BY DOMINIC KIDZU

Finally, the day of reckoning is almost upon us. The iconic day on which the people of Cross River State will take the historical leap of faith. To be, or not to be. To continue or to change. To stay right of centre or go left of centre.

The bric - a - brat, have ascended to octane levels. The battle cry is shrill and frantic. The foot soldiers are in frenzied exhilaration. It is now or never. Who wins the coveted diadem. Who goes home with the big prize - power, glory, wealth and ultimate renown? The privilege to control the destiny of over three million people. The chance to play temporary God upon the lives and fortunes of men. And perhaps leave indelible footprints on the baking sands of time and etch the imprimatur of impact on the history of people and communities. For history itself is essentially the story of the lives of great men and the impact of their actions on the communities, for good or for bad. And the free ownership of space, pomp, circumstance and pageantry.

SEE ALSO: An Open Letter To Governor Ben Ayade Of Cross River State

There are basic fundamental issues that will determine the choice we must make on Saturday. These are defining  benchmarks, tests and measurements that will inform this choice. For Ben Ayade, Usani Usani and Owan Enoh are worthy sons of Cross River State with all the rights to vote and be voted for, to aspire to any office and to be supported and also to win or lose in a fair contest, without tearing up the very fabric of state and the brotherhood of man as a result. Three of them have done very well in their political careers. Three of them have achieved great success from their otherwise small beginnings. Three of them qualify to enter into the Hall of Fame of our dear State for their various contributions to the people thereof. Were  there a provision wherein the triumvirate can form a college of Governors and rule together as one, we should be the most fortunate to have all three pilot the affairs of our dear State as a trinity. But alas, that cannot happen under the constitution. And so it is that there can only be one Governor at a time, therefore  must we make the choice of one, while the rest stand tall and give support to the chosen one to move the ship of State  safely  ashore.

1. ZONING/ROTATION

At a filled Ogoja Council Hall in 2007, Liyel Imoke had come to consult with elders of the North on his ambition to run for Governorship on the heels of Donald Duke.  The atmosphere was charged with pulsating passion and palpable anger. Then Mr J. I. C. Igbe, who would rather die for his frankness than accept knighthood from the sovereign, stood up to speak. Breathing fire and brimstone like a dragon in combat, Mr J. I. C. Igbe told Imoke in no uncertain terms that he and his people were not happy with his ambition, because an Ogoja (Northern)  son should  have taken the baton after Duke.  He then went on to spell out the legion of travesties committed against the North, referring Liyel Imoke to the Calabar/Ogoja Accord. It was all Liyel could do to calm the situation. He recalled how his own father,  Dr S. L. Imoke regularly hosted those meetings where Chief M. T. Mbu , Chief Michael Ogon, Chief I. I. Murphy, Chief Okoi Arikpo, Hon Charles  Adoga, etc sat and fought for Ogoja.

The above episode is intended to properly situate the place of Zoning/Rotation on the minds of Cross Riverians. It is a real material issue, with a psychological and emotional ingredient. To dare to walk away from this reality is to dare to court failure willingly. There are no bests where Zoning is in issue. The South had Eight Years, the Central had Eight Years, the North ought also to have Eight Years is a compelling and unimpeachable argument no logic can puncture. Owan Enoh/Usani Usani's bid for Governorship, at this time , is a bold affront to the Principle of Zoning and Rotation, and is seen as selfish, greedy and insensitive to the formula that has given the state, hitherto described as " an atomistic society constantly at war with its own self " peace, inter - tribal understanding and cooperation .

2. THE CURSE OF UNEMPLOYMENT:

By far, the severest epidemic of the 21st century is not the bubonic plague, but the Curse of Unemployment, which has spurned an army of young people with certificates under their armpits and no work for their hands to do. It is a tinderbox as it is a canker worm. A potentially explosive socio - economic situation capable of upsetting the health and balance of the society.  Any candidate with a recipe, a formula, or a cure to this conundrum will be acceptable to the voting public. Fortunately for Ben Ayade,  his distribution of about 6,000 appointments to the youths of this state and the setting up of a string of industries and factories to absorb the unemployed from the streets has provided a much needed panacea and provided food on the table for the young, the educated and the energetic. In all their variegated and conflicting manifestos, the APC candidates have not made a bold statement about the fate of the unemployed youths. Will they have the will and the ingenious capacity to sustain 6,000 appointments if they win? The answer is easily No!

3. POLITICAL PARTY COHESIVENESS.

While the PDP has remained a very united and cohesive party in the state since its arrival in 1998, and has been in power in the state since then, the APC since its entrance in CRS can best be described as an assemblage  of strange bed - fellows or compared to a feather - pillow bust asunder in a gale. The members  of the party have not proceeded in a manner that can engender confidence and encourage the public to entrust their destiny in its hands.  Instead, they appear to be the rump of a rag - tag army of rebels and bounty hunters, loosely bound together by greed, impiety and a queer disposition to blood - letting of the decent and the innocent.

On the eve of the Governorship elections,  no one is yet clear about whether the Party is on the ballot, and if in the strange circumstance that it is, who the valid candidate is. The two contending and cantankerous candidates have spent a whole year quarrelling, nagging, disputing from one court in one corner of Nigeria to another court, in another far - flung corner of the country, in search of a mandate long gone. And their followers, like sheep bound for perdition continue to follow them in single file, nodding their heads as they trudge on, to where, they too, have no idea. But the match goes on, and on, and on! Even the President couldn't tell who the candidate in Cross River was, lifting first, this hand, and then, that hand, in utter befuddlement and confoundment. Like the popular soap opera, Fuji House of Confusion, the house of APC, has fallen. And like Humpty Dumpty, all the king's horsemen, cannot put it back together.

The coast therefore appears clear for an Ayade victory. Since Eyo Ekpo Esq, who ought to represent the Third Force, has become himself, a pretender to the crown of Pontifex Maximus. He is a general without troops. More like a jester in the hallowed court of the sovereign, his campaign consisting of staccato gyrations around the city of Calabar and a few radio interviews.  He takes home something, though. For the rest of his life, he shall be referred to as Former Governorship Candidate of SDP, bla bla bla.

Let Ayade finish the race he has started so well. Let the North complete its Eight years. Let the 6,0000 youths taken off the streets stay off the streets. Let the factories be completed to absorb the jobless. Let the party we know continue to give us responsible leadership. Let Cross River continue the match to greatness. And above all, let the music play on, play on, play on.

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Hi, I,m Pospi Otuson. A Nigerian Blogger, Social Entrepreneur and Convener of the renowned Boki Business Conference. CEO/Founder of Possibility Desk, the largest online consulting platform for possibilities in the world. Lets connect today.

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