2015 Guber Election : Jedy And The 'Governor Say' Syndrome In C'River Politics

Prince Gody Jedy Agba
By Ben Ogar

The build up to the 2015 governorship election in Cross River State was stunning for so many reasons. It was the election where we recorded the highest number of aspirants since the current democratic dispensation.

In the People's Democratic Party alone, more than twenty political gladiators from northern senatorial district of state indicated interest. More aspirants were from the north being that it was the first time the governorship was zoned to the as it was the only zone at the time which was yet to produce a governor.

Almost all appointees of the then administration from the north and other well to do northerners indicated interest to succeed Governor Liyel Imoke and as rumoured, Imoke gave all of them the go ahead to sell their interest.

Despite the permission granted by their boss to go ahead with their consultations, they were still very skeptical owing to the open secret at the time that Imoke was working discretely to install one of the members of the triumvirate, Gershom Bassey as his successor. This lingered for months to the point that although other aspirants were busy with their consultations secretly, nobody had the courage to openly declare their intention to contest the elections.

Everybody was practically waiting for the governor to say something. While some were waiting for the governor to instruct them to do open declaration, others were scared that should they do without governor saying anything, it may count against them politically if he (Imoke) succeeds in putting his friend and ally Bassey as his successor.

In fact, while people in other states like observed by Kalita Aruku in one of his articles at the time were mounting billboards and posters everywhere creating awareness of their interests, in Cross River, everybody was waiting for emperor Imoke to say something.

Under Imoke, the "Governor Say Syndrome" which is a phrase used in describing a situation where an entire state rely on the decision of one man (Governor) to determine their destiny politically ate deep into the fabrics of the state politics. It was almost like Imoke and Imoke alone.

However, while everybody was waiting for the Governor to say something, Prince Gody Jedy Agba, a former Group General Manager of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation broke the silence and openly declared his interest without waiting for the governor to say. In fact, even if the governor had something to say or said anything then, it was not the kind of message or tune others were waiting for.

Jedy's courage to break the uncultured tradition of having alone man to define the destiny of an entire state has since changed the political calculation in Cross River State.

Apart from forcing the governor to change his initial plans of foisting his friend Bassey on Cross Riverians, he also was instrumental in not allowing the then very influential Governor's wife, Obioma Liyel Imoke to define the state political future by installing their second option which was to make Hon. Legor Idagbor, the then Works Commission succeed her husband. (Giving his exploit in the House of Representatives, whether Legor would have been a better option than what we have now is a story for another day).

Besides, although, the north which the governorship was zoned to was not given free hands to choose who represent them, the doggedness of Jedy and his team set a new precedence in Cross River politics. Imoke was forced to bring an unlikely person in Sen. Ben Ayade. Ayade till date remains the first PDP governorship aspirant in the state that got the party ticket without any single poster or formal declaration of interest or any form of awareness.

While Imoke arguably got his way by having the last say in who succeeded him, Jedy's refusal to wait for governor to say something forced Imoke to abandon his first and second choices and went for an option with strong ethnic background with Jedy.

Apart from the ethnic background, Ayade at the time was more accepted by the people than the first two options which implies that he (Imoke) was compelled to bring who the people wanted after Jedy himself was rigged out than his cronies.

Without Jedy mustering the courage to do what was almost unthinkable in our politics, today, power would have returned to the south or we would have had a governor handpicked by the first lady.

The effects of the courageous decision of Jedy is today manifesting glaringly in our politics. Today, a serving Senator who would have ordinarily waited for governor to say something before making any political move has dumped the governor and his party.

Even appointees of the current administration have decided to jump ship before the governor say anything. Cross River gradually moving towards political independence where people's choices will count. The credit for all this goes to Jedy and his team.

Indeed, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. What Jedy started few years ago is gradually becoming a norm. The Governor is today reminded that it's no longer business as usual as it will not only be about what he says but what the people say and want.

Democracy is deepened when people are given to divergent ideas and the efforts of Jedy in 2015 is quietly yielding results that is adding glamour to our democracy.

Only few people can take the risk he took or sacrifice the way he did to grow our democracy. He paid the huge price for the people to have the highest say and this gesture ought to be rewarded and appreciated by Cross Riverians.

How this appreciation would come or how it should be done is still unclear! As time goes on, more suggestions would uncover how best to show Jedy appreciation for paying the uncommon price he paid for our democracy to grow.

It could be divine providence that as Ayade has failed woefully, history is beckoning on Jedy to do the needful, by filling that gap and clear the shame of the north in this experiment that has failed Cross River State woefully. Only Time will tell if Jedy will be willing again to bite that bullet twice.
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