Mr Egbung Odama Egbung, Cross River State Publicity Secretary, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in an exclusive interview with TNN's SOLOMON UGO, extends olive branch to candidates of other political parties to return to its fold for inclusive governance in the state.
Elections have come and gone but still raising dust?
We have not done badly; I want to give kudos to our teaming supporters and the PDP family because across the state, we were able to deliver our campaign vows. After finishing the campaigns from the hills of Obanliku down to Bakassi, PDP was able to win all the 25 seats of the state house of assembly.
But your party lost Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency to the main opposition in the state?
Election was keenly contested and as I speak to you, the matter is in the elections petitions tribunal at the High Court of Justice. Hopefully, we are going to gain victory from the courts.
Your party is serially alleged to have connived with State REC to thwart the people's will?
I want to debunk that emphatically and unequivocally. I want to state here very clearly that INEC as it is said,” is Independent National Electoral Commission”. It is not a state federal commission. How can my party which, just like the way you are saying, connive with INEC? Why was PDP not declared winner in Abi/Yakurr? If there was connivance, I think we ought not to lose that seat to opposition. I want to tell you that INEC in their clear terms did their job and as a party, we also did our job. So that should be likened to the opposition's normal cry when the head is already off. I know they are like that, trying to harness from where they don't have potentials.
Don't you think INEC also assisted you by delistisng all the APC candidates on national TV a day to the election?
When it happened, it wasn't the state REC affair. It was an INEC directive. The REC takes orders from the commission headquarters which the chairman, Prof. Mahumed Yakubu must have issued a directive to the state REC for that to be effected.
A lot of cancellations were done in so many areas especially Akamkpa, Abi, Etung, Obubra and so many other areas with allegations that cancellations were done to favour your party?
No. I want to tell you that it was the smart card reader that was used during the election. So for those places you were thinking that there were cancellations by our party, it was done by EOs or SPOs who were on the field considering that may be they were not captured during the INEC accreditation. The card reader propaganda from the other side of the divide is the quest for “alanga” for Governor” so when you are doing “alanga” for something, you will do everything extraordinary to get it.
Your party is also challenging the victory of Dr. Alex Egbona of the APC in the Tribunal?
Just like I told you, that when opposition was accusing INEC repeatedly of conniving with us, do they think we are happy? So if INEC and the PDP were working in synergy like they said, then we shouldn't have gone to court to challenge opposition's victory in Abi/Yakurr federal constituency? There is a robust understanding that as a party we need to challenge our only seat that was forfeited to the opposition.
Forfeited in what manner?
Forfeited in that a lot of mischief and mishaps happened during the elections and details would soon be released to the world.
Invariably PDP's John Gaul has a valid case at the Tribunal?
Very valid case against his contender indeed.
Many of your members engaged in anti party activities during the elections. Is the party ready to wield the big stick on them?
If you are talking about the party, everything about the party is that we have our internal party mechanism that we use in the party. The summary is that this is not for public consumption. However, when we have our disciplinary committee we are going to look into a few of those who were aggrieved and intentionally or pushed to engage in antiparty. His Excellency, Prof Ben Ayade has extended an olive branch to anybody who has done anti party and the other side of the divide especially the opposition in SDP, APC and Usani Usani that they should come back to the party and work as Cross Riverians for necessary governance needed of us.
Any expectations from Ayade's second term from the party?
The man is doing well; he is going to do well. Going forward, he is going to do more. Series of projects to be completed soon also putting food on the table and expansion of governance. Above all is keeping the state as one.
Food on the table may not be sustained following insinuations in some quarters, how true is this?
No, he has debunked that and said there is going to be food on the table and hands on the grounds. So everybody is going to be part of the governance process in the state.