by crossriverwatch admin
Dr. Matthias Oko Offoboche, Gynaecologist, Politician, PDP Chieftain, Elder statesman and former Deputy Governor of Cross River State speaks on the position of Cross River North Senatorial District in respect of the governorship of the state in 2015 in this interview with newsmen in Calabar.
Offoboche, who was Chairman of the Committee which drafted the document at the Obudu Cattle Ranch in 1979 that came gave birth to the Calabar-Ogoja Accord, when he was the Deputy Governor to Dr Clement Isong, stated that such accord was no longer applicable and can no more be implemented for the single reason that the accord has lapsed just like the 1979 constitution.
According to him the accord then was not based on ethnicity but on geographic expression as was in the constitution of 1979.
Some people are now using the old Calabar-Ogoja Accord to scuttle the possibility of the North taking the next slot in the Governorship of Cross River State come 2015. What is your take on that Sir?
Well, thank you very much for that question. Some of them are talking out of ignorance and they do not want to learn. The so-called Calabar-Ogoja Accord was reality, but the Calabar-Ogoja accord was premised on the provisions of the 1979 Constitution of Nigeria.
In 1979, we had two senatorial district structures, for instance Calabar-Ogoja District of Cross River as was enshrined in the 1979 Constitution of Nigeria. Ogoja was used because it was Ogoja Senatorial District and vice versa.
The 1979 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is dead. We are now operating the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The 1999 Constitution talks of three senatorial districts – North, South and Central. This is different from what
obtained in 1979. Those who are lawyers should look that up.
So it is unconstitutional to now begin to talk about Ogoja-Calabar Accord in 2013, 2014 or 2015 for purposes of who should take the governorship slot of Cross River State in the next political dispensation.
If the 1979 constitution comes to life and displaces 1999 constitution then we will be working by that constitution; but the 1979 constitution is dead. All the provisions made in the Accord were based on the provisions of the 1979 constitution.
Now that we are operating a new system the accord can’t have as much relevance as the 1979 constitution in 2013. It is as simple as that. If people want to compete for power, they do not need to import things that are not relevant.
People are free to contest elections; that is what makes us a democracy. But to go and import arguments that are not relevant is just looking for unnecessary problem.
Calabar-Ogoja Accord was relevant at the time it was done because it was guided by the provisions of the 1979 constitution and once that constitution is irrelevant the accord becomes irrelevant.
Can the North brace up to provide the governorship material in 2015 or not?
Again, the 1999 constitution provides for the Federal Character which also applies to states and local governments. That is, things should be done in rotation; that every part of the entity should have relevance.
So our brothers in the South provided the governor in Mr. Donald Duke, the Central has provided the governor in the name of Sen. Liyel Imoke, the sitting governor. It is only logical, commonsense and democratic for the people of the northern senatorial district to now provide the next governor.
How then would the South continue to provide the governor when the north has not provided one in Cross River State? It is undemocratic.
Perhaps, that would have been feasible if it were in the state where there was so much disparity in population. But the ethnic composition in the three senatorial districts of Cross River State does not allow for that kind of dominance.
I want to plead with my brothers and sisters in the South that they should try to create a condition of peace in this state.
Senator Liyel Imoke’s greatest achievement in this state is that he has brought peace to the state. And his greatest legacy in the history of Cross River will be that he has left the state in peace. And to leave this state in peace means that the north must provide the governor.
To do otherwise will be to create chaos. And from all his actions we know that Imoke is not a fool; he has never been known to be a fool; so he is not going to create a situation where there will be problems after he has left office and he is not going to destroy his main legacy.
Let us forget about rumors. People have a right to contest but the governor has come out openly even before his second term election to say that the next governor in 2015 should come from the north. He cannot turn round and eat his words. This is not the Imoke I know. This is not Imoke who is a peaceful man. This is not Imoke who wants the judgment of history to be in his favor. He will not destroy his legacy permanently.
If you believe that democracy is an open contest, don’t you also think that those who are eligible including people from the south and the north should run?
The very first election after the military rule was an open contest; anybody from any of the senatorial districts could have become governor. The election crystallized between the north and the south and the south won; so Donald Duke became governor. It does not, therefore, mean that that arrangement can continue. It is a democracy; if anybody wants to stand from the south, nobody can stop him. But he has to win the election.
The PDP has a zoning formula for the sake of peace in the country and it is this zoning formula we are trying to stand on. The south has had it; the central has had it; the PDP now has a duty both legal and moral to zone the next governorship of Cross River to the northern senatorial district.
There are also allegations of plans by some elements from the North to sell out in 2015….
I have organized several meetings with the north and the decision is unanimous that the north should provide the next governor. There is no question of anybody selling out. The last meeting was held on the 10thof August; I wish you were there to see the reaction of the people. Nobody who is any true son of the north will do that and indeed we expect the central and the south to say no to such persons. So those are rumors and i do not want to comment on rumors.
The North is preparing for the governorship. People asked why has nobody come out from the north up till now? It is like a marathon. People are being cautious and at the appropriate time, people will begin to emerge.
What are you doing now for a living?
People should not forget that I am a specialist gynecologist. I studied medicine in Dublin and did postgraduate course in the Royal college of Physicians Gynecologists, London. I am first and foremost a specialist obstetrician gynecologist and that is what I live by. I am also a politician and an Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).
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