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Items filtered by date: September 2018

A’Ibom Guber: Can Nsima Ekere Unseat Udom?

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The veil has now been lifted as to what people should expect of the 2019 governorship contest in Akwa Ibom State. The front liners are clearly seen, with the formal arrival of Obong Nsima Ekere. The contest would certainly be a fight between two giants the then bulldozing Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the fortune changing All Progressives Congress, APC. Big 'tigers' have shown up in the scene and sure, predictions may no more be difficult. President Muhammdu Buhari has been most frequently endorsed by the people of the state for a second term. Ekere has also been variously asked to step into the race.

Of course, the dynamics of Nigerian politics in recent times have become interesting. The field has become a wide scene where permutations are being calculated on a daily basis by political strategists. Every person has his perspective of how the political fortune of the country may turn out. In Akwa Ibom State, the case is not different. And, party stalwarts are not losing sleep over it.

With the official presentation of the 2019 governorship form to Ekere, at the Tuesday rally in Eket, the Managing Director, of NDDC has become a big picture in the eyes of Akwa Ibom people. Of course, he had long been seen as the man who by virture of his training in the art of governance is efficiently prepared to stand out in 2019. His astuteness in the management of the board has broadened people's perspective of him as a person. In road construction and other infrastructure, the NDDC under Ekere is believed to have performed creditably. The intervention so far undertaken in the nine states of the oil rich region is quite commendable. In Akwa Ibom State, NDDC under Ekere has carried out road constructions across the three senatorial districts. The PDP led Akwa Ibom government  is reported to have greatly shown stiff resistance, antagonising the progress of the agency in the state.

With liabilities at N1.7 trillion, poor public image, declining federal revenues, rising regional poverty and developmental needs across the communities of the Niger Delta region, Ekere and his colleagues knew a different style and mindset was imperative, vital and urgent. To move forward with result oriented milestones, 624 underperforming projects worth more than N200 billion, was cancelled. The NDDC boss inspired a new wave of commitment among contractors to perform with integrity and efficiency; paid billions of naira of inherited debts to contractors and service providers; resolved an 18 year-old impasse between the commission and NLNG on the payment of its statutory obligations to the commission; and then implemented urgent and necessary emergency projects to rescue deteriorating roads across the nine states, in order to save lives and property.

Ekere had served as deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State between May 2011 and October 2012.  Prior to that, he was the executive chairman of the Akwa Ibom Investment and Industrial Promotion Council, AKIIPOC, the state investment agency (2007 – 2012). He also served as Chairman, Ibom Power (2008 – 2011). He holds some professional qualifications. These are: Fellow of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers and Registered Member, Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria ESVRBN. He is as well a Fellow, Senior Certified Valuer, International Real Estate Institute IREI., Minnesota, USA, and an associate member of the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation, IRRV, London.

A peep into his profile reveals that Obong Nsima Ekere has an unstated philanthropic gestures which propels his strong investment in people's development. This is consciously undertaken through regular award of scholarships and educational grants; provision of potable water to rural communities in his Edemaya Clan, Ikot Abasi and medical outreaches to rural communities. As former deputy governor and a very successful private sector personnel, Ekere's gesture of passionate service to God and humanity, stands him out as a very committed person to the welfare and development of humanity.

Speaking on Tuesday as chairman on the occasion at the reception ceremony held in honour of  Buhari and Ekere, Senator Nelson Effiong said Buhari had delivered on the mandate of fighting corruption in the country. He enumerated various projects undertaken by the administration of  Buhari, saying he deserved to be trusted with more commitment.

Speakers at the rally included the zonal national vice chairman of the APC, Ntufam Hilliard Etta, the state caucus chairman, Done Etiebet, the immediate past governor of the state and former minority leader of the senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio and the MD, Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, Obong Umana O. Umana, as well as the event's planning committee chairman, Chief Benedict Ukpong who hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for his visionary leadership which has benefited the Akwa Ibom people in all ramifications.

They presented Ekere with the gubernatorial nomination and expression of interest form and pleaded with him to contest the election so as to terminate what they described as clueless and irresponsible government. They accused the state governor Udom Emmanuel of only being familiar with breaking the grounds without undertaking any meaningful project in the state.

