Things are falling in pleasant places for Governor Ben Ayade as he sets his sight on returning to the Diamond Hill Government House in 2019. He received an overwhelming mandate of members of his party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), when he was given the party's ticket early this month in Calabar to contest the governorship election in 2019. Delegates from the 196 wards in the 18 local government areas of the state gave the governor the ticket. The laudable achievements of the governor in just three years in office in spite of the meager resources at his disposal has endeared him to the people of the state.
Apart from his achievements in the area of agriculture and industrialization, the zoning arrangement in the state is in the governor's favour to return to power in 2019. A lot of sentiments have been expressed about the zoning arrangement. It would be one of the decisive factors that would shape the outcome of the governorship election. Without any doubt, it is the turn of the north to produce the governor with the mandate going to Governor Ayade to complete his two terms uninterrupted just as his predecessors, Liyel Imoke from central and Donald Duke from the south, completed their terms of eight years each.
Taking that into consideration, the mistake other political parties have made is to field their candidates either from the central or southern senatorial districts. The political parties that ignore it do so at their own peril. This negates the zoning arrangement and may count against the candidates and work in favour of the governor in the election. Lovers of peace, equity and justice have stood solidly by the governor and want him to complete his two terms.
Advocates of the zoning arrangement believe that it amounts to equity, justice and fair play to allow Governor Ayade complete his term in order to complete the zoning cycle so that by 2023 the governorship slot would return to the south again. Zoning in the state is a time-tested peaceful and orderly change of baton between a governor and his successor and goes a long way to protect the ethnic minorities in the state from being marginalised politically by bigger ethnic groups in the state. That orderly handover of power has been witnessed successfully in the state since 1999 and in the wisdom of many the cycle must not be broken for the sake of peace and stability in the state
It is in realization of this that there are many support groups such as 7 Alive, Pathfinder, Ayade Believe in the south that have endorsed the governor for second term. People of the southern senatorial district will have to vote for Governor Ayade to show appreciation for the massive industrialization of the zone. Of the three senatorial zones, the south is by far the greatest beneficiary of the industrialization drive of this administration. It is in the south that you have the garment factory, the pharmaceutical company, the multi-billion naira rice seedling and multiplication factory and the deep seaport under construction.
Traditional rulers in the north are also in support of the governor's return in 2019. They demonstrated this support by openly endorsing him and insisting that the zoning arrangement must be respected. He has significant following in his base in the north. In the central senatorial district, the governor also enjoys support and has been endorsed to return. In deed the central zone is a PDP stronghold.
With over 3,000 political appointees working for the governor during the election, he is sure of grassroots support across the 196 wards in the 18 local government areas. These loyal aides are ready to pull the chestnut out of the fire to ensure the governor coasts home to victory. Civil servants who enjoy regular payment of salaries equally have no choice than to vote the 'Salary Master' back into office in 2019 so that they would continue to enjoy regular salary payment. There is no better way to reciprocate the governor's humane gesture than to return him to office next year.
It is unfortunate that one of the opposition parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC), with monumental internal crisis is going into the election and expects it can clinch victory. That is delusion of grandeur. A divided house can never stand. Already, ingenious youths in the state have composed a song that has sounded the death knell for the party. The song in pidgin English goes this way: 'APC comot for road oh! I carry Ayade I no get brake o! If I jam you, you go die'. That apart, the party does not have a firm footing across the state like the PDP which has been a dominant ruling party in the state. For a party that has governed the state since 1999, PDP has a lot to show for its long stay in power. It is this record of performance by past governors on the party's platform that Governor Ayade has built upon and would be consolidated when he is given another mandate in 2019