By Andy Esiet, Calabar
The Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar on Thursday, March 31 was a beehive of activities with a carnival like display by supporters of the Chancellor, Arthur Jarvis University, Sir Arthur Jarvis Archibong, one of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) contenders for the 2023 governorship race in Cross River state. The enthusiastic different support groups drummed and danced displaying different banners to welcome Sir Archibong, their principal who arrived Calabar displaying his governorship expression of interest and nomination forms he bought from the party headquarters in Abuja capping his readiness for the 2023 governorship race. Excited Sir Archibong later spoke with some newsmen on his agenda for the state and other issues. Excerpts:
Some people had doubted your capacity to run for governorship. Speculations were that you are actually aspiring for something. What’s your response to such Cross Riverians?
I am surprise to hear that. Ever since I came into the race, I have never given any doubt as to my purpose, my vision of running for this election. From the onset it’s always been for the governorship and to ensure that changes are brought to our dear state.
The party is very clear on certain issues. And as a party I want to believe that all matters concerning zoning will definitely be resolved by the leadership of the party.
You said Cross Riverians made a mistake to put us where we are today, can you throw more light on this?
“I did not say that there was a mistake they made. I only said that the current situation of things would call for all hands, every serious aspirant to be on deck towards offering solutions to the issues in our state.
Will you say the past seven going to eight years of the current government have been wasted years?
I don’t know what you mean by wasted. Maybe that’s your own opinion. Our campaign is not focused on that. Our campaign is focused on moving the state forward and ensuring that whatever issues that are supposed to be corrected would be corrected.
What are the issues on ground you think that are not okay?
I don’t know where your angle of question is. If you are a Cross Riverian or maybe you are not, I want you to know that the state is yearning for a lot of things in the areas of human capital development, infrastructure and others. Our campaign is basically focused on ‘Fresh Air’. The issue of having to put wealth into the hands of people is what we are going to focus on basically and we have our mission very clear on that. It’s quite clear that the vision of the state has been derailed in one way or the other, maybe in the past six or seven years. We cannot wish that away. So for us we are going to ensure that various aspects of human development, especially as it concerns our state are taken care of.
The state is seen as one of the poorest in Nigeria, what do you think you will do differently to take it beyond where we are?
We have not seen the books of the state. I don’t know how correct the report on some dailies that the allocation for our state is about N34 million for this particular month. We just came back from picking up the nomination form and we want to focus basically on ensuring that we get the candidature for the party and ensure that whatever vision that we have to continue towards 2023 will be achieved.
A little insight into your vision?
Like I said, we want to put wealth into the hands of the people. We want to take our state from where we are right now and ensure that we put and encourage private sector and ensure that as many as we put onboard will participate and ensure that the vision that we have are carried out. We are very particular about putting wealth into the hands of the people. We are very particular about the fact that all the 39 or more factories that we have right now will function and we will place them into the hands of people. There are lots of things that we will look forward to gain and to ensure that no new project will be in place unless when very necessary. There are lots of things to do and we hope to hit the ground running As far as we are concerned like I said, any new project will not be looked into unless when very necessary.
What will you do in particular to activate these industries?
“Like I said, we have to ensure that the 39 or more factories or industries, projects function. We have to ensure that Tinapa is back. We take it from where it is currently and ensure that it functions. We have to make sure that Obudu Cattle Ranch works. We have to make sure that we harness our natural resource. There are lots of things we will not allow out of the state, like our cocoa, our palm oil, we will put them into a cooperative and ensure that the current status quo does not operate. We are going to ensure that factories, industries are fed with these natural resources. We are going to encourage our youths to get into import and export so that the state will benefit from forex. All these are things that we plan to do.
Are you confident that you will get your party’s ticket?
The Party has to put its right foot forward as far as this election is concerned. And the party is very conscious of all indices towards winning this election. Trust me on that. And the party will not make any mistake.
Message for Cross Riverians?
The message I have for Cross River State is to encourage them and let them understand that no meaningful Cross will be happy with the current state of affairs and no meaningful Cross Riverian will not wish for a breath of Fresh Air come 2023