Cross River : How Jedy Turned APC Into A Beautiful, Attractive Bride For Defectors

Prior to the appointment of Hon. Goddy Jedy Agba, OFR as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the then opposition All Progressives Congress, APC in Cross River State was in shambles. It was a house of commotion that was constantly at war with itself.

The crisis which started shortly after former State Chairman of the party, Dr. Usani Usani was appointed Minister of Niger Delta Affairs by President Buhari in 2015 took a new dimension when Sen. John Owan-Enoh, the then Senator representing Cross River Central Senatorial District moved from the PDP to the party in 2017.

While Sen. Owan Enoh's defection was the biggest catch at the time for the APC after the movement of Jedy-Agba himself, Sen. Ndoma-Egba, Chief Clement Ebri, Sen. Bassey Otu and many others, such movement was not without any accompanying challenges to the party. It was a case of what it's in Nigeria local parlance, "big man, big wahala".

With OwanEnoh's defection, the party which was already big with the quality of people who had moved from the PDP shortly after the 2015 election became even a bigger with more issues to handle to satisfy the curiosity and interests of all the bigwigs.

And it wasn't too long before the fight for the soul of the party commenced between Owan-Enoh and Usani. While the cold war amongst the gladiators over who controlled the leadership structure of the party was somewhat managed internally before Enoh's entrance, his ambition for governorship which clashed with Usani's longstanding governorship ambition let the cat out of the bag.

This development snowballed into major disagreement that caused the party to be operating two factions and secretariats with each loyal to each of them.

While the faction loyal to Owan-Enoh and led by Sir John Ochala had the backing of the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole 's led National Working Committee and was operating from the old and first State party secretariat located along Barracks road, Calabar, the Etim John led faction which paid allegiance to Usani but didn't find favour with the Oshiomhole's rulership rented a new secretariat along Marian road where they operated from.

Both factions were maneuvering and trying to undo the other with different strategies ranging from conflicting 'windowshopped' court judgements to using the National leadership of the party to declare recognition for a faction and more destructively, sponsoring page boys to defend and attack opponents on social media.

As the 2019 elections drew closer, many had thought that the gladiators would jettison their personal interests and reconcile in the interest of the party but this was a huge dream and expectation which never witnessed the light of the day. For the first time in the state, APC became the first party to parade double candidates in almost all the elections.

Perhaps, because of the disunity and distrust amongst party faithful, the party was thoroughly bitten by the then ruling PDP in all the elections except for the Abi/Yakur federal constituency election where they managed to eschewed bitterness and unanimously adopted Hon. Alex Egbonna as candidate.

After the success of Hon. Egbonna, some people started to realize the need to unite and this prompted the call for President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint a member of the party who was not part of either faction as Minister. And like the words of prophet Elisha when he called on God to send down the fire and it happened, President Buhari heeded the call with the appointment of Jedy-Agba.

Jedy-Agba fitted perfectly into the credentials of who the party needed to lead them forward. He's well respected within the ranks and files of the party not only because of his personal achievements but the value he offered the party when he joined.

For instance, his provision of motorcycles for all the 196 ward Chairmen of the party for ease of movement meant that he was the only leader in the party who's impact was felt by all the wards Chairmen as such, had some natural connections with them.

As he assumed office as Minister, the leadership of the party in the state naturally fell on him being that the state at the time had no Governor.

In his first meeting with stakeholders of the party in Abuja as Minister, Agba promised to let no stone unturned to ensuring peace is restored in the party. Perhaps, because of how deep the crisis was, some people did not believe he could achieve it. But he believed in himself and proceeded with what he had to do and in less than six months, Chairmen of the two factions in an unlikely manner, issued a joint statement announcing their decision to step down.

Despite efforts by some people who were making gains  from the crisis to scuttle the process, Jedy  being a thorough, disciplined and calculative leader exerted his acumen and pulled  everybody  together like a bundle of broom to agree on the way forward for the party. And within weeks, a new State Chairman, acceptable to the majority of party faithful emerged in Sen. Mathew Mbu, Jnr.

He didn't stop in seeing to the emergence of a unity Chairman, he got a new state secretariat for the party along Marian road, beside high quality bakery.

 Being that two factions had existed with each operating different secretariat, it would have been unwise to adopt any as the unity secretariat because any faction whose secretariat would have been adopted would have seen themselves as having advantage over others. So, to make everybody feel valued and appreciated for coorporating 
with him to achieve peace, moving everybody to a new and neutral place to start all over like he did was the best and wisest decision. 

To complement his efforts and celebrate the peace in the party, during the registration and revalidation exercise of the party, he organized rally in his home local government and across the three Senatorial districts to encourage people not to look at the party with the mindset that it was not a serious platform or a group of people that are constantly at war with themselves but a united and peaceful platform set to win elections. 

The Minister also, in the company of his colleague, Festus Keyamo followed up the membership drive with meetings and several discussions with Governor Ben Ayade to move with his supporters to the party. Although, reluctant in the beginning, Gov. Ayade and retinue of his supporters finally bowed to the efforts of the Minister and other party leaders within and outside the state with the announcement of his defection to the party last month.

Today, a once derided party that was not even considered good enough as opposition in the state has not only become a beautiful bride for the Governor and many political heavyweights in the state but the first party to break the PDP unhealthy 22 years monopoly to become a ruling party.

Now as a ruling party and with the Governor as Leader, it's hoped that he will build on the peace and unity reigning now by always consulting widely and carry people along to avoid a return to old ugly days of infighting.
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