Being excerpts of the extempore speech delivered by a former governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, when Daniel Asuquo(Dansuki), who represents the Akamkpa/Biase Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, visited to inform him of his plans to contest the 2023 governorship election in the state.
Let me welcome all of you again. Some of you I haven’t seen in many years. There are so many of you here that are very familiar faces in the politics of Cross River. Most of you here significantly contributed to the development of Cross River. What is Cross River today is because of you, not because of Liyel Imoke. No, no, no. And I think that’s very important; that we can still see you here gives us hope that there is a future in PDP for Cross River State. So let me welcome you on this visit, we haven’t defined it-anointing, consultation- but I will start with my relationship with Dan, your principal.
I’ve known him for quite some time. He’s someone who I define as a very young, dogged and interesting politician and he knows it; and he’s also someone who is very determined. There’s no one that has been running for governor of Cross River State as long as Dan. So today, he is making it official. But when you put it on record, some six years ago, Dan started running. He started putting in place those things that needed to be put in place. I’ve just been observing things in my usual mind and sometimes I always say to people at some point, some people will say I shouldn’t say it, I shouldn’t say it. But I say that at some point when all this was going on, I said if the primaries were held today, Dan would win.
That’s not because I’m favouring Dan. It’s because I had known my analysis and I saw that Dan has taken a few steps ahead of everyone else. That’s what I admire, that’s how my politics is. Julius has said it; my politics was about going to them(the people), not them coming to me. Unfortunately politics of today is that you come to people and I don’t like it, I don’t like the politics of today at all because it’s now about the person will just sit down there, then you come and the person will tell you what the person wants and you too, you’ll go and obey or execute. No, that’s not politics. Now you want to campaign and you go to a LGA headquarters and you say you’re putting up campaign, that’s not politics, but it works. In those days, we have to go, if I’m going to Obubra, I will know that I will start from Osuokwo to start coming down, go round to Eyamoyong, all round before I can say I’ve finished campaigning in Obubra. But all of that has changed now. I’m seeing that Dan is going back to the grassroots and so I want to encourage Dan, I think that that is very commendable, but Dan has been a grassroots politician in the Federal Constituency over the last 10 years and he’s done well within the Federal Constituency.
He’s close to me, he’s the only person that could keep me awake. He comes at 11 or 12 in the night, that’s the time he comes and he doesn’t know I’m 60 he’ll just be keeping me awake. But he’s also very analytical; he has a good mind and understanding of the politics of Cross River. So we spend time discussing the politics of the day.
He’s someone that I can say is close to me. I must be honest; when I came into the office as governor, I saw, I may be wrong, I saw an extreme persecution and it was the first time I saw the DPP(Director of Public Prosecution) Cross River State, former Attorney general and there were files on Dan, prosecuting him for murder.
And I’ve never told anybody this. There were two files like this and I put those files in my cabinet in my office from the day I saw them till the day I left the office. I didn’t see any reason for those files to be continued with. So, I put them away. Those are the only two files I remember that for my eight years as governor, remained in my desk collecting dust. I didn’t know whether it was for a time like this, you understand? But I just felt that it was a bit extreme, you understand? Because I was part of the incident that happened in Akamkpa, you know what I mean. When the road was blocked and we had to go back because of the way I think, you understand, and I think differently from others. So it wasn’t…to a lot of people it might affect their ego, you understand. But for me, it aroused my own curiosity(and I was asking), who’s this boy? (laughs), you know. It was, who is this boy? You understand what I mean, and if this boy has people that can do this type of thing, he’s a very young man, I need to find him, you know what I mean and find out what he’s all about, you understand. That’s my own mindset you understand. So I found him or we found each other, we worked closely together. I’ve never had cause to take a position against Dan on key issues through the years. He’s worked with us, he has been an astute business man, you know. He worked for us both in the public sector, he had his own private business. We got back a long way; so I can say that Dan is my political son.
We’ve talked at length privately and it’s not everything that we talk about privately that I need to put into the public domain. I think that Dan is an astute politician and I think he’s very resourceful, he has a lot of capacity and he has been very concerned about this issue of zoning, you know what I mean, and he’s been very firm about it and I’ll take you guys back to the issue. Donald(Duke) was not my friend per se. Donald was commissioner for finance when I was senator and we were not friends. I didn’t know him before that, I only knew him through Clement Ebri. I wanted to do something in CROSPIL and he sent me to the commissioner for finance. That’s how I met Donald and the commissioner for finance rejected, threw the people away, said they are not doing the project. Then not like me and him became friends, but after Clement Ebri’s tenure, a lot of us were in Lagos, I convened a meeting of Cross Riverines, like minds in Cross River, we talked about the future of Cross River, but Donald came across as competent because unlike the rest of us, he has been commissioner for finance for a season and during that season. So I thought in my mind, this young man, even though he rejected my company when he was commissioner, (laughs) he’s still competent. I knew Gershom longer than I knew Donald, I knew Gershom from Clement Ebri’ s campaign, but Donald struck me as someone who could, with that experience. But the key thing was that at that particular time, the saying in Cross River was that an Efik man cannot be governor. That thing used to agitate me and I couldn’t understand why they would say a man from Cross River cannot be governor because of his ethnic origin. So for those people who believe that zoning started after Donald, I want to clarify; that it did not start after Donald. It was as a result of that position that no Efik person can be governor, that I took a position that we should go to the south and go with Donald to prove, to break that notion, you understand. So for the people who said that oh! They will do zoning, that was our position as a party, PDP and we have always taken a position as a party when it comes to the issues of zoning. We have never zoned for APC or APP, you understand, so as a party we took a position.