By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
Beneath the tranquility that pervades Cross River’s political turf lies debilitating tension in the state chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC. Internal wrangling in the party has defied all mediation efforts. The 2019 gubernatorial election is 34 days away and indications are that in Cross River, APC is going into the election a divided house.
Crisis erupted in Cross River Chapter of APC during ward, local government and state congress of the party leaving the party polarized down the line after parallel congresses produced two factional state Executive Committees, one loyal to Senator Owan Enoh who had just defected from the PDP, and the other to Niger- Delta Minister and founding APC member, Pastor Uguru Usani.
The governorship primaries also followed the same rancorous pattern as Senator Enoh and Pastor Usani emerged factional candidates of the party. Though the national leadership of APC and Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC later recognized Enoh’s candidacy, the Minister has washed his hands off the action.
Usani insists he is the rightful Cross River APC standard bearer in the March 2, 2019 gubernatorial election. He is Court and has pledged to pursue the matter to its logical conclusion. In the streets of Calabar, the state capital, both Usani and Enoh’s campaign bill boards and poster compete for space.
Both factional guber hopefuls also maintain campaign offices close to the other. Tension is palpable as supporters of both men bad mouth one another. Incendiary remarks are also hurled at Usani and Enoh. A Usani supporter told this Magazine that no amount of pressure would make his principal to waver in his claim to the APC guber ticket. His word: “Senator Enoh is wasting his time, he is going nowhere. He is a political refugee in APC and usurper who was chased out of PDP. Pastor Usani is the next governor of Cross River state. Let Senator Enoh continue to delude and humour himself, when the time comes, Pastor Usani will reclaim his mandate”
Senator Enoh’s loyalists do not have kind words for Usani too. One of them who spoke to The Source at Etta Agbor area of the capital described the Minister as “a bad loser and paperweight politician who should better face his clerical calling”.
According to insiders in both factions of APC in Cross River, several peace efforts have been frustrated by hardliners loyal to the two gladiators. The tiff between Usani and Senator Enoh has been taking its toll on the party. Apparently unsure of their political future in the APC in the face of the intractable crisis; members have been leaving in droves.
The latest was last week when, Sunday Omang, described as the state Assistant Secretary of the party, declared he was defecting to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, along with over 1,000 of his supporters.
Meanwhile, the magazine has learnt that ahead the governorship polls, concerned elders and party chieftains from Central senatorial zone of the state, where Senator Enoh ad Usani hail from, have launched fresh imitative to reconcile both men.