From Judex Okoro, Calabar
The race for who occupies the Cross River Government House has continued to gather momentum as three National Assembly members and an educationist in the platform of PDP have declared their intention to contest for the governorship election ahead of 2023.
Those who have signalled their intention to take over from incumbent Prof Ben Ayade include Sen Gershom Basey, Sen Sandy Ojang Onor, Rt Hon Daniel Asuquo, and Sir Authur Jarvis. While Sen Onor is the only one from the central senatorial district, the rest are from the southern senatorial district of the state.
While Sen Bassey, was a former Chairman of Cross River Waterboard and a key player during the seventeen years of PDP reign in the state and a two-time member of the Upper chamber of National Assembly, Prof Sandy Onor was a former chairman of Etung local government chairman, former Deputy National President of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), former commissioner and a first time senator. He is also a lecturer at the History Department of the University of Calabar.
Asuquo was also chairman of Akamkpa local government area, Director-General of State Electrification Agency and a three-time member of the House of Representatives while Sir Arthur Jarvis Archibong is a seasoned administrator, educationist and the Chancellor of Arthur Jarvis University, Calabar.
Declaring his intention to run at the party secretariat in Calabar, Prof Sandy Onor, a fellow of the Historical Society of Nigeria, said: “It is about time that Cross Riverians lookout for competent hands from any senatorial district that can help salvage the pitiable situation of the state. I am confident in my ability to redeem and restore the state to the party of progress.
‘We cannot compartmentalise our leadership, especially at this point where we need the best to lead us, the best that can be found in any senatorial zone today. So, the people must be allowed to determine who the best is.’
He had earlier in the early hours of Tuesday declared his ambition during an early morning mass at Holy Family Catholic Church, Ibom Layout in Calabar where he was accompanied by a host of supporters who pledged their support to his ambition.
Also consulting the party leadership on his ambition to join the governorship race, Sir Arthur Jarvis Archibong decried the pitiable state of affairs in ‘our once glorious state,’ promising to ‘work in synergy with others if elected as Governor for the overall interest of the people.’
Declaring his interest to contest for the governorship seat at his local government area last weekend, the member representing Akamkpa/Biase Federal Constituency, Hon Daniel Asuquo, promised to govern the state through continuation and partnerships by building on where Donald Duke, Liyel Imoke and Ben Ayade stopped.
Asuquo, a three-time member of the Lower House maintained that the governorship slot be zoned to the southern senatorial district, adding that it should be micro-zoned to non-Efik speaking people of the south.
In his words, ‘I have a dream to build a robust, prosperous, peaceful and secure Cross River State through continuity and Partnerships. I intend to transform the state into an agro-processing hub by building these hubs in the three Senatorial zones of the state. This will create the needed employment that will turn food on the table into food for the table. In the partnership, we will revamp rural and urban infrastructure across the state.
‘Cross River State has over the years operated a rotational brotherly system and it is the turn of the southern senatorial district to produce the governor. But it is our wish that the governorship be micro-zoned to non-Efik speaking people of the southern district. By our calculation, Mr Donald Duke, an Efik son from the South, was the governor between 1999 and 2007. So it should be the turn of non-Efik this time around if finally zoned back to the south.’
Sen Gershom Bassey, the leader of the Cross River caucus of the PDP at the National Assembly, though had not declared officially at the party level, had earlier indicated an interest in a media chat and in different fora, saying it is the turn of the southern senatorial district and ready to throw his hat into the ring.
Meanwhile, the Director General of Gershom Bassey Campaign Organization, Barrister Ekpo Ada, has raised the alarm over the entrant of Sen Sandy Onor into the governorship race, warning that PDP should not toy with zoning.
Ada said Prof Onor’s declaration yesterday at the PDP Secretariat spells doom for the party, especially for the southern Senatorial District, as the party is already losing key members to other parties due to perceived injustice.
According to him, ‘if the PDP does not come out strong within the next one month to state its position on power rotation and zoning, the consequences on the party may become disastrous.’