Cross River APC marches stoutly towards 2019

Charles Eyo

As it is, the Cross River State chapter of the national ruling party, All Progressives Congress has set in motion its determined desire to take over the political leadership of the state. What with the avalanche of the big and politically influential names in the state that have in recent times crossed over to the once struggling party readying for next election!

To illustrate its strong desire to clinch the governorship in the 2019 election the party has again demonstrated vehemently the entrenchment of its structures.

Last weekend, the party machinery, including its bigwigs and increasing membership gathered in Obudu local government area of the state where they not only celebrated their stalwarts, including those that newly decamped from PDP,  by giving them awards, they also flaunted Prince Godwin Jedy-Agba, a former henchman at NNPC who they say is their big catch and most marketable candidate for 2019.

Jedy-Agba is from the same Obudu like incumbent Governor, Prof Ben Ayade. Since it is claimed that many key stakeholders in the Cross River north senatorial district as well as large number of people across party lines are said not to be in tune with Ayade's style of governance any further, APC in the state has quickly declared that because the governorship is zoned to the north, they have a better material still in the same Obudu that will replace the incumbent.

It would be recalled that in 2015 Jedy-Agba was who then fresh from the corporate and business worlds was introduced into the party but was late for him to vie for the governorship which reason the party brought him.  However, the duo of Odey Ochicha and Sylvester Nsa became the party's standard bearers for the 2015 gubernatorial race.

The party sees him as a most prized asset going by the factors that his father is the longest serving paramount ruler in Nigeria. He is believed to have a deeper pocket having been in charge of sale of Nigeria's crude oil for some years, and he is considered to be very popular not only in Obudu where his dad has served as paramount ruler for 56 years but across the state as a result of his populist nature and generousity.

The large gathering of key political icons for Jedy are considered to be not only decision makers in their own communities but grassroot mobilisers and also politically influential.

They agreed that  even though they were not putting their eggs in one basket yet they were resolved to prosecute their determination with all their energies and resources to ensure that PDP does not return to power in the state.

Jedy's popularity was even seen on the spot as ovation was much louder when he was introduced and when he decided to dance with local cultural troupes that came to spice up the APC award event.

As we write, assorted groups have sprung up in the state championing the ambition and imperative to replace Ayade for another Obudu son in the person of Jedy.

Perhaps the sheer number of  the APC  dignitaries and  attendees at the event sent fears and shivers to the state ruling party, which reason might have accounted for the alleged denial of the earlier scheduled Obudu civic centre for the APC recognition/award giving event as well as blockade of other public facilities and the reported vandalization of its secretariat by suspected thugs on the day of the event.

A party stalwart said they had paid for the civic centre, but the manager of the place had called on the eve to the meeting to say that following "orders from above", they could no longer give out the place to the APC and refunded the money.

As efforts to get other venues  proved abortive  they resorted to use the vandalised party secretariat.

APC faithful in the state pointedly accused the state governor, Ben Ayade who, too, hails from Obudu, of ordering the violence against them.

But his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Christian Ita denied the allegation, saying that the Governor was too busy to start thinking of disrupting any APC event.

“That's too petty. The Governor is on an investment drive now in China. Would he leave that to come and disrupt APC function? They should look within them to know who is responsible because the governor is too busy for that,” Ita said.

Reacting to what was described as dastardly act, national vice chairman of APC for South-South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta said,  declared that they would not be deterred or intimidated in Cross River State or any part of Nigeria as they work  towards 2019 governorship election in states controlled by PDP.

Eta, in an interview, said the party would not be deterred by the antics of the sponsor of the violence.

“Let me start by the fact that when we arrived Obudu for our meeting, party officers had come to report to us that venues selected by the party were denied them.

“Not only that, we also had troubling reports from the police making it look as if the police was going to stop us fro having a meeting of the party. But since we know that the police has no such rights are continuing with our meeting. We are also aware the governor of the state is making it impossible for the party to have its meeting in Obudu, because all of the signs that we have give away that fact. He is actually the one drumming in the bush for the dancers that we have seen dancing on the roadside.

“I dare to say that the country has not deteriorated to a level where a government at the state level would want to direct the operations of an opposition party inside of that state. It is unacceptable. It is unconstitutional and it is illegal. Those who think the only way they can get their way is by intimidation and oppression would be shocked at the reaction of people who believe in the course that they have chosen for themselves. Let me say it very clearly that both the leadership and membership of the APC are convinced of the course they have chosen for themselves and no amount of intimidation or oppression would distract us. Rather it would further strengthen us for the job that we must do to salvage this state from where it has found itself now."

Eta maintained that, as one from the state, delivering the state to APC in 2019 will be his major achievement as national vice chairman of the party for South-South.

Also speaking on their blockade at the civic centre, and their resoluteness to sack PDP from government house Calabar, the acting state chairman of the party, Mr John Ochala said they would do all in their power to continue to be law abiding but that nobody has exclusive reserve of violence. "The misgovernance by Ayade has already open the leeway for us as the people now look on us to step in which we are all ready for....."

On determination to defeat Ayade at next election, former national publicity Secretary of PDP and now a key proponent of APC in the state, Barrister Venatius Ikem said, "I have always maintained that Obudu people will at the appropriate time show their displeasure with the charade going on in the state as an administration. The award event  was a small Window to show what lies ahead. We are conscious of the fact that it will not be an easy fight because no incumbent, especially a very desperate once like ours will give up his "throne " easily, but we are prepared for the consequences. We need the rest of the state to stop making the Ayade failure an Obudu failure. We are working hard to lead the Vanguard for change."

Two times member of the House of Reps, Paul Adah who personally graced the event who was reported to have suffered political persecution under Ayade, said Obudu and Obanliku have cannot point to anything from Ayade's government as their benefits.  "Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke who were not from this part of the state created laudable impacts. But our own son has disappointed us", he said.

In a recent interview, Ray Ugba Morphy who had to resign his appointment as Ayade's special adviser over personal reasons listed some reasons why the people of the state have become very unhappy with Gov Ayade.

He said the governor was running a government of falsehood, advertises salary payment as achievement yet LGAs, pensions, gratuity  as well tertiary institutions have been unpaid.

"He is running a government of promises without any thing  on ground other than the Calabar Garment and tailoring shop.  Never in the history of the state has crime been allowed to run riot with daylight robberies, muggings and kidnappings, thereby terribly impacting against Tourism, once a mainstay.

"His globe trotting has brought nothing concrete to the state yet huge sums of public funds have been lost to his foreign trips which many conclude are mere holidays abroad at the expense of the state.

"He is making me and all others from the North ashamed of his government by promises. He is governor on the northern turn and I will not agree that I will support a bad thing just because it is from my area.
" His signature projects and numerous MOUs have remained only on paper after 2 clear years of signing some of them. As someone asked, where is Call Air or all those numerous abracadabra promises.

According to him, Ayade's has been a scandal and embarrassment to the state.

However, for now as it appears the party has concentrated all attention on one man, one question remains that since two years before the governorship race begins what if  younger or other quality elements emerge in the scene that would be backed by interested moneybags to put a good challenge to Jedy-Agba? What if other unforseen developments crop up?

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