Chief Obono-Obla’s Appointment: One Step Forward and Two Steps Backwards for Cross River

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Eugene Upah|8 February 2017 One way to know that a central government favors a particular state or region is by the number of appointments accorded that particular state or region. Oh yes, I understand that there is the concept of state quota distribution system in the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. For instance, the president must nominate his Ministers from all 36 states of the federation including FCT. The reason for this, is for all geo-political regions to be fully carried along. So far, President Muhamadu Buhari has blessed my dear state, Cross River, with sublime appointments since his assumption of office two years ago more than I could ever have imagined that a Northern President would have cared for a state that is nowhere near his zone. But does this mean that Cross Riverians should reject more appointments if offered to be given? The answer is no. I saw on Channels TV this morning how Chief Okoi Obono-Obla (SAN), elaborated the process of appointing a Chief Justice, and to me, he is indirectly standing against the confirmation of his own kinsman, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen as Chief justice of the federation even though the same man was recommended by the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) to the President last year. I am not a Lawyer, but I know there is a section of the constitution which recommends that the oldest person in the bar be recommended for the position of Chief Justice upon retirement or death of a Chief Justice. I have no reason to believe that Chief Obono Obla understands the ethics and morals of the Nigerian legal profession more than the NJC which made consideration(s) before forwarding the name of Chief Walter Onnoghen to the President. In other states of the federation, political appointments like that given to Chief Obla are used to lobby and influence other appointments for their kinsmen. Why should ours be different all the time? What does it pay him to cast aspersions against someone he, in his capacity as Special Adviser to the President should ensure the process is facilitated rather than being a bottleneck? This is one of the reasons we are backward in the South; Sabi sabi. Who send am that kind work? Realistically, there is no visible reason why Justice Onnoghen should not be confirmed CJN. Age wise, contribution to the Nigerian legal system, personal achievements as a Lawyer, integrity etc., how then do we approach the government to know why (in the event that he is not confirmed) he is not appointed if as a people we stand divided because of our own selfish interest? Just before anyone thinks I am simply being hypocritical, recall how Chief Obono-Obla reacted last year when the process of confirming him as Non-Executive Commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission by the senate was delayed. He accused almost all Cross River elites in the federal cadre of working against his confirmation. The truth must be told. Things must work well for Cross River State. Justice Walter Onnoghen’s name must be sent and confirmed. The heavens will not fall. In the end I know what to expect; I will be blocked or deleted. Some “customized” persons will attack my post. Eugene Upah
Is a Concerned Cross Riverian