OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR BASSEY OTU OF CROSS RIVER STATE

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Your Excellency Sir,

1. Let me once again congratulate you on your assumption of office as the fourth democratically elected Governor of Cross River State in the current democratic dispensation. May I also use this opportunity to congratulate you on your recent appointment as the Chairman, APC national campaign council for the forthcoming Imo State governorship election. I pray for God’s wisdom and strength to deliver on these very tasky and important assignments.

2. Mr. Governor Sir, I write you today as your concerned party man and supporter with deep sense of patriotism and good intent for your government, Cross River State and our great party, the All Progressives Congress. Needless to remind you that I was one of the very first voices in Cross River State that started the back2south advocacy. In all my advocacies, I deliberately projected you as one of the best choices for the party from South, a development which you personally commended me for. During your election, I relocated two weeks ahead to my village and carried out extensive campaigns including organising small empowerment at my personal expense to mobilise support for you. I did all this to forestall the heavy defeat we suffered in my polling unit and community in the National Assembly and Presidential elections. This effort paid off as I was able to deliver my polling unit howbeit, with a slim margin to the party in a PDP dominated area in Obudu.

3. I decided to give this background to emphasize the point that I am not writing you this letter out of malice or as a critic but as your supporter who has been with and for you from the onset. As the days goes by, I will continue to support you to move our dear state and party forward with your “People’s First Agenda”..

4. Sir, I am constrained to write you this letter because of the events of the past few weeks in our great party. Since you assumed office Sir, a lot has happened in the political space at the national. It started with the appointment of Ministers, to the appointments of our National Assembly members into Committees, and now the board appointments that have started trickling in.

5. Your Excellency, I am aware that a lot of the National Assembly members from other states who were appointed as heads or members of some sensitive/juicy committees got their appointments through the instrumentality and efforts of their Governors or leaders of the party in their respective states. Even though some of our national assembly members have been appointed into very sensitive and juicy committees, I am not sure that any of them can categorically credit you, the Leader of the party in the state for their appointments. This does not tell well of your relationship with the leadership of the assembly and by extension, your national assembly members. They may all pretend that it doesn’t matter now, believe me, they remind you it does as events continue to unfold.

6. Besides, for the first time in our history, Cross River was given two Ministerial slots; thanks to the advantage of being the only APC controlled state in South-South. But Sir, even though it is rumoured that you added one of the Minister’s names on the list you submitted to the Presidency, it is said that it was for convenience as well as to just meet up with the guidelines from the Presidency for the nominations. This is because it is alleged that you pushed seriously for different candidates other than those that were appointed. If this is true, it means that as the leader of the party and the only South-South APC Governor, at a time that even former Governors are making Ministers, you were unable to make even one, directly. The implication is that none of the Ministers owe you credit for their appointments. This is not good for your image and influence in national and regional politics.

7. Similarly, by virtue of the nomination of Dr. Betta Edu as Honourable Minister, she resigned her position as National Woman Leader of APC. This created an opportunity for you to rally other leaders of the party in the state and region to nominate her successor. No doubt, you rightly nominated Dr. Stella Odey Ekpo, but the chapter under your leadership did not consult widely enough with other stakeholders in the state and geopolitical zone for her candidature to sail through as the state lost the position to Edo State. This means that you could not retain the national working committee position your predecessor fought to the state using the same advantage as the only South South Governor. Naturally, the position was meant to go to Akwa Ibom being that in 2015 and 2018, when the National Vice Chairman, South-South was zoned to Akwa/Cross, Ntufam Hilliard Etah from Cross River got it. The only reason Akwa Ibom and the party conceded it to the state was just out of respect for our status as the only APC state in the region. But you could not retain it even though we still have the same advantage. But there may be room to correct this, soon.

8. Again, the President had made some appointments from the state, the latest being the nomination of Comrade Asu Okang to represent the State in the Governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission. Sir, with all sense humility, this appointment surprisingly came from your main opponent, Prof. Sandy Onor of the PDP who is still battling to unseat you in the tribunal. Without trying to castigate the nominee who is a personal senior friend, allowing your opponent who is a member of the opposition that contributed nothing to the success of APC overtake you to get an appointment from your government is a bad omen and a dangerous signal that you should not sleep over. I know this is one of many appointments that will come to the state and you may still be accorded your respect to nominate people but Sir, there’s an African proverb that “if you want to move mountains tomorrow, you must start by moving stones today”. This is one unusuality too many. This appointment seems more than just it is. It looks like statement and a direct affront. Remember, you are still in court. Are the powerful men in the President Bola Tinubu’s government from South-South supporting your legal tussle? Think about this, Sir!

