In recognition of the historical affinity and the need to foster peaceful and harmonious coexistence between the three local governments that make up Bekwarra/Obudu/Obanliku Federal constituency, the House of Representatives position has been rotated between the three local governments in a manner that has so far promoted an equitable representative democratic principle. In retrospect, looking at the power sharing arrangement since our return to democratic rule from 1999 to date, there has been a balance in power sharing among the three local governments; Hon. Mike Ogar from Bekwarra represented the constituency from 1999-2003 and served a single term of four (4) years while Sen. Musa Adede from Obanliku represented Cross River north in the senate in that period, from 2003-2011, late Hon. Paul Adah from Obudu represented the constituency and equally served two terms of eight (8) years while Senate position went to Yala, from 2011-2015, Hon. Francis Adah from Obanliku stepped in and served a single term while Sen. Ben Ayade from Obudu served the Northern senatorial zone in the senate. In 2015 the calculus swung back to Bekwarra with Hon. Legor Idagbo serving in that capacity, and is now in his second term while Obudu produced Sen. Ben Ayade, the incumbent governor who is almost finishing his second tenure.
Considering that the current Governor of the State, Sen. Ben Ayade hails from Obudu which has served eight (8) years in the House of Representatives, four (4) years in the Senate, and now finishing eight (8) years as governor, it will be out of equity to zone the 2023 House of Representatives seat to Obudu, neither will it be fair for Bekwarra to retain the seat for another term. The best decision to make is to allow the position to return to Obanliku for at least two terms to balance up the three terms enjoyed by Bekwarra before it goes to another area. This argument has prompted many who cite equity to root for the position to be conceded to Obanliku come 2023, given that by the end of this administration, the incumbent, Legor Idagbo, from Bekwarra would have completed his two terms, bringing the number of terms served by Bekwarra to three, while Obudu which has done two terms will be finishing their eight years as Governor. It will simply amount to injustice for anyone or group to canvass for the position to be retained by Bekwarra or zoned to any other constituency other than Obanliku.
Several political groups from across party lines, particularly from both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC), in recognition of democratic standards are of the position that the seat should be rotated between the three local governments that make up the federal constituency, and are insisting that the next representative must emerge from Obanliku. Their argument has been that Bekwarra has enjoyed three terms, while Obudu apart from enjoying two terms and serving at the senate has enjoyed the governorship position of the State for two terms. Therefore, allowing Obanliku to have their fair share will give every section a sense of belonging.
I’m not unmindful of the fact that the Constitution does not provide for zoning but it is important to adopt power shift arrangements among the three local governments in order to guarantee equity and social justice under the present democratic dispensation in the country.
Some may argue that zoning should have no place in the polity as it gives room for mediocrity at a time we need our brightest in government to move us forward, but the fact is that men and women with capacity and competence for good representation abound in every section of our federal constituency, Obanliku inclusive. It is therefore a decision that will be made by voters exercising their rights to choose which candidate from Obanliku possesses the capacity, and best serves our interest.
As we look forward to 2023, the critical issue we must address as our politicians joust to represent us at the Green Chamber is a zoning arrangement that will see to the emergence of flag bearers from Obanliku.
Hon. Legor Idagbo who has done his best must be willing to concede this position to somebody from Obanliku in order to promote equity. He has in the last six (6) years of his representation done his best in terms of legislation and delivery of democratic dividends to his people; we must now for the sake of equity and justice allow somebody from Obanliku to occupy the seat in order to balance the equation.
Anybody seeking to controvert this argument by having aspiration outside this rotational principle will exercise his fundamental rights of seeking what he wants, but I am very sure that majority of us in Bekwarra, Obudu and Obanliku would want this position to be rotated round the three local governments in an equitable manner, and I think we should do our best to make it work, we should put every arsenal at our disposal to ensure that equity is entrenched. I believe that we are going to sit down and talk as brothers but as far as I am concerned, the rotation is going to work if at all we must go into another election in 2023 to renew the life of our collective misery, the 1999 constitution which has chained us down in a unitary, apartheid situation, without having to hold a discussion to reconstruct and reset our trajectory as a Nation. I therefore urge all political parties to zone their 2023 House of Representative tickets to Obanliku in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice.
Mr. Peter Ushie is a lecturer in the Department of Biotechnology and Environmental Biology, Veritas University Abuja.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Peter Ushie and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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