By David Inameti
Despite the ongoing endorsement of Gov Ben Ayade by a cross section of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, leaders and member, organised labour leaders and some traditional rulers for him to continue in office beyond 2019, other notable voices, particularly from Southern Senatorial district of the State, are distancing themselves from the endorsement and promising to give the Governor a run for his money unless the Obudu-born Governor meets certain condition which political analysts described as ‘tough.’
PillarToday authoritatively gathered that apart from discontentment and anger expressed by some Calabar residents who spoke in this regards over their downward socio-economic circumstances, the Senator representing the Southern senatorial district, Sen Gershom Bassey, House of Representatives member, Pastor Essien Ayi, former Gov Donald Duke and other political leaders from the South may have decided to ensure the Governor is not re-elected on platter of gold.
It was observed that throughout these weeks of endorsement rallies organised by major stakeholders and interest groups, most of these leaders have been conspicuously absent, thereby fueling speculations that all is not well.
Furthermore, in a letter sighted by our correspondent and dated January 23, 2018 said to emanate from Senator Bassey and addressed to the State Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Esu, the attention of the Governor was drawn to ‘critical issues of concern’ which the letter said were raised by the people of the southern senatorial district during an interactive session.
Senator Gershom Bassey had through the letter, subtly noted, “kindly assure our people that I have personally drawn the attention of His Excellency, the Governor, to a lot of the issues raised by them during my interactive sessions with the people of the southern senatorial district.
“The Governor has promised to address same. I am confident that where the issues that bother our people are looked into and addressed, we will have no difficulty getting their support.”
A top PDP stalwart, who was privy to the said ‘critical issues’ raised and who spoke on condition of anonymity, posited that projects in the South that were listed as the Governor’s achievements since assumption of office had still not gone beyond the conceptual level. He listed the proposed superhighway and deep seaports as well as the recent move to make single lane Calabar-Odukpani road to a dual carriage way as projects that had yet to kick off in concrete terms.
He further accused the Governor of not paying equal salary to political appointees from the South saying those from the North were more favoured in terms of remunerations, warning that if the Gov fails to address issues raised, the APC despite its infighting, could spring a surprise.
“The Southern Senatorial District is the political mitochondria and the highest pool of voting strength in the State, and this was well demonstrated in the near half of the total votes that returned Gov Ayade in the 2015 gubernatorial election in CRS. This statistics is in no doubt pertinent and may not be unconnected with the rise for recognition considering the barefaced opposition from the other two Senatorial Districts of Cross River Central and North.
“With regards to emphasis, the APC in Cross River State is making frantic efforts and reasonable attempts at grabbing State power using all options and avenues come 2019, hence, the pursuit of this course by eminent personalities of the party.
“Amongst those that have indicated vehement interests to unseat Ayade, includes but not limited to: Sen John Owan-Enoh, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, Prince Jeddy Agba, Hon Paul Adah, Hon John Odey, Hon Larry Odey, Hon Venatius Ikem… etc,” he stated.
He advised the Governor not to “undermine the simplicity and friendly status of the Southern Senatorial District people,” adding “Ayade should trade cautiously to avoid a misfire given the erupting political warning signals.”
“The letter by Sen. Gershom Bassey must be given undivided attention, thoughts and must be treated with highest level of responsibility and sincerity. This may just be the right nut for Gov Ayade to crack on time,” he stated.
Other sources also alleged that Gov Ayade has been “partially selective in the empowerment of political supporters due to misguided threats and body language from some quarters, thus, leaving out critical stakeholders who have political strength across board,” and added that “this untoward development is generating heated tensions and controversies within the political circle and thereby mounting threats to Governor Ayade’s ambition for 2019.”