By Unyime Essien & Samuel Etuk
The Eket Interest Group have watched with keen interest the unfolding drama orchestrated by some power thirsty individuals who are desperately bent on misleading the general public, especially in Akwa Ibom State to believe that the office of the governor of the state come 2015 is a free for all geographical zones party.
We as a group make bold to say that come 2015, it will and should be the turn of Eket Senatorial District to produce the next governor of our dear state; this is not only just, but very equitable as all other component geographical zones in the state will have completed their tenures.
It’s unfortunate that barely 20 months into the second term of Chief Godswill Akpabio as governor of Akwa Ibom State, certain individuals through their acolytes, protégées and lackeys have consistently charged the polity in a selfish attempt to truncate the equitable distribution of elective offices in the state, perpetuate themselves in office and jettison the zoning arrangement which has effectively bound all the senatorial districts in the state and promoted peace and unity amongst the various groups that make up the geographical entity known as Akwa Ibom State. These groups have through intensive media blitz, propaganda, blackmail and outright falsehood claimed albeit in futility that there has never been a principle of zoning in the state.
The principle of zoning as a democratic culture that promotes fairness, equity and social justice among the clusters that make up a political entity has always been a part of the Akwa Ibom political clime. This dates back even to the Second Republic which saw Eket Senatorial District producing an ONNA man as the then governor of the old Cross River State in person of the late renowned economist and former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Clement Isong in 1979.
In 1983, Chief Donald Etiebet from present day Oruk Anam local government area in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District succeeded Dr. Isong as governor. Though the administration of Etiebet was short-lived as a result of the military intervention, when Babangida came up with his two party system, Obong Akpan Isemin of Uyo Senatorial District was elected governor of Akwa Ibom state; unfortunately his tenure was also short-lived.
With the dawn of yet another democratic dispensation in 1999, the political class came together and agreed that Uyo Senatorial District made up of the Ibibio ethnic group, should produce the governor of the state. This led to the emergence of Obong (Arc.) Victor Attah from Uyo senatorial district as the second civilian governor of Akwa Ibom state.
Being a man who stands by the existing political arrangement of zoning, Obong Attah in 2006, at the twilight of his second term in office affirmed that after his tenure the governorship seat should shift to Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District and this arrangement heralded the emergence of Governor Godswill Akpabio, the incumbent governor of the state, who became the beneficiary of the arrangement of zoning.
It is on the above premise that all men and women of good conscience will expect that at the end of Chief Akpabio’s tenure in 2015, equity and social justice will be allowed to prevail by producing a credible candidate from Eket Senatorial District in 2015. This is not only as of necessity, but it is in tandem with the constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which is the dominant and ruling party in Akwa Ibom state.
This is what Obong Attah upheld as governor and ensured that Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District produced his successor, and it is the belief of every rational Akwa Ibom person that Akpabio will not only promote, but will be seen to promote the continuity of this policy and protect same from foragers that are cycling round him like hungry wolves.
In their attempt to erase the immutable truth, anti zoning elements brandish the tales that there is no treaty, charter or documented agreement in respect of zoning of political power in Akwa Ibom. This is not true as there has always been in existence a gentleman agreement amongst the political class even before the policy of rotation and zoning was included in the PDP constitution.
In other words, rotation and zoning of political offices has been a part of political arrangements in the state as long as democracy strived. This has been the case in the state, local government and ward levels. A look at all the elective and political offices in the state today will reveal that a good majority of the occupants are beneficiaries of the zoning principle. This pact evolved as a gentleman’s agreement that was never documented nor codified, but has been religiously adhered to and used in building a strong bond among the political components of the state.