By Andy Esiet, Calabar
As tension is building in Cross River State All Progressives Congress (APC) over the issue of consensus, its final State Caucus meeting scheduled for today May 7 to choose a consensus candidate for its 2023 governorship race has been cancelled.
Already, the Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN seven man committee to prune down the large number of aspirants to four from the two senatorial zones that have entered the race on Friday night submitted its report to the State Chairman, Mr. Alphonsus Eba for onward transmission to the State Caucus headed by the State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade.
A press statement on May 7 by the State Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr. Erasmus Ekpang said, “the ruling APC Cross River State Chapter regrets to announce that the proposed State Caucus meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled. A new date for the state caucus meeting will be communicated soon” .
He however apologised for the inconveniences the cancellation of the state caucus meeting might have caused but said, “the local government caucus can be rescheduled for tomorrow (Sunday) or as it is agreed with various chapter chairmen” .
No reason was given for the cancellation of the State Caucus meeting but it was gathered that the party needed time to put its house in order given the fact that some of the aspirants like Senator John Owan-Enoh have rejected the consensus plans of the party with the idea of buying just one form.
The party had said that the aspirants in their April 26 meeting with the party had agreed that in the spirit of concensus only one form should be bought hence the setting up of the Ndoma-Egba led committee to prune down the number of aspirants.
But Owan-Enoh in a sharp reaction through his campaign organizations said, “the attention of the John Owan Enoh for Governor Campaign Organization has been drawn to the 7-member committee that has been put up by the State Leadership of the party to, among other things, interface with all aspirants for the office of Governor and to prune down the number in each Senatorial District to two persons.
“The said announcement referred to the meeting of 26th April between the aspirants and the party leadership maintaining that the resolution of the meeting was their mandate given to the party to purchase only one nomination form”.
The Director General of his Campaign Organization, Sir Hubert Ogar (KSM) said,” the unambiguous position of its principal at the said meeting wherein he said he agreed to the purchase of the said one form only to the extent that it was purchased in his name. John Owan Enoh is yet to be informed that this has been done with just three remaining days left for the purchase of such a form.
“The reason for the above position by our principal is clear enough. John Owan Enoh was the APC candidate for Governor in the 2019 election. Despite the contrived crisis that attended this, both the Federal High Court as well as the Court of Appeal affirmed this.
“He should therefore have the right of first refusal in any consideration of the party’s 2023 Governorship candidacy, to the extent he has indicated a strong desire to contest. Although even on compassionate grounds, he merits this”.
He stated that, “three years since after his 2019 run, he has remained competitive and incidentally hails from a Senatorial District where the future victory of the APC largely depends on. The campaign organization will continue to follow very keenly the unfolding developments leading up to the 18th May, 2022 Governorship primaries”.
Meanwhile some party stalwarts who are not happy with the consensus arrangement said, “a workman is worthy of his wages, why do we love consensus so much? Allow people to test their popularity in the field anyone who looses will go home satisfied. Consensus is a form of bullying, yet we cry that our kids are bullied in school are those children not acting like their parents?
“I hope we are aware that it is going to be one man one vote in 2023 election, allow people to go to the field let the people choose their candidates so we can win the general elections”.