By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA–AHEAD of 2023 general elections, some political interest groups,have urged the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, to abide by the rotation principle while considering their governorship flag-bearers.
The group of indigenous civil societies organizations with core interest on Cross River State’s politics and governance system,said the state’s governorship position be zoned back to the southern part,given that both the central and northern parts of the state have had a test of the position after ex-Governor Donald Duke.
The groups,Cross River State New Democrats Initiative;Cross River People’s Forum and Movement for the Consolidation of Cross River State, maintained that for the state to continue to enjoy peaceful atmosphere, adherence to the rotation principle must be upheld.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, Thursday,the groups which claimed they were some surreptitious moves by some power brokers in the state to tinker with existing power arrangements,warned against going ahead with such action, warning against its dare consequences.
National coordinator of Cross River State New Democrats Initiative,Mr Paul Obi, read a prepared text,tagged:”The Seamless Political Stability in Cross River State Since 1999: A Call to Respect Its Sustainability”,
signed by Prince Stafford Bisong for Cross River People’s Forum and Dr Charles Edet, representing Movement for the Consolidation of Cross River State, respectively.
“Within the confines of constitutionality, the Nigerian 1999 Constitution as amended, and indeed the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Constitutions clearly stipulate the need for power sharing, which some often refer to as federal character principles.
” Across the length and breadth of Cross River State, citizens and voters alike have embraced this zoning principle as unbridgeable hallmark of democracy. A give-and-take ideology as opposed to winner-takes-all politics.
“With the 2023 governorship election in Cross River State, South South geopolitical zone of Nigeria fast approaching, the citizens are once again confronted with challenges that are not only inimical to the growth and development of the state, but that which will derail the political stability Cross River State has enjoyed in the past twenty-three (23) years.
“At the triumphant return of democracy in 1999, the governorship of the state was opened to all the three senatorial districts of South; North and Central. Mr Donald Duke from the South and members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), set the template for equitable power sharing formula for two terms of eight years per senatorial district. Sen. Liyel Imoke took over in 2007 after Duke’s eight years and concluded his tenure in 2015. Gov. Benedict Bengioshuoye Ayade took over in 2015 and is expected he concludes his eight years tenure in 2023.
“Let every political party, especially the APC and PDP be warned of the consequences of dispensing with the entitlements of any senatorial district in Cross River State in adhering to equitable distribution of power among the three senatorial districts.
” As danger lies ahead of such political party, because the neglected senatorial district will revolt en masse, and attract sympathy support from the other two senatorial districts”, the text read.
“We therefore ,call on both the APC and PDP to strictly adhere, obey and implement the power sharing policy by ensuring that the Governorship of Cross River State in 2023 gubernatorial election is zoned to the Southern Senatorial District,”the text further read.
According to the groups,” This position is absolutely devoid of any partisan inclination.”
” Our intervention is borne out of empirical evidence supporting the fact that, equitable distribution of political power in the state has helped tremendously and in no small measure to entrenched political stability. The reason is that Cross River State has no luxury whatsoever to embark on rancorous and acrimonious politics or elections campaign ahead of 2023 elections.
“The seamless transition of political power over the last twenty-three (23) years and the peaceful coexistence and atmosphere the state has witnessed is a testament to the idea of equity, fairness and justice.
“Against this backdrop, this is a clarion call that all the political parties in the state to make and take a definite stand about the political power sharing in Cross River State. Failure of which will portend great danger. Any person or group of persons clamouring for a random power shift or disruption without considering and appreciating the peaceful and sequential power rotation so far is not only being dishonest and inconsiderate, but also selfish and self-centered, and he or she is on a fishing expedition that smacks of a suicide mission in his or her political party,”the text further read.
The groups tasked,”All political parties as a pledge to sustaining the political stability the state has witnessed thus far should proclaim and profess their allegiance to the zoning policy.”
” Sequel upon the overwhelming acceptance and embrace of the zoning policy by Cross Riverians and the teeming voting population, zoning should be recognised as an indispensable hallmark of our democracy, more of a cornerstone of our democratic and political culture
“The coalition of these groups is willing and ready to pull together a full force in support of zoning of the Governorship of Cross River State in 2023 to the Southern Senatorial District,”they added.