time and in the end, I was proven right when the PDP thoroughly defeated the APC in all the 18 local government including the candidate’s own.

As if the lesson learned in 2019 election about getting the choice of candidate right wasn’t enough, when APC had opportunity to takeover Cross River North Senatorial district during the 2020 by-election that was organized as a result of the passing on of Senator Rose Oko, it blew it chances by gifting of its ticket to Mr. Joe Agi, SAN, one of the lawyers of the PDP at the 2019 election petition tribunal.

Apart from his zero popularity, it was glaring that he was only in the race to do damage work for the PDP. I saw this early and called the party to it but was ignored. Even the Chairman of the ward he claimed to be a member wrote to the National leadership of the party clarifying that he wasn’t a member of the party, but his letter was never treated.

Agi’s affiliation with the PDP was too obvious for the APC not to see. Some of his supporters at the heat of the electioneering process came out publicly to declare their allegiance to the PDP. It was even alleged that he openly told party members during one of his consultations in Ogoja that he was in constant discussion with the PDP.

I drew the party’s attention to all these but I was described by his supporters as a bad party member. Chief Ray Morphy Ugba and some of his supporters started a campaign of calumny against me that I was working for the PDP even though it was obvious that they were the ones working for the PDP. In one of my engagements with Chief Ray on Facebook, I told him that time shall prove who was betraying the party between me and them. And indeed, like a Prophet, time has.

For those who don’t know, the appeal court judgment that sacked Sen. Steve Odey who was an APC Senator in principal was the handiwork of Mr. Agi. Agi. He was the one who appealed the tribunal judgement that favoured Odey even after Odey’s principal and supporters had all joined his supposed party, the APC.

Although, Channels Television had reported that Rt. Hon. Jarigbe Agom of the PDP who has been declared winner by the appellant court was listed as a respondent in the three appeals – CA/C/NAEA/SEN/167/2021, CA/C/NAEA/SEN/168/2021, and CA/C/NAEA/SEN/169/2021, filed by Agi it has been established from different sources that, all the parties appealed. But, that still is not enough to absolve the SAN of blame.

No doubt, nobody can take away the fact that Hon. Agom has shown resilience, determination and deserve what he has gotten, but Agi’s appeal became a willing tool in his hands to actualize his dreams. If Agi had not gone to appeal court, there would have been no appeal court ruling; that’s, APC would have still had one Senator from the state.

He knew he was not going to win. His case was dismissed at the tribunal, why did he proceed to appeal even though Sen. Odey was already in APC? What stopped him from sacrificing for the party? Is it not glaring now that he was in the tribunal for the PDP as he has always been? What has he done after the elections to even show that he has any affiliation with the APC?

Well, I really hope that the APC will learn going forward. It’s said that once bitten, twice shy. APC has been beaten twice and needs to be ten times shy. PDP is not joking and 2023 won’t be business as usual. If APC wants to win elections, they must be just, sincere and very careful about the choice of those who fly the party’s flag as candidates. Capacity has failed APC twice now and it’s only the party that’s to blame!

However, let me once again, congratulate the Senator-elect, Rt. Hon. Agom for putting up such a fight. Regardless how he got it, his victory has shown that God is still in charge of the affairs of men and gives power to who he chooses.

Inyali Peter, a journalist and journalism teacher, is a Cross Riverian and writes in from northern Cross River.

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

Editor’s Note: Paragraph 14 has been edited from the original text upon request by the author, Inyali Peter to reflect the actual facts and the source of his information embedded. The original text read: Rt. Hon. Jarigbe Agom of the PDP who has been declared winner by the appellant court was listed as a respondent in the three appeals – CA/C/NAEA/SEN/167/2021, CA/C/NAEA/SEN/168/2021, and CA/C/NAEA/SEN/169/2021, all filed by Agi.

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