By Our Reporter
As rumours continue unabated across Cross River over an alleged plans by Governor Ben Ayade to replace his Deputy, Prof Ivara Ejemot Esu with a younger person in 2019, a member representing Biase State constituency in Cross River State House of Assembly, Hon Ogbor Ogbor Udop, has described the insinuations as unfounded, saying the Deputy Governor is the best man to work with Gov Ayade as his running mate.
Udop, who spoke yesterday with our reporter, maintained that the Deputy Governor has been very loyal and has represented the Governor well in all ramifications and that, to the best of his knowledge, the Governor was not contemplating replacing Esu.
His words: “when the Governor nominated Prof Esu as running mate, he may have seen something in the man and I want to say that the Deputy Governor has not disappointed both the Governor and Cross River state people. He has been humble and very loyal. To the best of my knowledge, the Governor is comfortable with his Deputy. We believe that the comradeship will continue because there is no need to change the winning team.”
Udop explained that people capitalized on and play politics using a statement credited to Prof Esu that he was to serve one term with the Governor, and added “that tells you how open Prof Esu is. He said they were on a 4-year journey and that if the Governor decides to take him along in another 4-year journey, he will be happy and ready to continue serving and that if not, he will continue to support the Governor.
“That statement was statesmanlike and shows the man is not desperate, it was a statement of loyalty and humility but people are now using it destructively forgetting the aspect which he said ‘if…”
The lawmaker, who is also Chairman of House Committee on House Services and Security, also found fault with calls from some quarters for Gov Ayade to be replaced with another politician from the northern senatorial zone where the Governor comes from. He argued that if the South and Central served under single individuals as Governors for 8 years respectively, it would also be unfair to replace Gov Ben Ayade.
“For me and my people, we are hundred percent behind the Governor. I want to be challenged that Cross River ever had a governor who performed better than His Excellency, Senator Prof Ben Ayade, within a space of two years plus. I based my support for the Governor on what I called geo-political justice and democratic justice.
“In Cross River, there is political justice since 1999. The Southern Cross River had two terms under one individual; Central did that two terms under one person. Justice demands that Gov Ben Ayade, who is from the northern senatorial district, should also have his two terms. This will be fair to him as a person and the zone and will enhance that peace that we all crave for. No one can deny that Ayade has deep vision for the State.
“Democratically, the Governor is doing well. He is paying salaries when compared to other states, he is initiating people-oriented projects and has decided to engage many young men through massive political appointments, and he does not owe. Just yesterday, he has ordered removal of all tolls from our roads.
“Low income businesses are now tax free. I think it would be act of misplaced priority to contemplate bringing another man in who may discontinue Ayade’s lofty projects and probably dismantle the development structure the governor is building,” he stated.