Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) elders in the Southern Senatorial District of Cross River State, including senior lawyers and academics, have insisted that the rotation and zoning formulae of the party must be respected as it is their turn to produce the next governor.
They said this when they endorsed the aspiration of Senator Gershom Bassey for the 2023 governorship race in the state today.
They took time to trace the history of zoning and democracy in the state and maintained that the palpable tension existing within the state political atmosphere was needless since history supports their insistence.
Two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), Mba Ukweni and Nella Ewa, as well as Prof. Offiong Ani Offiong of the University of Calabar (UNICAL), were amongst the 22 leaders and stakeholders that signed the document calling for respect for the zoning arrangement in the state.
They recalled that in 2015 when Gov Liyel Imoke from the Central finished his eight-year tenure, out of respect for the zoning arrangement, they dissuaded politicians from the south, including Bassey, to support Ben Ayade’s candidacy from the north, and they heeded.
“Having witnessed this tradition persist, it has gone beyond mere politics, to a phenomenal entrenchment of power rotation within the political ecosystem of Cross River State.
“Therefore, for equity, justice and fairness, it is expedient that the governorship seat is returned to the south. After due consultation with majority of Cross River State Southern elders, and candidature of Senator Gershom Bassey, whose withdrawal from the governorship race in 2015 and acceptance of a northern candidate gave credence to zoning, is hereby endorsed”, they said.
Meanwhile, earlier, the Chairman of PDP in Cross River State, Venatius Ikem has indicated that the party may likely go for a consensus candidate for next year’s governorship election.
Speaking with newsmen, Ikem said, “PDP is working towards a transparent, rancour-free and fair primary election.
“If a consensus arrangement comes along the way, we will thank God for it.”
Ikem also remarked on the aspiration of the Senator representing Cross River central, Prof Sandy Onor whose emergence reportedly angered stakeholders in the Southern District since they believe it is their turn to produce the next governor.
“It’s not possible for anyone’s ambition to please everyone even in his family.”
The chairman added that all other aspirants had quality and were marketable individuals.
“All PDP aspirants are doing great in the field and I can assure you that all of them have support across the length and breadth of the state.
“That’s what contesting can do for a political party. It also unifies people outside the boundaries of ethnic and geographical cleavages.”
Still, on the quality of their aspirants, Ikem said the ward congresses which were held a few days ago had almost all aspirants claiming victory.
Expressing happiness, he said the ward congresses were fair enough so that almost all stakeholders accepted the outcome.