In his response, Ekere said he was invited for a reception but that he has been ambushed by leaders and stakeholders of the party who have surprised him with a nomination form. He said he was only going to accept the call to contest elections on one condition, that he would be allowed to go for just one term. According to him, the past democratically elected governors of the state, in the persons of Obong Victor Attah and Senator Godswill Akpabio had left behind landmark achievements. But unfortunately, the Eket Senatorial District turn for governorship has been demeaning owing to the abysmal performance of  Udom . He asked the people if they will accept that he runs for just a term of four years, and was greeted by a loud shout of Yeees, by the people.

With the emergence of Ekere into the full scene, the calculation have greatly changed. Permutations would greatly be different. Other quarters would greatly be shaken because, already, the whole game is conspicuous. All factors that gave the push to the emergence of  Udom  in 2014 have shifted grounds. Different things have changed. Of course, the only permanent thing, as they say, is change. Akpabio is now rooted in the APC with a vow to deliver more than a million vote to  Buhari. Of course, as a leading national figure in the state, no less is expected of him. Many people have jumped ship and PDP seems very wobbled.

But the question is this : how far can Ekere go in the battle against Udom?  Can he unseat the sitting governor.

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NBA Vows To Jail Uncle Who Burns Niece With Pressing Iron In Bayelsa

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The Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, says it would stop at nothing to ensure that an Akwa Ibom state citizen who burned his 13 year old  niece with a pressing iron in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state pays dearly for his inhuman actions.

Effiong Sunday was reported to have used a hot pressing iron to inflict different degrees of injury on the girl's body including her lips and breasts, accusing her of stealing her neighbour's N3,000.

The allegation, according to the report, turned out to be false, as the owner of the N3,000 later found the money where she kept it after the poor girl had been battered by her uncle for a crime she did not commit.

Effiong is currently in police custody in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital for his inhumanity to his little, innocent niece.

Chairman of NBA, Sagbama branch, Mrs Dise Ogbise, told TNN in Yenagoa that the association was closely monitoring the case and would ensure the prosecution of Effiong  immediately the police concluded their investigation of the matter.

"Nothing will stop him from being prosecuted. We are on top of the matter", the NBA chairman said.

Ogbise, who is also the Executive Director of Do Foundation, revealed that her NGO was footing the medical bills of the teenager who is recuperating in a hospital in Yenagoa.

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Blackout Paralyses Calabar

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Absence of electricity has taken its toll on residents of Calabar, the capital of Cross River state. This followed the torrential rain that has been falling every day since Monday, causing a breakdown of transformers.

According to the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED), the general blackout was caused by faulty Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) 150 Mega Voltage Ampere (MVA) power transformer.

Manager, Corporate Communications PHED, Mr. John Onyi, at the weekend urged electricity consumers in the metropolis to be patient as engineers were rectifying the fault.

“The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution company, PHED, wishes to inform her numerous customers in Calabar, the Cross River state capital that current power outage being experienced within the metropolis is due to a faulty 150 MVA, 330/132kv power transformer belonging to Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN.

“However, PHED was reliably notified that the technical crew from TCN which has intensified effort to ensure that the faulty equipment is repaired soonest.

“PHED, therefore, solicits for the understanding and patience of her customers while the job last. We regret any inconvenience arising from the forced power outage,” he said.

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2019: Why Ayade Must Be Stopped In His Tracks

On that day of his inauguration on May 29, at the Calabar International Convention Centre (CICC), where thousands had defied the sweltering sun to behold his formal coronation as the first governor of northern Cross River extraction, Senator Professor Ben Ayade was like an athlete in a relay team handed the baton to continue the race. That much was perhaps on everyone's mind. He was expected to continue with the new normal. Struggling and sluggish.

He was inheriting a state where its citizens were happy and content, a state of affairs where existence was all that preceded essence and survival was all that mattered. We were all happy with our civil servant toga as a state. We did not want any “disruptive influence”, no matter how well intended. Just continue with us the way you met us.

Everything was “just okay”. In our servile existence, we had for long worn our docility like a badge of honour. We venerated the then existing club of a few “noblemen” as idols and in our idolatry, we worshipped them, kowtowed to them for our basic survival.

