C'River Central Senatorial aspirant under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Chris Agara, has warned his supporters not to engage in any violent act that could result in the death of anyone during the electioneering campaign.
He gave the warning while on a courtesy visit to the state chairman of PDP, Ntufam Inok Edim, at the party state secretariat in Calabar. The visit was to formally inform the state party executive of his desire to vie for the party's ticket for the central senatorial seat in 2019.
He said he would rather not vie for the senatorial seat if it would result in any loss of life.
Agara, who was in company of members of his support group for the 2019 election, were received by the party chairman and stalwarts of the party.
After he was introduced by the team leader and the director general of his campaign organization, Pastor Ayuk Ojong Tangban, Agara said he was running for the senate seat because he had the capacity and that the seat was vacant for the PDP to take.
He said he was seeking the senate seat to serve the people in a higher capacity, recalling how he was the first party member to donate N1 million to the party in 1999 and his continuous contributions to the party since then.
He said he had come to formally inform the party executive about his senatorial ambition before going into the field when campaigns begin.
When later asked by journalists how prepared he was for the contest, he replied: “if I wasn't ready, I won't be wasting my time here. I am ready. I know the responsibility. By the grace of God I am ready.”
Again he was asked what he would bring to the people back home beyond the horse-trading on the floor of the National Assembly, and he replied: “the National Assembly is all about knowing what your people want and articulating your situation well. The National Assembly is all about lobbying people.
“From my perspective, by the time you understand the situation, you lobby the executive, work together with the executive and you will be able to attract some of the things you want to your senatorial district. For me, for instance, my priority is agriculture. I hinge my campaign on invariably sending the people back to land because our people are agrarian.
“If you check very carefully our people have not been benefiting from all the federal government's agricultural credit facilities. And I have started by partnering with the state government to develop the agricultural sub sector in my zone with the cocoa industry. There is also the rice mill in Ogoja.
“My primary home is Ikom. What my people are good in is cocoa production and before now they hadn't been any value addition to the production of cocoa. That is going to change with the setting up of the cocoa processing plant at Ikom. I am fully behind it. I am the one handling it. I have done quite a lot of research on it. There is a lot of value chain to it.
“It may interest you to know that at the last World Cocoa Congress that I attended in Berlin, Germany, it was discovered that the world cocoa value chain is about $130 billion. Unfortunately, only a fraction of that is earned by Nigeria, one of the largest cocoa producers in the world, because there is no value chain. So, what our governor is doing by setting up the cocoa processing plant in Ikom is to add this value chain to get the revenue that has been eluding the state. So, coming to your question, I know a lot of international donor agencies that can be used to improve the agrarian sector.”'
On the recent scholarships he gave to students across the state and whether more should be expected when he becomes a senator in 2019, Agara said: “In all my life I have been doing that. If I have my way, I won't publicize it. I love it because I rose from nothing in life to what I am today. There are so many out there that are less privileged. Assisting the needy is what I have been doing for a very long time and I will not stop doing it. This is part of my life and I will continue to do it and even do it better. National Assembly or no National Assembly, I will continue to do it.”
In his response to Agara's remarks, Edim said: “We encourage our party members to aspire to any position. We will provide a level playing field for all.
“Your visit is significant. You are the first aspirant to come here. The success of an aspirant depends on what his supporters do. The house should be formidable. Every little misunderstanding should be avoided. Put your house in order. As a party, ours is to give you blessings.”
Edim said Ikom and Obubra should stand up and choose who they want, adding “we want to talk about capacity, not zoning. Supporters should work with an aspirant with capacity.”
He commended Agara for past support for the party, adding it was good to invest in people and that he was a good example for others.