By Efio-Ita Nyok |9 April 2015| 6:45am
Liyel Imoke is the 50 year old, phlegmatic, tall, slim-framed, largely undemocratic by every standard, but tyrannical in every sense of the word incumbent PDP governor of Cross River.
His governorship, in one of Nigeria's south-southern states, began in May 29, 2007 as the former governor, Donald Duke, was making an exit after the expiration of his two tenure administration (1999-2007) of the state.
While the erstwhile governor, Donald Duke, was known for his tourism and urban development initiatives, the incumbent and out going governor, Liyel Imoke, may hardly be reputed for a signature policy like his predecessor. I do not mean however to say that the incumbent has not performed creditably well but that I personally cannot place my finger on any sui generis policy that accrues to his administration. At least, both his proponents and critics will hardly challenge the fact that Liyel Imoke had earned for himself the tag of the 'Sleeping Governor', a phrase which the recipient attempted once to refute when he once opined that 'I am now awake from my sleep'.
No doubt, Cross River in the fourth republic(1999-present) has witnessed authoritarian regimes at the state level. That is to say, both Donald Duke(1999-2007) and Liyel Imoke(2007-2015) have been totalitarian in their style of state administration. But, it seems to me that the later more epitomises this Machiavellian trait than the former.
While I do not intend to, in this script, render an exhaustive chronicle of Imoke's Machiavellianism, permit me to state that the 2015 general elections, especially the 28 March presidential/national assembly elections witnessed the nadir of Imoke's totalitarian leadership credentials.
Imoke particularly singled out the National Assembly election to demonstrate to Cross Riverians and Nigerians at large his unprecedented undemocratic genius. While Imoke is not a political candidate in the on-going National Assembly elections, it seems to even a stark illiterate in political matters that the incumbent senator representing Southern Senatorial District of CR state in Nigeria's Senate, Prince Bassey Edet Otu, who is also seeking a re-election into the same office in the ongoing general election is in direct opposition to the governor.
Imoke began this when he ensured that the incumbent senator lost out in the PDP state primaries of December 2014 to Mr. Gershom Henshaw Bassey his friend, political associate and confidante. This informed Senator Otu's defection to the opposition Labour Party(LP). However, unofficial results from the 28 March 2015 general elections suggest very strongly that Otu beat his opponent Gershom Bassey by a wide margin, for which the incumbent governor is alleged to have proceeded to the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) to doctor the result sheets of the said election in favour of Bassey, the now senator-elect. This trend affected every national Assembly elections in the three senatorial districts of the state.
In fact, it is said that the incumbent governor ensured Otu's defeat, as well as others, by allegedly heaping a whooping sum of N400,000,000.00 on the laps of the INEC Resident Commissioner of the state. This became the turning point. The premises of INEC office is reported to have been littered literally with sinews of war so much so that even the least office of a cleaner went to the bank smiling with nothing less than N1 million courtesy of the governor's benevolence.
But democracy suggests that government 'is, of and for' the people. If the governor's party and choice candidates had been beaten by the people, that should have been enough for the governor and his party. This defeat did not mean the governor or his party are not powerful enough, it suggest very strongly that the peoples' choice do not reside with the governor or his party. I think the governor should have taken a cue from his leader the President of the country, where he did the unexpected by conceding defeat to the opposition candidate, Mohammadu Buhari, being an incumbent and etched his name in the pantheon of the nation's/continent's statesmen. By resorting to absolutely negating the collective decision of the masses, who/what has he finally evolved into? A hero or villain of democracy and the people?
The implication of this rhetoric will one day speak for itself by posterity.