In those days, the city of Calabar was like Lagos, Abuja or London to rural dwellers. Not many ever dreamt of stepping foot. It was an enclave for a few privileged fellas we held in awe. Next to the elite and privileged clan were the civil servants. They were few and far between. A gulf had existed then between them and us.

There was “quiet”, “peace” and “order” in the land. We were greatly bonded by our subservience and resignation to fate. We were quite comfortable with the socioeconomic circumstances that were our lot or that were foisted on us. And we accepted them as our due share from God.

Our dear Cross River! We wallowed in laughter and joy in the face of our deprivation of lack and want.

It meant nothing to us even when our land was reckoned in excess and a juicy part of it was negotiated away without any formal conversation or due consultation and no resistance either. As if we knew ahead that oil was no longer going to play a major role in the international politics, we simply laughed it away and thanked our leaders for supervising or doing nothing over the relocation of 76 oil wells to a neighbouring state.

As serfs, we dared not say a word because whatever that was considered alright to our feudal Lords was acceptable to us. We were happy to be so unfamiliar and unbothered with such terminologies like internally displaced persons (IDPs) such as being enjoyed in Bornu, Benue, Plateau and Adamawa today.

We have always been a happy and acquiescent people. Even when government was being run like a secret cult, we were the happier for it. What did it matter anyway, even if we knew it was only 60 or at best persons that made up the government? After all, what you dont know, doesn't hurt you. Ignorance, they say, is bliss. We found joy living from hand to mouth and living one day at a time as long as we remained a civil service state. This appellation gave us so much pride and we wished it did not have to go away one day.

For over 23 years, long before our 76 oil wells were donated to a sister state, there was a freeze on recruitment into the civil service. It made good sense then not to recruit people into the state's workforce because it was better to offer them fish than to open their eyes to the art of fishing, which in the process could have created an egalitarian society. God forbid!

Ichabod! Ichabod! The glory hath departed from our state.

We were in such a blissful state until Ichabod left us on May 29, 2015. Until 2015, the word industrialization was not native to us. Totally alien. It only existed in the vocabulary of other states, not our Cross River.

 

Then came Governor Ben Ayade with his egalitarian pursuit of happiness for all. Haba!

On the day of his swearing in, he clearly cut the persona of a gadfly. An avant-garde with an uncommon approach to governance. He spoke with so much gusto and bravura. Like an eager beaver, he evinced a leader in a hurry to make an impact. He burned to recalibrate the economic architecture of the state.

His advent signposted the emergence of a new generation of leader. A paradigm shift. Cross River was on a cusp of history. A new song was being written. A whole new chapter was being penned. The very “disruptive influence” we so much feared became the highpoint of his governance- prompt and regular payment of salary, lifting of a 23-year-old embargo on recruitment into the civil service, tax exemption for zero income people, establishment of the largest garment factory with spinoff benefits for over 3000 women, most of whom are widows, the setting up of the state-owned pharmaceutical company (Calapharm), the first in the whole of the South South of Nigeria; the Rice seedling and multiplication centre; the San Carlos banana plantation in Odukpani; the cocoa processing mill in Ikom; the Ogoja automated vitaminized rice mill; the British/Canadian international school in Obudu; the ongoing construction of noodle factory; the toothpick factory in Yakurr, among several other “disruptive” ventures across the state in just less than four years. Why does he want to vanquish our time-honoured laidback, civil servant status we had long held so jealously? 

It is on account of this wind of industrialization currently sweeping across the state that the governor must be stopped in his tracks before it is too late. Why shouldn't he be stopped?

Why should he attempt to decouple us from our dependence on measly federal allocation with his unrelenting industrialization drive and his insistence on constructing a deep seaport when all we want is to continue to function as a state reduced to want in body, soul and spirit?

For no just reason, this governor that has become the pride and jewel of the state's workforce decided to give a sense of belong to thousands of Cross Riverians, many of whom have nicknamed him the “Alert Master”, on account of the regular salary alerts they have become accustomed to for the past three years. That is why he must be stopped in his tracks, ahead of 2019.

Wittingly or unwittingly, he is succeeding in completely blurring the line that had existed between “them and us”, no thanks to his inclusive governance approach where every hamlet now boasts of an appointee in government. So what is going to happen to the master/servant status quo relationship that was once the defining feature in governance? 

