POLITICS: Imoke’s Zoning Formular & PDP’s Relegation of a Senatorial District.

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By Efio-Ita Nyok
At the third tier of government Cross River State comprises
eighteen constituents or better still local government areas. These 18 LGAs are
further collapsed into three senatorial districts namely Southern, Central and
Northern senatorial districts.
The southern senatorial districts has seven LGAs including
Bakassi, Akpabuyo, Calabar South, Calabar Municipality, Odukpani, Akamkpa and
Biase. The central senatorial district is composed of six LGAs which are Ugep,
Abi, Ikom, Etung, Boki, and Obubra. Bekwarra, Obudu, Ogoja, Obanliku and Yala
are the five LGAs that make up CR senatorial district.
CR state is one of the 36 states of the federation called
Nigeria. One distinctive feature of Nigeria’s politics is what may be referred
to as the ‘Zoning System’. At the federal level of politiking, this system is
entrenched by what is referred to as the Federal Character. According to this
system, public offices whether elective or appointed, are distributed based on
existing senatorial structures, ethnicity, religion, gender, etc. The fact is,
responsibilities are shared such that every senatorial district comprising
ethnicities and LGAs are carried along and harmonised. The sequel of this
zoning culture is rotation of public offices amongst these senatorial districts,
etc. So, while in one political dispensation a senatorial district is
designated to a set of public offices, in another political era, there is a
switch or change. This formula has characterised our national political clime
at all level. CR state is not immune to this culture.
Beginning from the fourth republic, that is from 1999 to the
present, there has been a zoning culture evident to political actors. For
instance in 1999, CR southern senatorial district was designated to produce the
gubernatorial candidate and Mr. Donald Duke emerged and his deputy Mr. John
Okpa was from Central senatorial district precisely Obubra, while the office of
Speaker was from the north. In the 2007 general election, the seat of the
governor would be zoned to central senatorial district as the mantle of
leadership fell on Mr. Liyel Imoke. His deputy, Barr. Efiok Cohbam is from the
south. The speaker has consistently emerged from the north in this
administration. As we prepare for the next round of general elections in 2015 the
governor in his wisdom decided that the rotation should be even by ensuring
that he hands over to a ‘northern’ governor. It was owing to this that Prof.
Ben Ayade was selected in the primary of the state PDP last year.
However, the governor truncated the tradition in the last
PDP Caucus session of December 2014 held at the Presidential Lodge by deciding
that the south would still produce the office of Deputy Governor while the
office of Speaker and Secretary to State Government have been ceded to the Central
senatorial district of the state. If we recall that the present deputy governor
is from the South and has been there for two tenures of eight years. If the
rotational character of our zoning culture is to be adhered to religiously,
then the office of deputy governor is supposed to be zoned to the central as
they have never occupied this office in recent times if at all they have manned
it at all. While the speakership is supposed to go to the South. The question
becomes why!?
Why has the governor decided to cede the deputy governorship
to the south? Does he want to perpetuate it there? I am of the opinion that
what may be informing this perpetuation of the deputy’s job in the south is
nothing other than selfishness venting itself as nepotism. The governor is
understood to want to ensure that his maternal cousin from Biase, namely
Professor Evare Esu emerges the next deputy. On the other hand, one may be
forced to ask, if he so loves the cousin why did he not tip him for
Speakership? The expected answer is that the governor wants his central
senatorial district to man Ben Ayade’s administration. Or, better still, the
Governor Liyel Imoke wants to pursue a third term agenda by controlling this
next state government through his cronies from the central senatorial district.
Again, knowing that in Nigeria and by implication CR state,
the office of Deputy Governor, Vice Chairman, Vice President, and all things
deputy or vice is always passive, it seem to me that Imoke wants to paralise
the south politically and the north as well by holding strongly to the top job
in the state Assembly and Secretariat. While the title of my story highlights
the relegation of southern senatorial district, from the above analysis the
governor is relegating the entire state. Liyel Imoke, like Wole Soyinka opined
concerning Goodluck Jonathan, want to be the Nebuchadnezzar in CR state, or the
only cock to crow in the post-Imoke administration.
This is piteous! However, let me wish my fellow Cross
Riverians a happy new year and hope for better chanfe in our political climate!