By Lokuzo Etim
Barring any glitches, Saturday, 14th May, 2022’s senatorial primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in CR Central is unique, not because it goes into history as the first time Old Obubra ( Yakurr, Abi and Obubra LGAs) will take a shot at the position since the return to democracy in 1999, but for the fact that unlike most two-way horse race, there are, in my estimation, three strong aspirants. Political pundits are bandying words around that any of this three individuals could emerge as the party’s candidate.
For the records, there are about 702 delegates in the Central Senatorial Districts which has 66 wards and 6 local government areas. These contenders have supporters across board and have strength and weaknesses in these areas. The party leadership appears too to also be remotely testing their popularity ahead of the next general election.
In this piece, I will attempt to analyse the factors working for and against this three contenders.
BASSEY EKO EWA
Bassey Ewa, comes across as a seasoned legislator having been a former Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, CRSHA, and a two-term member of the House of Representatives. He litters the political sphere with a mien that appears sturdy and calm…he is an aspirant to watch out for.
Now, some party faithfuls see the aspirant as intelligent, gentle and experienced but these attributes on their own guarantee no smooth ride through the spooky terrain of politics. Matter of factly, Ewa carries a litany of burdens that may weigh him down. Critics have soundly used his 20-years involvement in government to demarket him. Foot soldiers of other aspirants are creating the impression that a vote for Bassey Ewa is an indirect way of stagnating the party’s growth and progress.
Bassey Ewa’s attempt to deflate this argument almost worsened the situation recently. During his visit to consult party faithful in Yakurr LGA, Ewa reportedly said that in the last four years that he has been out of government, his constituents have been denied the opportunity of benefitting from his usual festive hampers of chickens, goats as well as other empowerment programmes. This scraggy comment sent wrong signals across as the people’s expectations was that he was going to regale them with a flurry of legislative bills initiated, jobs facilitated and good representation. Since then, his supporters have been compulsively battling with damage control. They are potent fears that the issue escaped the measured steps that political speeches are normally wrapped in and could subtly trigger protest votes against him on Saturday, May 14, 2022 … if memories are not fickle.
The PDP as the major opposition is leaving no stone unturned in her quest to snatch power back in the state from the ruling APC. It is being speculated that for the party to achieve this ambition, it must present likeable, young and vibrant candidates with fresh ideas. Thomas Ofem is being taunted to fit this description. Despite the doubts that greeted his declaration to contest the senatorial position, Ofem’s community mobilization approach towards party delegates and leaders has quickly endeared him to all and made him a household name in all 6 LGAs…it is not in doubt.
Though his credentials appear short of roaring political experience, having not held any political office before, his starting point may be defined by factors soaked in appropriate time and the calculated benevolence of chance. Ofem is currently the CRS representative on the strategic PDP e-Registration Technical Committee and his impact, in leaps and bounds, has resulted in the upsurge in the registered party membership currently recorded in the state.
Bob Tee as Ofem is famously known, has one thing going for him – the zoning argument which is gradually gaining ground around. Some of the people feel it’s the turn of Ugep, if micro-zoned, where he is from, to produce the next senator.
Analyst also point us to his 25 years experience as a technocrat in the development sector, and strong financial resource base as a plus for him. The involvement of a youthful campaign team, may sway him some votes, especially among young persons, who quickly remember that he changed the political dynamics of Yakurr LGA when he ran for Chairman of council in a lightening campaign that gave youths hope.
Among this lot, he is the most experienced politically, having been in the corridors of power for as old as the PDP has held power in CRS. His loyalty to PDP saw him resign as Commissioner when Gov. Ben Ayade defected to the APC.
In the BikoBiko ward, Ugep, where he comes from, he is sure to pull a crowd of delegates. And then, with the backing of Sandy Onor, Ettah appears to have a fair chance because that is where his political structure lies. But there’s a huge divide within the Sandy’s camp as most of their supporters believe Ettah has not done enough beyond hoping to ride on the back of Sandy Onor to clinch the senatorial ticket.
Although he could be described as not too politically lethal among this trio, the fact that he is from Ugep, favoured by the zoning clamour, is enough to earn him considerable supporters. His political experience as a grassroot politician makes him a strong contender in the race. But his body language doesn’t show he has a stash of cash in his possession to deploy, when push comes to sholve.
Lokuzo Etim, a social commentator and political analyst wrote in from Ugep, CRS.
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