After some intrigues, consultations and power play, the immediate past Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ntufam Edim Inok Edim joined the race for the Calabar/Odukpani Federal Constituency and he is confirmed as the party’s consensus candidate. He spoke to Pillar Today on how he emerged, the Bakassi issue, oversight functions and others, Excerpts:
How did you emerge given the fact that the chairman of Calabar Municipality, your political son had since been in the race and even picked the form?
I don’t want to join issues with him but the fact is that I have been in the government as a member of the state executives before I became the state party chairman. I have been a team player and also very supportive of the leader of the party, His Excellency Prof Ben Ayade. As a human being, I expected him to give me go ahead before I will go for any office, but I was patient as he kept telling me to wait. Few days ago he called me that I should go and buy the form after they have searched for somebody who could fit for that position for Municipality. Something must have made them to agree on me. I wasn’t there. The National Assembly office has to do with people the government will trust, people with competence and loyalty. That was the yardstick, taking into cognizance what has transpired in the past which out of the 11 National Assembly members we have, Nine teamed up and fought the government to a standstill and the party (the Peoples Democratic Party) scattered. As a leader of the party I think he did not want the reoccurrence by just picking or recommending anybody. The National Assembly members instead of focusing on their primary assignment, they will go and lobby for oversight function to make money and come and fight the state.
How prepared are you now and what is your take on oversight function?
When I said I was not prepared it was not for the office. Even if you give me senatorial office now because of competence and my experience I know the expectations of that office and what that office should deliver. It is not oversight function. That is why our people cannot bring back dividends to the people because they are lobbying for one viable committee and pushing for budget. That is not what the people want them to go and represent them. You give quality representation by bringing the dividends to people not by enriching your pocket. Oversight function is your pocket. The first thing you do is to know why you are there which is the primary function – making the laws, supporting the bills and bringing projects that will enhance and empower your constituency like road infrastructure and education.
If elected what will you do differently?
By God’s grace I will be there. I will focus on my primary assignment that and that is number one. Two, those areas that people have abandoned that will be in the interest of Cross Riverians I will review them, including the Bakassi. I will start from where they stop. Another is education. The present and past governors have built so many companies and kept. If you look at Rice Mill, Ogoja farm etc are all technical companies. They are not ordinary. Where are the Cross Riverians that will work there? Will you bring in someone that read political science to go and control rice farm? We will have a crash programme for like three to five years. I will agitate for technical schools, universities to train our people in engineering, deep-sea welding. We are talking about seaport, who are the people that will work there? How many electrical engineers do we have in this state? How many structural engineers, how many civil engineers do we have? So if we don’t have, let me tell you the negative eeffec. It will result to capital flight. All what we will be doing in this state will be impacting in another state because their families are in their states, they only come to work and when you pay them their salaries it will impact in their states. We don’t gain. Look at the depot we have. Do we gain anything from the depot? Rather we are losing. Look at our pedestrian paths, they have destroyed them with their trucks, even when they have been offered space. If you do anything they will threaten you that they are going on strike. So even the government cannot really do anything to them. They are doing business in Cross River State you don’t tax them any Kobo, ask those tanker drivers. All the businesses they are doing here impact back to their states. We don’t get anything. Somebody must be there to stop all these things.”
Some persons are saying the Calabar/Odukpani Federal House of Representatives position now is the turn of Odukpani yet Calabar Municipality is taking it, why?
“Odukpani has been given Senate and Governor. Yet the same people are still complaining. Let them take the House of Reps and give us Senate they said No. What the governor has done is to ensure that there is peace in the family. The party at all times is supreme. Political party is like organization in which before you enter you have already agreed that you will abide by the decision of the party.
How sure of victory at the polls?
I am a capacity chairman. Capacity was given to me based on result. And that is the yardstick. I won all the local governments during my days. I won the town of my opponents. When we had elections, Hilliard Ettah was there. 10 o’clock, 11 o’clock he had paid money and he was leading me in my polling unit. My boys ran down and said they have finished us o. I said no. Don’t worry we are going back there. As soon as I arrived, all the votes reversed, and I won in that place.
I am instrumental to almost all the chairmen being in the office, the councillors – some I don’t even know them. What I am saying now is that my strength is measured according to my performance because you cannot on your own measure your strength. I have a scorecard. All the elections I handled I scored over 100 percent. It is on that basis that I am confident that I will win. Even the opponents we were all in the same party, I won them in their polling units.
Are you a consensus candidate?
Like I said, the leadership of the party is supreme. When once they say something it stands. When I consulted at the party office I was announced as the consensus candidate.