It is over a week since the list of chairmanship candidates of PDP for the March 28th Local Government elections became public, yet the dust that accompanied the list has refused to settle thus, casting aspersions on the integrity of the party, vis-a-vis its leaders.
Particularly in Yakurr LGA, the said list was not just greeted with pockets of protest but, in a way, set up partymen against one another, even against their leaders – with the party’s leader, Prof. John Ofem Inyang placed at the center of things, to a point, his leadership probity in the State Governor’s numerous appointments, so far made was brought to questioning.
Against this backdrop, CrossRiverDaily hosted Prof. John Inyang to survey the political operations and also, to document his view on the alleged offsiding of Yakurr PDP in the State Governor’s appointments.
Below is the except of the interview…
Prof., what can you say about the party’s primaries?
The primaries, as directed by the party was carried out on the 31st of January being Friday. It was well organized and not only peculiar to Yakurr alone but to all Local Governments across the state. It was an affirmative primaries where nominations have to be done by three (3) delegates from each council ward and you know in Yakurr, we have thirteen (13) council wards and as such, we have about thirty nine (39) delegates gathered at Ugep and our choice of venue was Ikpakapit Town Hall. But, as a party with large followership, the gathering that day was a large one. Other party faithfuls [not delegates] also came around to witness the exercise. I was there myself and other stakeholders of the party.
How was the process?
We had a singular nomination of Hon. Ofem Ebri Obeten. He was nominated by Hon. Lebo of Ikpakapit Council Ward and the nomination was seconded by a lady from Biko-Biko Council Ward, both in Ugep. The returning officer, Mr. Austin Anor was there to witness the process. A counter nomination was called for, but none; then a second nomination was called for, and still yet, none. So it became obvious that we had just one nominee. Therefore, it was thrown to the crowd to affirm whether the nomination was in order. Of course, they all voted in the positive and as such, the reality became that the the only candidate that stood for the nomination primaries was Hon. Ofem Ebri Obeten.
Have you heard of the protest against Hon. Ofem’s candidature?
I never heard of any protest until a day after the protest. It was on Friday [day of primaries] I was told there was a protest a day ago [Thursday]. I did not see any of them neither did I know what their agitations were. I was only told that some disgruntled members of the party were protesting that the party could not have given them a candidate they did not know. But the funniest thing was that; as at then, nobody knew who the candidate was going to be because we were only going to nominate at the field. So, if they protested on Thursday and the primaries were on Friday it was like putting the cart before the horse. The protest would have come after the primaries where you are not comfortable with the outcome and not prior to the primaries. If you protested against an exercise that has not held or candidate who has not emerged, then, what are you protesting for.
But many seem not to be happy with Ofem’s candidature?
You do not expect everybody to be happy in a political exercise. What is the essence of politics? To protect interest! Because, politics is all about interest. It could be personal interest, it could be collective interest. It is this conflict of interest that we all struggle with and in politics, we go every length to ensure our interest is actualized. So, if few persons do not see their interest go through, it does not mean that at another time, they would not have it. Truth is, we needed only one person to run for the office of a chairman of Yakurr Local Government Area.
But some people think it should be their own candidate, why?
No one’s personal candidate can go through. Only the candidate the majority wants will suffice. That is the beauty of democracy. I am a party faithful and leader, I think we just have to take the candidate as chosen by the party because there is no body that is not qualified to run for the office of the chairman.
In your assessment, who is Hon. Ofem Ebri?
He was formerly a Deputy Leader of the council’s legislative house which shows that he has experience. But aside his experience, as a person, I have seen humility in him. He is a very humble person, very respectful, he reaches out to people and he participates in people’s activities. He understands the party’s structure and dynamics. He is a one man that you can approach and he will pay an ear to your complain. I see him as someone who, if put in council, would not shut his doors against people. Of course, someone with a listening ear would take advice at all times. So, if he is going to listen to people, then he is definitely going to do well. All we need to do now is to pray for him and give him the necessary support.
Okay, away from the election, what is your thought on the Governor’s appointments?
As a leader of Yakurr, I have equally received plethora of calls. People want to know why Yakurr is not largely accommodated so far. Yes, I will say so far because a lot of appointments are yet unannounced and I know His Excellency in his wisdom, he does whatever he wants to do systematically. His Excellency has so much interest in Yakurr as demonstrated throughout his first tenure and even the second tenure. He has carried Yakurr along as a bride and of course Yakurr people love and appreciates the Governor. Like other LGAs, we are hopeful that more appointments will come to Yakurr. This I can assure.
Can you analyze the appointments?
If you noticed, the first appointments were largely that of commissioners and all the commissioners who were in office in the first tenure were all returned and Yakurr itself has two commissioners against other local governments that have only one. The next appointment was that of Special Advisers (SAs) and Director Generals (DGs) and Yakurr has so far gotten two SAs; one from Ajere Ward (Mr. Ubi Ekapong, SA Tourism) and the other in Epenti Ward (Barr. Mkpang Ewa, SA Environment) both in Ekori community. Note that some LGAs have one, even yet, others, none.
Is this all for Yakurr?
No! A lot of appointments are on the way and His Excellency can not sideline Yakurr as some people are insinuating, so, we look forward to more appointments. Even the most recent one, some people from Yakurr that I know, are there but we are still hopeful of more.
Thank you so much, Prof. for your time. Remain bless!