The Tragedy Of Old Ogoja Senatorial District BY VENATIUS IKEM

In Breaking News, Columnists, Opinion, Politics

By CrossRiverWatch admin

Venatius Ikem
Venatius Ikem

I am not in the mood to write. Not been lately but a friend just provoked a little thought. We may sometimes think that the failure of Ayade will be recorded as a failure of Cross River North senatorial District to rise to the challenge of leadership in the state. I think we would be missing the mark.

Younger politicians need to know a bit more about our political history as they aspire to be the next generation to lead the state. When I was growing up, old Obubra – Obudu (now Abi – Obanlikwu) was what constituted Ogoja senatorial district which was represented in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the RT. Hon. Dr. Joseph Wayas , who rose to become the Senate President of that era.

At the demise of that era, following a military coup in 1984, and several others later, Nigeria was restructured to produce more states, (including the present Cross River State) at different times leading to the Present structure of 36 states.

The new state comprised only 2 of the previous 5 senatorial districts of the old Cross River State, making it imperative for a new senatorial district to be created, as the new federal (upper) legislature was to comprise 3 senatorial districts on the basis of equality of states and no longer 5 as was the case under the 1979 constitution.

Considering it’s sheer size and population it was inevitable that the Ogoja senatorial District was to be divided into two, becoming what is today, Central and Northern senatorial districts of Cross River State.

The political implications have been varied but hardly palatable. First it rendered what is famously referred to as the “Ogoja Accord” politically impracticable. Secondly, it killed the Ogoja unity or “atam” spirit a derogatory term by which all ethnic groups outside of Efik ethnic group were referred, and which they adopted as a mark of solidarity.

The result has been that despite producing two successive governors and 3 terms in power today, together with the minister, SA to President etc, this geopolitical region remains abysmally poor, under-developed and more recognizable in depreciated public infrastructure than anything else.

It sounds self serving therefore for the central senatorial district to thumb their nose at the north over the failure of Ayade but if I may ask: did Imoke do any much better for us as a people? Yes, but not enough!

I am not one to preach ethnic politics but the zoning principles enshrined in the Nigerian constitution are so enshrined in recognition of the need to ensure that major opportunities for leadership are so spread around that in the event a leader decides to unfairly give advantage to his ethnic group while in power, there will be a similar opportunity given to others to do the same, to put it mildly.

So it is either a policy to ensure mutually assured development or mutually guaranteed discrimination, depending on how you choose to see the cup. But which ever way you approach it, it guarantees the likelihood of even development.

Don’t get me wrong in questioning Imoke’s legacy in this context. Of course compared to Ayade at this time in his administration, I can without using any indicators admit that he may have done better. To the extent of giving conscious recognition to the need to upgrade other parts of the state, I am not so sure.

The reasons were simple: Imoke never saw himself as an “Ogoja man ” in the context in which Chief Wilfred Inah, Chief Clement Ebri or a Dr. Abam Ubi etc would have seen themselves.

Surprisingly, Duke was more forward looking in his approach when he introduced the policy of urban development centers across the state. The truth is that urbanization is a global phenomenon with about 60% of the world’s population today living in urban centers.

It is no longer fashionable today to talk of policies of stemming urban migration. Urbanization comes with lots of advantages including especially commercial activities that are guaranteed to improve incomes more than subsistence farming, increase access to medicare and better education. Any policy then that consciously encourages urbanization needs support though not necessarily at the expense of rural development.

The point I am trying to make here is that given that the two senatorial districts are rural and agrarian in nature, a conscious effort towards urbanization would have been helpful in improving the lives of their people. Not only that it would create employment as well as generate revenue for government.

And please when I talk urbanization I’m not talking of the Ayade contraptions. Indeed our people aspire for an urban life as a mark of development and social mobility. Cities grow on an enabling environment. They are not copied and built by government like estates! It’s a myopic way of looking at “development”.

If Imoke had done more to grow those existing development centers, added more and applied more efforts towards upgrading the infrastructure within, we may be looking at prospective cities in the next couple of years down the line.

We could be talking of additional centers like Okuku, Okundi, Sankwala, Akpet to mention a few. For Ayade, completely lost in the maze of power, we have nothing to look forward to because the development trajectory is completely lost on him.

So when we forget this history we may never see that we are all caught up in this identity failure together. Yes, we all now own homes in Calabar, hardly want to visit home, yet we proudly proclaim who we are. Where we come from. What are we doing apart from subdivisions for political gain? We remain Ogoja people! I

n our failure of development we have started crying for an Ogoja state! Here is a state in which we are as Ogoja people by far the majority! Here is a state in which we are and can rightly be accused of taking more than we should in all indices of sharing. Yet, we cry marginalization!

Elsewhere in institutions within the state the same cry plays out. In the University of Calabar, the Vice Chancellor VC), Registrar and Bursar are Ogoja sons! The VC of the state University and the Registrar are Ogoja sons. Yet we are “marginalized”! College of Education Akamkpa, FCE Obudu.

Please someone help me define this new phenomenon! Worst of all, our lot is not improving. We must like people intellectually endowed, look for reasons outside of the sentimental. Why are we like this? What is the Ayade in all of us that is not giving room for the public good over and above self? Maybe that’s where we can begin the search!

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One commentOn The Tragedy Of Old Ogoja Senatorial District BY VENATIUS IKEM

  • Plagiarism is the practice of using another author’s work as one’s own. Such a practice will destroy a writer or a publication outfit.

    CrossRiverWatch may be accused of plagiarism when they attribute an article such as the one above which is written by Venatius Ikem to “By CrossRiverWatch admin.” Clearly “CrossRiverWatch admin” did NOT write the article so why attribute it to them? Also, Jonathan Ugbalon does NOT deserve credit for posting the article. Is he seeking self aggrandisement?

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