Imoke Vs Ndoma-Egba Beyond Governor’s Succession

•The cold war between Cross River State governor, Senator Liyel Imoke and Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma Egba could go beyond the successor to the governor come 2015 writes DESMOND EKWUEME…

It is a known fact that most states of the federation have one political crisis or another which all point to succession wars as most of the governors who will be leaving office in 2015 want their godsons to continue from where they stopped. This trend is not new or strange in our nascent democracy. It has led to the unholy act of pressurizing party stalwarts to accept or adopt “conscientious candidates” just to maintain the status quo. No thanks to former President Olusegun Obasanjo who against all odds ensured that Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua succeeded him in 2007.

The situation is not different in Cross River but perhaps it is taking a frightening and may be dangerous dimension given the actions of the two political gladiators in the state talking about the state governor, Senator Liyel Imoke and Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba who are gradually dragging global political searchlight and attention on the state. And it must be noted that what Nigerians witnessed in Anambra could be a child’s play compared to what is to come in Cross River if an accord is not reached between both men.

As it is at the moment peace is not in sight since the camp of Ndoma-Egba is seeing the political development in the state as a full blown war. Aside the fact that two serious stakeholders meetings have been held in the state capital, Calabar at the request of the governor without the Senate Leader’s knowledge or invitation, Ndoma-Egba’s camp is angered by the rumour that the governor is not only bent on installing his candidate to succeed him but is also working to get his wife Obioma Imoke to take up the ticket of senator from the central senatorial zone where himself and Ndoma-Egba hail from.

Observers suggest that Imoke positioned himself for war when his sources in the Presidency leaked the information that Ndoma-Egba had presented a candidate to President Goodluck Jonathan as the next governor of Cross River State. The Senate Leader has stoutly denied this story saying, “President Jonathan is alive. Those who are accusing me of presenting any candidate to him should go to Aso Rock to ask if it is true or false. I did not and do not have such intention because I actually have no candidate of my own but the candidate that the good people of Cross River State elect as their next governor. However I must warn that our politics has gone beyond the situation whereby one man will just appoint or handpick a candidate and impose him or her on the people.”

Before now Imoke and Ndoma-Egba were best of friends. Their relationship actually started long before 1999 and they have worked closely until the latest problem. Though Ndoma-Egba was not at the two meetings called at the instance of Sen. Imoke but he insists that “as the political leader of the good people of Cross River State I don’t think any meeting of PDP stakeholders would be called without my invitation or knowledge. However I must state clearly that people have the right to meet for whatever reason but if such meeting concerns the PDP family and I am not there then, I should assume that it is not really for the interest of the PDP.” Those who organized the meting which the governor did not also attend say that Ndoma-Egba was informed even though his invitation went late, more so, the date coincided with his father’s burial anniversary.

Beyond all these, top politicians in the state suggest that the cold war between the duo hinges on the fact that Ndoma-Egba has gathered so much powers and influence as Senate Leader having been in the hallow chambers of the distinguished senate since 1999 that he seems to have dwarfed the importance of the governor. It is said that before the cold war started, on three occasions when the governor visited Abuja on state assignments the two other senators had always been on hand to welcome the governor and they were always with him at the State’s Liaison office before he departed for Calabar but on all occasions Ndoma-Egba has always excused himself with senate duties and assignments. But the governor on all occasions met him (Ndoma-Egba) at the Presidential villa without much respect accorded to him as the number one citizen of Cross River State.

Imoke it was reported had frowned at the very unbecoming and disrespectful attitude of Ndoma-Egba and complained to highly placed citizens of the state who actually tried to call the Senate Leader to order, but he shunned them asking if it was more important for him to go welcome Imoke or attend to pressing state matters of national significance. Another reason why Imoke is at war with Ndoma-Egba according to sources close to the corridors of power is the absence of the Senate Leader in one of the governor’s birthday bash. The First Lady was said to have sent invitation to the Senate Leader among other top politicians but surprisingly he excused himself with the same reason of being busy with state matters. The icing on the cake was the inability of Ndoma-Egba to send a congratulatory message to the governor even though via sms.    

Interestingly some members of the camp of Ndoma-Egba are not too comfortable with the manner he is handling the issue with kids gloves. They fear that Imoke may have an ace he would serve come 2015 since he is more on the ground than the Senate Leader who is based in Abuja. Though Ndoma-Egba may have the support of the Presidency which has not been confirmed talking about picking who succeeds Imoke but election according to supporters of Ndoma-Egba will be conducted in the state and not Abuja. They argue that the governor will naturally use powers within his office to ensure that his candidate wins the election especially as it has been agreed that the next governor will come from the northern senatorial zone of the state. Ndoma-Egba’s candidate is also from the northern part of the state, so that should not be an issue but the big worry of his followers is that he may end up losing his seat to the governor’s wife which could spell doom for him and his teeming followers.

Will Ndoma-Egba fold his arms and allow a seat he has occupied for about 13 years be taken away from him? Those who know him say he is slow to action but very deadly when he eventually goes to war. The man may not be talking much but surely having risen to the position he presently enjoys he won’t want to lose all he has built over the years talking about his political structure and that could be the reason why he may fight dirty. One politician from the state said, “Ndoma-Egba may concede that the governor picks his successor but certainly he will not agree to lose his seat at the senate.” That could be the point of settlement or peace. But who can broker this peace before things go sour?  

