Our Correspondent|29 September 2018
The Concerned Progressive Youths (CPY), a coalition of Youths groups in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State have urged the party to adopt a governorship aspirant, John Upan Odey as it consensus candidate.
CPY, on Saturday while briefing newsmen in Calabar ahead of the APC governorship primaries explained that all the odds favours Odey candidacy more than others to win the state for the party.
Chairman of the group, Effiong Sebastien said that to ensure the party unite ahead of the general elections, the party needs to field a neutral person that doesn't belong to any faction as it governorship candidate.
Effiong who advised the leadership of APC to go for the best person that can win the state regretted the polarisation of the party in the state for personal gains.
He said that "We're here today to send a message to the leadership of our party from ward to the national level. We have been in opposition for about 20 years now and there have never been a better opportunity for the party to win the State than now.
"The party since in 2015 have been engulfed in crisis engineered by personal interest. We have conducted our independent investigation and as critical stakeholders in our party, we want to advice the party to if necessary adopt John Upan Odey as a consensus candidate to safe the party from fresh crisis that may emanate from the primaries.
"John Upan Odey candidacy would not only win the state but would address some issues which has continued to incite APC members against each other.
"Firstly, it would address the issue of zoning. There's no argument that the party zoned the governorship ticket in 2014 to the north. During the last national convention, there was a directive from the national secretariat that the subsisting zoning arrangement of the party be maintained. This was why the central retained the chairmanship and the South was left to contest the national zonal Vice Chairman (South South).
"Those contesting governorship from the central were not smart enough because if they were, they would have sponsored someone from the north for the chairmanship. Even if the person had not won, they would have had good case now to argue that other zones didn't observe zoning in the election. Same thing with those from the south. So, having failed to do that, the governorship ticket remains in the north. Besides, it's politically wrong for APC to field a governorship candidate from the zone that has the chairman.
Again, with Upan Odey, the election would be competitive in all the three senatorial districts but if APC field a candidate that's not from the northern senatorial districts where the PDP candidate is likely to come from, the PDP would have a full senatorial district because even the APC members from the north would vote in protest against the party. The open letter to the national chairman by the Northern Cross River APC Solidarity Forum emphasis this sentiment. It would be difficult for APC to contest against PDP that has House of Assembly members, reps and other political appointees in only two senatorial districts and win".
He added that "Largely, people believe that the party is sharply divided between the Minister of Niger Delta, Pastor Usani Usani and Sen. John Owan Enoh who are both aspirants from the central. The best way to bring the two factions together is to bring Upan Odey who belongs to none. As it is now, Usani group won't vote Owan and Owan group won't vote Usani if any of them emerged APC candidate. So, we need Upan to unite the party. Till date, both Achigbe and Etim are still acting separately as state Chairmen. We can't go into election like that".
Also speaking, Secretary of the group, Sunday Okoi said that "John is the only aspirant that's younger than the incumbent Governor. Age will definitely play significant role in 2019 elections. He enjoys enormous support among the young people across party lines and the state.
To win the incumbent government that has empowered so many youths through appointment, APC needs a young candidate that can give the the youths assurance that it's still one of them".
Deputy state Chairman of the group, Ushie Friday corroborated their position while urging stakeholders not to "sell the party to the highest bidder but support someone that can win election. The governorship candidate of APC would determine how APC will perform in other elections".