Again, just when we thought we had put the wounds of the brazen expropriation of our Bakassi Peninsula and the attendant ceding of our 76 oil wells behind us, the governor has been crying his eyes out for redress while those under whom the unconscionable infraction actually took place continue to play the ostrich. What kind of a defender of the people does he think he is anyway? Are we not happy that this happened? After all, we did not raise an eyebrow.

Again, hear this: Politics with ethics. What's that? Who plays politics with ethics in this part of the world? Providing a shoulder for your neighbour to lean on? Haba Governor! This sounds so strange! Your neighbour must not lean on you! Let them fall and die. Yes, fall and die. That is correct politics. Now you can understand why you must be stopped in your tracks for being Bobo Nice with the so called neighbour whose brand of politics is rather an undiluted PHD (Pull Him Down).

In absolute fidelity to what you said then on May 29, 2015, “The wages of honest labour shall liberate families from the clutches of hardship and hunger, no longer shall children go to bed on an empty stomach under my watch.” It sounded then like an empty boast, but then, you went ahead to abolish taxes for civil servants below N30,000 a month as well as the exemption of levies for artisans, petty traders operating in the state, created at the last count, about ten thousand jobs. Yes, you must be stopped, since you do not know that politicians, particularly in Nigeria promise in poetry and deliver in prose, so that you don't go on and create one million jobs when you would have been sworn in on May 29 2019, as it is obvious that there is no contender against you.

Mr. Governor, you came at a time when the state was on a razor edge between renewal and collapse; hope and despair. Change was all that was needed, but change has never happened so easily, as each time it is to happen, the status quo always pushes back. So expect a push back.

But because you came like a mystery wrapped in an enigma of riddle, you remain the protagonist in the big story of Cross River State until 2023. Continue to put your shoulders to the wheel and strive for what is best for the state. For that is the stuff legends are made.

 

* Obogo is Deputy Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ben Ayade

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2019 Elections And The Proliferation Of Small Weapons

Proliferation of small arms across the country has been of great concern to security agencies over the years and has been blamed for high crime rate. As the 2019 general elections approach, there are fears that there might be election violence and general upsurge in crime rate, with so many loose weapons everywhere. This has been the sad trend over the years whenever elections are around the corner. Despite the routine mop up of arms by the police on the orders of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, a lot of illegal weapons are still found in wrong hands.

The shooting incident that occurred on Monday, 10th September at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) state secretariat in Calabar, is an ominous sign and a sad development that should not have taken place if the assailant and the victims had exercised caution. A simple argument led to the avoidable tragedy. Unfortunately, one of the two victims who were shot later died in the hospital where he was rushed for treatment. But it is too late to cry when the head is off.

The incident underscores the fact that there are many like Ekpri Effiom, who allegedly pulled the trigger that ended the life of another party supporter at the PDP secretariat in Calabar, moving about freely with guns and such people will be willing tools in the hands of desperate politicians in the days ahead.

Every time the police parade arrested criminals, a huge cache of weapons, especially assault rifles and thousands of bullets recovered from the criminals, are usually on display. A lot of locally made guns are also among weapons recovered from the suspects. This shows that the business of blacksmiths who produce the guns is thriving. The police have to take the battle to the blacksmiths to curb the proliferation of small arms.

Recently, the Nigeria Customs Service intercepted over 15,000 units of illegally imported military hardware and the suspicion is that they were meant for political thugs to be used during the forthcoming elections. The identity of the importer of the hardware has not been unmasked as the paramilitary outfit is still investigating the matter.

Truckloads of weapons had been intercepted by Customs officials on the roads in similar circumstances in the past. Some had been seized at the seaports sometimes without any clue about the identities of the importers. Often, the dubious faceless importers engage in barefaced deception to outwit the Customs at the ports by declaring different goods in their waybill whereas what the containers bear are illegal weapons.

Desperate politicians do not help matters as they acquire arms for thugs to attack their political opponents. That is why assassinations and murders are rampant during elections. The South-south and Southwest geopolitical zones of the country lead in political violence, with the 2015 elections not an exception. In the South-south, Rivers and Akwa Ibom are the leading killing fields during elections. It was so bad in Rivers state in 2015 that a section of the media described the state as 'Rivers of Blood'.

