By Sunny Udeh
Equity simply means the consistent fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals or groups. Equity ensures everyone or group has access to the same treatment, opportunities, and advancement. Equity aims to identify and eliminate barriers that prevent the full participation of some groups.
The Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency seat is shared by two sister LGAs – Abi and Yakurr. Since the inception of the 4th Republic in 1999, the Member representing the Federal Constituency in the National Assembly had always come from Yakurr, until 2019. Between the years 1999-2007, Rt. Hon. Chief Obeten Okorn Obeten, a very respected son of Ugep in Yakurr LGA occupied the position for two tenures of eight years. He was immediately succeeded by Rt. Hon. Bassey Eko Ewa, an illustrious son of Ekori, again in Yakurr LGA who spent three terms of twelve years between 2007-2019. Abi LGA only just assumed the position in 2019 following the electoral success of Hon. Dr. Alex Egbona who hails from Ekureku. He is yet to complete his first tenure.
In line with an unwritten, but gentlemanly understanding, it is generally expected that the people of Yakurr LGA will reciprocate the long standing support they enjoyed from their Abi neighbours by wholeheartedly throwing their support to only candidates from Abi LGA, while strongly discouraging any Yakurr indigene from contesting the position, in the spirit of equity and fair-play. Hon. Dr. Alex Egbona is seeking re-election for a second term and is the candidate of the APC for the election. In fact almost all the candidates for the election are from Abi, except those of the Labour Party and ADC who are from Yakurr, precisely Ugep.
While not discountenancing the inalienable right of every qualified person to contest elections for any position of their choice, the practice of zoning has helped to bring about peace, inclusiveness, a strong sense of equity and stability of the polity. Those going against a zoning arrangement, especially having been well served by that same zoning principle in the past do so as a brazen display of spite, arrogance and lack of the spirit of fair-play. It is tantamount to throwing a a can of sand into a bowl of soup that has served and is serving the people so well.
It is rather sad that anyone from Yakurr will run for the House of Representatives seat under any Party even after the LGA had enjoyed 20 uninterrupted years in the Green Chamber. More disturbing is the fact that such a person can still be encouraged and prodded on by any Yakurr person. Which is why I commend people like Obol Barr. Okoi Obono-Obla and his like for speaking truth to the situation. In his typical forthrightness, he has been relentless in reminding his kith and kindred that it is the turn of Abi LGA. In doing so, he has been exposed to countless insults and intimidation by his own people, some of whom are his beneficiaries. Knowing Chief Obla, he cannot be bullied or bowed.
Another point to note is that all the Senatorial candidates of the major political parties from Cross River Central – APC, PDP, LP, etc are from Yakurr. In the APC, there is Rt. Hon. Eteng Williams, the PDP has Rt. Hon. Bassey Ewa while the Labour Party has Chief Patrick Okomiso as senatorial candidates, amongst others. This means that head or tail, the next senator of the Central Senatorial District will be a Yakurr person. So having the next House of Representatives member also come from Yakurr will result in all our National Assembly representatives coming from Yakurr, leaving Abi bare.
So the questions that tug on my mind are: Are our Yakurr brothers not mindful of the above scenario? Or does it not matter to them? Will it not be seen as extreme greed if they persist with their quests? Or is the saying “it’s a game of numbers” the only consideration which will mean that the Abi person has no political future in the Federal Constituency since Yakurr is more populous? Does being your brother’s keeper not count in this instance? I could go on and on.
I write this piece, fully conscious that Abi posseses and has presented candidates that are high on quality, capacity, experience, and political reach across the various parties. So any fear that respecting the zoning arrangement will throw up any mediocre or incapable representative for the constituency is misplaced. My personal appeal to the highly revered Yakurr nation as we approach the 2023 elections, especially as it concerns the Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency, is to let equity prevail. Remember, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Sunny Udeh is a Public Affairs Analyst and a constituent of Abi/Yakurr.