2015: In Unison, Cross River North Pushes Harder by JUDE OKWE
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2015: In Unison, Cross River North Pushes Harder by JUDE OKWE

Dr. Mathias Offoboche, Former Deputy Governor and Leader, Cross River Northern Coalition

by crossriverwatch admin

Dr. Mathias Offoboche, Former Deputy Governor and Leader, Cross River Northern Coalition
Dr. Mathias Offoboche, Former Deputy Governor and Leader, Cross River Northern Coalition

Contrary to insinuations, the people of Cross River North Senatorial District seem united in their resolve to produce the next governor of the state, writes Jude Okwe

Unity like peace is in high demand everywhere but hatred and envy make it elusive. Unlike any other commodity, unity can’t be bought with might and force but with love, understanding and compassion. Unity is the greatest tool that could lead to good progress of a people’s pilgrimage on this planet; and nation-states too.

Political unity is not different. It is desired by any political party that wants to win election. Any political bloc in dire need of power needs it. It is the elixir of politics. But since independence in 1960, attrition in Nigerian politics far outweighs the accretion of trust, unity and patriotism. Now, the trust-drought has deepened into famine. There is suspicion everywhere- among political parties, actors, candidates, ethnic groups and geopolitical zones.

Cross River State as a microcosm of Nigeria has a fair share of its ills. Its many but small ethnic units, languages, heterogeneous culture and varied political affiliations mean the state is republican in nature. Negotiation has become the tool ethnic groups and geopolitical interests use to get what they want. And in the absence of any one dominant ethnic group in the state, this instrument has worked real well since the dawn of the Fourth Republic.

Like other states of the federation, Cross River is divided into three senatorial districts spread across 18 Local Government Areas. The Southern Senatorial District was the first to take its turn at Government House on the return of Nigeria to constitutional rule in 1999. Once Governor Donald Duke exhausted his tenure of eight years, his political ally, Liyel Imoke took over in 2007. Imoke hails from the Central Senatorial District. Now, it is the turn of the north to produce an occupant at the same house under the power rotation arrangement as Imoke prepares to leave in 2015.

But since last summer that Imoke, at a media parley, announced to journalists that his successor would come from Cross River North Senatorial District in the interest of equity and natural justice, some political jobbers, ill-informed analysts and presumed ethnic jingoists have been questioning the unity of the north. Some claimed the zone was not united enough to take over the reins of power. Others even doubted the leadership qualities of the people of the north.

This sudden indifference to the north by those who think it is their inalienable right to govern others has brought to the front burner, the rotation of power in a multiethnic and culturally diverse state like Cross River. Yet, for such a state, its unity is tied to power going round the senatorial blocs. Anything short of this, observers reckon, is a recipe for anarchy.

Founding fathers of modern Cross River were aware of this hence they fought the Ibibio dominance in the old Cross River. The relief which the creation of Akwa Ibom State out of Cross River brought meant the servitude was only to be remembered and not repeated in the freed state. But some political actors are believed to still be living in the past. They want the Calabar-Ogoja Accord respected. But that accord is generally said to have died with the birth of Akwa Ibom State as it came into being to checkmate the Mainland dominance of the old Cross River politics.

Cross River North, unarguably the bread basket and tourism hub of the state, is ready for the governance of the state, a Second Republic Deputy Governor of the state and convener of the February 1 meeting, Dr. Mathias Offoboche, has said. He is the political leader of the north. Under his leadership, Cross River North Coalition has come to be. It is the umbrella political body of the north especially for chieftains and stalwarts of the PDP in the zone.

In his welcome speech, Offoboche, a medical doctor by training, commended those who turned up for the dinner saying their zeal and commitment to the governorship project has further reassured him that the north was united enough to produce Imoke’s successor and urged them not to relent until victory was achieved. To him, the north deserves the slot because it has waited patiently enough.

“In the next one year, one of us here will become governor. It is not a prediction. It is rather our right based on justice, equity and fairness in the polity. Let nobody think he is handing over power to us, we deserve it. We have worked for other senatorial districts to produce governor. Now, it’s their turn to support us. We will continue to network with them.

“I must commend Governor Imoke for his wisdom in ensuring that the governorship position is zoned to the north in 2015. He has kept faith with his 2011 promise of handing over power to the north. We are here to celebrate because our request has been granted. Any carelessness on our part would have caused us a lot of problems. Let God guide us so that at the end, we will come out with a credible, popular and God-fearing candidate that can win election,” he said.

