After Nigeria unjustly used a portion of our State, Bakassi to play father-Christmas on the altar of international politics and nefariously ceded it to Cameroon over a cup of tea in a foreign land, the human beings living in what is now called Bakassi LGA in Cross River State, are still treated like SHIT! Yes, that’s the word…SHIT! Even the Etinyin of Bakassi, His Royal Majesty Etiyin Etim Okon Edet, who doubles as the Chairman of the Cross River State Traditional Rulers Council, does not have a palace any longer; after his palace was ceded along with their lands to Cameroon. He lives in his personal house in Calabar Municipal.
Bakassi has 10 political Wards on paper. The 10 Wards are currently delineated into 70 polling units PUs. The February 18, 2023, Presidential and NASS Elections, were held in only 20 out of the 70 polling units in Bakassi LGA. Elections did not hold in 50 polling units due to insecurity, according to INEC.
Let it be on record that voters that INEC registered, and made to queue under the Sun for weeks to collect their voters’ cards all came out in those 50 polling units eager to vote. These voters include former Presidential Aide, Senator Ita Giwa, and a former LG Chair of Bakassi, Hon. Bassey Ita Edet, They waited from morning till the election time was over only for INEC officials not to show up.
INEC asked them to come back the next day, Sunday, February 19 to vote. They still turned up as directed, very eager to vote. They waited until INEC informed them late in the evening that the BVAS machines were configured for only Saturday and that the Commission was unable to reconfigure them for Sunday, so the rescheduled election still did not hold. Even Ita Giwa did not vote.
But INEC still went ahead and announced winners. So let us see the numbers.
The total number of registered voters in Bakassi is 15,642. INEC accredited a total of 1,165 voters on election day. Less than 14,477 of those INEC registered.
Out of 1,165 accredited voters on election day, a total of 1,147 cast their ballots in the Presidential election.
Valid votes were..…1,076
Rejected votes were… 71
APC got……… 306
LP got……… 487
PDP got……… 266
The margin of victory from these numbers is not more than 200 votes. But the total number of voters that INEC disallowed from voting is over 14,000. How on God’s Earth can such an election be described as a valid election? Does the person laying claim to such dubious victory not feel like a criminal? Such insensitivity and widespread denial of the people of Bakassi from voting should be tested against our electoral laws in court.
The implication of this precarious precedent is also that in next Saturday’s State House of Assembly Election, INEC will declare someone with less than 500 votes, as a winner to go and represent Bakassi in the Cross River State House of Assembly. That’s actually a fraud and disservice to people who have been so badly pummeled by the vagaries of international conspiracy and internal greed.
Let me also remind you that the Supreme Court in February 2018, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to delineate wards in Bakassi LGA so as to give the people a sense of belonging. Delivering judgment on an appeal brought by the INEC against representatives of Bakassi Council, who were displaced from Cameroon, the apex court in a lead judgment delivered by His Lordship, Justice Inyang Okoro, held that the people of Bakassi have suffered enough and as such, there was the need for INEC to assuage their plight by delineating constituencies in the council. This order hasn’t been executed.
It is annoying and frustrating how these very important issues are overlooked and allowed to pace away as if they are inconsequential. Just imagine that the children of these parents who are treated like garbage rise tomorrow and take up arms to begin another flank of insurgency against Nigeria? Is this total negligence and denial of participation in a country they think they belong to, not enough reason for the rebellion? What actually did the people of Bakassi do to Nigeria to deserve this kind of treatment? Is it because they haven’t resorted to the language Nigeria understands? I am just thinking aloud.
The other issue troubling me this morning is simple. It’s 74 days to go. It started from 2,922 days. 2,848 days have been spent. Will it truly be on record that Governor Ayade came and spent 8 solid years in government and does not have a single FUNCTIONAL project in Cross River? With all the grammar laden trillion budgets?
Even the 52, two bedroom flats Ayade built for the Bakassi returnees were destroyed and are now occupied by miscreants.
Citizen Agba Jalingo is the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch and a rights activist, a Cross Riverian, and writes from Lagos.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.