With the defection of governor Ben Ayade from his former party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP to the All Progressives Congress, APC the political graph of many political heavyweights in Cross River State have continued to move in unpredictable direction, against their permutations and projections.
Ayade’s defection, no doubt, has left too many disappointed, while bringing hope and faith to others. But that is politics for you. Like the game of football, you can never say never.
Perhaps, the biggest task before Gov Ayade right now, is how to shop for a worthy successor. One that will be acceptable by all stakeholders in his new political party the APC and the generality of Cross Riverians. Such a character will also need to be versatile, must have a good track record of tangible achievement, good knowledge of the state and the problems she’s currently faced with and how to go about it.
Importantly the next governor must be one that is free from the political establishments that have held us sway for such a longtime. By this I mean a new breed politician, different from the old stock.
So far, alot of names have been bandied around as possible successor to the governor. We will attempt to mention some of the names here and their chances of occupying the Peregrino House come 2023.
Sen. Gershom Bassey
The two term senator belongs to the People’s Democratic Party. He is believed to be one of the “three wise men” who is yet to occupy the Diamond Hill seat of power. Although he is rumoured to have the support of his old time friends, former governors Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke, Sen. Bassey will have a lot of political rivers to cross if he must secure his party ticket.
While he is widely believed not to be in touch with his constituents except during electioneering period, many political pundits believe that his biggest obstacle will be some of the heavyweights within the PDP waiting to truncate his long awaited dream.
Sen. Prince Bassey Otu
The distinguished senator was a member of the 7th senate after two tenures in the house of representatives. Commonly called Sweet Prince, by his political admirers, he enjoys a large followership across the state. His attempt to reture to the senate for a second term tore the political fabrics of the PDP apart in the build up to the 2015 general elections. An action that witnessed massive exodus from the PDP to the labour party, a political exodus that remained the biggest ever in the history of the state, until Ayade’s recent defection.
Although he is yet to make public his intention to run as governor of the state, many see his wide popularity and admiration by many Cross Riverians as a major threat to the now opposition PDP if he runs. He sits comfortably as a formidable candidate to beat.
Engr. Ben Akak
He is relatively unknown in the state political environment. The business man turned politician who hails from Ukwa in Odukpani LGA has not hidden his intention to succeed governor Ayade.
He recently decamped from the PDP to the APC where he hopes to pursue his dream of becoming the next governor. But his biggest obstacle will be his little political root and the big political heavyweights he will have to contend with to secure the APC ticket.
Hon. Daniel Asuquo
The University of Calabar graduate and three term member in the house of representatives is known to be a grassroot person. Born in Kano state, he became chairman of Akamkpa LGA between 1999 and 2002. He is rumoured to have his eyes seriously on the governorship ticket in his party, PDP.
Popularly refered to as Dansuki, Hon. Asuquo is loved by his Akamkpa people, he is known to also have a stronghold on many young people, especially in the Southern Senatorial district of the state
Perhaps, his toughest challenge would be how to dismantle the strong political establishment within the PDP currently headed by former governor Liyel Imoke.
The highly unpredictable Imoke is a known supporter of his longtime friend and leader of the Cross River State cacus in the NASS, Gershom Bassey.
Hon. Edem Efiom
He is the current commissioner for Rural Transformation and perhaps one commissioner who have worked harder and achieved much more than any other commissioner within the last 6 years .
Although he has struggled to maintaina low public profile, Hon. Edem is a major grassroot politician and mobilizer in his Akpabuyo LGA where he comes from and Calabar south where he has worked in his early political life. His humility, accessibility and near perfect knowledge of the state gives him out as a preferred successor to governor Ayade.
If there is any appointee in Ayade’s cabinet that is so close to the first family, that should be Hon. Edem Efiom.
Although, he is not known to have desired or spoken about his love to succeed his boss. Delivery on his mandate as commissioner, humility, accessibility, absolute loyalty among many other factors, easily gives him away as Ayade’s possible succesor.
Even though not so much has been heard about him, many political prophets believe that the theatrics of his possibility of succeeding governor Ayade may be like the way the current governor succeeded governor Imoke in 2015.
George O’ben Eche
The youthful commissioner who enjoys followership from a section of young people in the state is another commissioner believed to be very close to the governor. In the first tenure of Gov. Ayade, he was reported to have been gifted a Prado jeep for his sterling performance as commissioner for Minerals Resources.
The Akamkpa born former state legislator, apart from being close to the first family in the state and leading a political group that advocates political power shift to the south, is believed not to command any political force to emerge governor. His biggest political impediment may also be his lack of popularity in the central and northern parts of the state