From Judex Okoro, Calabar
In the last one year, the echoes of zoning and no zoning have resonated across the length and breadth of Cross River State with key political players, stakeholders and supporters arguing back and forth in favour or against zoning.
The defection of Governor Ben Ayade to APC on Thursday, May 20, 2021, seems to have given vent to the issue of which zone produces the next governor in 2023. Ayade shortly after he defected, dropped the bombshell by pronouncing that the governorship slot has been zoned to the Southern senatorial district of the state. Since then, the zoning debate has been waxing and waning.
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Ayade had argued vehemently that the state has operated zoning principle since 1999 and therefore, it would be unfair, unjust and against equity to jettison zoning at this crucial stage, adding that he is also “a product of zoning.”
According to him, since all the three senatorial zones have produced governors in the persons of Mr Donald Duke from South between 1999 to 2007; Sen Liyel Imoke from Central from 2007 to 2015 and himself from North between 2015 to 2023, it is now back-to South in 2023.
Within the Cross River Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), the storm is brewing just as the political class are at cross-purposes over zoning arrangements. The PDP and APC seem to be like actors with a flair for melodrama with regard to zoning of governorship ahead of 2023 general elections.
While the PDP leadership headed by Venatius Ikem has not been resolute about zoning as it rather prefers throwing it open and allow party members decide during primary election, the APC led by Alphonsus Eba, seems to have queued behind Ayade’s declaration of back-to-south.
However, while the arguments for and against zoning are on, notable politicians from both PDP and APC across the South and Central have declared their intention to take over from incumbent Prof Ben Ayade. In the South, Sen Gershom Bassey, representing Cross River South senatorial district, Sen Sandy Onor, representing central senatorial district, Daniel Asuquo, member representing Akamkpa/Biase federal constituency and Sir Arthur Jarvis Archibong, Chancellor Arthur Jarvis University, have been on vigorous campaigns across the state soliciting party supporters ahead of the party primary.
In the South, members of the APC said to be oiling their political machinery and waiting on the wings watching Ayade’s body language include prof Ivara Esu, the incumbent deputy governor, Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr, commissioner for finance, Sen Bassey Otu, former senator
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