BY: Hon. Eko Atu
I have watched with interest the unfolding events in the politics of Cross River State in the last couple of months. First was the intense fighting within the APC as to who the real chairman of the party in the state was. This dragged on well into the last general elections leading to the two factions holding separate congresses and submitting different names of candidates for the elections. The matter dragged on and unfortunately one of the claimant to the position of chairman, Dr. Matthew Achigbe died in a ghastly motor accident. May his soul rest in peace.The courts I learnt recently delivered judgement in favour of John Ochalla who belonged to the Achigbe faction as the authentic state chairman with a fine imposed against the Etim John faction. This needless attrition caused the party a vital opportunity of making inroads into Cross River State, except in the Abi/Yakurr federal constituency where Alex Egbona won. One would have expected that the APC being the government at the centre and had all the federal appointments and might would have made a good showing. But it was never to be. One lesson is that all politics is local and the APC brand was alien to the people. The infighting within the party made the electorates confused as to who exactly they were going to vote for. The PDP on the other hand being the government in power at the state level had it’s own fair share of the problems. Through stick and carrot approach, the party was able to silence the rebellion within it and went into the elections. However, it suffered a devastating blow in the Abi/Yakurr federal constituency where everybody acknowledged as it’s stronghold given the person of H.E Liyel Imoke. That lose was a signal that all wasn’t well within the party at the local and state level. It was a warning sign that the once cohesive party was showing signs of disintegration. Then came the last “congresses” for the selection of candidates for councillorship and chairmanship positions. Critical stakeholders and party members were completely left in the dark while names were being compiled for councillorship and chairmanship positions. It was who was closet to power that got nominated. In some wards and local governments rotation was jettison. Today some aggrieved members of the party are in court challenging the outcomes of that exercises. The courts are yet to decide and from the look of things, the local government elections might be imperilled. The dust from the selection process for the local government elections had hardly died down when the wards and local government congresses for the party’s position came up. Same strategy of impunity of lack of consultations again reared its head, but while the local government elections selection process was hurtful to some “lesser” men and women; the control of the party structures at ward, LGA and State level wasn’t going to be taken for granted; because the gladiators here were the la crème de la crème of the party. And their fears were justified. If they weren’t consulted during the “selection” processes for the local government elections and up to the congresses for ward, LGA elections; what will be their fate going forward in their political career. So while names were being compiled for the various offices across the state, other critical stakeholders took the exercise to the party at the grassroots allowing them their choice as to who becomes what. The NWC released the list of those congresses across the country including that of CRS after a critical evaluation of the reports of the various committees set up for the wards and local governments chapters. That list has rattled some key section of the party leading to forging a new list different from the original list addressed to the critical persons of the party hierarchy. The Excos of the wards and LG had already being inaugurated. The party had further disclaimed the “new” declaring it as forged as can be verified from the official PDP Twitter handle and website. It is sad that a party that was once cohesive and strong is showing signs of weakness because of lack of inclusiveness and impunity. H.E is the leader of the party in the state. That nobody is contesting. DD and Liyel Imoke were all leaders of the party as governors. That’s the tradition of the party. But as leader of the party, H.E Ben Ayade should know better how things are done within the PDP family. He has been a Senator under the PDP and knows how decisions were taken including some that he was a beneficiary. Decisions within the PDP family are taken after much consultations and horse trading. Such decisions in some cases don’t go down well with a few persons or interest groups, but people are allowed to make their inputs. So even if the few do not agree, which is usual; such few are assured of their protection and reward. But a situation where past leaders and critical stakeholders of the party including sitting members of the state and national assemblies are shut out of the decision making process, bad blood is bound to develop. Attempts to retire and make non relevant members of the party who have toiled, held positions and built followership will create anger and rebellion.This is the time for our Leader H.E Senator Ben Ayade to call his children together. Find out from them those things they disapprove of and how they would wish the party to be run or refocused. Certainly nobody will dictate to HE how to run his government, but government is not party. When it gets to party affairs, consultations of critical stakeholders and members is key to having a cohesive strong and healthy organisation. When a deliberate effort is made to shut out old hands within the party in an effort to create a new “structure” you run the risk of not having people who know the history of the evolution of the party and how things are done. Check the headship of the PDP right from the late revered Rev. Ikobi and tell me if the quality of leadership we have today can remember how PDP berthed in the state. So when people are “selected” without regard to their knowledge of the organisation they are meant to run, the tendency is rather than build on the successes of that organisation; they destroy it.The ball is in H.E’s court to unite the party, how he will do that is what I don’t know; because when you descend into the arena you become muddied and can’t see clearly. Some including the outgoing Exco will agree with me that the party has been comatose since they took over. We need to re-energise this party. It is more in H.E’s interest as the Leader because any misstep will have a collateral damage on all of us, but more on the LEADER.
Hon. Eko Atu is a stakeholder of the PDP and former Aide to H.E Liyel Imoke.