REVEALED : Names of 15 people jostling for Cross River ministerial slot

President Muhammadu Buhari

As President Muhammadu Buhari considers top Nigerians to form his cabinet, no fewer than 15 persons in Cross River State have indicated strong interest for the position, which would automatically make the person the ruling party’s highest political leader in the state.

Findings by Vanguard indicated that the contenders are mostly top All Progressives Congress politicians in the state some of whom contested for governorship and national assembly positions but lost to the People’s Democratic Party in the state.

Investigation also reveals that the fierce rivalry and factionalisation of the state chapter the APC, which eventually cost it victory in the last election, have also heightened as the selection of a minister from the state begins.
According to a credible source, the major contenders are counting on their ‘assumed closeness’ to either President Buhari or the leadership of the APC at the national and regional levels and are unwilling to back down even with reports that the president will only pick cabinet members strictly on merit and not on party membership and contributions.
One of the contenders, who is reported to have begun serious consultations to reconcile with those he might have offended in the build-up to the last election in the state, is a National Assembly member, while another belongs is a close friend of Buhari.
But as the race to pick the top post hots up, Vanguard learned that prominent members of the party, who are upset by the loss of the state and national assembly seats to the PDP, have begun moves to stop any of the politicians and their backers, who contributed to the factionalisation of the party and the loss of the state, from being rewarded with the appointment.
The party leaders, according to sources are said to have made a strong position to the President, reminding him of the betrayal caused by those who now seek to be appointed into his cabinet.
A chieftain of the APC in Cross River State and Deputy National Treasurer of the Presidential Campaign Council, Chief Utum Eteng, while reacting to the development, cautioned President Buhari not to reward any of the politicians who caused him and his party defeat in the state with a ministerial post.
Utum, who is also a member of the Legal Committee of the Presidential Campaign Council, told Vanguard that the people of Cross River State would only appreciate the appointment of a top technocrat, who would dedicate time and energy to work for the state rather than a politician.
Utum said: “Any elected/appointed party leader, who did not deliver his polling unit and ward to the party in the last election should have no business talking about the ministerial appointment because if others did not deliver for the president to emerge victoriously, there would have been a chance of forming a cabinet.
“Those who used their positions at the state, regional and national levels to work against the success of the party and its candidates should not be seen to be rewarded with the top post for any reason,” Chief Eteng said.
Further investigation by Fearless Reports revealed that the incumbent Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Usani Uguru, the Senator representing the Central Senatorial District who was the governorship candidate of the party in the last election, Sen. John Owan Enoh and former Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba are some of the top contenders for the appointment from the central senatorial district.
Also among the leading candidates from the central are, former Governorn of the state, Dr. Clement Ebri who contested but withdrew at the dying minute for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman and President Buhari trusted ally, Chief Okoi Obono-Oblah who is the Chairman, Special Presidential Panel on Recovery of Public Assets and Special Assistant on Prosecution to the President.
Similarly, about five people from the northern Senatorial District who have decried marginalisation by the party and the President have also indicated interest for the appointment. 
Recall that despite the number of people appointed by President Buhari from the state in the past four years, no significant position was given to anybody from the north. The zone also lost the 2019 governorship ticket which was initially zoned to the area in 2014 to the central.
John Upan Odey who is almost the youngest governorship aspirant in APC and the only person that picked the party's governorship nomination form last year from the zone and the 2015 governorship candidate of the party, Mr. Odey Ochihca are among the leading candidates from the north. Prince Gody Jedy Agba who since his defection to APC has been one of the major financiers of the party and the Senatorial candidate of the party in the zone, Chief Wabbily Nyiam as well as Engr. Eric Kanjal are other names rumoured to be interested in the Ministerial appointment.
In the southern senatorial district, popular former Senator and the senatorial candidate of the APC in the last election, Sen. Prince Bassey Otu, Director General, National Centre for Women Development, Mrs. Mary Ekpere-Eta, a close friend of the first lady, Aisha Buhari who is originally from Ikom but married to a Southerner, APC governorship aspirant, Prof. Etim Nyong, National Vice Chairman, South South of the party, Ntufam Hilliard Eta and Nigeria Ambassador to Uganda, Nya Asuqou are some of the names rumoured to be jostling for the top job.
Outside the long list, there are also agitations by some APC leaders in the state that for a lasting solution to the crisis which has been brewing in the party since 2016, a neutral person or a technocrat who doesn't belong to any of the factions led by the Niger Delta Minister, Dr. Usani or APC governorship candidate, Sen. Owan Enoh should be appointed to bring the two warring factions together.

There's also rumour making the rounds that APC national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has interest in one of the youngest national assembly candidates in the last election for the Cross River ministerial slot.
With the rumour that President Buhari is keeping information about his new cabinet closed to his chest and that unlike in 2015, the list will be summited to the Senate immediately after the 9th national assembly inauguration, the favoured person among the fifteen persons rumoured to be interested or a technocrat outaide the list will be known in weeks ahead.
Part of this report was culled from Vanguard Newspaper
President Muhammadu Buhari 5989450341095310770

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