Cross River 2023: Governors Don’t Conduct Elections, But INEC — Gershom Bassey
Cross River 2023: The Senator representing Cross River State Southern Senatorial District, Distinguished Senator Gershom Bassey , has said it is way too early to inform whether he will contest the Governorship elections come 2023, stating that every member of the *People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has equal rights to contest.
He said that against the insinuations that the APC leadership in the State under Governor Ayade would influence the elections in their favor, such was a mere wish as only the *Independent National Electoral Commission* , INEC, has powers over elections.
Speaking to newsmen in a World Press Conference in *Calabar* after the PDP State Congress, *Senator Bassey* stated that the urgent need to rebuild the part and make it more viable to take over power in 2023 is, and should be more paramount to all party men at the moment, than individual interests.
“First of all, I thank everyone who feels that I am fit for that high responsibility. I sincerely thank them.
But It is a party’s decision, and we have not reached that bridge yet, when we reach that bridge we will cross it. The Governorship election is opened to the Participation of anyone in the PDP. That discussion is a discussion that we are yet to have. Issues like zoning, party primaries and all that discussion, we are yet on that discussion and I will not preempt that discussion. For now, I am focused on being the best Senator that I can be. 🔥Trending Naija News: Defection Looms In Cross River APC As Gershom Bassey, Sandy Onor, Jarigbe, Others Vow To Bring Back All PDP Members Who Defected To APC
What I am emphasizing is that, it is the turn of the South, the people that should be considered should be people from the South.
*Senator Bassey* stated that the defection of Governor *Ben Ayade* did not, and will not affect the outcome of the 2023 elections, saying that ‘ *Governors do not conduct elections but rather, INEC* ‘.
“Well, am not sure that governors conduct elections, INEC conduct elections. I know that for sure, third term is not part of our constitution and so, Governor *Ayade* would not be in for a third term. So, his role in the elections will be very minimal.
In fact, I believe that because of his abysmal performance in Cross River State, endorsing any candidate would be like an albatross on that candidate’s neck. But we look forward to the Governor endorsing a candidate, because that would make the job very easy for us.
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While commenting on the recently concluded party primaries of the PDP and acknowledging the capacity of its new Chairman, *Hon. Venatius Ikem* , to drive the party towards its glorious winning ways, Senator *Gershom* averred that Vena’s antecedent as a founding member of the party, is an experience not to be taken for granted. He said that having been National Publicity Secretary of the party at the national level, Vena has all that is needed to lead the party squarely well.
“The success of the party Congresses yesterday, was to be expected.
PDP is a dominant party in Cross River State. We are not the opposition party like some said, we are the party in power, because, we are the dominant party in the State. We are the only part that has won all elections in Cross River State since 2003. Prior to that, you would know that APP was involved in Cross River before 2003, after that PDP became the only party in the State. And so, the party is entrenched, the party is beloved by the people.”
” *Vena* is the founding member of the PDP. In fact, Vena is the one that started PDP in Obudu, he founded PDP in Obudu long before Governor Ayade joined the party. He has the DNA of PDP. So I am very confident, that someone like him who understands the party, will make a successful Chairmanship”, he said.
The issue of zoning and rotation, which has become a contending issue, Senator Bassey reiterated, that the Calabar- Ogoja accord which was the premise of power sharing in the State, was responsible for the emergence of a Governor from the Northern Cross River.
He stated that as traditional, governorship position should move to the South at the completion the tenure of Ayade who is from the North.
The Senator who, himself, a part of what is now called the “three wise men”, reemphasized that there was no need to agitate for the return of the position of the governor to South, since equity and fairness had prevailed by giving North it’s own turn. He said that ordinarily, such should not be debated upon or contemplated at all by every patriotic individual.
On the burning National issues of the State not being a beneficiary of the derivation fund, even with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and having lost the oil rich Bakassi to the Green Tree verdict, Senator *Gershom* said that a lot had been done by the Legislature to ensure that the State is not left out. He said that for Cross River State, the issue of Bakassi is not yet foreclosed, since the National Assembly has not voted on the domestication or ratification of the agreement reached at the International Court of Justice in 2002, ceding the oil-rich *Bakassi Peninsula* to *Cameroon* . This, he said, will continue to get the support and attention of all until a definite decision is reached on the issue of the Bakassi.
He further informed that some considerations were being made to evolve ways for possible inclusion by carrying out Frontier Exploration exercise so as to ascertain if oil deposits in the state can get a new exploration, a responsibility he said, is strictly that of the Federal Government.
“I think that the Petroleum Industry Act is the best legislation that we could have gotten at this time because this country belongs to everybody, not only the people of the South-South.
We agitated for 5% for the oil producing Communities, but we couldn’t get it. But the *PIA* is a living document, it is not a final document. Legislation is constantly amended, and our hope is that going forward and at the appropriate time, those issues can be revisited. It has to be implemented.
So in the course of implementation, if we find out that some things that we thought were left out, there may be corrections to be made. Our thinking was that, first, let us pass a workable document and then as we move forward, we would make the necessary adjustments.
“For me, the issue of Cross River State is because we do not have serious oil benefits. Beyond the issue of derivation and 5%, is the issue of the *Frontier Exploration* . I think that is where the stress of Cross River State lies.
We want them to come and do Frontier Exploration in Cross River State, and those were the assurances we were able to extract from the Executive before we threw our hats in the ring.
We have talked about Cat Wells in Odukpani, oil Wells in Bakassi and so on, but we don’t have information on them because there is no Frontier Exploration which can only be done by the government and not the oil companies. They (government) has to do the exploration to ascertain what commercial quantity available. It is this Data that the oil companies use to extract.
Talking on the issue of State collecting *VAT* , the Senator said it would be appropriate for States to collect its own VATs, saying he is in total support. He decried what he described as ” *Nanny State”*, a cap-in-hand Federalism that allows States to survive mainly from handouts for the Federal government, a situation he said has impeded development.
*Senator Gershom* also Torchlighted on the issues of insecurity and the impact of the *EndSars* protests, an unfortunate national embarrassment of which he also became a victim. He lamented that with the huge support to the security sector through approvals, less was really achieved. He also decried the poor efforts by government to unravel criminals and those behind the hijacked protest, which affected over a hundred percent of individuals and properties worth a fortune, destroyed.
The Senator further thanked his constituents and supporters for standing by him always and believing in his leadership.