Hundreds of youths from the Calabar-South, Bakassi and Akpabuyo local government areas of Cross River have protested against the fifth re-election bid of member of the House of Representatives, Pastor Essien Ayi, saying they were tired of a ‘sleeping representative’.
Ayi represents Calabar-South/Bakassi/Akpabuyo federal constituency and was first elected in 2003 and had done four unbroken terms but the youths insisted that they want Hon Joseph Bassey, Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly to consider representing them at the Green Chamber in Abuja.
The protesters carried placards with varied inscriptions such as: “The Mugabe of Calabar South must go”, “Bakassi say no to fifth term lawmaker”, “Capital NO to fifth term”, among others.
The youths, who took the protest to the State House of Assembly, sought and got audience with the Speaker of the House, Mr. John Gaul Lebo, who was accompanied by other principal officers, including the Deputy Speaker himself.
Speaking, one of the youth leaders who identified himself as Solomon Archibong, said there were tired of Ayi and would not want him to represent the area anymore, adding “he is our own Mugabe, please let him leave, we need a new face. If you are being given first term, second term, third term, I think that’s enough, but we went ahead and gave him fourth term, we cannot afford a fifth term.”
Also speaking, a female legal practitioner, Ekanem Ndiyo said, “on behalf of women, mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, we call on Hon Bassey to please salvage us from this situation. Come and be our voice. We want a man with charisma.”
However, unconfirmed reports say Mr. Joseph Bassey was very much interested in the position and was allegedly behind the protest.
The Speaker, John Gaul-Lebo, who spoke briefly to the protesters, commended them for peacefully conducting themselves, and expressed hope that his deputy would listen to the voice of the people and run against Ayi.
Moreover, a source close to the House of Representatives member maintained that Ayi would seek re-election in 2019 despite the protest, and noted “more than any other person, Ayi understands better the intricacies of National Assembly politics and has remained a political asset up until date.”
He accused the Deputy Speaker of sponsoring the protest, and added that both leaders would test their popularity at the polls when the time comes.