BY: VITALIS UGOH, Calabar.
As a sign of support to their son, the people of Cross River South recently organised a solidarity rally to pledge their total support for Senator Gershom Bassey even in the wake of the destruction of his property and that of his Senatorial district .
They also condemned the destruction and vandalisation as well as called for a Judicial panel of Inquiry.
Speaking at the occasion, one of the speakers, Professor Offiong Ani Offiong: who condemned the destruction said”,I am here because I am an astute politician in spite of having a stint in the academic sectorr.
According to him, , “as an academic, I have represented Calabar Municipality in the Cross River state House of Assembly. We were the first set of legislature that started in this part after Akwa Ibom was created out of Cross River state”.
Said he, ” I am here because Sen. Gershom Bassey has been someone that has inspired a lot us from the beginning when we started politics ,as far back as 1998 from his father house he gathered all of us together and we were all working. Unfortunately that place has been destroyed now. That place is a family house and I wonder why they had to destroy that place and they moved from there to his personal house place , Gershom Bassey was one of those that nurtured the process that produced the first PDP governor in the person of Mr. Donald Duke”.
He worked assiduously to also make sure that Senator Liyel Imoke became governor and in all honesty he wanted to become governor but it was zoned that the three senatorial districts must be captured as it concerns governorship and that is why it went straight to the Northern Senatorial district and that is how it happened and our current governor Ben Àyade became the governor of this state .”
Offiong said, “we are here honestly to sympathize with him, the destruction is enormous ,I was a very young boy during the civil war. I spent my time in Biafra ,I saw the level of destruction but I have not seen anything so devastating like what I have seen now. It’s so unfortunate but all I want to say is that there is time for everything”.
“Gershom has passed through this fate like some other because there is time for everything. He has suffered this fate now but I tell you in no time we will get over it. We are sure we will get over it. As it stands now this particular incident that has happened to him will spur him up to greater height. I see him without being in any way controversial being the governor of Cross River state in 2023 with the will of God. We are here to encourage him and all Cross Riverian..What happened in Cross River state was like a demonic attack and we pray that nothing like this should ever happen again”.
He wondered why the destruction and vandalisation after palliatives were taken and that was understandable, why go after government and individual properties again to destroy them, there was a lot of destruction within sux hours.”.
Onbehalf of other stakeholders, he appealed to the youth, not to be angry anymore and that everyone has heard them loud and clear, and they have been heard very well.
In his response, Senator Gershom Bassey told newsmen after the solidarity rally that “my people came to express solidarity with me over what happened to me with the attack on my house and also the attack on my family building.
He lauded and appreciated the visit adding that my message for them is that tomorrow will be better than today.
According to him, “on the level of destruction in the state; I have visited to see the level of it in Tinapa and CICC. I have seen one or two other buildings, I told them, the destruction goes beyond any protest or anything like that; almost a hundred building across the state had been hit. In a period of about five hours or a little more.”
He said “It was a planned invasion of Calabar, the capital city of the state. If you can have an invasion of that magnitude into Calabar, a territory of Nigeria, there most be a problem and it must be investigated. We must get to the root of it. We must know what really happened on that day and we must get to know who are those behind it. It was serious and I think that the destruction in Calabar is doubled what happened in Lagos.”
“Calabar is the worst victim of the recent insecurity challenge in the country.. It is important that the Federal government supports the state government in getting to the bottom of it so that it would not occur, ever again”.
Therefore, he said “I am calling for an investigation; be it judicial panel of inquiry or what ever kind. The state and federal government should decide. But this matter goes beyond the state government. The state must collaborate with the federal to get to the root of this issue “.
“You can’t have an invasion into a city and in five hours, over a hundred buildings were attacked and destroyed. There is a problem and something has really happened. It was planned, it was premeditated and Calabar was the target, not Gershom Bassey. Calabar was the target. So we need to get to the root of it”.
At the national level, I intend to take it before the floor of the senate as soon as we resume. At the moment we are working on the budget. I will take by way of a motion before the floor of the senate. I will call for a massive investigation, and all security arms and agencies must be involved and they must root out who planned this thing against Calabar? 100 buildings in Calabar. No! Something is wrong. It’s a serious problem, he added”.