From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Crisis is brewing in Cross River chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) as some aspirants and stakeholders have concluded plans to defect over moves to foist consensus candidates ahead of primary.
APC had, in a statement by the state Publicity Secretary, Erasmus Ekpang, called on all aspirants not to buy forms until after consultations with major stakeholders and caucuses at the ward and local government levels.
The party added that there is need to dialogue with every family member with a view to achieving a harmonious, friendly and win-win arrangements for every member of the APC.
Daily Sun investigations revealed that during meetings held on Monday, April 25 and Tuesday, April 26, at party’s secretariat in Calabar, majority of the aspirants expressed dissatisfaction at attempts by the party leadership to coax them into arriving at a consensus and subtly forcing them to step down their ambition.
Sources close to the various meetings presided over by party Chairman, Alphonsus Eba, with aspirants into House of Representatives, Senate and governorship seats said they were told there is need for them to accept consensus arrangements as wards and local government areas that have once produced elected officers should step down for areas that have not tasted it at all.
The party chairman were said to have told the aspirants to agree among themselves that the governor has the right to chose from among the plethora of aspirants who to fly the party’s ticket at various levels of contests.
While the Ogoja people were simply told to forget any senatorial ambition because they lost woefully to PDP in all polling units at the by-election, Calabar South and Bakassi aspirants were equally scolded for losing the Assembly seat even when the party provided all the logistics.
Another source said some aspirants, including Owan Eno, Akin Ricketts, Chairman of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) board, Edward Ogon, Cletus Obun and Victor Abang (all from Ikom/Boki federal constituency), objected to the idea of consensus and one-form-arrangement just as Chris Agara, Governor Ben Ayade’s close ally, and Usani Usani, former minister of Niger Delta Affairs stayed away from the meeting.
A stakehokder, who was in the meeting and simply gave his name as Sammuel Etta, told Daily Sun that the outcome of the meeting is already generating tension and may lead to mass defection.
Also reacting, former APC vice chairman, Central senatorial district and one of the House of Representatives aspirants for Ikom/Boki federal constituency, Cletus Obun, said: “Consensus is the baptismal appellation for imposition. The table of democracy must be dressed with resplendent apparels of equity. It’s, therefore, critical that any dialogue on candidacy should be devoid of underhanded deals.
“The consequences of impunity are too grievous to be contemplated. The dichotomy between legacy party members, encumbered by mindless marginalisation and insidious contempt as exemplified by the present local government and state executives of the party, can only provoke irredeemable balkanisation.
“This move by the party is not only wrong and politically misleading, but a guise to foist preferred candidates on the people like what we just witnessed in the run up to the recently concluded APC national convention.”
A party stakeholder and and lawyer, Utum Eteng, said: “The APC leadership should be reminded that the so-called consensus is not only anti-democracy but also an infringement of ones constitutional right to freedom of choice.
He maintained that APC can only win the 2023 elections if its leadership creates a level-playing field for all.
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