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C’River PDP ticket: Stage set for Imoke, Abang

MUDIAGA AFFE writes on the intrigues and power play in Cross River State as Governor Liyel Imoke faces Ambassador Sonny Abang on January 23, 2012 for the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party in the April governorship election

The political climate in Cross River State has come alive following the clearance of Governor Liyel Imoke and Ambassador Sonny Abang in a battle that will see one of them clinch the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party in the April election.

The screening by a committee headed by a former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin, at the PDP South-South zonal office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, had last Monday put to an end doubts about Abang’s aspiration to contest the slot with Imoke.

Since October 2010 when the information became public that Abang, who was a former Nigerian Ambassador to Mali and also an ex-state chairman of the PDP, would contest the governorship ticket with the incumbent, the intrigues and political manoeuvrings in the camps of the duo became intense.

At the zonal office of the PDP in Port Harcourt where the screening took place, the beehive of activities by various groups loyal to Imoke suggested that the incumbent governor may have an easy passage in securing the party’s ticket.

Apart from coming late for the screening due to flight challenges from Mali, as gathered by our correspondent, Abang’s appearance for the exercise did not attract public attention like Imoke’s.

Imoke had shortly after his screening described as thorough, comprehensive and natural the screening of aspirants at the party’s South-South zonal office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The governor noted that the next step after clearance was the party primaries and described the screening exercise as transparent and democratic.

On his part, the spokesperson of the Soni Abang Campaign Organisation, Mr. Ndoma Egodo, said there had been pressure from interest groups to talk Abang out of the race but that there was no going back.

However, recent intrigues and manoeuvrings indicate that both camps are working hard to ensure that their candidates secure the ticket.

A chieftain of the PDP in the state, Mr. Frank Effa, said the two contenders for the governorship slot understood the workings of the party at the grass-roots levels as they had both worked closely together.

Effa said, “There are only two serious contenders here, Abang and Imoke. And they are serious because they are the same foxes. They have stayed in the same hole so they know each other’s tricks.

“In fact they have the same bag of tricks. So Imoke would be wary of Abang showing interest. That is why I believe this is the first election Imoke is going to run in this state against himself because Abang is like him.”

While various groups, prominent individuals, politicians and local government chairmen from all the three senatorial districts in the state had openly pledged their loyalty for Imoke, the situation cannot be said to be the same for Abang, but serious undercurrents from his political acolytes have kept Imoke on his toes.

For instance, ahead of Monday’s primaries, the Abang group had two weeks ago accused the leadership of the party in the state of plans to rig during the election.

Chairman of Ambassador Soni Abang Campaign Organisation, Dr. Godwin Amanke, alleged that plans had been concluded by the Imoke’s camp to select delegates for the primary election without adhering to the rules of the party concerning the selection of delegates.

Amanke, who accused some serving aides of Imoke of already compiling the list of delegates, said, “They are not in the field doing the campaign. They are rather preparing the list; some party leaders and commissioners are writing the list. They have almost finished writing the list of their delegates to be submitted because they have billions to be paid to national officers.”

He said his campaign organisation would stop at nothing to ensure that the plot to rig the primaries failed.

But the state party chairman, Mr. Ekpo Okon, had waved the allegation aside saying it was impossible to foist delegates on the party faithful in the wards.

He said, “I wonder why people who cannot make things happen will just be looking for something to say. These are wrong insinuations. Who can stop the election of delegates that is done in the wards?”

Also, the Campaign Coordinator of Legacy Group, a group anchoring the return of the incumbent governor, Mr. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, said his campaign team was not aware of the rigging plan and warned those thinking of such acts to desist from them.

At the last count, no fewer than 10 political groups, including local government chairmen and party caucuses had endorsed the candidature of Governor Imoke for a second term in office come April 2012.

Conspicuous among them was the Legacy Group which did not only buy a nomination form for Imoke, but also went to submit it at the party’s national headquarters in Abuja.

In another solidarity visit to the governor, the party caucus leader in Akpabuyo Local Government Area, Mr. Bassey Eyo Ndem, said they came out to declare their unalloyed support for Imoke and his deputy, Mr. Efiok Cobham, based on the performance the administration had put up in the state.

Ndem said the performance of the administration since 2007 had been unprecedented following the numerous programmes which it put in place.

Specifically, they commended Imoke for the relative peace enjoyed in the state which has culminated in industrial growth, creation of jobs and wealth for the benefit of the people, among others.

However, at the airport in November when he declared his governorship ambition publicly to the youths in Calabar, Abang had said, “In 1998, I was 28- years- old when we built this political family and made Donald Duke governor of Cross River State. Today the people who rule Cross River State, none is younger than 45 years. They have forgotten us. They call us their boys. I am also one of their boys.

“As old as I am with a good CV, I am still a boy. So if I am a boy, I belong to the youths. So, I am with the youths; I don’t belong to the high table because I am a boy. For the first time, it is the duty of Cross Riverians to decide that one of their own would be projected.

“As I have told you, I regret nothing, but my heart bleeds for the youth of our state. Today they say youths of Cross River are engaged in cultism. If you want people to denounce an emerging trend, you put up a framework to divert their attention. The framework should be more attractive and should make other preoccupations less attractive, then people will abandon the one of lesser benefit and go for the higher benefits.”


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Posted by on Jan 22 2012. Filed under Cross River, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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