The political atmosphere in Cross River is not only charged, but seems to be on tenterhooks ahead of Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly election.
The two leading political parties, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their candidates, Sen. Bassey Otu and Prof. Sandy Onor respectively, are engaged in the last minute push to convince the over one million electorate why they should be trusted with the mandate to Peregrino Government House Calabar. The electorate are set to exercise their franchise at the Saturday’s poll.
APC and PDP, reminiscent of 1999 when Donald Duke (PDP) and late Paul Ukpo (APP) slugged it out at the governorship election, are pulling socks up promising not only people-oriented programmes, but to return the state to its glorious years where tourism and hospitality industry were the centre piece of government policies……Continue Reading
Certainly, the outcome of the election seems to have upset the applecart in Cross River as Mr. Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP) won the presidential poll; APC won 2 Senate seats with 5 House of Reps members in South and Central zones while PDP has one Senate slot and two members of House of Representatives. LP won one rep seat in the South. With the above results, one would conclude that APC may carry the day on Saturday as PDP may not have enough room to swing a cat.
But checks by Daily Sun showed that the political space has recently witnessed gale of endorsements and subtle display of some political under currents by various political, socio-cultural and religious groups for both APC and PDP candidates, Sen. Bassey Otu and Prof. Sandy Onor respectively.
Taking the lead in endorsing Sen. Bassey Otu, some APC elders from South, Central and North reaffirmed their earlier stand on zoning arrangement as contained in what they referred to as the Calabar/Ogoja Accord of 1980.
According to the APC leaders including Etubom (Arc.) Bassey Eyo Ndem, Ntufam John Achort Okon, His Excellency, Dr. Nya Asuquo and others for the Southern zone, as well as Ntufam Fidelis Ugbo, High Chief Higgins Peters, Elder P. J. Ekunke, Hon. Signor Omang Idiege, the office of the governor of Cross River state shall rotate sequentially between the three constituent senatorial districts of the South, Central, and North for equity, brotherliness, justice, and accommodation.”
In the same vein, the former Senate Leader, Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, said: “it is not the turn of the central or the Ejagham ethnic group to produce a governor as some people are propagating. We have never played ethnic politics in Cross River State because we rotate governorship position on the basis of senatorial districts and not on ethnic line.
“We have decided to support and elect Senator Bassey Otu from the Southern senatorial district, since it is the turn of the zone to produce a governor. The rotational policy, which our fathers introduced, has stabilised the polity, brought us peace, unity and development. We will stick to it.”
In the same vein, Etubom Bassey Ndem, who led other leaders from the South, said: “It began in the South with Mr Donald Duke, shifted to the Central with Senator Liyel Imoke, and now it is in the North with Governor Ayade. Fairness and accommodation demand that it begins again from the South.”
However, in what could be described as a historic endorsement, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has called on all its members in their various churches across the state to vote for the PDP governorship candidate, Sen. Sandy Onor.
The chairman of PFN, Dr. Lawrence Ekwok, who disclosed this at a press briefing in Calabar recently, noted that the decision to support the PDP governorship candidate follows the outcome of its strategic committee mandated to interview, interact and interrogate key or major governorship candidates based on specific guidelines.
Ekwok revealed that the strategy committee met five times, interviewed the governorship candidates of the APC, PDP and the PRP and resolved to support the candidate of the PDP, adding that a motion to this effect was formally moved and seconded and consequently the entire leadership and membership of the PFN endorsed the candidature of the PDP.”
Following the PFN path, 10 parties of Cross River State chapter of opposition Political Parties (COPPS) including ADC, ZLP, AA, APGA, APP, APM, NRM, ADP, BP and Accord in a statement by the chairman of the COPPs, Mr Ntami Esege, said: “Conscious of what the state has gone through in the last eight years, we unanimously resolved to support a man with the right credentials to lead the state to an enviable height.
“The decision to support the PDP candidate was arrived at after a careful assessment of all the candidates with focus on competence, capacity and character, noting that Onor’s antecedent placed him above every other candidate for the job of leading the state for the next four years.”
In what appeared as the masterstroke for the opposition PDP, the LP Presidential candidate in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections, Mr Peter Obi, endorsed Sen. Onor.
According to Obi, “there are some states where my party, LP, doesn’t have candidates and we are partnering with some good candidates in those states to ensure victory for them.
“In Cross Rivers State, we have agreed to align with the PDP and their candidate, Prof Sandy Onor.
He is a very good candidate, who enjoys strong support from the people. So, I urge all Obidients in Cross River State to support and cast their votes for Prof Onor, who is a current Senator.”
Kicking against zoning, the co-chairman of Base Elders Forum and PDP chieftain, Chief Sam Bassey, said what the state needs now is somebody who has the reach, capacity and competent enough to face the challenges left behind by APC administration in the last eight years.
Bassey insisted that zoning has not only become trite, but has been used in the past to marginalise the minorities within the southern senatorial district of the state even as he maintained that there is no zone that has not produced a governor since 1999.
He argued that the Southern senatorial zone is made up of Efiks, Akamkpa (Ejagham) and Biase (Ekois), wondering why their Efik brothers always monopolise power without recourse to their Akamkpa and Ekois natives who are part of the South.
However, political pundits have argued that never in the history of Cross River politics has the race for governorship seat been so intense that political actors have taken campaigns to the ends of the earth. They see the 2023 governorship race as a game two can play.
According to them, the caliber of the candidates paraded by both parties and the awareness created by the youths as well as the clamour for good governance have made the difference this time round as all hands are on deck to ensure that the people’s votes count in who leads the state.