Former National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Venatius Ikem, has told calitown.com exclusively that, “in CRS 90 percent of the gubernatorial aspirants are Executive Council members”, because the governor gives his EXCO “the impression that one of them will become governor of CRS” after he leaves office in 2015”. He however stated that, “at the end of the day we will see that most of those people posing as aspirants from the EXCO neither have the political experience, clout or the financial support to push through their candidature”.
Ikem who spoke to calitown.com on the heels of the honorary award given him by the Nigerian Law School Class of 1988, for his strides in Politics/Public Service, further frowned at what he referred to as “the reduction of the governorship of CRS to the level of appointing cabinet members to it and the seeming confusion this is creating because every cabinet member from the North of CRS feels entitled to run for governor”. In other states, he continued, “I hear governors announce that cabinet members who are interested in running for elective positions should resign, but the CR case seems different”, wondering again that, “do we expect then that those who should supervise and ensure a level playing field, who are at the same time interfering so much with and choking the entire process, will be able to give us a fair election?”. For the records, he again stated, “we will reject the forceful imposition of candidates, not through violence, but in the peaceful and sustained efforts that Cross Riverians will channel into making sure that they take charge of their destiny”.
On the conduct of the last local government polls in the state and the widely held view that certain aspects of that process may play out in the gubernatorial polls in February next year, he disagreed and pointed to the fact that, “people did not resist the outcome of the LG polls because that election was under the absolute control of the governor, but it will be different with the elections next year because the umpire is going to be different and nobody will just sit anywhere and foist a candidate on the people of CRS”. Those who constitute the state EXCO, he continued, “are just a few appointees that the larger CR population greatly outnumbers. Forget that they form an absolute cocoon and try to tell themselves that a successor will come from among them, it is laughable. How many are they, what is their reach, to think that they can manipulate the system in their favour”.
“The best they can think of is for someone to sit down and draw up a list of delegates; but I can assure you that this is not going to happen successfully in this state again. Anybody who attempts this will see a backlash that is unprecedented. I just pray and hope that this does not play out even though the evidence on the ground is pointing to this happening. We must all therefore pray that the CRS governor will have the foresight and remain absolutely neutral”, he concluded.
Finally, Ikem told calitown.com that, “government is showing that it is pro-Fidelis (Ugbo) and so it looks likely that on our hands will be an election where an ‘independent’ candidate squares up against a pro-government candidate. It is also unfortunate that in recent times, our governor has been drumming it openly that he will not endorse anybody but he knows who will not be governor. This posture challenges Cross Riverians to either go with a government imposed candidate or a candidate they choose for themselves”.
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