It’s no more news that the Senator representing the Northern Senatorial District in the 9th Assembly, Sen. Rose Oko is late. News of her demise broke out in the media few weeks ago. She was said to have died of a prolonged ailment in a London hospital. May her soul rest in peace.
Her death has created a vacuum in the North that must be filled in the Senate. Constitutionally, it takes 90-120 days for INEC to conduct a fresh election to elect her replacement. While the time seems still far, politicians from the zone have begun skimming, throwing up different permutations to favour their ambitions or those of their interests.
The Cross River Northern Senatorial District is made up of five Local Government; Ogoja, Yala, Bekwarra, Obudu and Obanliku. The zone has two Federal constituencies namely, the Yala/Ogoja and the Obudu/Bekwarra/Obanliku. These constitutes are the two blocs (Old Ogoja and Old Obudu) that historically breaks the Senatorial District into two.
Between the two constituencies, the Ogoja/Yala Federal constituency with two Local Government has held the Senate seat for 13 years. Obudu/Bekwarra/Obanliku with three Local Government in the other hand has had it for 12 years. Going by the permutations making the rounds on social media that power must return to the late Senator’s Federal constituency for fairness, I make bold to say that such fairness is paralytic and unfairly unfair.
This is because Yala/Ogoja Federal constituency which has only two Local Government councils have held the Senate seat more than the other bloc with the majority Local Government councils.
For instance, when you divide the 13 years the seat has been there by the number of LGs, you’ll have six and half per LG in Yala/Ogoja Federal constituency. Do the same arithmetic by dividing the 12 years it has been in the other bloc by the number of LG (3), it’ll give you 4. This means that the Yala/Ogoja LG’s have benefited like two and half years ahead of the other three LG’s from the other bloc.
I dare ask, which bloc is now marginalized? The old Ogoja with two LG’s that have produced Senators for 13 years of the old Obudu with three that have produced Senators for 12 years? Going by the fairness argument, who should produce the next Senator to have a fair power distribution in the Northern Senatorial District?
It’s high time our Yala brothers to stop discussing the replacement of late Sen. Rose Oko with the sense of entitlement I see them display on social media here. Senate is not a Yala royal throne.
Nobody prayed that the late Senator should die, but now that the unfortunate thing has happened, I believe it’s time for the Senatorial District to come together to correct the wrong and miscalculation imposed on the zone by external forces in 2015 that culminated to the uncharitable gifting of the Senate seat back to Yala (Ogoja/Yala Federal constituency), just four years after power left the Federal constituency and LGA.
I insist, Senate is not a royal seat. It’s not hereditary so those building their arguments purely on the fact that it must return to the late Senator’s LG and bloc to complete 8 years are getting it wrong because Yala and the Federal constituency have actually completed 8 years when Sen. Gregg Ngaji replaced Sen. Musa Adede between 2003 to 2011. Ogoja may have been very unfortunate to have allowed Yala usurp the seat for all the years it has been in the old Ogoja.
In the old Obudu, Obudu and Obanliku have done four years each while Bekwarra has not at all. If we’re to go by the competition argument, Obudu and Obanliku should be talking of completing their own 8 not Yala that have held it for 13 years.
Besides, in all honesty, since the return of democracy in 1999, Cross River North has been the most disadvantaged Senatorial District among others in the State in terms of quality representation in the Senate. The zone only had a voice or enjoyed what others did in the Senate for only 4 years when Sen. Ben Ayade (now Governor) was in the Senate. Before and after him, the representation leaves much to be desired.
Sen. Sandy Onor, the incumbent Senator representing the Central Senatorial District has been in the Senate for only about a year but has created national impact with his classic contributions more than the 13 years of the Senators from Yala. While one was notorious for sleeping during plenary, another was pronounced for diverting things meant for the Senatorial District to Igbo land. This perhaps, is a story for another day.
The story of how our former Senator diverted money meant to build two standard dailysis centres in the State to personal coffers is still very fresh and if care is not taken, this fresh wound would be reopened again to remind some people some of our leaders doesn’t deserve the respect we crave for them.
Cross River North needs a Senator with a track record of performance. A proven achiever, an experienced and exposed leader that will not loose his voice when he gets to Abuja.
Who then fits this description? Your guess is as good as mine!
Inyali Peter writes from Calabar, the Cross River State capital. He is a lecturer in the University of Calabar and an aid to Governor Ben Ayade.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Inyali Peter and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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