Five speakers, one from each of the five Local Government Areas that make up the senatorial district were selected to present the position of their people. Commendation of Imoke for his rural transformation programme and urban renewal project featured in the speech of each speaker. They said the governor has set a standard for governance hence his successor has an uphill task. But such a person can succeed if he keys into the already established development programme. Continuity should be that person’s byword, they contended.

Mr. Moses Oko spoke for Bekwarra Local Government Area. He said for long, the people of Cross River North have been yearning for the office of the governor. And because they have sought and waited for this office for such a long time, the zone cannot afford to toy with this golden opportunity. He said contrary to the rumour doing the rounds in some parts of the state, Imoke would not disappoint the people of the north.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Joe Agi, advocated the interest of Yala Local Government Area. He questioned insinuations in some quarters about the ability of the north to close ranks and succeed Imoke. According to him, the zone was ever united and ready to take up the mantle of leadership in the state. He also questioned those who feel the north should present its treatise on leadership before it can be taken seriously.

“It is wrong to say Ogoja people have no person who can be governor. We parade an array of distinguished professionals in various fields, seasoned credible politicians, people who have national and international connections, young proactive men full of ideas that can turn this state around for the better. Our people can hold their own any time any day. We have people who have proven their worth at regional and national levels before and even now.

“Whether we see stickers or billboards of a governorship aspirant from the Southern Senatorial District is immaterial because we have no cause to doubt Imoke now. Everyone knows that it is the turn of the north to take a shot at Government House. We are not negotiating that position. It is unthinkable to say that the north cannot produce a governor for this state,” he said.

Obanliku Local Government Area through Augustine Agogo said it was in league with other Ogoja people to have the next chief executive of the state come from the zone. Obanliku, he added, cannot mortgage its interest for anything else. To him, it is only when power goes round the state that Cross River can be said to be one indivisible political and administrative entity.

A chieftain of the PDP, Mr. Ikani Wogar represented Ogoja Local Government Area. First, he took the audience down memory lane and concluded that given the calibre of persons from the north that have served Nigeria creditably, it was no understatement that the zone has a reservoir of eggheads that know how to deliver the goods. He mentioned Second Republic Senate President, Dr. Joseph Wayas who led the upper chamber of the National Assembly without blemish because he had influence and authority, two essential ingredients of power.

“Time is about to come full circle. This is what political equilibrium means. Each senatorial district must taste the action. The North with its crusts is the brain of Cross River State; the Central blessed with cocoa, rubber, rainforest is its trunk while the South which boasts of rivers, estuaries and wet climate represents the legs. The north cannot be matched in this state in terms of leadership qualities and intelligence,” he said.

A one-time commissioner in the state, Dr. Emmanuel Utande, spoke for Obudu Local Government Area. He advised the people to work as a team in order to clinch power. The businessman said Imoke has a good disposition towards the north hence nobody should doubt him. He also lauded his integrated transformation programme which has led to the construction of rural roads and electrification of rural communities amongst others.

Chairman of Cross River North PDP caucus, Chief Linus Okom maintained that the moment there is unity among a people, it becomes much easier for them to access power, just as Senator Ben Ayade said the north over the years has played politics of maturity waiting like a patient dog for its turn and that the unity of the district was evident in its voluntary concession of the governorship position in the past to other zones.

A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting commended Imoke for “the appointment of sons and daughters of the senatorial district into high profile national offices such as executive secretary of the National Planning Commission; member of the Niger Delta Development Commission; member Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission; member National Population Commission and chairman Cross River State Subsidy Re-Investment Programme.

“We note also the unprecedented infrastructure development across the entire state of which the Northern Senatorial District has had its fair share. The role the governor played in the zoning of the governorship position to the Northern Senatorial District by our great party the PDP has satisfied the age long yearning of our people to produce a governor of Cross River State.

“As a result of the afore stated, we the people of northern Cross River State are united, and hereby, firmly seek the support of other senatorial districts in order to produce a governor who will sustain the legacies of the present administration. We thus solicit the continued support of His Excellency to enable us achieve this,” the communiqué stated.

The new found love in Cross River north exudes a force of unity that can move mountains. And as the race for 2015 gathers momentum, it is increasing in full force hence it will be wrong for anyone to underrate and underestimate the strength of the north. Whoever dares the north on the basis of disunity might be committing political Harakiri.

by crossriverwatch admin

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