In the past few years, the Cross River State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC have been brewing in serious crisis that culminated into the operation of two secretariats; one at the Barracks road, Calabar led by Sir John Ochala and the other at Ndidem Usang road led by Hon. Etime John.
While the Etim John faction enjoyed the support of the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Usani Uguru Usani, the Ochala’s faction has the support of the National Vice Chairman South/South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta and the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
In the last general election, APC presented two candidates in almost all the elections including the Governorship which has Sen. John Owan-Enoh, a candidate recognised by the Ochala’s faction and the National Secretariat and Dr. Usani Uguru, the then Minister of Niger Delta who was preferred by the Etim’s faction. Both candidates even went to the tribunal to challenge the PDP victory but lost.
It’s an open secret that the infighting and division in the APC gave PDP a smooth ride in all the elections. With the calibre of people now in APC in the State, even the worst critic of the party agrees that its performance in the last election wasn’t a true reflection of its strength. Much more was expected of a party that boost of the a former Governor, former Senate Leader, a Minister, a serving Senator and numerous federal appointees.
While the gladiators in APC spend more time strategising against themselves, fighting over who control the party, the opposition PDP was busy planning on how to win it’s common enemy which is anybody presented by APC. From State Assembly election to the governorship, PDP won APC except for just one election that all factions decided to come together.
There’s no doubt that Hon. Alex Egbonna is loved and adored by his people, this advantage wouldn’t have worked smoothly for him in the Abi/Yakur federal constituency if the APC didn’t sheath their swords to work together. His election was almost the only election in the state that all the stakeholders came together and the result was a resounding defeat of the then Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. John Gaul presented by the PDP.
The Alex Egbonna story is a classical example of what unity can do and what it would have done for APC in other elections should the stakeholders worked together.
As many have asserted to, the decision by all waring parties to drop their guns to work for just a candidate in the overall interest of the party was also largely informed by the choice of Chief Egbonna who was undoubtedly not just the right man but the only person in the federal constituency in the ranks of APC that enjoys massive goodwill across factions and party lines.
With the last week Appeal Court judgement that authenticates Sir Ochala led executive as the authentic leadership of the party in the state and the willingness of the winning faction to extend a hand of fellowship to the Etim factions, it appears for the first time in over two years, there’s hope insight for APC to return to a great indivisible and united family that it once was.
It’ll be foolhardy for anybody to believe that the matter has completely been resolved just by the Appeal Court judgement. While it is said that both factions are making sincere efforts for reconciliation, the wounds are also still fresh and alot more need to be done to bring all together. People will grumble, others because of pride or what they benefit from the fight will never want APC to be one. But with the commitment shown by the major players, there’s hope insight.
APC cannot afford to go into the next election which is the Northern Senatorial District beyelection with a divided house and expect magic. The surest thing that can guarantee APC ‘s victory is when all key players collapse their structures in complementary to other efforts to field and sincerely work for a candidate who enjoys similar goodwill like Alex Egbonna.
It’s an open secret that among all those who have indicated interest for the northern senatorial district bye-election, Prof. Zana Akpagu, a former Commissioner, two times Special Adviser and the incumbent Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar fits the cap.
Prof. Akpagu like Egbonna enjoys massive goodwill across the factions and party lines. He is celebrated across the five local government in the north because of how much impact he has created. Beyond the zone and the state, his name is everywhere. His acceptability knows no bounds.
From religious, Students organisation, transport unions and even the traditional institution in the entire northern Senatorial District hold him in high esteem. He holds highly revered titles in almost all the local government. The entire state Traditional Rulers Council has also recognised his good works and have honoured him with “Eto Nkori” Chieftaincy title which is the highest traditional title that can be conferred on anybody in the state.
The implication of this is that even the gods of land recognise and appreciate what Akpagu has done for the entire state.
What makes Akpagu a compelling choice for the APC is that although, unarguably an old APC member who sits at number 19 in his Ipong ward membership register, he was never really involved in the factional politics in the state therefore would be more acceptable by all and sundry. He has the Alex Egbonna kind of followership because of what he has done for people.
APC cannot afford to repeat the mistakes that made the party perform poorly in previous elections when they have opportunity to make their 2023 takeover plan easier by using a charismatic leader, a proven performer and a sterling achiever like Akpagu to win the senatorial district with the highest voting strength in the state for the party.
Like Egbonna, if APC fields a cerebral leader like Akpagu, the chances of winning the bye-election and by extension the 2023 elections against the divided PDP which is today a house at war against itself is very huge!
If Egbonna did it for APC, Akpagu can and will do it.