By Andy Esiet, Calabar
Elders of the three senatorial districts of Cross River state may soon come out with a template on who should be the future governor of the state so as to put paid to current scrambling and jostling for the position of governor.
A communique issued on December 21 at the end of a meeting of a group of Elders from the Southern Senatorial District under the auspices of “Support Action for the Back2South Campaign”, resolved that “a team be engaged to develop a brief on the current state of Cross River State as a basis for assessing the future leadership needs of the state and also establish a benchmark for assessing the suitability of aspirants for the Office of the Governor”.
The group said, “while the position of the governor was one for the entire state to determine: the South, following its clamour for the position to return back to the south, will do some initial assessment of Southern aspirants by advising all parties to be guided by a template (to be developed) in proposing the best suited candidates to vie for the position of governor from each party”.
The communique which was signed by the Convener, Senator Bassey Ewa Heshaw and 14 elders from the seven Local Government Areas that make up Cross River South Senatorial district and made available to some newsmen in Calabar on Wednesday December 22, said, “the decision of the parties shall not be based on imposition but rather on open consensus in order to reduce acrimony and bitterness in the polity”.
To facilitate above, the group stated that political parties “shall formally zone the governorship to the South and encourage only aspirants from the South to contest. This is without prejudice to the rights of other individuals to contest, if they so wish”.
To further achieve all these, the Southern Elders agreed, “to engage all the parties in order to reach an agreement on the assessment criteria as well as the timelines for submitting the names of their two preferred aspirants to the entire state for consideration.
“That the group will further engage on the issues identified with other stakeholders in the North and Central to consolidate the proposals listed above”.
They believe that while these are reasonable measures to sanitize the polity, “there is need to consult widely to reach some level of agreement across party lines and across all Senatorial districts in the state. Accordingly, it was agreed that a committee of the Elders from the Southern Senatorial district be set up for the purpose of engaging with their counterparts in the North and Central Senatorial Districts.
“It was further agreed that the point enunciated in this statement will act as the guiding principles for further engagements and discussions and as a means of advancing agreements amicably and ensuring the demands made in the Calabar Declaration of 5th November. 2021”.