Bassey’s manifesto is best to reset Cross River State after eight years of drift, argues Paul Obi 

“A great state is a well-blended mash of something of all the people and all of none of the people. The liquor of statecraft is distilled from the mash you got

-Zora Neale Hurston 

Elections are essential components of what makes a society great; a mishandling is also capable of leading to a collapse. A political blunder over a poor choice could as well derail society. The consequence is misdirection in governance. Since 2015, Cross River State has regrettably met all the above threshold. Under Governor Ben Ayade, Cross River has moved from Nigeria’s number one tourists’ destination to a comatose and abandoned state, where jesters and jokers serenade the state with the dancing steps of follies. It is on the basis of Ayade’s wasteful years that the next gubernatorial election in Cross River State is significant. 

With Ayade in the saddle, the state of Mary Slessor and Bishop Thomas McGettrick has been suffering. Heroes like Margaret Ekpo, Michael Ogon, M.T. Mbu, Hogan Bassey, Prince Nico Mbaka, I.I. Murphy, Okoi Arikpo, Ntufam Ojong, Rose Abang Wushishi, Joseph Wayas are turning in their graves over dearth of governance in Cross River and the theatre of the absurd in Peregrino House. Ahead of 2023 governorship race, how do we reset Cross River after Ayade’s exit? 

This question is critical given that both the economic development and politics of the state have been corrupted by an administration that has spent more time in inertia while monumental misgovernance got entrenched and funds took flight. It is in the light of this degradation, that Sen. Gershom Bassey’s candidacy for the gubernatorial race is now situated. What does Gershom’s have that is different and how will that reshape Cross River for good? In unpacking Gershom’s manifesto nay marshal plan, the understanding is that infrastructural development which was neglected by Ayade and which turned into a conduit pipe for phoney projects will definitely preoccupied Gershom’s agenda for Cross River State. 

According to Gershom, Cross River needs to be fashioned as a paradise that she is, “a beautiful place that is peaceful and free from worry.” Since 2015, Ayade’s chaotic governance unleashed crisis on to the state, such that crime took stead in the state and worries gained the highest currency. Still, Gershom’s believes that there is a way we can all navigate Cross River from this quagmire, in his own words by building “a place where individuals and businesses alike can invest and thrive both socially and or economically. This is the vision I have for our dear state. I am committed to seeing confidence restored in Cross River State, as the destination to raise a family, for business, technology, tourism and agriculture,” he stated. 

Gershom went further to explained that “however, we have a monumental task ahead of us. Cross River State is at a crossroads and it is in our hands to pull her back from the edges and redirect her path towards growth, peace, development and prosperity. With a land mass of about 98,000km2, of which 1/3 is covered by water and 2/3 by tropical rain forests, Cross River State is undoubtedly blessed with very fertile soil, abundant aquatic resources for exploitation, geographic advantage (as a trading route to the East and a coastal port State) and one of the world‘s biodiversity hotspots.”  

“Therefore we must look inwards and exploit these advantages through progressive governance and development. To achieve this, our manifesto is based on the belief that decentralised development is critical to the progress of a state. On this principle, we have designed a manifesto and developmental framework that prioritises state and local development strategies that focus on security, human capital development, infrastructural development, job and wealth creation, increasing IGR, attracting investments to strategic industries, effective governance and tourism, to transitioning the state into a safe, economically sustainable and prosperous state, where technology complements industry and human capital development foster job creation and a viable industrial revolution,”  that Cross River urgently needs.

Overall, the essence of a manifesto is to act as a guide for electoral contestants in order to connect with voters. With so much at stake in Cross River 2023 governorship race, Gershom’s manifesto is an evidence toolkit that voters need to look closely in zeroing in on him as a candidate. As PDP delegates assembled to elect the standard bearer for the gubernatorial election, they would be guided by the public service of Gershom and his readiness to offer a new slate as governor. His manifesto has manifestly set the ball rolling with several victories in the primaries; from  Bassey Eko Ewa for Central Senatorial District; Attah Ochinke for Boki/Ikom; Eko Atu for Abi/Yakurr; Friday Okweche for Obubra/Etung; Ntufam Ekpo Okon for Southern Senatorial District; Eta Mbora for Calabar Municipal/Odukpani; Essien Ayi for Akpabuyo/Bakassi/Calabar South; Godwin Offiono for Ogoja/Yala and Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe for Northern Senatorial District, the coast is now set for a Gershom’s victory. 

With these outcomes from the primaries, they are all indicative of a new day; where Cross River politics returns to a more unified front and cohesive strand. It is also signpost of Cross River returning as a frontline state; far from the chaotic slate offered by the current administration. In other words, it is goodbye to juvenile governance; and a welcome to sane one. With this path, and God on the side of the people of Cross River, we can be sure that Gershom Bassey’s triumphant entry to Peregrino House is now guaranteed. Faith and fate are great weapons; for Gershom, it’s from conspiracy theory of the three wise men governing Cross River to reality. Indeed, welcome to Gershom’s marshal plan and a dependable statecraft. 

Obi is a journalist, researcher and fellow at the Abuja School of Social and Political Thought interested in media, elections and democracy 

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