By Eyobong Ita
Mama, Papa, Pekin!
The slogan of the Labour Party is becoming a familiar chant in Cross River State, less than two weeks to the 2015 Elections in Nigeria.
Following a contentious PDP State primaries, many aggrieved candidates decamped to the previously unpopular Labour Party, complaining of lack of fairness and transparency with the process of selecting party flag-bearers.
Fidelis Ugbo, a former secretary to the state government and head of the National Economic Commission, previously touted in many political circles as Gov. Liyel Imoke’s preferred successor, has since left the PDP after an unsuccessful primary election. He is now the Governorship candidate of the Labour Party in the February 28 Gubernatorial Polls.
“Most of those who left PDP to Labour just felt betrayed and embarrassed at the conduct of the primaries, especially with the unfair advantage given to those the PDP anointed to certain positions,” said a PDP insider who spoke anonymously to avoid reprimand. .
Ugbo’s choice of running mate, Nella Andem-Rabana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and the state’s Attorney General in the days of Gov. Donald Duke, gives the Labour Party ticket instant credibility as a serious threat to the PDP ticket of Sen. Ben Ayade and Prof. Ivara Esu.
Andem-Rabana’s choice, our source said, gives Labour a slight advantage because no woman has been elected deputy governor since the Late Cecilia Ekpenyong in the Gov. Clement Ebri administration in the early 1990s.
“Usually by this time PDP’s victory is a done deal because of lack of credible opposition, but not so this time,” the source said. “People are so aggrieved and fed up with things that many PDP supporters are only sure of voting for Jonathan in the presidential election and then voting Labour for Governor and National Assembly.”
The National Assembly election for Senate is seen as the biggest test for the rise of the Labour Party in the state. The incumbent senator for the Southern Senatorial District, Prince Bassey Otu, a two-term House of Reps member who won the senate seat under the PDP umbrella, is now a Labour Party candidate after losing in the primaries to Chief Gershom Bassey, chairman of the Cross River State Water Board.
Also, the Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency election for the House of Representatives is seen as another heavyweight fight between the incumbent, Hon. Bassey Eko Ewa and Hon. Dr. Alex Egbona, the immediate past Chief of Staff to Gov. Imoke, who also headed to the Labour Party after an unsuccessful bid to get the PDP nomination,
The consensus is that if Sen. Otu and Egbona win on February 14, the Labour Party could gain momentum as they approach the Governorship election on February 28.
- Eyobong Ita, President of the U.S-based National Association of African Journalists (NAAJ) is covering the elections in Nigeria. He can be reached on Facebook or at email@example.com