As the Cross River State government and people vis-à-vis the nation are grappling with the seeming surprise otherwise shocking defection of governor Benedict Ayade from the People Democratic Party (PDP) which has been an umbrella party in the state for 22 years to the All Progressives Congress (APC) the ruling party at the centre, it is now obvious that the two years period to mark the end of this administration, a lot of political upheavals will unfold.
While the People Democratic Party (PDP) which held sway for sixteen years as the ruling party both in the state and the National level is yet to overcome the shock and bewilderment coming from a protégé of the former Governor Liyel Imoke, it could still treat Ayade’s defection and political decision as a same of interest with a clear signal that the time to go back to the drawing board is now.
Ayade in his words; ‘the time to align with the centre is here, Cross River State has lost its oil wells to neighboring states. This is not the time to play opposition. I see President Muhammadu Buhari as a Nationalist. This is why we as a people need to be part of the moving train”
Be that as it may the game is not over until it is over.
For Governor Benedict Ayade who believes that his passion and drive for economic and industrial emancipation of the state must be accomplished, the reason to monitor governance even with the benefit of the hindsight should be a driving force hence the imperative of a loyal successor.
The choice of his fervent promise to hand over government to the Southern Senatorial district therefore becomes inevitable but this again must go with pedigree, fait accompli, ability to policy continuity and the need to drive such policies and programmes to logical conclusion.
Speculations already abound that Ayade is eyeing three of his serving commissioners who have displayed undiluted and impeccable loyally and a former Senator on one of whom will replace him on the saddle.
For Governor Ben Ayade, if this is going to be the last fight, he is prepared. One would therefore not be surprise if the APC this time under Ayade’s watch goes into a conclave to arrive at a decision for either Prince Bassey Edet Otu, a former member of the House of Representatives and later Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or Mr. Edem Okokon Effiom, former Commissioner for Social Housing and now Commissioner for Rural transformation a complete protagonist and Ayade loyalist without blemish.
Judging from history Ayade’s relationship with Senator Bassey Edet Otu spans beyond the political landscape into business and integration. But for Governor Ben Ayade to identify one of his cronics in Lagos then as a staff of National Population Commission and bring him back home to work with him also tells one that, the loyalty spans overtime. Edem Okokon Effiom, sometimes described as ‘Humility Personified” is a holder of a Masters Degree and a candidate for a Ph.D, hails from Akpabuyo Local Government Area of Cross River State who has been in politics for well over 30 years working for the success of the system and serving in whatever capacity he is asked to with passion and the requisite dignity of labour.
Edem Okokon Effiom known in many quarters as ‘Otunba” because of his Lagos inclination without forgetting his state of origin even before his appointment as commissioner was a staff in the National Population commission.
Coming against the backdrop of service per excellence, the Commissioner for Rural Transportation undertook construction of the 50 housing units in the Bakassi Resettlement quarters also known as IDP camp then as Commissioner for social Housing, a project he cherished so dearly and strove to bequeath enduring legacies not only for the Ayade administration but also for his political future and the transparency he has always been known for. He is one that has traversed the length and breadth of this state from Bakassi to Obanliku and even has the historical and social background of almost all the local government areas of the state, yet his loyalty, to the government he serves, humility and respect, coupled with service to humanity is non to compare.
But for those that knows and have come in contact with Mr. Edem Okokon Effiom, I am sure no single line of these peace about this commission will be faulted in anyway.
Also in the line up is the commissioner for Finance, Mr. Asuquo Ekpenyong (Jr.) though relatively new in the business of politics, but with his good academic background and the responsibilities of the office he is managing, he could be the black sheep, that people have not seen that can spring surprises when the time come. He is also a two term and one of the governor loyal commissioner.
Meanwhile, the honourable commissioner for Gas Mr. Saviour Nyong seems to have a very intimidating political C. V.. From Bakassi, Mr. Nyong has served the administration of Ben Ayade for two term, his experience in politics is well over twenty five years, having served at the local government level as a supervisor, as a council secretary then the chairman of Bakassi local government council. He had also served his people at the state House of Assembly and then as a Commissioner. It would not be wrong to say that Mr. Saviour Nyong, a Masters Degree holder is readily available for governorship position. He is well endowed politically, administratively and educationally.
The likes of Joerge Obenetchi is a politician that has a stint political outing having served two times as a legislator at the State Assembly and two time commissioner serving in Ayade administration, Hon. Obenetchi is currently the chairman of commissioner’s forum, a close and one of the governors loyal aids with a good educational background
It is almost becoming a noun that Nigerian governors preffer their loyal aids to succeed them, and permutations are right, then one of these honourable men can lead and take this state to a save habour.