Who Are The Atams?

In Opinion

by Obono Obla

The decision by the Governor of Cross River State of Nigeria, Senator Liyel Imoke that that the position of the candidate for the Governor ship of Cross River State in the Peoples Democratic Party for 2015 election will be zone to the Northern Senatorial District of the State is highly commendable.The decision that power will shift to the North come 2015 is unassailable, just, sound and logical.

The pronouncement by the Governor will go a long way to douse tension in the State that has gradually been building following subterranean moves by certain politicians from the Southern Senatorial District of the State to position themselves for a possible contest of the position of governor ship of the State under the PDP come 2015. This notwithstanding the fact that Donald Duke from the South was governor for 8 years in the State! The present Governor who is from the Central District will bow out in 2016 after being Governor of the State for eight years. Since the creation of the State no governor has been produced by the Northern District of the State.

The State is constitutionally divided into three districts namely Northern, Central and Southern. It accords with justice, equity and good conscience that the North should be given the opportunity to take a shot at the governor ship of the State. At this stage of our nascent democracy and political development concession and consensus on certain issues must be forged in the overall interest of the polity in order to have stability to guarantee economic prosperity.

We in the Congress for Progressive CHANGE commend the decision by Governor Imoke that there will be a shift in the levers of political power in the State to the North so that our brothers there will have a sense of belonging. Other Political Parties in the State including the Congress for Progressive Change shall take a cue and zone the position of governor ship to the Northern Senatorial District for the 2015 general elections. It is important at this stage of our development that all sections of the State are carry along in the governance of the State.

This is why the framers of the 1999 Constitution enshrined the Federal/ State Character. Section 14 (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provide: “The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Federation”.

The provisions of Article 13 the African Chapter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ramifications and Enforcement) Act 2004 also provide that all strata of society must participate in the governance of the community. The decision that power will shift to the North accords with the dream of the founding fathers of the State more than three decades ago that power must rotate among the constituent parts of the State in order that every part of the State is accommodated.

The decision has put pay to the manoeuvrings of certain people in the State for purely selfish reasons to dichotomize into two constituent parts namely “Atam and Efik”. In the reality there is nothing like that. The division of the State by some people into “Atam and Efik” is purely a fiction and mischievous.

We commend the Governor for his bold and courageous decision. We now know that what is acceptable is the constitutionally recognised division of the State into Northern, Southern and Central Senatorial Districts not the mythical and mischievous “Atam and Efik”. An ethnically heterogeneous State such as Cross River State cannot fairly be divided “Atam and Efik” as some ethnic champions and selfish politicians will want us believe.

There is no ethnic group or nationality ethnologically, anthropologically and sociologically known as “Atam”, in the Cross River. The Central and Northern Senatorial districts which some people ignorantly called “Atam” is made up of numerous ethnic groups or nationalities.

Even if the term “Atam” means non Efik people it is wrong to refer to the peoples of the North and Central districts as “Atam” because they are also non Efik groups in the Southern Senatorial District. These include the Akpap Okoyong people in Odukpani Local Government Area; the Ejagham (Quas) in Calabar Municipality, Akpabuyo and Odukpani Local Government Areas; various ethnic nationalities in Biase Local Government Area.

In Akamkpa Local Government Area, you have the largest Ejagham population in the State. So this so called “Atam” and “Efik” divide is wholly fallacious and misleading. Before the colonial era, the term “Atam” was loosely and broadly used by some people from Akwa Ibom and Efik to refer to the people coming from the Upper Cross River Region. It does not refer to a particular group of people or ethnicity.

It is therefore wrong for some people to still employ the term to describe everybody who is non Efik in Cross River State. As previously state here it smacks of abyss ignorance of the ethnic composition of the State to refer to anybody as “Atam”. And then some people expect political offices in the State to be share along this imaginary division of “Atam,” and “Efik”.


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2 commentsOn Who Are The Atams?

  • @eddy.
    Let it go round first.somebody has been there from south,someone is on sit from central and the north a chance by 2015.
    So that we can compare,contrast for that radical change of governance you desire in c.r.s.

  • Look we should forget this Atam or Efik, the state is in dire need of an aggressive , creative, investments driven person, if the guy and all his EXCO are to come from Efik or Ogoja, i dont care, if we can have Okorocha, Adams or Fashola from Efik let it be, if we have same human being from Obudu, fine. We dont need my turn or your turn Sleeping, non creative politician as Governor. C/R is the poorest state in south South, we dont need a Governor who will use state fund to buy Belgium plane, when the state is carrying heavy debt burden, we dont need a drug addicted Governor who keep an addict from C/R central, whose Brother is a known face in Abuja as a friend. Anyway birds of the same feathers flocks together.

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