It is a known fact that most states of the federation have one political crisis or another which all point to succession wars as most of the governors who will be leaving office in 2015 want their godsons to continue from where they stopped. This trend is not new or strange in our nascent democracy. It has led to the unholy act of pressurizing party stalwarts to accept or adopt “conscientious candidates” just to maintain the status quo. No thanks to former President Olusegun Obasanjo who against all odds ensured that Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua succeeded him in 2007.
The situation is not different in Cross River but perhaps it is taking a frightening and may be dangerous dimension given the actions of the two political gladiators in the state talking about the state governor, Senator Liyel Imoke and Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba who are gradually dragging global political searchlight and attention on the state. And it must be noted that what Nigerians witnessed in Anambra could be a child’s play compared to what is to come in Cross River if an accord is not reached between both men.
As it is at the moment peace is not in sight since the camp of Ndoma-Egba is seeing the political development in the state as a full blown war. Aside the fact that two serious stakeholders meetings have been held in the state capital, Calabar at the request of the governor without the Senate Leader’s knowledge or invitation, Ndoma-Egba’s camp is angered by the rumour that the governor is not only bent on installing his candidate to succeed him but is also working to get his wife Obioma Imoke to take up the ticket of senator from the central senatorial zone where himself and Ndoma-Egba hail from.
Observers suggest that Imoke positioned himself for war when his sources in the Presidency leaked the information that Ndoma-Egba had presented a candidate to President Goodluck Jonathan as the next governor of Cross River State. The Senate Leader has stoutly denied this story saying, “President Jonathan is alive. Those who are accusing me of presenting any candidate to him should go to Aso Rock to ask if it is true or false. I did not and do not have such intention because I actually have no candidate of my own but the candidate that the good people of Cross River State elect as their next governor. However I must warn that our politics has gone beyond the situation whereby one man will just appoint or handpick a candidate and impose him or her on the people.”
Before now Imoke and Ndoma-Egba were best of friends. Their relationship actually started long before 1999 and they have worked closely until the latest problem. Though Ndoma-Egba was not at the two meetings called at the instance of Sen. Imoke but he insists that “as the political leader of the good people of Cross River State I don’t think any meeting of PDP stakeholders would be called without my invitation or knowledge. However I must state clearly that people have the right to meet for whatever reason but if such meeting concerns the PDP family and I am not there then, I should assume that it is not really for the interest of the PDP.” Those who organized the meting which the governor did not also attend say that Ndoma-Egba was informed even though his invitation went late, more so, the date coincided with his father’s burial anniversary.
Beyond all these, top politicians in the state suggest that the cold war between the duo hinges on the fact that Ndoma-Egba has gathered so much powers and influence as Senate Leader having been in the hallow chambers of the distinguished senate since 1999 that he seems to have dwarfed the importance of the governor. It is said that before the cold war started, on three occasions when the governor visited Abuja on state assignments the two other senators had always been on hand to welcome the governor and they were always with him at the State’s Liaison office before he departed for Calabar but on all occasions Ndoma-Egba has always excused himself with senate duties and assignments. But the governor on all occasions met him (Ndoma-Egba) at the Presidential villa without much respect accorded to him as the number one citizen of Cross River State.
Imoke it was reported had frowned at the very unbecoming and disrespectful attitude of Ndoma-Egba and complained to highly placed citizens of the state who actually tried to call the Senate Leader to order, but he shunned them asking if it was more important for him to go welcome Imoke or attend to pressing state matters of national significance. Another reason why Imoke is at war with Ndoma-Egba according to sources close to the corridors of power is the absence of the Senate Leader in one of the governor’s birthday bash. The First Lady was said to have sent invitation to the Senate Leader among other top politicians but surprisingly he excused himself with the same reason of being busy with state matters. The icing on the cake was the inability of Ndoma-Egba to send a congratulatory message to the governor even though via sms.
Interestingly some members of the camp of Ndoma-Egba are not too comfortable with the manner he is handling the issue with kids gloves. They fear that Imoke may have an ace he would serve come 2015 since he is more on the ground than the Senate Leader who is based in Abuja. Though Ndoma-Egba may have the support of the Presidency which has not been confirmed talking about picking who succeeds Imoke but election according to supporters of Ndoma-Egba will be conducted in the state and not Abuja. They argue that the governor will naturally use powers within his office to ensure that his candidate wins the election especially as it has been agreed that the next governor will come from the northern senatorial zone of the state. Ndoma-Egba’s candidate is also from the northern part of the state, so that should not be an issue but the big worry of his followers is that he may end up losing his seat to the governor’s wife which could spell doom for him and his teeming followers.
Will Ndoma-Egba fold his arms and allow a seat he has occupied for about 13 years be taken away from him? Those who know him say he is slow to action but very deadly when he eventually goes to war. The man may not be talking much but surely having risen to the position he presently enjoys he won’t want to lose all he has built over the years talking about his political structure and that could be the reason why he may fight dirty. One politician from the state said, “Ndoma-Egba may concede that the governor picks his successor but certainly he will not agree to lose his seat at the senate.” That could be the point of settlement or peace. But who can broker this peace before things go sour?

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