By Eric Odey
“…the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” – Ecclesiastes 9:11
I met Engr. Ben Akak in January 2019 when he was introducing himself and his aspiration to govern Cross River State to a group of some elderly Cross Riverians. I was left thinking to myself if it wasn’t a tad too early to commence a governorship campaign for 2023. But the candour, fervour, effervescent humility, clarity of purpose, sincerity, innocence, steely determination and reverence to Almighty God that he exuded and espoused that day got my attention. I decided I will keep my eyes on him, howbeit from the background until such a time that I will have the benefit of comparison. Comparison in terms of seeing and hearing other governorship aspirants unveil themselves.
Fast forward to December 2021, two years after and the Ben Akak train has not slowed down. Rather, it has gathered more steam, more passengers to the point of overloading and more drivers willing and driving the message to the different nooks and crannies of Cross River State. Above all, this political train has taken over the political tracks of the State, forcing even those who had arrogated the power to decide who the drivers and passengers should be to scamper about, looking for space.
The person and messaging of Ben Akak has evolved and fused into a very strong, attractive and resolute brand that resonates with different segments of the Cross River society. This is due mainly to his consistency. The consistency of his personality as a simple, humble, God fearing, resourceful, philanthropic, humane, purpose driven and sincere person. The consistency of his messaging centred around building strong governance institutions, driving entrepreneurship and private sector development, building a strong and quality human resource base, enthroning a deliberate leadership recruitment strategy, diversifying the economic base of the State, identifying and implementing creative funding sources to take away dependence on dwindling federal allocation, etc. The consistency of his followership where he has demonstrated absolute loyalty and support to the leadership of his party, the APC and the State, both under His Excellency, Prof. Ben Ayade, thereby inspiring an equally loyal and supportive followership to his aspiration.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Cross River State needs someone like Engr. Ben Akak as Governor in 2023. He has presented himself first and foremost as a detribalized Cross Riverian, which is why he has refrained from being drawn into the debate on zoning. He has shown that cutting edge ideas and vision to find solutions to contemporary challenges should propel our search for the next Governor, not a person’s place of origin. Need you search anymore? Need you keep tarrying? Get on board the Ben Akak train. It is picking up pace on the steady journey to the Peregrino Government, Calabar come 29th May, 2023. It is a destination that is assured. The Ben Akak time and chance (in Ecclesiastes 9:11) has arrived.
Eric Odey contributed this piece from Abuja.