High Chief Higgins Peters is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC and critical stakeholder as far as politics of Cross River is concerned. The Politician/ business tycoon is the Chief Executive Officer, CEO of Opal Group. In this interview, Higgins talked about the political intrigues that culminated into the APC winning the Ogoja/Yala federal constituency by-elections, power shift to the south, and other sundry issues in the 2023 polity of Cross River State. Excerpt:
You have been quoted in some of the national dailies as saying that achieving victory in the just concluded by-elections which ended in Cross River State on February 26, wasn’t a tea party, but a herculean task, difficult to accomplish, and that the APC would no longer take things for granted, can you expatiate on this?
Like I said initially in the interview in reference, we APC as a party in the state took too many things for granted with the feeling of “we are the government, everyone is loyal to us”. This feeling and belief had largely worked from 2003 until recently with an exception of Alex Egbuna’s election in 2019.
I can tell you authoritatively that aside 1999, everyone that has been elected in the state to National Assembly, State Assembly and Local Government since 2003 are all beneficiaries of the establishment (the state government). No one in the above mentioned positions, past or present, would claim to have won election or elected on their own electoral worth or value. It is laughable and mischievous when we see most of our elected office holders claiming or bragging about electoral value or premium they don’t have.
Cross River State has had consistent PDP Governors and government for over 22 years with cells and blocks in every nook and cranny of the state, yet we took it for granted that we could just move out without sensitization, leaders going back to tell the people that the house we have been living in for the past 22years had collapsed and we were going to use the boom to sweep the debris away to give room to a better and more durable building.
Without mincing words, there was a large yearning gap between the party leaders and the followers.
This election has taught us that this gap we must be close, sensitization and explanation we must do to the people.
Do you imagine that instead of leaders going home to stay with people within their communities they would rather prefer to stay in hotels in urban centers and be visiting quest to their communities and the people.
How do we therefore earn the trust or respect of the people that was supposed to translate to votes that way? That must change.
What prompted your party, the APC, to make pronouncement that they are zoning the seat of governor to Cross River south senatorial district in 2023?
As a person, let me say I don’t believe in zoning particularly as the rotation has ended, rather I believe more in capacity but if the governor, who is the leader of our party in the state as enshrined in the party constitution, has said it should go to the southern senatorial district, knowing that there are abundance of people with tremendous capacity there, why would any loyal party man or woman challenge that decision particularly some of us who are privileged to have him as our friend? I will support and stand by his decision to the latter.
Who does your party, the APC, have in mind to hand over the guber ticket to in 2023.
The party will surely field in a competent, dynamic, acceptable, experienced and popular candidate that will not bring too much pressure on the party in trying to sell his candidature to the people.
What makes you think that the chosen one is the right person for the plumb job of governor of the state?
Because he would have the right qualities the state would need from as the state governor.
In previous interview that you granted to some media men, you did say that the APC did not expect the kind of challenges posed by the opposition party, and that your party has learned a great lesson and would re-strategize ahead of 2023 general elections probably to beat opposition to their game. Can you give me an insight of what you mean?
This question is same as the one asked earlier. However, that doesn’t mean that I won’t attempt to make answers to the question available to you. Since you want an insight, I will tell you with all assurances that the APC is learning from its mistakes. Knowing what we know now, in 2023 we will win the governorship clearly as sure as the day will break tomorrow and almost all elective positions available. I stand quoted afterwards.
You were quoted in one of the dailies as saying that the February 26 polls was one of the best elections conducted by INEC with a particularly reference to the Ogoja /Yala federal constituency by-elections, and that anyone who disputes that fact is nothing but joker. Now that the PDP has said it has rejected outcome of the election, what is your take on that?
You just referenced me that I said anyone that doubted the result of the Ogoja/Yala by-elections is a joker. So if some elements in PDP are said to be contesting the results or by your word rejecting it, then they are jokers or being mischievous.
It is my believe that politics or party affiliation should not break the bond of family and friendship that exist between us in the north. Unfortunately, it is becoming a pattern that people left in PDP now in that axis only go to contest elections with their hopes in courts not on the electorates. That is so sad!
You are known to be one of the closest ally of governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State. In this instance, are you speaking the mind of the governor?
No! I don’t work or speak for Gov. Ben Ayade, I speak for myself.