A lot of fake policemen and military personnel are usually arrested and unmasked during elections. Politicians sew uniforms of security agencies for their thugs and arm them to enable the thugs have a field day during elections and get away with election malpractice.

Unfortunately, after elections, the arms and ammunition acquired for thugs are not retrieved from them by their political masters. The thugs are abandoned by the politicians. And in order to survive at all costs, they turn the guns on innocent people when they go into armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes.

We believe that in order to curb the proliferation of small arms, especially in the south-south, there is need for security agencies to be more proactive by arresting those who wield the weapons before they are put to use. It is imperative for the police to engage in continuous mop up operations to reduce the number of illegal arms in circulation. Sister security agencies should share intelligence to make the task of protecting the lives and property of the citizens of this country easier at all times, and not only during elections. Working at cross purposes has only led to undermining the nation's security as has been witnessed over time.

Politicians should also banish the notion that election is a do-or-die affair. Such disposition is bound to rock the boat and cause bloodletting. Politicking should not be synonymous with violence. In other climes, electioneering period is like a carnival. We can replicate that in Nigeria.

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A 97-Year-Old Clan Head’s Wish For Owan Enoh

Penultimate Wednesday, Senator John Owan Enoh was at Ikom, Cross River State, to formally declare his intention to contest the gubernatorial election in Cross River State. That is no longer news. That day, there was a heavy downpour. That too, is no more news. Ikom town was practically shut down because of human and vehicular traffic. This is no news again. But what many people did not know is that among the crowd of supporters was a 97 year old man, a clan head that is, from Boki, who had to get help from some good men, to be able to get to the venue of the declaration, just because he needed to see Owan Enoh as he makes his declaration to contest the election. Our man in Calabar, DAVID ODEY who was at the event, reports.

When a 97-year-old man is committed to a cause he believes in, nothing can stop him from demonstrating that commitment. Not the torrential rainfall. Not tear gas canisters. Not the crowd. Nothing. That man is Chief Michael Otu Edebe, the 97-year-old clan head of Bashua in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State.

Edebe can't even walk straight again. He is so old that he has become bent and now uses a walking stick to support himself while walking. He was among the scores of people that thronged the venue of Owan Enoh's gubernatorial ambition declaration and was spotted by TNN correspondent that Wednesday, September 5.

He was assisted into the venue even while it was raining. He did not mind the pushing and shoving he got from the crowd, as everybody tried to gain access into the venue at the same time. Just like that woman with the issue of blood whose desire was to see Jesus to get healed, Pa Edebe had just one thing in mind: to behold Owan Enoh whom he described as his son, mount the rostrum to make that declaration to present himself for election as governor of his state. So, nothing else mattered to him than to have a view of the senator. He achieved his desire and was there when Owan Enoh made his declaration. And he felt fulfilled.

Neither his age nor the torrential rain that fell that day dampened his spirits nor served as a barrier to his desire to be a part of the crowd that came from all over the state to witness the declaration. And that done, his second wish is to be alive to see Owan Enoh sworn in as governor in May next year. He believes this, too, will come to pass.

He even risked being removed as clan head by defying an alleged directive by the governor of the state that no traditional ruler should honour the invitation extended to them to attend the event.

Speaking with TNN correspondent, he explained why he had to come all the way from Boki to Ikom for the momentous event.

“I have come to witness the declaration of my son, Senator John Owan Enoh. I expect him to succeed in the governorship race,” he said.

Chief Edebe, a clear-headed man in spite of his age, even set an agenda for Owan Enoh. “When he becomes governor, I want him to develop Boki local government area, provide amenities and give scholarship to our youths. I want him to give us Ogoja State and give us more local government areas when he becomes governor.”

He expressed his opinion on how the state is being governed. According to him, “I am not satisfied with what is happening in the state. When Ogoja state is created with more local government areas, things may be better.”

Another committed supporter of Owan Enoh's governorship aspiration is Takon Takon, a trumpeter and leader of a brass band from Bendeghe Ekiem. He is also very old.

His band was at the event to entertain the teeming crowd and dignitaries.

