OPINION : Why Engr. Ben Akak Should Join APC

Engr. Ben Akak, Chairman, Ben Akak Foundation 

By Inyali Peter

Since the gale of defection hit Cross River State with the movement of Gov. Ben Ayade from the People's Democratic Party, PDP to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, a lot of political watchers in the state have been monitoring the political development to accentuate who is and isn't moving with the Governor.

Interestingly, a lot of people comprising of appointees, House of Assembly members, National Assembly members, Local government Chairmen and Councilors and key stakeholders have moved in their numbers in solidarity and loyalty to the Governor.

The defection of the Governor and his loyalists has undoubtedly changed a lot about 2023 permutations. Beyond putting PDP in the opposition for the first time in the state since it's formation in 1998, many have seen Ayade's movement as a clear message to the conservative reactionaries who have constituted themselves into demigods since 1999 in the politics of the state that there's a new king in town and that enough is enough.

This explains why the Governor's defection has been received with great excitement by young people in the state including some people who hitherto never wanted to accept APC or see anything good in the party, despite the many feasible achievements the President Muhammadu Buhari led APC government has recorded in the state.

The mammoth crowd that turned up for the rally organized in solidarity with the Governor by Cross River youths is a testament to this and a clear message to the establishment that there's a classical departure from the Old order. Cross River youths are ready to chant a new course going forward.

However, despite the multitudes that moved with the Governor, there's a notable young figure that's still missing and that person is non other than Engr. Ben Akak.

Last week, I did a piece questioning the sudden silence and disappearance of Engr. Akak now that his supporters are waiting and yearning for direction. Although my piece has not been properly responded to, I've been asking myself questions like: is he in a fix or delima of choosing between the youths and the old brigades? Is he too slow to decision making? Is he falling for the antics of those with clear anti-youths agenda?

Why the sudden silence?

It's important to state very emphatically that this piece is not in anyway an endorsement of Engr. Akak's widely reported governorship ambition nor an opposition to it. It's rather a wake up call to a man who is gradually emerging as a 'third force' in the politics of Cross River State to speak up at this critical time.

As I mentioned last week, Engr. Akak can decide to remain in the PDP and try his luck but as someone who has followed the political development in the state very keenly in the past two decades, my advice, howbeit unsolicited is that such would turn out to be a very costly mistake.

This is because in PDP, the top is already over saturated and their agenda for 2023 was clearly defined in the recent formation of their state Caretaker Committee. Many people believe that the disrespect and opposition Governor Ayade faced in the PDP was largely because he expanded government to give more young people opportunities in government.

In giving credence to this insinuation, the PDP, few days after Governor Ayade defected, announced a caretaker committee that clearly relegated the youths to the background with no representation. The youngest person in the committee may be in his or her late 40s.

PDP has always believed that the only way to get the youths perpetually loyal to them is to impoverish them and leave them to survive in penury.

There are clear signs to suggest that they (PDP) perceive Akak's ambition and those of other young people as direct assault on them and an attempt to takeway the only 'business' most of them know how to do. They will fight with all they have to preserve what they now see as their exclusive heritage.

Similarly, although some have always likened Akak to Buhari who said he belongs to nobody but belongs to everybody, his body language and most of his supporters have largely identified with the Governor. His long stay on the fence is not only a betrayal of Governor Ayade 's key men who would have in one way or the other mentioned him to the Governor but putting a serious doubt if he ever truly believed in the Ayade's politics as he occasionally professes.

Besides, while the old guards are regrouping to perfect the execution of the triunvirate agreement that involves former Governors Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke, and Sen. Gershom Bassey ruling the state for 24 four years, in APC, everybody is somebody as such, the race is still more open than it is in the opposition.

Also, APC is a young party that will appreciate his youthful energy more. Akak strongest supporters are young people who have embraced APC as a more viable option to the over saturated PDP. Joining the APC where youths are now the dominant force would be more like an esprit de corps situation.

In PDP, if he losses out in the governorship ticket which is more likely at this point, he'll be compensated with nothing but in the ruling party, there are many other options outside governorship that the party can decide to reward him with depending on the strength and capacity he shows.

Nevertheless, with APC going into 2023 election as a ruling party, the chances of the party is clearly brighter than the opposition. Most people who are today demonstrating overbloated ego of themselves by thinking they are too popular to loose election are nothing but product of State powers. Those powers won't be there in 2023 hence, they'll be going into the contest from a disadvantaged position.

This perhaps, shouldn't be what Engr. Akak should want in his first major political contest. No matter how popular an opposition candidate is in Cross River, history has shown that the ruling party's advantage always play out. The Sen. John Owan-Enoh 's experience is still very fresh! 2023 won't be an exception.

For these reasons and many more I may talk about later if need be, Engr. Akak silence at this time is not golden. He needs to speak and not just speak but speak aright by declaring for the ruling APC that presents brightest opportunity for him to pursue his dreams.

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