By Richard Offiong
Hon. Efiom Okokon is a grassroot politician who has paid his dues well enough to deserve the APC ticket for his Akpabuyo, Bakassi and Calabar south federal constituency.
As a commissioner in the state, Hon. Efiom embarked on the grading of several internal roads within Akpabuyo and Bakassi local government areas, this is despite not receiving any special allocation to that effect.
Not long ago, I was with him in the house of a prominent woman leader in the state, Dame, Sen. Florence Ita Giwa, when suddenly two men walked up to him and with an emotional laden voice appreciated him deeply for helping their brothers secure a federal government job with the Nigerian airforce. Hon. Efiom had gone as far as Abuja to scavenge and secure 12 slots for members of his constituency, spreading them around to cover the three LGAs. It was later that I got to realize that those young men who approached him were actually serving councilors from Bakassi LGA.
Words will fail me if I should begin to mention several humanitarian efforts, support for young and aspiring artisans, media entrepreneurs, sports men and women who have benefitted from the milk of kindness of this humble and unassuming grassroot politician.
Apart from the fact that he is deeply connected with his people at the grassroot, Hon. Efiom is a very humble, quiet and intelligent person. Engaging him in a discussion regarding the affairs of Cross River State is always a delight at anytime. He seem to have every detail about the state at his finger. He could give you different narrative about almost every village and clan in the state, the from the hills of Obanliku to the creeks of Bakassi that will leave you only amazed.
As a party man, Hon. Efiom has immensely helped to popularize the APC in his native Akpabuyo LGA and beyond. He is perhaps one of the few appointees who did not lose his polling unit and ward during the last state assembly bye election in the state.
Nobody changes a winning team, the news making rounds that the All Progressives Congress plans to substitute the name of Hon. Efiom Okokon despite his huge popularity for another person allegedly favoured by the party hierarchy, should be resisted by all men and women of good conscience. If the party goes ahead and perpetuate such irregularity, the risk will be far more greater than the gains the party have made within the past few months.
Already, the APC is very unpopular in the country, it is therefore, imperative that the party leadership do what is right and acceptable by all Cross Riveirans and party members.
Apart from his popularity in Akpabuyo and Bakassi, Hon Efiom who started his political journey in Calabar south without doubt still commands huge followership and love across party lines in Calabar south.
The time for the party to act by doing the right thing is now or it risk losing the federal constituency election in 2023. It is also important to put the record clear that, if the irregularity continues to go ahead and APC loyalist protest, then the party leadership should be held responsible.
Akpabuyo is already too volatile and anything that will make youths there to take laws into their hands should be immediately discourage. And that can only be done by ensuring that one of them, Hon. Efiom Okokon is rightly handed the ticket.