Many communities that make up the Cross River Central senatorial district have vowed to vote against the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 senatorial election.
Leaders from five communities in the district who spoke to our correspondent, alleged that both PDP and APC had continued to marginalization marginalise them, stressing that they would be massively supporting the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The communities stressed that since the return of democracy in 1999 no son or daughter from their area had been given the opportunity to represent them despite the zoning formula practiced by both parties.
Chief Victor Oyama, a community leader from Obubra Local Government Area decried that people from the Ikom area had been occupying the position for too long and it was time for the ticket to go to the other half of the senatorial district.
He urged the candidates from Ikom to take an example from Senator Ben Bruce, who although being a first time senator, respected the party’s zoning formula and withdrew from contesting for a second term.
“Cross River Central comprises the old Ikom and the old Obubra. These used to be local government areas until Abi, Yakurr, Etung, and Boki were added to the two. But about 20 years now since the return of democracy, old Ikom has been occupying that position.
“The other half of the senatorial district believe now is their turn to produce a senator as they have been patiently supporting the old Ikom over the years to win the seat.
“The APC and the PDP picked their candidates from the Old Ikom section of the district which has been providing the senator since the return of democracy, but only SDP has moved to correct the injustice by fielding a candidate from old Obubra.
“We are going to vote massively for SDP because of that,” Oyama said.
Also speaking, Mr Eval Ejeje Egbe from Abi Local Government Area faulted the lack of respect for zoning on the part of the Ikom LGA, stressing that it was time the other LGA had their own son or daughter representing them.
“The senatorial district used to have just Ikom and Obubra LGAs before the creation of other LGAs.
“Obubra was divided into three same as Ikom. Ordinarily after Ikom enjoys the senatorial seat, it should swing to Obubra, but as it stands now, the people of Obubra are very angry and think they are being taken for a ride.
“They have resolved to vote against any party that does not field a senatorial candidate from the old Obubra.
“In PDP and APC, aspirants from Obubra sought the ticket but they were sidestepped and the tickets of both parties went to persons from Ikom despite outcries of marginalisation from the Obubra people.
“So, the people have resolved that this time, it is their turn and are not ready to give listening ears to candidates from the other part of the district when they come for campaign,” he said.
The community leaders also faulted one of the candidates who is leaving the chairmanship of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to return to the Senate, lamenting that the candidate was shortchanging the entire Cross River.
From the Yakurr community, Mrs Comfort Okoi, decried the the Ikom people were doing the state more harm than good in aspiring for the senatorial position.
She lamented that one of the aspirants from Ikom was abandoning his position in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), a position which she said was more beneficial to the state than that of a senator which he now seeks.
“He is the chairman of NDDC yet he wants to drop it for the same senatorial seat the people of Obubra have not tasted.
“People have been telling him that he will be shortchanging Cross River if he drops his plum position at NDDC as it will automatically go to another state.
“After being a senator for three terms, he is now chairman of NDDC which is bigger than a senate seat yet he wants to come and be struggling for the smaller opportunity for people of his senatorial district.
“He wants to deprive Cross River state of the opportunity of producing chairman of NDDC and also deprive other people who are due to have one of their own in the senate.
“We don’t want Ndoma Egba at the senate, we want him to remain as NDDC chairman so he can be giving our people jobs and contracts. If he leaves that place, a Cross River indigene won’t be appointed as replacement,” she said.
On his part, Mr Enang Asu from Boki LGA noted that the PDP candidate is from Ikom, the same LGA of the governorship candidate of the APC, Owan Enoh and the senatorial flag bearer.
“If things go their way a local government would have produced the governor as well as senator in Cross River. How then can the same LGA produce his successor to the disadvantage of the other five LGAs particularly those in the old Obubra who haven’t tasted the seat since 1999.
“At the return of democracy in 1999, the first senator for Cross River Central was Senator M. T. Mbu from old Ikom. He handed over to Ndoma Egba also from old Ikom. Ndoma Egba was there for 12 years, and handed over to another Ikom man, Owan Enoh who is there for another four years making it 20 years.
Even Ikom-born Moses Ojong expressed concerns the people of Ikom had enjoyed the support of old Obubra and as such it was time for power to change hands.
“It’s true that the status quo favours us but some of our people are worried. For APC and PDP to field candidates from old Ikom despite knowing the political history of Cross River Central seems as if they want to destroy the bond of brotherhood between Obubra and Ikom people.
“The other section will now be thinking that all of us in old Ikom are power grabbers and we fear that when they eventually occupy the senatorial seat, they wouldn’t want to hand over to our children. So, justice should prevail,” he said.