By Jonathan Ugbal
Ahead of the 2023 general elections and the 2022 House of Representatives by-elections in the Ogoja/Yala federal constituency, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has rolled out 20 motorcycles to support its “aggressive evangelism,” says State lawmaker, Peter Odey (APC, Ogoja).
Mr. Odey is the leader of the ninth Assembly of Cross River State, and he said the sharing of motorcycles, popularly referred to as “Okada,” was not an empowerment, but a support to his party’s membership drive.
“I have decided to support the advocacy and membership drive of the Cross River State APC by providing these motorcycles to enable you to go into the nooks and crannies of Ogoja,” Odey told a gathering of supporters in Igoli, Ogoja last week while presenting the Okada’s to party faithfuls.
Motorcycles are the primary means of transportation outside the metropolis and outskirts of Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
And, Odey who disclosed that only 20 out of 40 motorcycles ordered had been delivered, warned against their use for commercial purposes.
Ogoja Local Government Area has 10 council wards. Each ward chairman and one other member of the APC from the wards were given a motorcycle. Women are expected to get their own share of the support on the eve of Christmas.
Despite being part of a trend, CrossRiverWatch has referred to as “Okada Empowerment,” sparking numerous debates, the sharing of motorcycles in Cross River State has continued with those gifting others using different names to tag their activity.
The motorcycles were presented by the Director General of the Cross River State Bureau of Due Process and Price Intelligence, Alphonsus Eba, who hailed Mr. Odey for his support to the APC.
Mr. Eba emerged as the consensus chairman of the APC in Cross River State after deft negotiations by Governor Ben Ayade who was railroaded into dumping the People’s Democratic Party for the APC earlier this year.
“It is indeed a happy moment of for us. There is no local government area in northern senatorial district with the brand like Ogoja. We are here to do an evangelism. We christened our executive a ‘Digital Executive’. Our ward chairmen need to carry these bikes to the nooks and crannies of the state,” Eba said.
Eba had battled Venatius Ikem to be chairman of the PDP. His battle, as well as that of Mr. Ayade, Stephen Odey and Jarigbe Agom led to a bitter end with the Governor, Messrs Odey and Eba leaving the party for Messrs Agom and Ikem.
Mr. Ikem later became PDP State chairman while Mr. Agom was sworn-in as Senator while Mr. Eba became APC chairman. And, Eba did not mince words while bashing the outcome of that battle which he had claimed before now, was supported by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
“It was at this venue that we gathered and decided that senator Barrister Stephen Odey should be our Senator,” he said.
“Some criminals gathered and connived with the Governor of another state who has no value for money and arm twisted the judiciary, which I am a part of, and stole our mandate through the backdoor, and this has caused us another pain of going through a by-election.
“For us, we will not fight them. We have to go for a revenge through the ballot in the forth coming Ogoja/Yala federal constituency by-election. We will retire them. (Furthermore,) we will go into the election as a united family.”
Despite claims that it wasn’t another ‘Okada Empowerment’ scheme by Mr. Odey, Eba, while taking a swipe at Mr. Agom who recently embarked on another round of Okada Empowerment among others, described the sharing of evangelical motorcycles as ‘empowerment.’
Eba averred that: “What they are referring to as empowerment, it is APC federal government project, they are bringing it back to our people, let them not give it back to the people and claim that it is their empowerment.
“That is what they ought to do. Honorable Peter Odey is taking from the much God has blessed him to come and do this for our people. It is not awarded by SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). This is what we call empowerment, if they don’t know the dictionary meaning of empowerment, tell them to come, let me teach them the way I have been teaching them.
“My dear people of Ogoja, we are gathered, and we must be united. That is why we are in the field to show that when we are united, nobody can break us. This is the strength in unity, and this is the message we have come to pass.
“Today we have five persons at every polling unit, the money you collect constantly, NGN30,000.00 per month across the 196 wards, across the 3221 polling units in Cross River State runs into about one billion Naira per month. That is the action of governor Ayade intellectual creativity in conjunction with local government Chairmen. Today, over 27,000 persons have been taken off the road.
“They gave us food on the table, we are proud of the food on the table. They behave like touts, they go to eat from the scrums from the Port Harcourt table. They want to colonize us, and we are saying no. It must be Cross River State first. We do not have any other leader in Cross River State other than Sen Prof Ben Ayade. You must stand behind me, we must stand with him.
“APC is the new order, we have socketed to the center, this is the only language you want to hear. This is the party that has for the first time as a ruling party given Ogoja and Yala son a state Chairman.
“Please, and please retire them in the bye election by going to the field, vote for the candidate that will come up from this party. We will sit down as a family and take that decision. We will go to the field as a united force.”
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, the Chairman, Ogoja Urban Ward 1, Mr Paul Agbeje thanked Mr.Odey for the initiative to aid the APC aggressive evangelism mantra and promised to put to good use the motorcycle for the benefit, not the party. He used the opportunity to thank Mr. Odey and wished him success in all his political endeavors.
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