Andy Essiet, Calabar
Seven Local Government Areas of Cross River state under the auspices of Greater Calabar Forum (GCF), have adopted the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Bassey Otu as it’d sole candidate for the state’s 2023 governorship election.
Briefing some newsmen in Calabar at weekend, the group said their decision is based on the “Back To South Agenda” and considering the fact that Otu is the only serious and credible candidate from the south in the race.
The Leader of the Forum , Etubom Archibong Ironbar said the back to south agenda was very much alive as they plan to synergise with their brothers in central and North to ensure that power shift or zoning in the state moves smoothly.
“We have a vision to bring the governorship to the south , so we fell back to the candidate of the APC , we did our best to make sure all parties had a southern candidate , so we are throwing our weight behind him , and we will stand by him to the end ,” he said.
Etubom Ironbar stated that the governorship started in 1999 in the south and has gone round Central and North so it is just natural that it should start from south again and move round without making any of the senatorial zones have undue advantage over the other by causing one zone to wait for more than the mandatory eight years.
According to him, the two major political parties in the state had their primaries and the APC chose a Southern candidate as it’s flag-bearer which has in no small way has kept the back to South Agenda alive, the group would ensure that every eligible voter in the state was properly sensitised to support it so that next turn goes to Central.
The group condemned current effort by some persons in Central trying to truncate the peaceful power rotation in the state and asked the people of the state to reject such an agenda.
Etobom Ironbar explained that as a non partisan organisation , they had consulted all parties, including PDP and APC alongside other stakeholders in the state, about the agenda which is to ensure the next governor of the state comes from the Southern Senatorial District.
He said, “it seems a lot of people are a bit confused about the direction of the BTSA , but we are here to set the records straight , the Agenda is still on course , as the days go by , we shall roll out our programmes from the wards up to the LGAs and Senatorial Districts, every eligible voter would be well enlightened by our structures at various levels.
“If we miss this window which we had stayed off for 16 years , it might run into years or decades before we can ever get it back , we are starting from the seven LGAs , then spread out sensitisation to other places, including other Senatorial Districts as we cannot do it alone , we need the support of our brothers.
“We had to fall back to the candidate chosen by the APC because he is from the South and this is based on the principle of equity , fairness and Justice. All other senatorial districts have taken turns, naturally it should come back to the South. We are not getting sponsorship from anybody , not even the candidate we are supporting , but because it is a cause that we believe in , we are making personal sacrifices to make sure we drive home our standpoint.
“We are only trying to foster the mind of the people , which is very dear to our hearts , and we want to stand by it , through thick and thin, this is our turn , and we cannot shy away from it. The party can do their thing , we don’t want to stand and watch this disorder. many think it is a dead issue because the PDP took a candidate from central, but the APC has also chosen a candidate , and we would stand by him”.
Representatives from other LGAs include, Chief Ekpe Essien Ita of Odukpani, Chief Richard Effa, Akamkpa, Dr Grace Akpanika, Calabar Municipality, Prof Eyo Etim Nyong from Odukpani and others.