After surviving the stiff opposition from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the deputy chairman, House of Representatives committee on Petroleum(downstream), Dr Alex Egbona says he has forgiven all those who stood on his way to victory.
He has also said that the immediate past governor, Senator Liyel Imoke remains his master, mentor and political father. According to him, nothing can erase the relationship between him and Imoke.
He said in an interview shortly after he was declared winner of the rerun in two wards of his constituency, that even though he defeated the PDP candidate, it did not erase the fact that Imoke remained his mentor.
Saturday’s electoral victory by Egbona was historic and a major dent on the political image of Imoke. It was his second loss in two weeks. Penultimate week, Imoke suffered a brutal loss when his Man Friday and former governor of Imo State was removed from office by the Supreme Court.
In February last year, Imoke had sponsored and backed Mr John Gaul Lebo, a former speaker in the Cross River State House of Assembly, for the Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency seat election. But despite all that Imoke was said to have done to plant John Gaul on the seat, he could not match Egbona who stood like the Rock of Gibraltar.
Egbona came out as the only APC member to have won any election in the state. Despite the oddities, Egbona stood firm and with the support of his people, triumphed over the PDP candidate.
The Egbona-Imoke Journey
Sometime in 2015, Egbona decided to present himself for election as member of the House of Representatives. At that time, he was chief of staff, Government House. Before he left office, he consulted his boss to secure his blessings.
Imoke was said to have told him to hang on for a while until he was ready to release him, while also telling him to train someone capable enough to take over from him.
Imoke eventually released him for the contest. But events changed later. Everything was made to stop him from picking the ticket of the PDP for the election. It was learnt that one of the things that may angered Imoke was the show that played out on the day Egbona was to pick his nomination form at the PDP secretariat.
That day, a section of the Calabar road was shut down. The crowd was phenomenal. It was such that the then governor was said to have had difficulties moving driving out of his office, as he was told that there was no thorough fare along the Calabar road.
The event of that day may have led to the build up to Imoke’s anger with Egbona. First, he may have felt that with Egbona’s showing, he may just take over his position as father of Abi politics.
As a result, Egbona was denied the PDP ticket, forcing him to leave the party for the Labour Party, where he emerged the party’s flagbearer for the Abi/Yakurr seat in the House of Representatives. He won in the field but the result was changed mid-way, with the use of government force.
The presiding officer refused to announce the result. He abandoned it and fled for his life. The result was eventually announced via the media. Egbona took it in his strides and started planning for the next round of elections, just as he defected from the Labour Party to join the APC, where he became candidate of the party for the 2019 election.
Pains after electoral victory
Perhaps apart from Imoke, every other serious stakeholder in Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency knew that Egbona had the capacity to defeat whoever the PDP was going to present. And that was what happened. He made history as the only person who was able to withstand the political might and manoeuvring of the PDP. But Imoke would not let him be. He encouraged John Gaul to challenge the case at the tribunal. They won, in a questionable manner. Then Egbona went on appeal and won partially. The pronouncement by the court of appeal setting aside the verdict of the tribunal destabilised Imoke and John Gaul. They had already prepared to celebrate. But the dream was cut short. Those who had booked their flight to Abuja for John Gaul’s inauguration were disappointed. Imoke lost again.
The mother of all losses
When INEC fixed January 25, 2020 for the rerun, there were many permutations. There was palpable fear in some quarters. There was panic, that since the state government was backing the PDP candidate for the rerun, and with the support of Imoke, John Gaul was likely to win.
There were speculations that a certain General in the Army was going to lead the squad that will make it easy for the PDP to win. But that plan was thwarted. There were speculations that fake and genuine policemen were going to be deployed to Ekureku for the election and that they would help deliver the votes for the PDP candidate. It also failed. Imoke suffered a heavy blow. Ekureku people were so determined to harvest all available votes for their son. And they did.
Ayade’s late hour appointments for Ekureku people
One of the strategies adopted by the PDP government to hoodwink the Ekureku people was the appointment of their sons into boards of non existing firms. All 35 appointees into the five different boards were made of Ekureku people. This made the people even angrier, that the governor did not find them worthy to be considered for appointment as commissioner or special adviser. Their own way of expressing anger with the governor and his candidate for the rerun was to come out in their number to affirm their rejection of John Gaul.
Ekureku people made a point with their PVCs
By 7am, the people had flooded most of the polling centres, waiting for INEC officials to report. And by 4pm, a lot of the people were yet to vote and they would not go home. They were determined to make a point with their PVC. By the time the results were announced, Egbona had become 11, 022 votes better, stronger and mightier than John Gaul.
The result was announced late on Saturday night and on Sunday morning, the streets of Ekureku got electrified, as Egbona went to town in a thank you rally, to appreciate the people for standing by him. He drove in a motorcade to virtually all parts of the community, before moving to Itigidi to also thank the people.
Ekureku people speak
Natives of Igbo Ekureku overflowed the nine villages that make up the community to vote.
Some of the natives who travelled from within and outside Cross River State to Ekureku for the election told TNN that even if a re-election was ordered after this weekend, they would always be there for their son.
