“I am not Manipulative”, says former Governor Clement Ebri
“I don’t know how you guys sleep. On my own bed, that part of the bed I sleep is depressed. Other parts of the bed are still like before. But I can’t go to any other part of the bed to sleep because that part of the bed that I sleep is where I feel most comfortable. So, if on a bed you can’t even move around to say today I would sleep on another side, tomorrow I would sleep on the middle side, another day I would sleep on another side, what is the need to acquire everything?”
In a clime like Nigeria where covetousness and mischievous manipulation are often associated with politics, the above question should serve as food for thought for everyone, particularly for Politicians and all public office holders.
The question was asked by Chief Clement Ebri, Governor of Cross River State in Nigeria’s Third Republic, when he interacted yesterday with members of Association of Cross River Online Journalists (ACROJ) in his residence at Clement Ebri Drive, State Housing Estate, Calabar.
Former Governor Ebri is a staunch member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and aspires to be the national Chairman of that party. He looked fit and athletic, when he briskly climbed the staircase to his penthouse where members of ACROJ waited to interact with him. According to him, the routine of climbing that staircase and doing most things for himself instead of waiting to be served, keeps him fit.
Unlike some former Governors who display lavish wealth and ostentation, this former Governor’s modesty is partially exemplified in his simple but insightful explanation of his sleeping position in bed. It is also apparent in his disclosure that his newest car was manufactured in 2008. He explained that: “I am not the type that wants to acquire the newest model of things”.
Equally, former Governor Ebri explained that he did not have any campaign office or elaborate organizational structures, when he contested and won as Governor of Cross River State in 1992. Rather, he said that he mobilized 7 persons that constituted what was called “Forward Trust”, to work for him. According to him, “I just had people I thought would perform simple tasks. Eventually, I won as Governor.”
He is optimistic that his pedigree as one who ran a political party and served as a Governor, makes him “eminently qualified” to serve as his party’s national Chairman. He said: “I am not manipulative. I am a straight forward person. My own problem with people is, let us be transparent. If there is anything out there, let us put it on the table. Let everybody see it…. Everyone should have a sense of ownership in the party.”
In this vein of selflessness, he disclosed that he declined offers to acquire choice property for himself, when he served as Governor of Cross River State. He cited CROSPIL’s building located at State Housing Estate Calabar, as one of such property. According to him, rather than acquire the building for himself as offered to him, he advised the State’s Accountant General at that time to acquire it for the State Government.
In another vein, he decried what transpired last Saturday in Cross River State when APC’s ward congresses were scheduled to take place. He said: “Nothing took place on Saturday. The only thing that took place was the drama of people thinking that they could hijack materials, go to a hotel somewhere and begin to write results. This is quite unfortunate. We have practiced democracy for quite a while and it is expected that at this particular time, we don’t do things thinking along those lines…. I believe in transparency. If you are strong enough, go ahead. Use your resources to mobilize the people and do the right thing. Don’t sit down somewhere, write results and claim that you are right”.
It would be recalled that election of delegates in ward congresses of the APC scheduled for Saturday, May 5 2018, were marred by reports of irregularities. The National Executive of the party reportedly cancelled that exercise and would send another committee to oversee rescheduled ward congresses in the state.
Former Governor Ebri expressed optimism that the expected committee would organize credible elections.
He enjoined members of the party to shelve their personal ambitions and put the growth of the party above such ambitions, adding that “there would be credible primaries, elections and whatever the party organizes”, if he emerges as national Chairman.
Speaking on his chances at the election against the backdrop of insinuations that the position of the party’s Chairman has been zoned to Edo State, former Governor Ebri said: “Don’t forget that Edo and Delta constituted the Mid West State, while where I come from constituted the Eastern Region which had nine states. It would be politically wise to say let us go to those nine state.”
“If you go to those nine states, I stand out. Not only do I stand out, I have strong background in the South East…. I have some goodwill in most of these other states. It is strategically easier for somebody from this blog to go there and get people whose votes were not forthcoming in the last election.”
He disclosed that several persons in PDP including some ex Governors have told him that they would decamp to APC, the moment he becomes the party’s Chairman.
Former Governor Ebri added that judging from the caliber of members of APC in Cross River State such as Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, Senator Owan Enoh, Senator Florence Ita Giwa, himself and others who recently joined the party, Cross River State is fertile ground awaiting the party’s harvest when he becomes the national Chairman.
He said: “Cross River State is a ripe fruit sitting out there. All you need is to pluck it…. I am not a selfish person. I am not a self-centered person. Let us put our best foot forward.”
Former Governor Clement Ebri is the only member of the APC from Cross River State who belongs to the national caucus of the party as well as its Board of Trustees. He was aged 39, when he emerged as Governor of Cross River state under the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in January 1992. His tenure as Governor was truncated in November 1993, when a military coup banished Nigeria’s Third Republic.
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