APC Chieftain Insists Greed Destroying Party in C’River

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Barr Utum Eteng

 …Blames Oyegun for Handling Crisis Wrongly  

Greed, selfishness and inordinate ambition of All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders in Cross River State are responsible for incessant crisis, a Chieftain of the party, Barr Utum Eteng, has posited.

Speaking in an interview yesterday, Eteng said, “the APC, right from 2015, has not known peace. If at all it had peace, it was peace of the graveyard. Things were not done properly right from 2015. The current crisis is a spill over from that disagreement. You will realize that APC in Cross River State did not win one single seat in all the elections in spite of the very huge sum of money sent in for the elections. This was as a result of the suspicion and bad blood.

“After some members of PDP in Cross River state were sent out of the party as a result of shabby treatment by the leadership, most of them pitched their tent with APC. Two parties were very prominent, PDP and APC…There was that naivety, selfishness, suspicion because some elements, old elements in APC, thought that some members of PDP and other new members coming to join APC should not join because the president won the election and they were coming to harvest what and where they did not sow.

“The APC of old, with more than 100,000 members in the state was only able to give the president 28,000 votes in 2015. If a party with a purported registration of almost 100,000 members could only give the presidential candidate of its own party only 28,000 votes, it means some members of the APC engaged in anti-party activities. It is simple logic. The membership of your party is 50, and when you presented a candidate, only 20 persons voted, what does that suggest?”

On the disputed state congress, Eteng said “I’ll talk more as a lawyer than a politician. If the constitution has provided a process upon which a thing should be done, any other process outside what the constitution has provided is null and void. It is not me that is saying it should be declared null and void. It is the process by itself that has declared itself null and void because the constitution of the party is the alter ego, the grand norm.

“For me, I think the gulf has been opened wider than it was before because many have been hurt. And again, Senator Osita Izunaso had the effrontery to stay in one room and say persons who were suspended, the suspension had been lifted. But by law, if you were suspended by an organization, rules have set forth the procedure to lift the suspension. You must make a complaint within seven days or fourteen days and this must be looked into, and the appropriate body must do that.

“You cannot jump from the national to come to the state and lift the suspension. It is an abuse. I think Osita Izunaso should apologise to Cross Riverians and he should apologise to APC, and he should apologise to Nigerians because President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is all about the rule of law. And you cannot do that from the ruling party where the president is a member. No. It should not be done.”

Barr Eteng also has pointed accusing fingers at the National Chairman of the party, John Oyegun and other national officer for mishandling the crisis in the state chapter.

He said although the national chairman was not actually stoking the crisis, Oyegun “has shown some level of lack of firmness in a taking a decisive decision as a leader of a party” and added, “this is so because, when a country or an organization has made a constitution to guide its activities, it is only activities that are within the limits of the constitution that are permissible to be performed by the members of the party and the leadership of the party. For instance, if there are crises like they are now, you want to intervene, intervene through setting up an impartial committee and supervising the committee.

“Let me tell, and I want to be quoted anywhere, any time, on the 19 of February, I was invited to come to the national secretariat to take part in the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Cross River State. Clement Ebri was there, Pastor Usani Usani, the minister for Niger Delta was there, Victor Ndoma-Egba, the former leader of Senate was there. Senator Bassey Otu was there. Owan Enoh was there, Chief Wilfred Inah was there. Obono Obla was there. The former Speaker who acted as governor, Larry Odey was there. Mary Ekpere was there.

“If I have any disenchantment about what happened thereafter, it all started from that meeting. I have mentioned prominent Cross Riverians. My anger is, because of the prominent Cross Riverians who were there, it was as if they were sold into a kind of slavery. Everybody sat there, with the former governor of Ekiti State, Segun Oni and one Senator Osita Izunaso who did not have the kind of impetus he displayed in his own state.

“Look, the kind of rubbish I saw, our people were humiliated. People like Clement Ebri will talk and Cross Riverians will be hired to hoot at him, people like Wilfred Inah will talk and Cross Riverians will be hired to hoot at him. Look, I felt I should just move out of that place and disappear. Anybody that was instrumental to that kind of sitting there was wicked to the people of Cross River State. It was sheer wickedness. I know they purport to have set out to solve the problem, but I pitied our big men. Well as an Ugep man, if I had an opportunity, I would have physically engaged those people, arising from what I saw. You don’t subject your people to that kind of ill treatment because you want to gain an upper hand.

“If peace is being navigated within the limits and confines of our constitution, no problem. For instance, in the midst of this anger as a lawyer, I know that the constitution of a party or an organization is not amended on a mere pronouncement. There is a procedure for which you can amend the constitution. By our constitution, before you go into holding a state congress, there must first and foremost be a ward congress. They elect delegates from the wards.

Senator Osita Izunaso had the effrontery, the boldness, the lack of shame to pronounce that in that contest, the ward delegates are excluded. Five delegates from each of the 192 wards in Cross River state, tell me, how many Cross Riverians have been excluded? Apart from that, this matter is in court I am told, but I have not seen the processes. So I am talking independent of the processes in court. I have not seen the processes. But I am talking based on my knowledge of the party’s constitution. For Osita Izunaso to sit down and give four days for a congress to be held, as if it is a teacher giving instructions to students. And the constitution has provided an elaborate process upon which to handle a congress, advertisement for the form, purchase of the intent form, all kinds of processes, you go for screening. After screening, appeal, only four days were given for all these to be completed.

“You can see the impunity, the arrogance. I am annoyed. I am not annoyed because Etim John was declared chairman. The process is a big insult to the sensibilities of Cross Riverians.”

On the way forward, he said “the way forward to resolve the crisis is to organize a proper, legitimate congress based on the constitution of the party, and that can be done under one month because it is only a state affair to be supervised by the politicians and supervised by the national headquarters.”

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