By Andy Esiet, Calabar
The Stakeholders of Cross River South Senatorial district have reaffirmed their stand on power returning to the Southern part of the state as they called on the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state to come out with its own zoning formular.
Power or the governorship position has gone through the three senatorial districts of the state starting from the South in 1999 to 2007, Central 2007 to 2015 and North 2015 to date. So having gone round peacefully in that order it is expected that the chain will continue but some people of Central in both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the APC are thinking otherwise insisting that since it has gone round the three senatorial districts it can now start from anywhere and thereby jettisoning the zoning arrangements.
But Governor Ben Ayade has on several occasions declared that the next governor of the state succeeding him in 2023 must come from the Southern Senatorial district of the state.
In a World Press conference on March 12, 2022 that was attended by the big wigs of Cross River South cutting across chieftains of mainly the APC and others, they declared their total support on Governor Ayade and power shift and commending his dogged effort in running the state despite lean resources.
The conference text which was read by Senator Florence Ita-Giwa on behalf of the Senatorial district said, “we thus, express our solidarity with the governor of Cross River State, His Excellency Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade for his total and unwavering commitment to the return of power to the Southern Senatorial District come 2023.
“The governor remains the leader of the APC in the state and indeed the South South Region and has the right and authority to give direction to the party in the state. We thank the governor for this direction which he has provided and we stand with him firmly on this” .
“For the avoidance of doubt, the leaders and people of the southern senatorial district are aware that no senatorial district can on its own make a governor, that is why we are committed to ensuring that we work harmoniously with the Central and Northern Senatorial Districts in achieving our desire for power to return to the southern senatorial district come 2023.
“We further wish to state that all the three (3) senatorial districts know that our demand for power to return to the southern senatorial district is equitable, justiceble, fair and is the proper thing to happen at this time”.
Furthermore, they declared, “we will like to use this opportunity to call on all well-meaning Cross Riverians to rise in support of power rotation and return of power to the southern senatorial district come May 29th, 2023.
“We are convinced that every well meaning Cross Riverian in our state is aware that our state has witnessed continuous peace and stability as a result of power rotation from one senatorial district to another since 1999 till date.
“No doubt, even our founding fathers had envisaged the need for us all to live in the state where peace and harmony reigns. Even the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended guarantees federal character principle for equity, peace and harmony.
“We wish to reassure Cross Riverians and residents of Cross River State that the southern senatorial district made up of Seven (7) Local Government Areas has men and women with impeccable character, institutional memory and requisite experience to govern Cross River State and provide purposeful leadership that will take our state to enviable height”.
They charged “all Cross Riverians and people of goodwill and friends of Cross River State to join hands with the Southern Senatorial District to achieve the return of power to the district as one good turn they say deserves another” .
In her comments, Senator Ita-Giwa who had represented Cross River South senatorial in the Senate in the past, “based on the governor’s pronouncement I urge the party to come out with a zoning formula in the state for APC.On Ayade we stand, we thank him for identifying with us”
Equally commenting, the State Secretary of APC, Mr. Bassey Mensah said he was happy that the South was coming together speaking with one voice saying “with this kind of solidarity their goal will definitely be achieved” .
Fielding questions from some newsmen on the issue of zoning and micro zoning and others, a chieftain of APC and Chairman of the Davandy Group, Chief Asuquo Ekpenyong who chaired the occasion said, “we are not here to jump the gun when the time comes we will address it. APC is doing zoning even at the National level so doing it in the state is normal” .
On the issue of financial power to run the election and getting a competent candidate, he said, “the issue of money or financial power is relative. For some people when it comes the time to bring the money they run to other state. Those that said we don’t have money where were there 10 years ago?
“We are not asking for preferential treatment but justice .We will reach out to Central and North. We have very capable oaspirants in the race” .
Responding to a question on why the APC aspirants are not declaring their governorship ambition, a one time Senator for Cross River South senatorial, Prince Bassey Otu opined, “APC has not done that because it’s law abiding. The ban on politics has not been lifted yet. We have a government in place and we have to support the government to succeed. Apc aspirants are not shy, they are capable and able and once the ban on campaign is lifted we will be in the field and all the aspirations will come out” .