A lot of surprises, some which may be unpleasant, await those seeking political positions during the forthcoming elective convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), especially in Cross River State. The elective convention will take place in June. Already, those seeking elective positions during the congress are oiling their machinery to ensure they emerge victorious.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani who is allegedly seen as a major factor in the crisis rocking the party in the state because of his political ambition will have his moment of reckoning during the congress. It is either his loyalists will occupy some key positions through which they could influence his emergence as the standard bearer of the party during the party's primary for the governorship election or he could lose out if his men lose during the congress.
Usani's case may become more complicated if the pendulum of victory as national chairman of the party swings the way of former state governor, Chief Clement Ebri. Ebri, who is well respected in the party and nationally because of his impeccable credentials, does not see eye to eye with Usani, a Yakurr son like himself. Both harbour opposing political interest, even though they belong to the same political party.
Already, Usani's governorship ambition has pitched him against the majority of the party leaders who believe he is on a frolic of his own. There is so much talk about gang up against him within the party in the state. However, one of the party leaders who preferred not to be mentioned told TNN that nobody was ganging up against Usani. He said the minister was working against the system and party leaders were resisting; that is why it appears as if there is a gang up against him.
Usani is accused of working against the system or trying to undermine it in order to actualize his governorship ambition.
Almost the entire party leadership in the state is allegedly against his governorship ambition, hence the allegation of ganging up against him. An insider told TNN that “the complaint against him is that he became the state chairman of the party and from that position he was appointed minister on a platter of gold. Now, he wants to be governor. Is he the only one in the party?”
According to the party chieftain, Usani is working at cross purposes with a section of the leadership of the party in the state and this could block the chances of others vying for the position of governor in 2019.
With the tacit support he allegedly enjoys from the embattled National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Usani appears to have got away with his perceived sins against the party in the state when he was suspended last year by the former interim executive of the party, headed by John Ochala, he had waved aside the suspension, saying nobody could suspend him. But his fate will be sealed if Oyegun's re-election bid crumbles in June.
Those who do not like the Niger Delta minister's guts accuse him of attempting to re-enact what he did during the 2015 House of Assembly election. Usani was said to have refused to support the candidate picked by Ebri and who was also the choice of other party members for Yakurr 2 State constituency. He propped up another candidate in another party for the same position. And that spoiler's role caused the defeat of Ebri's candidate and his own by Jonah Willy Eteng of PDP representing Yakurr 2 Constituency in the state house of assembly. Ebri's candidate lost narrowly by 25 votes, prompting party faithful to lament that if Usani had joined forces with Ebri to field a single candidate, the PDP standard bearer would have been defeated overwhelmingly in that election.
The deep rooted animosity between the two camps has persisted since 2015 and now made worse by Usani's governorship ambition. He is accused of being instrumental to the emergence of Etim John as state chairman of the party during this year's controversial congress. The congress is still being denounced as an illegal exercise by some leaders of the party in the state. The move to install Etim John, some say, is to enable him pick the party's 2019 governorship ticket without any let or hindrance.
Even though there is no zoning in APC, a party stalwart told TNN that “the north is supposed to produce the next governor. After that, the south for two terms before the central zone will take its turn. Usani is from the central and he wants to contest now. I really do not understand. Time shall tell.”
Chief Utum Eteng, a vocal stalwart of the party, once told TNN that the personal ambition of some leaders of the party in the state was undermining the party's cohesiveness and portraying the party as not being serious about wresting power from PDP in 2019. He said the crisis in the party made it not to win even a councillorship election in the state.
Usani has another nemesis in Hilliard. Both do not see eye to eye. Etta, the South-South zonal vice chairman of the party, tried to stop the congress that produced Etim John as state chairman through a court injunction. But the organizers of the congress ignored the injunction and went ahead to conduct it to the satisfaction of Usani, who said at the venue of the congress that he was not aware of any court injunction when journalists took him up on the issue.
During the congress, Usani accused some party leaders in the state of working in cahoots with the state government to ensure that APC continues to remain perpetually in crisis so that the party won't be able to challenge the PDP in any election.
The minister is accused of being independent-minded and stubbornly refusing to bow to superior logic, traits which are said to be antithetical to party politics. It remains to be seen how far Usani could go in realizing his governorship ambition, with so many powerful forces standing in his way. So, as it now, the battle is between the minister and his party. it is either he gets the ticket to run as governor or the APC in Cross River crumbles.