Chief Sam Bassey aired his opinion in an interview recently with our Reporter Vitalis Ugoh.He is a household name as far as politics is concerned in Cross River State. Bassey is also a chieftain of APC from Biase local government area of Cross River State. Below are Excerpts of the interview.
Question: What do you think will determine 2023 Cross River ?
Ans: What would determine the governorship seat in Cross River State is the people. Thank God for (BEVAS) because there will be no more room for manipulation. The people will decide who the governor will be but that would be based on contemporary sentiment and it is a seat where they talk about zoning the governorship back to the South. But then, in terms of back to South, in the Southern Senatorial District, we have the Efiks, Akamkpas and Biases. From 1999 when we started this democratic dispensation, the first governor, Donald Duke, is Efik. Also in that dispensation, the Senator, Mrs. Florence Ita-Giwa is Efik. Along the senatorial line, after Mrs. Ita-Giwa who is Efik, you have Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw who is Efik. After him, you have Senator Bassey Edet Otu and after him, Senator Gershom Bassey who are both Efik and now, we have another Efik son, Asuquo Ekpenyong (Jnr) on the platform of APC and Ekpo Okon on the platform of PDP, also Efik (Ekpo Okon is Okoyong). So what is the position of the Biase and Akamkpa people in the Southern Senatorial District?
These are the sentiments but the question is, in the southern senatorial district, is it only the Efiks who are here? Are we from Akamkpa and Biase not from the southern senatorial district or are we not entitled to certain offices in the southern senatorial district? Are we second class citizens or slaves? And if we are not, why are we not in this position? If you throw a contest open and a winner emerges from anywhere, it is fine but if you bring in the word “zoning” the zoning should be done in such a way that it reflects equity, natural justice and good conscience. You do not do zoning and always restrict it to a particular race.
If you say zoning and insist that it must be a particular race, which is the Efiks, then it is now injustice and against good conscience and it is most unfair. I can bet you that the people of Akamkpa and Biase are not going to buy into this arrangement. I am speaking categorically because I have been talking with my friends, brothers and sisters across board in Akamkpa and Biase, both PDP and APC. I do not think anyone from Akamkpa and Biase will key into an arrangement where we are subjected to the position of second class citizens or no class citizens at all. It is not that I reject zoning because for me, I marry zoning and competence, I am only saying that if we are talking about zoning, the first governor of Cross River State in this dispensation is from the South, who is Efik and so if it is coming back to the South, there are other components of the South which are Akamkpa and Biase, it should have gone there.
Question: Are you rejecting zoning?
Ans: I am not rejecting zoning, I am only rejecting zoning at the extent that it makes my people seem to be like second class citizens. If you want to zone, there is something called macro and micro zoning. Even if you look at the Calabar /Ogoja accord, if it goes the other way and comes back, the community that took it the first time should give way to the other community in that zone. In other words, since Donald Duke, an Efik, was governor in 1999 and it then went to Central and then North, now governor Ayade, if it is coming back to the South, the Efik should not go for it anymore, it should be for Akamkpa and Biase, the other components of Cross River South. To that extent, I accept zoning but i reject zoning that says we do not belong and that is the sentiment of my people from Akamkpa and Biase.
Question: Will there be a protest vote?
Ans: We are going to make a categorical statement about this matter and for this reason, “I, Sam Bassey, hereby categorically and emphatically endorse the governorship candidature of Senator Ntufam Professor Sandy Onor. I do not know whether you call it protest but we are going to vote the way it profits us and in a manner that we know that reasonably, the outcome of the election for which we voted would be of benefit to us and bring progress to my people. I am in politics to put smiles on the faces of my people.
I do not know what you mean by protest but I am voting for the person I am going to work with and I am voting for a person I know when, he becomes governor, my people will benefit from it. He will not marginalize or neglect my people and he will not consign my people to the back bench”.
Question: Don’t you think your action can be seen as anti party?
Ans: My number one loyalty goes to Almighty God and second is my community and party is third because parties will come and go but God and my community are still there. Therefore anything done that is not in line with the word of God, which talks of equity and fairness, and will not put smiles on the faces of my people, I will not support it. If you call it anti-party activity, that is your language but I, Sam Bassey, am working for what I know God has approved which is fair and will bring happiness to my people , which is the governorship of Senator Ntufam Professor Sandy Onor. When I did pro-party activity, what did I get? So if I get nothing from anti-party activity, then nothing has changed.
Question: What do you think should be done?
Ans: It is too late for APC to do anything. They have done zoning to a particular local government and they cannot go back to do zoning again, elections is just few months away and so we have passed that stage, nothing can be done. The authorities that be have a way of not consulting widely to think of how to fine-tune things, so it is too late.
Question: For the presidency what is your take?
Ans: For the presidency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He has the spread that can give him the presidency.
As far as I am concerned, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has all it takes to put Nigeria on the right track. No one man can solve all of Nigeria’s or any nation’s problems, it is bit by bit. I believe by the time he does his own bit, he would have moved Nigeria forward at the Federal level and I also believe that way the state level, Ntufam Professor Sandy Onoh can move Cross River forward to the next level and another person comes to continue from where he stops. We are running a federation, the state governor is a Nigerian, the President is also a Nigerian and they must both work in synergy for the state and Nigeria to develop.
Question: What are Bola Tinibu’s chances?
Ans: Tinubu’s chances in Cross River State are very high because we have movement of Tinubu, we have senatorial candidates, we have House of Reps candidates of APC, we have House of Assembly candidates of APC. The presidential election comes first and they will all go all out to ensure that APC does not lose the presidential election at least, Tinubu will not get anything less than 25% in Cross River State which is mandatory. I am sure with the structure on ground in Cross River, Tinubu will not fail to get the 25% required of him.