The Central Senatorial District of Cross River State is one of the senatorial districts of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. There are 107 Senatorial Districts in the country including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in the Senate of the National Assembly of Nigeria. The Senate and the House of Representatives constitute the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The National Assembly is constitutionally empowered to make Laws for the peace, stability and good government of the country.
The Central Senatorial District of Cross River State of Nigeria is made up of six local government areas; Abi, Boki, Etung, Ikom, Obubra and Yakurr.
Let it be made known that the defunct South Eastern State was created by the then Federal Military Government under the leadership of General Yakubu Gowon on the 27th May 1967 after many years of agitation by the minority people of the defunct Eastern Region of Nigeria for self determination and their own autonomous region. That State was made up of the old Uyo, Calabar and Ogoja Provinces. The old Ogoja Province was made up of Ogoja Division; Ikom Division; Obudu Division and Obubra Division. It was in 1976, that then Federal Military Government Government under the leadership of General Murtala Mohammed changed the name of the defunct South Eastern State to Cross River State rather acceding to the demands of the old Calabar and Ogoja Provinces for the creation of another State out of the South Eastern State to be known as Cross River State.
In September, 1987, the Federal Military Government under General Ibrahim Babangida created Akwa Ibom State out of the old Cross River State. Thus the old Ogoja and Calabar Provinces became present Cross River State and was made up of Calabar, Odukpani, Obubra, Obudu, Ikom, Akamkpa and Ogoja Divisions. Subsequent constitutional restructuring in 1989 and 1991, saw the Obubra Division split into Ugep (later Abi & Yakurr) and Obubra Local Government Areas. The Akamkpa Division was divided into Biase and Akamkpa Local Government Areas; Ogoja was divided into Bekwarra, Yala and Ogoja Local Government Areas; Calabar Municipality was divided into Calabar Municipality and Calabar South Local Government Areas, Akpabuyo into Akpabuyo and Bakassi, Obudu into Obudu and Obanliku; Ikom into Ikom, Boki and Etung while Odukpani has remained intact. The Central Senatorial District is therefore made up of principally of the Old Obubra and Ikom Divisions.
In 1992, during the political transition programme of General Babangida, the present governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke, was elected to represent the Central Senatorial District. He is an indigene of Itigidi in Abi Local Government Area; a constituent part of the old Obubra Division. Imoke was in the Senate from 1992 till November 1993 when the political transition programme designed by General Babangida ended and later, the late General Sani Abacha toppled the Interim National Government, ING, headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan. The ING was a constitutional contraption constituted by General Babangida in the wake of the crisis generated by his annulment of the Presidential Election held on the 12th June 1993 widely believed to have been won by the late Chief MKO Abiola. That election was supposed to be the terminal point of the General Babangida political transition programme, started in 1988 with the constitution of a Constituent Assembly to discuss the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1989. Unfortunately, the political transition suffered a lot of subtle manipulations, alteration and changes at the instance of General Babangida and dragged on for almost five years instead of the original terminal point in 1989.
General Abacha‘s political transition programme to hand power to a democratically elected government ended abruptly when its chief architect, General Abacha died suddenly in July 1998. He was succeeded by General Abubukar Abdulsalam who designed another transition programme that led to the termination of military rule on the 29th May 1999.
In the election for the National Assembly that ought to have been constituted under the stillborn General Abacha transition programme, Rose Wushishi from Boki Local Government Area was elected senator for the Central Senatorial District. It is worthy to note that General Abacha’s transition programme was aborted and Rose Wushishi never took her seat in the Senate. Then came March 1999, and Mathew Mbu Jnr, from Boki Local Government Area was elected Senator, to represent the Central District in the National Assembly. He was in the Senate from 1999-2003 after which Victor Ndoma-Egba from Ikom Local Government Area was elected in 2003 to replace Mbu under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party. He was re-elected again in 2007 and 2011 respectively. Interestingly Ndoma-Egba has represented the Central District in the Senate for 12 years. Both Mbu and Victor Ndoma-Egba are from the old Ikom Division. Ndoma-Egbacommendably rose to become a Ranking Senator and Leader of the Senate.
The bad, vindictive and unjust politics of the Peoples Democratic Party manifested starkly in 2014 when Liyel Imoke masterminded the defeat of Ndoma-Egba in the Party Primary Election for the nomination of its candidate for the senatorial election. Imoke threw his formidable political weight, clout, and influence, even incumbency advantage (as governor of the Cross River State) behind John Owan Enoh from Etung Local Government Area against Ndoma-Egba.
One would have expected Imoke to support the zoning of the Senate seat for the Central District to the old Obubra Division if he did not want Ndoma-Egba to go back to the Senate since old Ikom Division had been representing us since 1999 but he inexplicably threw his support behind John Owan Enoh. I can bet you that if John Enoh wins the forthcoming senatorial election, chances are that he would be in the Senate for the next 12 years. We know the influence money play in the politics of Nigeria.
Undeniably Owan has made good his influential positions as Chairmen of the Finance and Appropriation Committees of the House of Representatives from 2007 till now.
There is the likelihood that he would use his influence in the Senate to accumulate a formidable war chest that will make him so strong and entrenched for any political novice from Obubra, Abi and Yakurr Local Government Areas to fight and push out of the Senate come 2019 and 2023 respectively. So old Ikom Division would have maintained its dominance in the Senate for 28 years by the time Owan Enoh finishes his three terms in the Senate.
Is it fair for only people from old Ikom Division to represent the Central Senatorial District in the Senate for 28? Is it equitable? Is it justice? Remember that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) affirms that every people or group or ethnicity must be given equal opportunity to be represented in all levels of governance.
I hereby affirm without fear of contradiction that the zoning of the position of Senator to Etung Local Government Area is a poisoned chalice and indisputably an ill wind that is capable of destroying the camaraderie among the various people that constitutes the Central Senatorial District of Cross River State of Nigeria. You all remember that we all united to support the zoning of the position of CRS governor to the Northern Senatorial District when he perceived that Governor Imoke was scheming to influence the emergence of Gershom Bassey from the South as the Governorship Candidate of the People Democratic Party. Truly and commendably all the political parties zoned it to the Northern Part of the State.
Gladly, the All Progressives Congress in the State; Party that truly believe in the dictates and ideals of good conscience, democracy, social justice, equal opportunity and equity has zoned the position of Senator for the Central District to old Obubra Division, Precisely to Yakurr Local Government Area in the interest of justice and fairplay. This is the right thing to do.
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