Those who are familiar with the politics of Cross River State will agree with me that, the last time the party witness the kind of opposition it is currently witnessing now from the All Progressives Congress (APC) was within the period of 1999-2003.
It was a period where in spite of producing a Governor then in the person of Mr Donald Duke, the party was not just a minority party in the Cross River State House Of Assembly, but had both National Assembly and Chairmanship seats almost shared equally with the Opposition. During the period, the party’s main opposition party, the All People’s Party(APP) had a roll call of virtually all the known politicians anybody can think of in the State.
It was in recognition on the need to cut the opposition to size as well as reduce to the barest minimum, some of the unnecessary distractions that are often times instigated by them, the then Governor,His Excellency, Mr Donald Duke with the help of the federal Government which was also controlled by PDP as at that time,deployed all arsenals within his disposal to ensure that the opposition is killed and buried in the State in the 2003 General elections. It was the outcome of that elections that has until recently, saw the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) dominating the entire political space in the State.
Thanks to his successor, Senator Liyel Imoke whose eight years stint as Governor further solidify the PDP structures in the nooks and crannies of the State.
The bond in the party became so strong that,party members were known and address as family members. Every family member was given equal opportunity,decisions were collectively taken, who gets what,when and how was a decision of all organs of the party, A PDP members event, be it burial, birthdays, coronation or thanksgiving etc became a Must attend for members which depicted oneness, Unity, love and brotherhood. But one year after, as the ruling party in the State and opposition party at the Centre, the PDP family seems to be disintegrating on per second billing.
No thanks to the outcome of the 2015 general elections which saw the party roundly beaten at the centre by the All Progressive Congress(APC), a development that has given rise to massive defections of some prominent members of the PDP to APC.
The unnecessary infighting between leaders of the Party in the State, the perceived abysmal performance of the PDP control State Government by some members of the party which has continually kept them on the defensive,the apparent lack of internal democracy,the disrespect for elders of the party by the younger generation of the party, harmful and unilateral decisions by a certain few as well as the fear of the unknown,are all some of the major reasons the Party is in such a sorry State.
It is mind bungling to see a Political Party who needs nothing other than tangible performance on ground from all its elected office holders to survive the impending doom pose by its rivals, rather fighting each other instead of embarking on genuine reconciliation of all aggrieved party members. The party leadership in the state from all indications has not woken up to the reality that, it is no longer business as usual as evident in some of the activities and utterances of some of its Executives.
If the defection of people like Senator Bassey Otu, Dr Alex Egbona, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, Hon Paul Adah, Prince Jedy Agba, Venatius Ikem among others and the subsequent appointment of six Cross Riverians as of the last count into major positions of Government by President Mohammadu Buhari does not send danger signal to the PDP in the state, then I wonder what will.
The PDP Government under Senator Ben Ayade came into office with a lot of promises, Some of which include, the construction of a 260km Super Highway, the construction of a deep Seaport, Construction of a Garment factory among several others. Thankfully, from what we hear, read and see, the Garment factory is 99% completed but only waiting to be commissioned by Mr President. The question is, must the project be commission by the President? The PDP Government can still get anybody who is in the good books of the President to perform that task. This in my mind, would give the party more impetus in the face of daunting opposition and will also put to rest the ownership question being bandied around by members of the opposition.
The bad shape of the Nigeria Economy is an open secret to every Nigerian today, just like the slim financial resources of our state is no longer news to Cross Riverians. All that is expected of the PDP government is to ensure that it promises little and do more. It is sad to note that, the government keeps feeding members of the public with new promises while little or nothing has been done to redeem the already made ones. If the over one thousand Cross Riverians that were recruited into the Green Police and the over five hundred widows that were meant to work in the Garment factory can start work and their salaries paid every month in line with the Governor’s promise of creating 10,000 jobs while vigorously pursuing other major projects that could be of immense benefits to Cross Riverians, then the PDP would have been rest assured of retaining the State.
Since the task of rebuilding the confidence of the electorates on the party is not only the Governor’s affair, they is therefore an urgent need for a regular interface between both National and State Assembly members and their Constituents. This again to a large extend,will enable them know the major problems of the people and see how they can be solved and remedied.
The party leadership in the state on its part must be alive to its responsibilities. The party is still lucky to have two former Governors, one former Deputy Governor, two former state party Chairmen and a host of other well-meaning members of the party who at any time they are called upon for advise and wise counsel, will not hesitate to. Relegating and disrespecting them for one lame reason to the other will rather spell doom for the party.
The publicity unit if the party must as a matter of urgency, set up a Strong media team that will at all times speak on behalf of the party on both electronic, print and social media especially Facebook where it appears, members of the opposition are having a field day attacking the PDP government from all cylinders. This is imperative in order to safe the Governor’s media team that is currently faced with the onerous task of defending their principal as well as the party.
For me,the State Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) still has what it takes to rule over the affairs of this state for another 16 years but this is only possible if and only if,it puts its house in order and begins to do the right thing.
Richard Romanus is a Public Affairs Commentator from Oderegha, Obubra LGA in Cross River State.