By Our Reporter
Chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River have vowed to wholeheartedly support their governorship candidate, Senator Bassey Otu, and have therefore dismissed as inconsequential an alleged threat by another Chieftain, Sam Bassey, to work against the interest of the party while still remaining as a member.
Recall that Sam Bassey was quoted in some newspapers as vowing to rally Biase/Akamkpa people to vote for the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Sandy Onor, in next year’s polls due to what he said was the zoning of the governorship to another Efik son after Mr Donald Duke had governed the State for eight years.
Expressing disappointment with the zoning arrangement of the APC, Sam Bassey was quoted as saying ““Having looked at the candidates jostling for the governorship especially, I believe that Sen. Sandy Onor, the PDP governorship candidate, can help us and I am by this interview endorsing his candidature. I have the backing of my people before making this pronouncement and we have discussed with Onor.
“Onor is very approachable and has a listening ear and I believe he will listen. We cannot continue to be enslaved and anybody who does not like it should come out and let us know why it should be otherwise. We would try our best to mobilise for the election of Senator Sandy Onor.”
But, in their different reactions, both the member representing Biase State Constituency in the House of Assembly, Rt Hon Ogbor Udop, and another Chieftain, Goddy Akpama, said Senator Otu would have the support of majority of party members.
In a chat with our reporter, Rt Hon Udop said although Chief Sam Bassey was entitled to his opinion, dangling ethnicity was unnecessary as Odukpani/Calabar Municipality federal Constituency, where Otu comes from, was yet to produce a governor, explaining that former governor Donald Duke was from Bakassi/Akpabuyo/Calabar South federal constituency and not Odukpani.
He said “The people openly voted for Senator Bassey Otu during the governorship primary. Prince Otu hails from Odukpani local government area which has never produced a governor. Ethnicity should not be an issue here, instead we should talk of federal constituencies.
“We know that zoning is a blind man walking stick to help our democracy move forward, and after the party in its wisdom zoned the governorship to the Southern Senatorial district, party members overwhelmingly opted for a candidate from a federal constituency that never produced a governor and they are just two – Calabar Municipality/Odukpani and Akamkpa/Biase federal constituencies.
“If one talk of ethnic groups, even in the Biase/Akamkpa federal constituency, there are many ethnic groups and one cannot withstand the rigour of sharing political offices among them. It would obviously lead to confusion and rancour. As Democrats, we do not have any right to question the decision of the people. The people have settled for Prince Otu and so shall it remain.”
Also speaking, another Chieftain of the party, Goddy Akpama, expressed surprised that the elder statesman could contemplate switching support to PDP governorship hopeful who is from the central Senatorial district but added that even at that such support would be inconsequential to Senator Otu’s victory.
In an interview, Mr Akpama, a one-time Cross River State Chairman of Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) said, “I come from the central but when you speak of the South, Efiks are in the majority and spreads across about five local government areas.
“His decision to leave the APC or support PDP candidate does not tickle anybody. It is like pouring water into a river. It is inconsequential. Sam Bassey should also know that he would not have been a man he is today without the Efiks.
“Efik men had contributed immensely to Sam Bassey’s life. We talk of people like Eyo Nsa Waley, Chief Tony Ani, Senator Gershom Bassey and recently, Asuquo Ekpenyong (Jnr) who he was campaign manager to. The Efiks have been there for him always. As far as I am concerned, APC is solid, consolidated and strong.
“He is saying someone from Biase/Akamkpa should have been considered for governorship. Let him tell us who in that axis bought forms to take part in the process as governorship aspirant. Did he vie for it? The last time he ran for Senate was during Michael Ani’s time, and he was funded by an Efik man.
“If the people of Biase/Akamkpa do not agitate, do you go to the Streets to force every Tom, Dick and Harry to buy forms and aspire? Let me say this, Sam Bassey is not a threat to APC. He claimed to speak the mind of his people but the question is who are those his people?
“As far as Biase is concerned, he does not have the political clout to pull anyone to his side. Don’t forget that the Deputy Governor is from there.
“Is he including the Deputy Governor, and Dr Emil Inyang or Egwu Arong among those ‘his people’ who he would use against the APC? Let me tell you this, his interest is purely personal. Let me reiterate, Sam Bassey is not a threat to the APC.”
On the support Sam Bassey vowed to render Senator Onor, Mr Akpama said “Cross River is in peace today because of the rotational understanding of the governorship position. If the people had not agreed that power should go the central and north in 2007 and 2015 respectively, it would not have been possible. Now, it is the turn of the south.
“Let me say this, Etung local government as a whole with a voting strength of 30,000 only is just equivalent to Ikom Urban 1, but they are the ones talking the loudest as being ready to take over power, probably because of Gov Nyesom Wike’s money. I am convinced that Prince Otu will be Governor by God’s awesome power.”