Frontline politician and former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Venatius Ikem, has told calitown.com exclusively that he supports the return of Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, to the senate a fourth time, even in the face of suggestions that CR governor Liyel Imoke may be headed for a political collision with Ndoma-Egba for the Central Senatorial seat. According to Ikem, “if you see the strides the Senate Leader has made at the national level, if he remains, we (Cross Riverians) stand a better chance of retaining him as the Senate Leader, but no matter the profile of the governor, I do not see how he is going to become a Leader in the Senate if he goes to the Senate now.”
Confronted with the feelings in certain quarters that Ndoma-Egba has performed minimally, he was of the opinion that “we must understand that performance as a legislator does not have the depth those in the Executive enjoy. He can only make decisions and not implement them, so whatever he is doing will be streamlined and kept within his functions”
On the heated issue of the North and the governorship in 2015, Ikem informed calitown.com that, “in spite of what they call the governor’s pronouncement on the North producing the next governor, there are surreptitious moves by certain persons against this pronouncement. Suddenly Gersh (Bassey) is planning to do empowerment and is penciling names to empower in the senatorial districts, something he has never done in 16 years.”
On the argument brandished so easily that the North is never able to politically put her act together, Ikem was quick to respond that, “those who say the North has not been putting her act together, well, when the time comes we will know if the North can produce a gubernatorial candidate or not.” He carpeted the democratic process in the state and frowned at its “strangle hold on the people”, adding that there ought to be in place, real democracy that accommodates alternative views.
On the state’s economy, he had this to say, “it is a medium sized economy, we are not the poorest and certainly not the richest. We can improve our earning portfolio if we are able to attract investment that can also explore the oil potentials of the state.” He frowned again at the politicization of key decisions in the state citing as an example the recent dissolution of the Cross River State Internal Revenue Service, CRIRS, as having the capability to limit the financial potentials of the state. “I hear that the last CRIRS board was generating over a billion naira, after they were removed, revenue collection has dropped to hover around N900 million. Corruption and a half hearted approach to revenue collection is robbing our economy of huge sums of money. Again in the quarries in Akamkpa, we are collecting only about 20% of what we should collect and that is not good enough”, he concluded.
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