Adau Nkanu, a widow from the community said “Egbona is like a first son to me because as a poor widow, I have nothing to cater for my need, but Alex has been a source of blessing to my aged soul. His number is never off especially when I need his assistance and whenever I call he picks and immediately can tell from the voice that I am the one calling so even if I had no money to travel down here to the village, I would still have borrowed from someone just to vote him back so he can continue taking care of those in need like me.
“When you have a son that is doing well, society respects you and when your child is not doing well, you will be disregarded by everyone in the society. At least today with Alex, nobody will look down on our people again. Insults on our people have today been lifted off our shoulder and finally we have liberation.”
Speaking also Martina Sylvester said “Egbona is the heartbeat of Ekureku because he is the light that God has blessed us with and for this light to continue to shine in our community, we all left our businesses and jobs, travelled far and near not just to vote, but to defend our mandate because we know that his victory means a better tomorrow to our children.
“I am not just confident that he will win, but I know that he will change the face of our entire constituency.
APC Chair: It’s well deserved victory
Meanwhile, chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Abi Local Government, Romanus Egbonyi has congratulated Egbona on the victory, saying that he is the pillar of unity in Ekureku.
“The rerun election slated for 25th January, 2020 has come to an end today with my candidate Dr. Alex Egbona going home with victory. He won convincingly.
“The people of Ekureku have spoken and their mandate has been defended. The rerun election was a serious problem based on the issues that characterised the elections. Issue like rumours of thuggery, hijacking and violence, but to the glory of God, non of such things took place here.
“The election was fairly conducted by INEC. In fact, the new resident commissioner in Cross River State was present here with his team to see for themselves, including the commissioner of police. There is no polling unit that did not record more than 30 security personnel; to tell you the extent the election went. There was no violence, the election was successfully conducted and at the end of the day, the mandate of the people was defended because the people came out in numbers to vote and support their son.
“To the glory of God, nobody was killed, no one was shot and no indigene of Ekureku community was arrested as a result of this election.
“To my party, this victory means a lot because looking at the eight House of Representatives seats in Cross River State, it is only in Abi/Yakurr that the party went home with victory and what this means is that the man representing us in Abi/Yakurr is the eye and voice of the party because the national cannot take decisions without his presence and I believe that together, with the help of Cross River State minister who is also our member, APC Cross River will witness a new phase and with his victory today, the forthcoming local government elections that hopefully we believe we be conducted by INEC, we are sure of victory.
“This election, for the people of Ekureku, means unity of progress because from far and near, people travelled to witness and participate in the process with over 50 luxurious buses across the country to cast their votes.
“Before the election, the chiefs, women, in fact all leaders of thought in this community came together in agreement, that enough of the insults because barely few days to the election, the PDP released a mocking list of names of some of our sons who were appointed into non existing boards, just to create tension and trouble in the community, but the people came out to say no, that even if you are giving us every other appointments, what we need is the position of the House of Representative because you cannot give Adadama and House of Reps at the same time, so the people in their numbers came out to defend their votes.
“Dr. Alex Egbona is a giver, a unity factor and hope to the hopeless so the people trust that with his presence in Abuja, the entire constituency will be well represented. This rerun is reunion factor for the people of Ekureku because even those who have not visited the village for the past 10 years now, have used the opportunity to pay their way home because some paid their way home from far away places like Abuja and Lagos while some came with the transportation that was made available to them.
January 25 to be named Ekureku Liberation Day
“I will suggest that 25th January every year should be celebrated as a day of liberation to the people of Ekureku becasue our years of political slavery are over. So Alex’s victory has brought for us liberation and unity.
Imoke: Egbona is a better politician
A former governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke has congratulated Dr. Alex Egbona and Dr. Davis Etta for emerging winners of the re-run elections for Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency and Abi State Constituency respectively.
Egbona is of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while Etta is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In a statement which he personally signed and released on Sunday, Imoke said with the elections over, it was time for all to unite for the common good of the people of the federal constituency.
Imoke said “through the course of this season, as is always the case, tensions were perceived to be high. Ultimately, the elections were peaceful. Now that elections are over and I believe the better politicians won, we must all sheathe our swords and unite for our common good.
“We must condemn and abhor the denigration and abuse of leaders and the perpetuation of divisive tendencies. Abi/Yakurr and indeed Cross River State can only grow if we give our representatives the requisite support. I also expect that Alex and Davis will provide qualitative representation for the federal constituency and the state constituency respectively.
“While acknowledging everyone’s constitutional right to seek redress, I advise that this matter not be pursued any further in the courts. For John Gaul and Iwara, I believe you did your best and I wish you well in your future endeavours.”
Owan Enoh Hails Egbona
Immediate past senator representing Cross River Central district, Senator John Owan Enoh on Sunday congratulated Egbona for emerging victorious at the rerun. In a statement, he said “my profound thanks and appreciation to the good people of Ekureku, Abi and indeed the APC family in Cross River State on the resounding and well deserved victory achieved by Hon.(Dr.)Alex Egbona during the just concluded rerun election.
“The people have spoken in clear and unambiguous terms to validate the mandate they had earlier given to their illustrious son during the 2019 election. By this victory, democracy, effective representation and above all the people of Abi/Yakurr federal constituency are the true winners. Congratulations to all those who worked tirelessly to make this remarkable success a reality.