According to him, “I came to support John Owan Enoh become the governor of Cross River state. I am the leader of the original brass band of Etung. If he becomes governor, I want him to mobilise the band and buy us more equipment.”

He also expressed his opinion about the government of the day, which informed his decision to pitch his tent with Owan Enoh.

“We are not happy with the present government. We are suffering. There is no job for our children. Youths have joined cult groups and there is violence in the communities. Let Owan Enoh come and stop all these. We need to live in peace and unity with one another because united we stand and divided we fall,” he said.

Takon also bemoaned the poor state of roads and absence of electricity in his community and wants Owan Enoh to do something about these problems when he becomes governor.

“We need good roads. We have not had electricity for over a year in our communities. We have been paying bills without any electricity. The current governor is aware of our plight but nothing has been done about it. I am very sure that Owan Enoh can provide the amenities we need. With God, all things are possible.”

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Looking for PDP Ticket In Bayelsa? …..Let’s Meet At Toru-Orua

As political parties get prepared for their primary elections in Bayelsa state, political godfathers are putting spanners to work to ensure that their preferred candidates emerge for the 2019 general elections. In the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, the battle for candidacy had since shifted to Toru-Orua following the death of Mrs. Goldcoast Dickson, mother of the state governor.

That is where plans to perfect the candidature of the 'anointed' ones are made, hence the exodus of politicians to the country home of governor Seriake Dickson who is currently mourning over the death of his mother.

For the senatorial and House of Representatives positions in the state, political observers can figure out some of the aspirants that may clinch the PDP tickets at last.

 

Bayelsa West:

In this senatorial district for instance, it may be an uphill task for the incumbent, Senator Foster Ogola, who according to political analysts, is no longer in the good books of the governor, to pick the ticket.  Rather, pundits are of the view that a loyalist of the governor, Mr. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor, who has already submitted his intent form, is expected to emerge. It has been widely speculated that the governor has some secret deals with Ewhrudjakpor who serves as the commissioner for works and infrastructure in the state.

 

Bayelsa Central: 

ln this senatorial zone, Dickson is said to be having a vested interest in the incumbent member, Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal Constituency, Mr. Douye Diri to go for the senate. Diri, who hails from Sampou community in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government area, has equally submitted his senatorial form and is favoured to pick the PDP ticket. The coast may be clear for Diri afterall because the incumbent senator in the Bayelsa central, Emmanuel Paulker who is running for his third term in the upper house may have jettisoned his fourth term bid. Diri would now be slugging it out with  Prof. Seiyefa from the same local government with him who has also picked and submitted his form for the race under the platform of the PDP.

 

Bayelsa East:

It is too close to call who will finally emerge from this district under the PDP. The reason is not far- fetched. There is an existing political power sharing formula otherwise known as zoning. If the zoning arrangement is anything to go by, then the party will have to pick her candidate from Nembe Local Government Area which the zoning now favours. If that happens, then, the likes of the pioneer Deputy Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Chief Ayebaesin Edoghotu Omoh and Bright Erewari-Igbeta, also a former deputy speaker of the state assembly, who are natives of Nembe, could become the party's flagbearer.

Meanwhile, the zoning arrangement does not mean anything to the incumbent senator representing the district, Mr. Murray Bruce who hails from Brass local government area. The media mogul and owner of Silverbird Television and Rhythm FM has since picked his PDP form for a second term battle. Bruce is seen to have got the financial might to influence delegates to his side during the upcoming primaries. Also, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Birigha Dambo who has not been in the political picture before now, has joined the race. Also in the race for Bayelsa East is the immediate past chairman of the Bayelsa state Independent Electoral Commission, Ipigansi Izagara.

 

House of Reps:

YELGA/KOLGA Federal Constituency:

Three son of Yenagoa and Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government areas have bought the PDP forms to contest the house of representatives seat. They are: Prof. Steve Azaiki who is the chairman, Governing Council of the Niger Delta University, a two time serving lawmaker in the state assembly, Mr. Gentle Emela and the immediate past president of the Ijaw Youth Council, Udengs Eradiri. There are indications that among the three aspirants, Azaiki enjoys the support of the governor.

