2019: Interview: “The Efik people can produce the next governor of CRS” —Nya Offiong

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Mr Nya Offiong 
Nyok|9 September 2018 
Mr. Nya Offiong is an entrepreneur, a policy analyst, an industrial Chemist by training and the Secretary of the Efik Leadership Foundation.
He bares his mind with NegroidHaven on the 2019 elections in Cross River State and particularly what this means to the Efik people of Cross River State.
NH: CAN WE MEET YOU SIR?

ANS: Thank You. I am Nya Offiong. Most friends will identify I hail from Essien Town, in Calabar Municipality of Cross River State.
I am a graduate of Industrial Chemistry from the prestigious University of Port Harcourt. A dyed-in-the-wool Cross Riverian and believer in Nigeria.
I am the initiator of the viral “Ballot Not Bullet” campaign against electoral violence during the 2015 elections in the state.
I speak smattering Spanish and I am an avid music lover and even if I sing decently and play the guitar fairly well, I still can’t seem to convince myself that music was meant for me, certainly not sports either seeing as I am as clumsy as a Penguin.
I am an entrepreneur though, a writer and a tourism, history and photography enthusiast. Should I also add that I am an Arsenal fan? No I won’t, for obvious reasons! (General laughter). 
NH: THANK YOU VERY MUCH. SO, WHAT IS YOUR APPRAISAL OF THE POLITICAL ACTIVITIES BUILDING UP TO THE 2019 ELECTIONS SO FAR IN THE STATE?
ANS: Oh, So far, I think we have not fared badly. It’s also very assuring for me that there have been no reports of violence or assassinations like we hear in some places. The people of Cross River State have always been a peaceful people and it is only expected for there to be a concomitant effect on the political conduct of the people of the state.
I am reminded of Winston Churchill who famously said that it is better to “Jaw-Jaw than to War-War” and I think that in Cross River, we always jaw-jaw than war-war because we understand that politics is indeed not a do or die affair. Hey! we are pretty much one big family here.
NH: THERE IS THIS OPINION MAKING THE ROUNDS THAT THE EXTANT ZONING FORMULA PREVAILING IN CROSS RIVER STATE POLITICS IS SOLELY A POSITION OF THE PDP AND THAT IT COULD BE JETTISONED BY ANY PARTY. WHAT’S YOUR TAKEON THIS?
ANS: Indeed, it would be very difficult to superimpose the zoning policy of the PDP on other political parties as these parties do not necessarily share the same political strategies and permutations as the PDP going into the 2019 elections.
Then again, the PDP’s successful sequence of zoning over the past 2 decades seem to appeal to a lot of Cross River voters as it has ensured that everyone is carried along in the scheme of things. Voters could see this as a genuine reason to vote the PDP and maintain the harmonious and equitable engagement of the 3 senatorial districts in the governance of the state.
However, we must bear in mind that the practice of zoning borders merely on morality and not on legality.
NH: WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE STATE GOVERNOR, PROFESSOR BEN AYADE, 3 YEARS AFTER?
ANS: The governor came into office on the promissory cheque of industrializing the state, building infrastructure and improving the lives of the people.
While there are fears in some quarters, rightly or wrongly, that this cheque may be a dud one after all, there is lively hope by many others that this cheque has delivered and will continue to deliver over the counter of governance, all that it promised. Yet another excited group of people believe unequivocally that the digital governor has even surpassed his campaign promises and naturally deserves a second term.
However you choose to look at it, it still means that His Excellency has a lot of work cut out for him as it is certainly not yet Uhuru in Cross River State. I expect the governor to finish strong. I don’t expect anything less from him, or should I?
NH: NOT AT ALL. SO, TELL US SIR, WHAT IS THE POSITION OF THE EFIK PEOPLE ON THE 2019 ELECTIONS?
ANS: That would be difficult to say given that we have our people in different political parties and with varied political persuasions for that matter, but if you squint beyond the seeming difference in political affiliations, it is not difficult to notice a people who are more than resolved to make a bold statement in this election and even beyond.
I think we have now clearly shown an assertive desire to be more engaged politically and to offer leadership as well, given our longstanding social, economic and political exposure, not to mention our wide geographical spread and connections across the state.
Being the largest group in the state, quite a lot is expected of us and I believe that we will responding by offering the leadership that Cross River desperately needs during these trying times.
