Sunday, 26 April 2020

C'River Northern Senatorial Rerun: Why Akpagu is the best choice for APC

By Our Correspondent|26 April 2020 

The demise of Sen. Rose Oko, the late Senator representing the good people of the Northern Senatorial District in the red chambers has created a vacuum that will be filled through a rerun election. 

Once the lockdown occasioned by the dangerous COVID-19 pandemic is over, the Senate will declare her seat vacant and formally transmit a letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC notifying the commision of her death. 

The Commision by the letter will organise a fresh election between 90-120 days according to the electoral act.

As the people wait patiently for this processes, Politicians from different divides with different permutations have left no stone unturned in ensuring that they promote and galvanize supports for their interests. 

One name that has continued to reverberate at different social media platforms as well as glued to the lips of everyone discussing the late Senator's replacement is Prof. Zana Akpagu, the incumbent Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar.

Prof. Akpagu, regarded by many as the most "Complete Northerner" because of his blood affiliation with all the five local government areas that make up the Senatorial district is tipped to run the election under the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Perhaps, it's not surprising that everybody, both folks and foes are discussing Akpagu as the man to beat. His sterling performances as the first alumnus VC and the first ever from the Northern Senatorial District was always going to place him ahead of others in any election he decides to run.

In APC, although he stands taller than others when discussing the chances of winning the general election, some people still don't understand why the opposition PDP is jittering and working day and night to ensure that they infiltrate the APC with the sole aim of stopping him from clinching the party's ticket.

The North is made up of five local government against the seven and six of other senatorial districts and the voting strength of the entire state not just the north now is in Obudu local government particularly, Ipong ward where Prof. Akpagu comes from.

In the last general election, Obudu alone vis-a-vis Ipong contributed about 60% of the total number of votes from the north. The Governor is also from Obudu and Ipong. However, between the two heavyweights, it's visible to the blind and audible to the deaf that Prof. Akpagu is loved and more acceptable by his people. 

The voting strength of Obudu as it stands today is larger than two local governments put together. So, if APC is interested in winning the election, the party must strategically consider how to neutralize the votes from Obudu and the best way to doing that is to put forward a popular and more acceptable candidate like Prof. Akpagu.

Besides, among the northern people currently holding positions of authority, Akpagu has touched more lives in all ramifications than any other person from the ward, Obudu and the zone. While a few people are holding temporal appointments in the state government, Akpagu has given many others permanent jobs in the University of Calabar. 

Similarly, beyond the fact that APC will stand a better chance of winning the Senatorial seat if the Obudu votes are neutralized, the popularity and acceptability of Akpagu is unprecedented. There's no single person in the north today that has been celebrated more than Akpagu. In fact, in the past two years, nobody has received more awards of any kind from the senatorial district than him.

From Obanliku to Yala where he saw to the enthronement of two illustrious Yala indigenes as Bursar and Registrar of UNICAL to Bekwarra where he gave them the only Bank with three ATMs after many years of having to travel many kilometres for any bank transactions to Ogoja and others where he has given qualified indigenes jobs and appointment, his name is a household name.

The north generally was marginalised in UNICAL. We live in an ethnocentric society where even if you're qualified, you need someone in position of authority to re-qualify you before you get your due. That Akpagu became UNICAL VC about 40 years after its establishment shows how much people from the Senatorial District were marginalized as they had few or nobody in position of authority to help.

Akpagu came to change this by establishing many new programmes to create opportunity for the people. While his administration was not just for the north as he is celebrated across the state, the challenge the people from the zone were having by not being granted equal opportunity in terms of job and admission before he took over has been brutally dealt with. Under him, everybody is treated equally which has given many qualified northerners the opportunity to secure jobs and admission.

So far, there's nobody that has indicated interest for the Senate seat in APC that boast of this credentials today. They're good leaders and qualified people in their own right but if APC really wants to be serious and challenge the ruling PDP for the seat then it must put forth a candidate like Akpagu whose name rings bell across the five local governments of the north and beyond in the election. 

That Prof. Akpagu is the only person in the race in the ranks of APC who's currently in position of authority and has done exceeding well is a plus for the party. People will readily judge his performances comparatively with any candidate from the PDP and the reality on ground shows that there's no leader from the state that has performed better than him (Akpagu) in the past few years.

His impacts and the memories are still very fresh. It'll be easier for people to remember the man who just gave their brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, fathers and mothers job, and an entire local government area bank after over two decades the last few months than anyone else. People will generally feel indebted to a man who transformed UNICAL, built hostels, lecture theatres, improved staff and students welfare, provide COVID-19 palliatives for people etc.

The journey of 2023 starts with the rerun election. If APC is ready to takeover the state from the PDP, the first step is to ensure that they take control of the north which has the highest voting strength in the state today. A choice like Prof. Akpagu as APC Senator from the north will mean that the 2023 takeover plan is half solved.

This is the time for the party to take charge and make a bold statement ahead of the next general election. With Akpagu, APC victory in the rerun election stand a better chance.

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