9. These and many others things that I may not be able to pen down here have been bothering me deeply.

RECOMMENDATIONS

10. Our dear Governor, I am not oblivious of the fact that politics is not a function of governance as such, you may be concentrating fully in governance and could be paying less attention and not doing enough follow up in the politics that is happening in Abuja. However sir, political stability is key to the implementation of your lofty ideas for our dear state and party. To gain political stability in the state, you need to show leadership and take charge of the party in the state and region. To achieve this, you need to begin to build consensus first, with stakeholders from your state who know the way in Abuja and those from your region. Sir, by virtue of your position as the only South-South Governor, you are suppose to be one of the key deciders from the region. But you can’t achieve this by working alone or with the wrong circle. Remember that “if you want to go fast, you walk alone. If you want to go fast, you walk with people”. Sir, call an Extraordinary Cross River State APC Stakeholders meeting to nip this in the bud now.

11. For the party to sanction the diversion of the National Woman Leader position to Edo/Delta, it means that the National position that was zoned to the two states may become vacant zone. Call those embarking on fruitless protests in Abuja to order. What you need now is not fight but dialogue and negotiation. Prepare an acceptable candidate and begin working with stakeholders, including past federal and state governments officials with wide network in the region and Abuja, National Assembly members, Ministers, Senate President, past National Chairmen from South-South and other critical stakeholders from the region to market the candidate to all and sundry. Your strength in the party and national politics is in those around you not just in your office as Governor.

12. As the President prepares to appoint more heads of agencies, commissions, parastatals as well as board members, call your Ministers, National Assembly members and other leaders of the party together to adopt a list that will largely be acceptable to majority of your stakeholders so you all can push together as a united front. Nobody should deceive you to try to go solo for fear that some leaders of the party are political rivals. Don’t focus on the snake and miss the scorpion, Sir.

13. Sir, visit the President and the Presidency more often as other Governors, including the opposition are doing. This is the only way you’ll know what’s happening in Abuja. Ensure you win the trust and confidence of the President and his key men. I will suggest that before the end of the week or at most, next week, book a meeting with the President and explain what’s happening to him directly. However, before you embark on this journey, visit your Ministers and your national assembly members quietly to discuss heart-to-heart. Don’t work across purposes. If you don’t work in alignment with some of these people, especially the Ministers who had personal relationship with the President before their appointments, you may be playing a dangerous game because he will trust them more.

14. Dear Governor, meet the powerful men in Tinubu’s government from South-South and seek their support for your tribunal case. They are people from our state who have formed solid alliance with them. Use them. I won’t say much on this. But meet them. Ensure you convince them to support you and you alone. Get the President involved, if possible. Talk to the President to persuade the two or three Musketeers (I assume you know those I’m talking about) to not only support you but work with you going forward.

15. Finally Sir, be cautious about the advice you get and those you listen to. So many people around you may not tell you the truth or give you the right advice. This is already manifesting in some of the things I have mentioned in this letter. Think twice and consult widely before settling for any critical decision. Don’t allow yourself to be caged by a small cable. If you fail (God forbid), nobody will remember them, it is you the whole world would remember. If not for anything, remember the sterling reputation you had before becoming Governor. If you can’t improve on it, the least you should do is to maintain it.

CONCLUSION

16. Sir, I know this letter will be interpreted to mean many things by different people. It may even annoy you or attract abuses and attacks by key men in your government. Some would wonder why I decided to go public when I would have easily sent it to you privately. Well, I don’t know if you still read my private messages but, I took this route because I want many more numbers who mean well for you to read this and forward to you. Maybe, it will create more impact in your mind.

17. Your Excellency Sir, while reaffirming my unalloyed support and best wishes for you and your administration, may I also tell you bluntly that all is not well. Please, don’t close your ears to dissenting voices like mine because “if you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accident”. May you not learn through accident in Jesus name. Amen.

18. Please, accept the assurances of my esteemed regards.

 

Yours Truly,

Comrade I. P. Ogar, Ph.D