Wednesday, 7 September 2022

C'River 2023: Notable Southern Leaders across party lines back Prince Otu, says Back to South is Sacrosant

Ukorebi Esien | 3rd September 2022

A socio-economic, nonpartisan and development group with the objective of fostering the interest of Cross River Southern Senatorial District, known Greater Calabar Forum said it has thrown it's weight behind the Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Sen. Prince Bassey Otu. 

This was disclosed over the weekend, during a media parley, where the group insisted that the Back to South Agenda was still very much alive as it will do everything withing it's power to ensure the agenda of returning power to the South sees the light. It made it clear that after power must have rotated evenly amongst the three senatorial districts in the state, it was imperative that the circle of rotation begins again with the South.

Speaking during the briefing, the leader of the group, Etubom Archibong Ironbar informed that the search for a southern candidate began before various political parties began their primary elections, where they engaged the parties, their leaders and all gubernatorial aspirants from the south in a bid to ensure only Southern candidates emerge across Parties. 

He further explained that since the two major political party had their primaries and the APC chose a Southern candidate as it's flag-bearer which has in no small way has kept the back to South Agenda alive , GSF would ensure that every eligible voter in the state was properly sensitised about it .

Etubom Ironbar represented by the Secretary of the Forum, Chief Edwin Usang explained that as a Non partisan organisation , they had consulted all parties, including PDP and APC alongside other stakeholders in the state, about the agenda which is to ensure the next governor of the state comes from the Southern Senatorial District.

Chief Usang maintained that the Forum met all the aspirants of the PDP from the south who were about 10 persons a d urged them to come up with one candidate so as to present a strong front but that never happened because they all bought forms and eventually, they all lost in the primaries.

His words: "We had to fall back to the candidate chosen by the APC because he is from the South and this is based on the principle of equity,  fairness and Justice.

"All other senatorial Districts have taken turns, naturally it should come back to the South.

"It seems a lot of people are a bit confused about the direction of the "Back to South Agenda' , but we are here to set the records straight , the Agenda is still on course , as the days go by , we shall roll out our programmes from the wards up to the LGAs and Senatorial Districts, every eligible voter would be well enlightened by our structures at various levels.

"If we miss this window which we had stayed off for 16 years , it might run into years or decades before we can ever get it back , we are starting from the seven LGAs , then spread out sensitisation to other places, including other Senatorial Districts as we cannot do it alone , we need the support of our brothers.

"We are not getting sponsorship from anybody, not even the candidate we are supporting , but because it is a cause that we believe in , we are making personal sacrifices to make sure we drive home our standpoint.

"We are only trying to foster the mind of the people, which is very dear to our hearts , and we want to stand by it, through thick and thin, this is our turn, and we cannot shy away from it.

"The party can do their thing , we don't want to stand and watch this disorder. many think it is a dead issue because the PDP took a candidate from central, but the APC has also chosen a candidate, and we would stand by him.

"We have a vision to bring the governorship to the south , so we fell back to the candidate of the APC , we did our best to make sure all parties had a southern candidate , so we are throwing our weight behind him , and we will stand by him to the end ," he said

Also speaking, Dr. Grace Apkanika, a member of the forum, informed that several meetings were held with all the PDP aspirants from the Southern extraction of the state both individually and collectively with the view of ensuring only one aspirant from the south is filed to stand the party's primary elections. She lamented that the efforts were all wasted as south failed to produce a candidate in the party. 

Apkanika added that the forum wouldn't have been actively involved in the electoral process if at least three to four major parties had produced their gubernatorial candidates from the South. 
"We would have allowed the people's mind to prevail if three to four parties had produced candidates from the south, we would have allowed the people make their choices without our interference." She said. 

Notable members of the forum present during the media Harley include, Engr Ekpe Essien Ita, Odukpani,Chief Richard Effa,Akamkpa,Dr.Grace Akpanika,Calabar municipality and Prof Eyo Etim Nyong from Odukpani amongst others.