Wednesday, 18 August 2021

C'River 2023: The governor we need by Michael Bassey

Michael Bassey |19th August 2021 

"Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend." – Winston Churchill

A couple of months ago, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that the 2023 general elections will hold in February 2023, about 17 months away.

Expectedly, the spate of political activities has increased. Political aspirants have commenced preparations to push through their ambitions. While some are doing so subtly, yet others are brazen and deliberate. Our dear Cross River State has not been left behind in this respect.
About 3 months ago, the State Governor Senator Ben Ayade and most of his appointees and political associates defected from the PDP to the APC, signaling a breakthrough moment in the political history of Cross River State.

That singular act by the Governor has set the stage for an even contest between the two parties jostling for political supremacy in the State. In fact, the political landscape in the State has never been leveler. The stage is set for the coming political battles.
Several names, and in some cases, campaign paraphernalia have started cropping up for the governorship of the State. In the PDP, names like Senator Gershom Bassey, Senator Sandy Onor, Rt. Hon. Daniel Asuquo, Sir Arthur Jarvis Archibong, etc are in the front burner. For the APC, Engr. Ben Akak has been the only visible gubernatorial aspirant so far. There is no gainsaying the fact that 2023 represents an important milestone in the political history of the State as it will enthrone a new political leadership that will emerge from what promises to be the most keenly contested elections since 1999.

So the question on everyone's lips should be: what kind of Governor do we need in Cross River State? My answer is that we need a Governor who is:

1. Courageous and willing to take calculated risks to achieve necessary goals;

2. Visionary, having a clear, inspiring and exciting idea of where our State should be and how to take us there through excellent strategic planning, thus becoming our transformational leader;

3. Inspirational, being able to get us excited about the vision and keeping us motivated and engaged to constantly "keep our eyes on the ball' till the realization of the vision, by his/her positive and realistic personality;

4. Strategic and a critical thinker, being able to explore, exploit and manage the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in our State such that the net result is positive towards overcoming our developmental challenges;

5. Accessible, able and willing to interact genuinely with other critical stakeholders in an inclusive manner to optimally utilize the collective strengths and opportunities in the State;

6. Focused on what needs to be done to lift the State higher the development ladder, while also ensuring that everyone in the governance team is fully focused and concentrated on the most valuable use of available resources for the general good of Cross Riverians;

7. Someone with integrity, ensuring that truth and honesty drive the governance processes;

8. Humble and able to contain his/her ego, learn to listen and admit that he/she does not know everything and can learn from anyone at any time;

9. Open-minded and creative in order to be receptive to new ideas, possibilities and perspectives while understanding that there is no hard and fast rule about most governance situations;

10. Responsible and dependable to inspire and elicit strong confidence from other governance team members;

11. Patient and tenacious as the task of governing Cross River State is no mean feat and the road will be bumpy with obstacles. We do not need a leader who will get frustrated and defeatist at the first sign of difficulty.

The above list of qualities required in the next Governor of Cross River State is by no means exhaustive. Taking a critical and an analytical look at the earlier mentioned governorship contenders (even allowing for new entrants in the coming days), Engr. Ben Akak not only possesses but also exudes these qualities in all of his dealings. 

It is not enough for anyone to insist that public service experience is a sine qua non for successful governance, which is what some narrow-minded persons have against Ben Akak. In fact, our political history is replete with the failures of some who have had extensive experience in the public service but have fallen short when trusted into governance positions. 

The truth is that Ben Akak is a young 21st century self-made leader who has built a thriving business group – the Bengies Group – from scratch to the success story we admire today. He has not been tainted with any public or political scandal. He brings a whole new dimension with him in his quest to be our next Governor.

Ben Akak represents a clean break from the way things used to be. He comes to the table with tremendous socio-economic capital. He is a breath of fresh air for Cross River State politics. He presents an opportunity for a fresh beginning. Let us come together to insist on a new kind of leader we need in our next Governor. Ben Akak can be that leader we crave for.

Michael Bassey is a Calabar-based public affairs commentator