The aim in the long run is to contribute meaningfully to the leadership of the state and the country at large and anyone, politician or not, who chooses the wrong path of smear campaign, vendetta or propaganda against the Efiks would be embarking on a wild goose chase that only amounts to effort in futility as we are not a people to be drawn into divisive battles and ethnic bickering.
NH: WOULD IT BE FAIR IF THE EFIK PEOPLE PRODUCE THE NEXT GOVERNOR OF CRS IN 2019?
ANS: But why not? We have sons and daughters who are more than qualified for that position, after all.
We can very well produce the next governor.
If any Efik person is given the governorship ticket by his/her party and such a person contests and wins, you wouldn’t call that unfair would you?
I couldn’t possibly tell you that it is wrong for any Efik person(s) to express such constitutional and reasonable aspiration and if it comes to pass, so be it.
Such enthusiasm will only need to be tempered with a healthy dosage of caution.
First, the PDP appears to want to continue with the Northern Senatorial District zoning policy for another 4 years, in keeping with the party’s harmonious zoning system and understandably so as the PDP’s zoning formula has been very successful in the last 19 years. The governorship pendulum of the PDP is expected to swing back to the south in 2023. I reckon that this is not a bad bargain for our people.
Again, if I am not wrong, I think there is no political party in the state that have expressly zoned their governorship ticket to the Southern Senatorial District and none except the PDP have zoned it to any particular senatorial district for that matter, so if we want it, then we must countenance the hard work that this requires and not expect a bounty to be delivered at our doorsteps.
In any case, we have our sons fully in the race. There is the very cerebral Eyo Ekpo of the SDP whom a lot of people have high hopes in. Then there is the youthful yet experienced Bong Duke. There are also veterans like Eyo Etim Nyong and Edem Duke both of the APC, to mention but a few.
See this as a statement of intent from the Efik people which further corroborates my earlier assertion that the Efik people are absolutely ready to not only participate in the 2019 elections but to dictate its outcome using their numerical strength, their resilience and their cultural homogeneity across the southern senatorial district. It’s a win-win for us, to be honest but we must be wise in choosing the next governor and not shoot ourselves on the foot. We must also remember that it is first about Cross River State before anything or anyone else.
By the way, just so you know, we have 2 Efik sons that will be contesting the 2019 presidential elections; Our dear brother and son, Mr. Donald Duke of the SDP and the very charismatic Emmanuel Etim who is contesting under the platform of the New Progressive Movement (NPM).
NH: WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE NEXT GOVERNOR OF CRS?
ANS: I expect a man or woman who understands fundamentally what governance is all about and uses this acumen to govern and unite the people of the state.
I expect the next governor to hire technocrats in his/her cabinet and drive them to work productively. I also expect the next governor to be one that will revive and sustain our contemporary economic master plan of “BUSINESS and LEISURE” as a tool of upgrading our collapsed infrastructure, especially in the rural areas across the state, attracting economic traffic into the state and generating sustainable jobs for the people and revenue for government.
Lastly, even if we fancy the possibility of an Efik governor, It is not a do or die affair for us, therefore the most important ingredient we want in the next governor is not merely about where he/she comes from but what such a person has to offer the state.  
NH: WITH THE PRICES OF FORMS OF MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES PEGGED AT PERCEIVED EXORBITANT PRICES, WHAT’S THE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE #NotTooYoungToRun law? 
ANS: My brother, it’s beginning to look like the #NotTooYoungToRun law was a Greek gift, otherwise how do you explain the crazy sums of money young people will have to part with just to purchase nomination forms even with the law having being assented to by the President?
The APC is the most culpable here. N45 Million for the presidency and N22.5 Million for governorship?! Come on! That is criminal and absolutely outrageous!
They simply got back on the youths with this one after the youths ambushed them to sign the bill into law few months ago.
This is where they have separated the goat from the sheep and right now, it seems to be about how much you have and no longer about how qualified you are. The law, though in effect has been jeopardized especially by the APC.
NH:  ANY OTHER WORD FOR CROSS RIVERIANS AND NIGERIANS IN VIEW OF 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS?
ANS: Get your PVC, vote wisely and remember during this election season, you can only JAW – JAW but never WAR – WAR. Thank You and may God bless Cross River State.
Nyok
Is the Blogger-in-Chief, Editor-in-Chief & Publisher of NegroidHaven