The Calabar-Ogoja Accord was made in 1980 in anticipation of the creation of states and a new Cross River by the civilian government of 1979 – 1983. This was not to be at the time.
The Accord was signed to by eminent personalities and politicians of the time from the then existent two senatorial districts: Calabar and Ogoja. It outlined some general principles and power sharing arrangements between the then two senatorial districts.
Fortuitously, Akwa Ibom State was created in September 1987 from the Old Cross River State by the Ibrahim Babangida headed military government. This in essence simultaneously delivered the new Cross River State that the Calabar-Ogoja Accord of 1980 had envisioned.
Albeit, the new state came with a complete change in geo-political structure and engagements that never gave any regard to the existence of such an Accord for all political intents and purposes up until the recent clamour for resurrection of the Accord as part of political gerrymandering towards zoning of the 2023 Governorship Elections in Cross River State.
Below is my response to a post by one of the pro-zoning coalitions of South Senatorial District, SSD, that relies on the said Calabar-Ogoja Accord to rally and rouse its sentiments:
“I really have no particular issue with where the Governorship Seat gravitates to in 2023. I do not also have any particular person or senatorial zone in mind at this time.
However, if we are to rely on the so-called Calabar-Ogoja Accord then we must tell ourselves the home truths as follows:
1. The Calabar-Ogoja Accord has never been brought to bear on the political choice of governorship in CRS. All senatorial districts have consistently contested the position of Governorship in all election cycles since 1991 to date.
2. The Accord did not limit the sharing of power and political positions to just the governorship seat. What has been the status so far in balancing other positions as prescribed by the Accord?
3. The Accord envisaged only two senatorial districts then: Calabar and Ogoja. But there are now realistically three senatorial districts in the state without anyone of them being named Calabar or Ogoja Senatorial Districts.
4. A key recommendation in rotation of power from the Accord is that: ”no one Senatorial District should hold power in immediate self-succession.”
Meaning that only the incumbent Northern Senatorial District can be excluded from contesting the 2023 governorship election if we rely on the wordings of the Accord.
5. It is misleading and incorrect to assume that only the SSD has waited for 16 years since 1999.
When SSD held the Governorship Seat for eight years both Central Senatorial District and Northern Senatorial Disteict each waited for eight years.
When CSD held the Seat the SSD started its first eight years wait and the NSD began its second eight years wait, making it a total of 16 years wait for them at the end of CSD tenure.
When the NSD took over the saddle both the SSD and the CSD began their second eight years wait for each, making it a total of 16 years wait for each of them by 2023.
So, from May 1999 to May 2023, each of the SSD, CSD and NSD would have each been on the saddle for eight years and each equally waited 16 years out of power; meaning there has been equitable distribution and balance.
The sad thing about harping on zoning is that it has the weakness of promoting mediocrity and an entitlement culture.
That is not to say that any one senatorial zone or LGA has a preponderance of best fit candidates. Good candidates are equally scattered across every nook and cranny of the State. Our challenge as a people then is in finding and allowing the best fit from wherever across the State to mount the saddle. It is not only constitutional but also speaks to the practical realities and needs of the state at this time especially.
Think about it: whenever you are in dire need of a surgery or treatment for an uncommon ailment, you do not necessarily bother or care about where the doctor comes from, you are rather interested about competence and being able to get a cure.
So, at the risk of sounding like a broken record my position on the zoning clamour is still the same as few years back; may the best and most capable man or woman who can solve our problems, inspire us and CRS to achieve better and greater heights win. Amen!
Ceejay Ojong wrote in from Abuja, Nigeria.
The views expressed are the author’s.
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