BY: Eba Alobo Ishmael

With the official release of candidates list for the 2019 poll by INEC, the coast is now clear and the voters are presented with various choices to make in the forthcoming poll. However this piece beams the searchlight on two major contenders jostling to occupy the Pellegrino house come next year.

Cross Riverians are presented with two gentlemen in their early fifties who share some similarities as well as some differences in ideology and disposition towards governance and leadership.
On the similar traits, both men are within the same age bracket and have served in the upper chamber as senators. Therefore one say they have garnered enough experience and are therefore both eminently qualified to occupy that exalted office.

However, while one of them is presently occupying the position and is on a ‘continuity mission’, the other who is also still serving at the upper chamber is on a ‘rescue mission’. One will be forced to ask, ‘What is he rescuing the state from?’. To this regard, the response is visible even to the blind as the clamour for a change in the present leadership seem to be in the lips of many due to the inability of the present administration to deliver on the mandate entrusted to them by Cross Riverians.

In the words of George Will “Voters don’t decide issues, they decide who will decide issues”. As such we are confronted with an opportunity to make a choice on who occupies that position not based on ethnocultural divides but based on the credibility of individuals over time.

The popular saying that ” Bad politicians are sent to government houses by good people who don’t vote” has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. And I make bold to say that “Let us not seek the APC answer or PDP answer, but the right answer as Cross Riverians”.

The two candidates will be accessed on the basis of the following few qualities by the electorates as the days for campaigns which we advocate for ‘issue-based’ draw near.

PERFORMANCE: As office holders, both candidates’ performances over time will be a litmus test for the electorates to form their opinion. While Sen. Ayade will be assessed on how well he has performed as an occupant of that office, Sen. Enoh will be assessed on the basis of his scorecards as a legislature in the upper chamber. Questions that will be begging for answers will include but not limited to: Have they fulfilled their campaign promises? How many projects have they executed? How many lives have been positively touched by each of them? among others.

ACCESSIBILITY: The electorates will be forming their opinion on who amongst the two major contenders can be reached easily, easy to approached, gives listening ears and does not play politics with the welfare of the people. The facts are on the table for us to decide as both men have been in public offices and their accessibility levels have been put to the test over time. Questions to be answered will include: Who picks the calls of his people and reply to their messages even as an office holder? Who is more accessible and available to especially the rural dwellers? Who can the common man approach easily without being harassed by security men?. The facts again are glaring for all to see.

INTEGRITY/CREDIBILITY/ACCOUNTABILITY:  One attribute that should not be found wanting in any leader is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles and uprightness. Cross Riverians are presented with the choice of which leader among the two can be trusted with more power due to his credibility over time. Questions likely to linger in the hearts of the electorates include: Who has been honest and prudent with the powers entrusted to him in the past? Who has used the influence and powers entrusted to him to better the lives of the people not just his family members? Who has the moral uprightness to say a thing and keep to it? Who has fulfilled what he promised Cross Riverians over time? Who has been accountable to the electorates over time?. The facts again I make bold to say are glaring.

POWER OF INCUMBENCY: In our polity, the power of incumbency always play out in most states over time and to a large extent, the present administration in the state seem to be banking on this ‘power of incumbency’ as a stepping stone to reelection. However, cases abound where incumbents were defeated even at the national. Also both candidates are incumbents in their own rights as both are still serving in their respective offices. Therefore, this factor though seen by many as instrumental, to me is not a deciding factor but certainly it will play out as any of the incumbent will take the day at the end.

For now, I will pause here as the days ahead will witness detailed unveiling of the blueprints and antecedents of candidates to Cross Riverians for proper assimilation thereby leading to formation of an opinion on who deserves our votes in the forthcoming poll. Indeed interesting days ahead in our political dispensation.

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