 

 Ogbia Fed. Constituency:

The member currently representing the constituency, Mrs. Sodagwo Festus-Omoni is in the race for a second term. Also in the race are former president Jonathan's god son, Mr. George Turnah, Mr. Claudius Enegesi, Fred Obua and Dan Igurubia, all of the PDP. It is, however, not clear who has the support of Jonathan  or Dickson.

 

 SILGA Fed. Constituency:

 Southern Ijaw federal constituency parades two aspirants under the PDP. They are the incumbent, Henry Ofongo and the speaker of the state assembly, Mr. Friday Kombowei Benson.

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Watch Out For These Aspirants

The die is cast as governorship aspirants in Cross River state brace up for their parties' primaries in the next couple of weeks. Although there were many aspirants for the position, especially in the All Progressives Congress (APC), not all of them picked nomination form to contest the election.

It is clear that those who did not pick the nomination form may have fallen by the wayside even before the primaries if they fail to meet the deadline for the submission. The APC governorship form was sold for N22.5 million and perhaps the cost of the form made it unaffordable for some of the aspirants. Those who did not obtain the form at the time of this report were Paul Adah, Venatius Ikem, Odey Ochicha, Dr. Nya Asuquo, Emmanuel Robson all of APC, and Paul Udayi and Emmanuel Ibeshi both of PDP.

In the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the incumbent governor, Prof Ben Ayade will have Emmanuel Ibeshi to contend with at the primaries. Although, party stakeholders have already dismissed the chances of Ibeshi as they expectedly are backing Ayade as the favourite to pick the party's ticket.

In the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which has merged with the Labour Party (LP) in the state, former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Eyo Ekpo, is expected to be the standard bearer of the party. no other person has bought the party's form.

For those who have obtained the form, such as APC aspirants Senator John Owan Enoh, Prof Etim Nyong, Usani Usani, John Upan Odey and Edem Duke, their chances at the primaries will be determined largely by the home work they have done, their financial capacity and the extent to which their aspirations will be accepted by the members of their parties.

Despite the fears, the aspirants are going into the contest believing they have equal chances of picking the APC ticket. However, aspirants from the same senatorial zones will have their votes split in that senatorial. For instance, southern votes will be split between Nyong and Duke, while the votes from the central will also be split between Owan Enoh and Usani Usani. Incidentally, the perception is that Usani may have lost out of contention because the party structures have since been taken away from him. Only Upan Odey is from the north as others from the zone have fallen by the way side.

Despite the splitting of votes between some aspirants, it does not presuppose that such aspirants can't get votes from other zones. Indeed the votes from other zones may decide who emerges victorious after the primary. The direct primary adopted by APC has been described as the best option as every registered member of the party will have the opportunity to vote for an aspirant of  his choice.

The issue of zoning has also come to the fore, ahead of the APC primary. Though zoning of the governorship seat is a creation of the PDP, some monarchs in the north have advised all aspirants in PDP and other parties to forget about their ambition. The monarch admonished the aspirants to wait for their turn after the north completes their term in 2023. But the monarchs can only advice. They do not have any voting right at the party level. Also, most people from the three senatorial districts believe that the window remains open for anyone to contest, since it has always been so since 1999.

 

A chieftain of APC and former member of the Presidential Committee on Constitutional Reform, Chief Utum Eteng, joined the zoning debate when he warned aspirants from the south and central senatorial districts to withdraw from the gubernatorial race because running for governorship would amount to injustice done to the entire people of the north.

Eteng, who comes from the central senatorial district of the state told journalists in Calabar that “the central senatorial district has just left power, the north should continue and where this is not feasible for obvious reasons, the south should take it after 12 years of exit.

However, those opposed to zoning say it promotes mediocrity. Even the chairman of PDP in Cross River State, Ntufam Edim Inok Edim, whose party has entrenched zoning in the state since 1999, recently told members of the National Assembly seeking re-election and others aspiring for the same position in the House of Reps and the Senate in the state to go to the field and test their capacity and popularity.

He said the seats they were vying for were not zoned to any particular part of their constituencies. Presidential aide Okoi Obono Obla also does not believe in zoning.

Convinced that they could offer better governance than what the state is witnessing now, aspirants from all the three senatorial zones in the state have decided to contest their parties' primaries. All of them claim they are on a rescue mission. The best among the lot would carry the day.

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