While political attention in Cross River state has remained largely fixed on the process that may throw up Imoke’s successor, a controversial situation may be in the offing as sources within the PDP in the state are insisting that since the North of CR will likely produce the next governor, the South must produce the next deputy governor, “…in line with the Calabar/Ogoja Accord”. One source stoutly maintains that, “it will be satanic and very out-of-place for the deputy governor to come from a place that cannot match the voting strength of CR South”.
The Calabar/Ogoja Accord is an arrangement, said to have been premised on the 1979 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which recognised the existence of two senatorial districts; CR South and North. The arrangement then, recognised that the position of governor should rotate between both constituencies.
He continues, “we are watching and we dare anyone who emerges as the party’s gubernatorial candidate to pick a deputy from elsewhere and see how we will vote against the person and ensure too that PDP does not win here”. Continuing, “the North in Imoke’s administration produced the Speaker of the Assembly, Secretary to the state government and Head of Service, we kept quiet, so what do we get when you considered that the votes from Biase to Bakassi are the most critical in any gubernatorial election, this one included”.
This position is a new twist in the political game playing out after it looked like the next deputy governor was going to come from the Central Senatorial district of the state, considering that, Efiok Cobham who is Imoke’s deputy is from CR South. Recall too that initially when agitations for where the governor was to come from were the loudest, this Accord was brought up and the likes of former CR deputy governor, Mathias Offoboche submitted that, “the so-called Calabar-Ogoja Accord was a reality, but the Accord was premised on the provisions of the 1979 Nigerian Constitution. In 1979, we had two senatorial district structures. For instance, the Calabar-Ogoja District of Cross River was enshrined in the 1979 Constitution. Ogoja was used because it was the Ogoja Senatorial district and vice versa. The 1979 Constitution is dead. We are now operating the 1999 Constitution as amended. The current constitution talks of three senatorial districts – North, South and Central. This is different from what obtained in 1979. Those who are lawyers should look that up. It is unconstitutional to now begin to talk about the Ogoja-Calabar Accord in 2013, 2014 or 2015…If the 1979 Constitution comes to life and displaces the 1999 Constitution, then we will be working by that constitution; but the 1979 constitution is dead. All the provisions made in the Accord were based on the provisions of the 1979 constitution. Now that we are operating a new system the Accord cannot have as much relevance as the 1979 Constitution in 2013. It is as simple as that. If people want to compete for power, they do not need to import things that are not relevant”.
One source however advises that “something can be negotiated instead of dissipating energies in things with no verifiable benefits. Let whoever emerge and then we can talk about who deputizes, not before then please”.
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