From the fits and starts of intervening Civilian and Military rule of decades past, democracy finally settled and stabilized in Nigeria in I999. Since then, to present day it has been unbroken civilian rule. It is therefore a given and common sense that when Cross Riverians talk of ZONING OF THE GOVERNORSHIP OF THE STATE, such dates back to 1999.
1.ZONING in Cross River State has neither been a FORMALISED NOR INSTITUTIONALISED ARRANGEMENT. Although the three Senatorial Districts of the State have each produced a Governor dating back to Mr. Donald Duke (South), Sen Liyel Imoke (Central), Sen. Ben Ayade (North), at no time has the political class of Cross River State, either intra Party or inter Party, institutionalized or enacted on the modus operandi or modus vivendi of the Rotational Governorship basis for the three Senatorial Districts! This is why in virtually all Gubernatorial elections, both intra Party and inter Party, ALL SENATORIAL DISTRICTS HAD CONTESTED!
2. Rather, ROTATION HAS BEEN THE TREND BASED ON THE SIMPLE AND CONVENTIONAL PROCESS OF SELF ELIMINATION! Once a given Senatorial District got the Governorship for eight years, it eliminated itself from eligibility from the succeeding contest that followed. Such has the wily nilly process of ROTATION BY SELF ELIMINATION evolved that has seen all three Senatorial Districts get the Governorship and accordingly, all have been duly placated!
3. This first circle of Rotation by self elimination ends in May 2023; and a new circle of same Rotation by self elimination commences. Accordingly, we shall provide proof to our assertion that conventionally, IT HAS BEEN AN ALL COMERS AFFAIR FOR ALL THREE SENATORIAL DISTRICTS IN ANY GIVEN GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION and that Rotation has been based on self elimination of the immediate Senatorial District that just left office after eight years; but not on any formal or institutionalized process!
4. In 1999 intra Party Primaries in PDP, Mr. Donald Duke from the South ran the Governorship Primaries with Barr. Kanu Agabi from the North, while Prof. Eyo Etim Nyong from the South ran with Mr. Mark Ukpo from the North in APP.
The Governorship election of 1999 was ultimately between Donald Duke from the South and Mark Ukpo from the North.
5. In 2003, the Governorship election was between Mr. Donald Duke of the PDP from the South and Chief John Okpa of the APP from Central.
6. In 2007, the PDP Governorship Primaries was between Sen. Liyel Imoke from Central and Mr. Walter Eneji and Dr. Julius Okputu from the North. The Governorship election proper of 2007 was between Sen. Liyel Imoke of PDP from Central versus Prof. Eyo Etim Nyong from South and Paul Ukpo from the North.
7. In fact, it is worth mentioning in retrospect, that even after Sen. Liyel Imoke of Central had won the Governorship election in 2007, the North in Ukpo, engaged the Central in prolonged and convoluted litigation at the Election Tribunal that saw Imoke’s victory annulled twice.
8. In 2011, Imoke from Central ran again for his second term against Eyo Etim Nyong, Ima Isa Adegoke (Labour Party), both from the South and Dr. Onyuike (Accord Party), Mary Ekpre (CPC), Goddy Akpama (PPA) and Usani Usani (ACN) from the Central.
9. Then, finally came the present tenure which dated back to 2019. The Governorship election was between Sen. Ben Ayade from the North, Sen. John Owan Enoh from Central and BARR EYO EKPO FROM SOUTH! In fact, it is instructive to note that Barr. Eyo Ekpo, then a renowned stalwart of PDP, decamped from PDP to Social Democratic Party (SDP) only for the purpose of running the 2019 Governorship election.
10. Conclusively therefore, as it was in the beginning, and now is, so shall it be in 2023 Cross River State Governorship Election! To whom God wills, let the power fall, then the conventional or normative process of ZONING BY SELF ELIMINATION FOR THE THREE SENATORIAL DISTRICTS starts from there and then again in this new circle.
Joe Obi Bisong is a Former State PDP Publicity Secretary, Cross River State.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Joe Obi Bisong and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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