By David Effiom
I am an admirer of the governance style of Governor Ben Ayade which is centered majorly on human capital development and industrialization. I am not happy and I belief many politically conscious Cross Riverians are certainly also not happy with how the Governor was disgraced out of the Peoples democratic Party. The same political Party through which he emerged as a senator of the federal Republic of Nigeria. No State governor would have wished to be treated that way, not even sen. Liyel Imoke who spearheaded the entire process.
Well, sad that all of that took place and the governor quietly moved to the rulling All Progressives Congress. In the APC, as the highest ranking member of the party in the south south geopolitical zone, the party immediately recognized and designated him as the leader of the party in the zone.
Now, as the governor prepares to take a bow and hand over to a successor. It is clear that he has a huge battle before him to fight. The battle for who takes over from him is going to be, perhaps the fiercest of all his political battles.
Governor Ben Ayade will have to ensure that his political party secures victory at the 2023 general elections. For him, the implication of him loosing that election would be better imagined.
It therefore leads to the process of selecting who fly the party’s flag come 2023. The acceptability of the candidate, support base of such candidate, ability of the candidate to win election, and track record of such candidate in previous positions must be critical in the selection process.
Currently, there are over 10 governorship aspirants vying to fly the ticket of the All Progressives Congress in the State. This is without doubt, a critical decision moment in the political history of governor Ben Ayade. A time where he will have to make decision not based on impulse, emotion or feeling. It is a period of deep thinking and reflection.
Natural calculation will demand that first and most important criteria in selecting the candidate of the party will be by popular choice and demand of the entire citizens of the state so as to get an immediate buy-in. The people must see the candidate as their own and not one foisted on them. That way, they will be the ones who will take the message to the streets and vote not based on political party but the individual.
Knowing very clearly that the PDP is still very much rooted across the state. The choice of the APC must not just be a popular candidate but one who is loved and generally acceptable by Cross Riverians. By doing so, over 45% of the job would have been done. Because during the 2023 elections. Nigerians and indeed Cross Riverians will vote for candidates and not political parties.
As a political watcher and analyst, with due respect to other aspirants who are equally very good in their own rights, the above narration seems so far to be in favor of Sen. Prince Bassey Otu.
Sen. Otu’s wide acceptability, support and love by Cross Riverians is unparalleled. His support base cuts across political, ethic and religious lines.
His candidature will immediately send serious pains downs the political spines of the PDP. While it is not a secret that several of those in the PDP will openly identify and vote for Sen. Otu during the election, there is no doubt that a Prince Otu’s candidature will deeply fragment the opposition PDP into near extinction.
There is right now no aspirant within the APC yet who commands the kind of willful followership and sacrificial love like distinguished senator Otu. The example could was obvious during his visit to the APC leadership in the state. The mammoth crowd that greeted his visit was a clear signal that the former lawmaker has been adopted by the people as their own candidate, not minding which political party he emerges.
As it is, governor Ben Ayade stands on the threshold of history to give to the people of Cross River State the kind of governor they all desire and want. The governor will go down in history as the best governor who listened to the people and gave them their choice.
In the taxi, at the market and at the shopping malls, conversation continues to be rift within the large percentage of non voting population about a Prince Otu’s candidature and their willingness to go out and vote for the fist time.
The time to do the will of the people is now.
David Effiom is a Cross Riverian and a member of the All Progressives Congress, Cross River State. He writes from Calabar