It is surprising and curious that politicians in Cross River State continue to rely on the so-called Calabar/Ogoja Accord (when it is convenient) to contend with who gets what, when and how, in the State. The truth is that this ACCORD is otiose, unenforceable, and has been overtaken by events.
The Accord was reached in 1980 by promoters of the creation of a New Cross River State out of the old Cross River State. The promoters worked at stipulating how positions should be shared in the New Cross River State between Calabar and Ogoja; then the two political blocs that were in the forefront of the agitation for a new Cross River State. All the signatories to the Accord are all dead and it is 41 years since the Accord was entered into. Sincerely, the dynamics, permutations, perspectives, and principal characters have all changed.
Indeed, the Accord aimed to create the New Cross River State, which was achieved somewhat in 1987 when Akwa Ibom State was carved out of the old Cross River State. So to all intents and purposes, the Accord has been overtaken by events through the instrumentality of a military decree. We cannot be bonded to an agreement in which you were not a party. All the parties to the Accord are dead, so the Accord is also dead. Politicians should stop invoking an agreement entered into by dead parties in a generation markedly different from the present.
In that generation, the prevailing constitutional order was the 1979 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1979. The 1979 constitution divided each State of the federation into five senatorial districts. Accordingly, there were five senatorial districts in the old Cross River State in that constitution, namely Ikot Ekpene, Eket, Uyo, Calabar, and Ogoja. Accordingly, Ikot Ekpene, Eket, and Uyo senatorial districts were in the present Akwa Ibom State, whereas Calabar and Ogoja were in the present Cross River State.
It follows then that when the Accord was entered into, the present Cross River State had two senatorial districts; Calabar and Ogoja. The Calabar senatorial district was made up of old Calabar division, Akamkpa division and old Odukpani division. On the contrary, the old Ogoja senatorial district comprised of the old Obubra division, the old Ogoja division, and the old Obudu division.
Also, there were 17 local government areas namely; Abak, Calabar Municipality, Ukanafun, Ikot Ekpene, Ikom, Obubra, Obudu, Ogoja, Oron, Uyo, Ikono, Itu, Eket, Odukpani, Akamkpa, Etinan and Ikot Abasi.
The former Calabar Senatorial District is now Cross River South Senatorial District, comprising of Calabar South, Calabar, Akpabuyo, Odukpani, Bakassi, Akamkpa, and Biase. The old Ogoja senatorial district is now Cross River Central and Cross River North.
Cross River Central comprises, Abi, Boki, Ikom, Obubra, Etung, Boki, and Yakurr. In contrast, Cross River North is Ogoja, Obudu, Bekwarra, Yala, and Obanliku. Agreeably that structure upon which the Calabar Ogoja accord was premised has been destroyed, even dead. It is no longer tenable or valid.
The military suspended the 1979 constitution when she toppled the government in December 1983. In 1989 a new constitution was promulgated (again set aside when General Sani Abacha took over the government from Chief Ernest Shonekan, interim national government) that truncated the General Ibrahim Babangida transition programme the 1989 constitution was designed to usher in.
We are trying to say here that the Accord was premised on the then prevailing constitutional order that ended. It follows that the Accord cannot be used in the current constitutional order. In the current constitutional order, Cross River State has 18 local government areas and three senatorial districts. You cannot put something on anything and expect it to stand.
It, therefore, beats me hollow that politicians in Cross River State would continue to bore us with the Calabar Ogoja Accord whenever elections draw close. The Calabar/Ogoja accord is therefore stale and otiose and overtaken by circumstances and events. It is a historical relic that is irrelevant to the present times and circumstances.
Okoi Obono-Obla, a lawyer and rights activist wrote in from Abuja.
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