Minister of Niger Delta Affairs is Open for Reconciliation – Ene Cobham


Following the recent APC primaries in Cross River State, the duo of Senator Owan Enoh and Usani Usani emerged governorship candidates from different factions. Pastor Usani Usani went to court and the court ordered the APC NWC to recognize Etim-led State exco’s congress list for 2019 election.

While the national and state APC were engaged on some sort of reconciliation, Usani Usani team are celebrating their count victory. In this interview the Director General of Usani Usani campaign organization, Ekpenyong Ene Cobham, spoke on the theme of his principal’s campaign, the need for the justice in party politics, the activities of the incumbent administration in the state among others. Excerpts         

What is the focus of your campaign; I mean what is the theme?

It is the sum total of the tragedy that has befallen Cross Rive State. It is this quaigmire in which we have found ourselves. The unfortunate circumstance that have thrown us with the present governor In all sectors of the economy businesses are consistently moving out of Cross River State in droves.

You see, the people are exploited through one form of obnoxious policy or the other so as to enrich selected individuals or  groups of people and they call that empowerment. They set up one wanton agency or the other and people are exorbitantly taxed. High Quality Bakery for instance has announced that it will fold up and go to Akwa Ibom State. I know of an engineering company that has over 500 in its employ in the state that is collapsing right now.

This cruel tax culture or regime is strangling the economy of the state. Even a taxi driver pays N500 tax daily, a Keke rider pays N500 daily, a petty trader in the Watt Market pays more than N500 daily. You find out where these monies are go to.

Government resources are paid into individual accounts. We have a governor, we have a co-governor and very soon we might have assistant governor, deputy governor, it is absolutely madness. So we need to get out of this mess and we need to look up to a new generation of leadership that we can trust. We have a situation where our leaders cannot be role models to our children. There is a governor who lies to his own citizens, who talks before he thinks.

Congratulations on the recent court judgment in Abuja that upheld the Etim John Led exco.

 Yes, the judgment did not come as a surprise. We had an issue backed by the law. It is not all about quest for power, but certain people have to stand up for the truth. The law of the land must be respected. We cannot encourage executive rascality. Unfortunately, a former governor in Nigeria who himself is a beneficiary of the integrity of the judiciary could decide to condole and exhibit disrespect for the law.  What example are you setting and in APC which we say is a platform for change?

I am telling you because honestly, His Excellency, Adams Oshiomhole has brought a lot of disrepute to the image of APC by his conduct. There is crisis everywhere, self-inflicted crisis which would have been avoided if he had acted within the parameters of the law. These things would have been avoided, so we filed a law suit and we said no, we cannot allow this to happen. Let’s go to the court of law to seek justice and that was what happened, and the court upheld the Etim John Executive and by extension whatever exercise  carried out by them was declared valid and that automatically solved all the issues.

Court has given judgment and at the same time we have on ground an APC state and national reconciliation committee trying to uphold the status quo, where do you and the party go from here?

Well, I am a strong believer in the truth and I preach the truth; if there is no truth, there can be reconciliation. Thank God the court gave a verdict, reconciliation can start from there. My principal is a very humble man and his hands are wide open for reconciliation, so anybody who wants to be part of the APC family is welcome. Everybody is welcome. We do not have any grudge against anybody. This is APC and anybody who feels he is an APC member is free to walk in and that is reconciliation. We are servants of God. My principal is a pastor and does not bear any grudge but injustice would not stand. We are committed to true justice, so whatever your feeling toward Usani you are still welcome, and he would receive you and that is reconciliation. You are welcome.

Many Nigerians feel that President Buhari is cooperating with Fulani herdsmen to fight fellow Nigerians – what is your view.

That is not true. You and I know the level insecurity in this country had gone through. Herdsmen crisis is basically fallout of the war against corruption. Corruption has tried to fight Buhari in every way. My brother you are a living witness of the recent propaganda going on that the President is one Jubril and what have you. If you have low income flow today it is because of the collapsed economy

What are those things that are lacking in the state which you would want your principal to correct if elected?

Integrity and leadership are fundamental. For about six years the whole of Cross River State has been suffering, there has been capital flight. Phanton contractors, briefcase contractors come from nowhere and dupe the state, I can tell Cross River State that they can trust the character of Usani and can also trust the vision of Usani, a man of integrity. Cross River State is money must remain in the state to do anything in Cross River State to power the economy of the state. Cross River State should be assured and certain that they would be empowered by my principal who would turn around the mess we have found ourselves. He will build the new Cross River State, that can assure you.

What do you think is the unique selling proposition of your principal?

Usani Usani wants to energize the tourism sector. In the Small and Medium Enterprise Sector, he will encourage the private sector to take advantage of the potentials? An average Cross Riverian that I know is a very industrious person. But I can tell you that in the last 15years opportunity has not been given to Cross Riverians. My principal would not encourage the policy of giving mass appointments, you give mass appointment to a multitude of unskilled young men where they earn fabulously for 4years. When you leave office, the young men also lose their jobs and because unemployed and they are largely unskilled, they become problems. My principle will not do that.

 Any message to Nigerians

I want to urge Cross Riverians to rise above primordial sentiments. This is not the time to talk about governorship in the senatorial zones. It is shameful that Cross River State has fallen into the hands of bad people. If we do not rise up to redeem Cross River there would be nothing left of the state. So watch out for the personalities involved, their capacity and antecedents. And I want to urge the Southern Cross River to rise up and grape the opportunity of working with Pastor Usani. That is the best deal we have on the table today. In respect of where you come from he has the interest of our people at heart and that is the only man that can redeem Cross River State. END