Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Cross River Northern Consultative Elders Forum (CRNCEF) has backed Governor Ben Ayade’s second term ambition, insisting that the governorship position was zoned to the area.
The support for Governor Ayade and the need to retain the governorship were coming against the background of agitations by sections in Southern and Central senatorial zones of the state to take the governorship seat away from the zone where the incumbent came from in 2019.
Kicking against the move to wrestle power form incumbent Governor Ayade, who is from the northern part of the state, spokesperson of CRNCEF and a former Military Administrator of River state, Gen. Anthony Ukpo, said it has become a convention that each zone must have two terms to the governorship slots and that the old Ogoja zone could be an exception.
Speaking in Ogoja shortly after its meeting, Ukpo said their position was in line with the zoning policy which had been in place which the south and central zones had benefitted from as their sons, former Governors Donald Duke (1999-2003) and Liyel Imoke (2003-2015), respectively, served out two terms.
Appealing for understanding and cooperation of other senatorial zones and all political parties in the state, Ikpo said: “We acknowledge the mutual understanding shown by all political parties in 2015 election in which all the political parties zoned the gubernatorial tickets to the northern senatorial district for the purpose of fairness and equity.
“And in the spirit of brotherhood, we also appeal that all political parties in the state should maintain similar mutual understanding in the 2019 general election by retaining the zoning of governorship to the northern senatorial district of the state as well as picking their candidates for that office from the zone.
“This gesture, will allow the northern senatorial zone to retain the governorship slot for another term of four years to be at par with the other senatorial zones which each held the governorship for eight year.
“It is our hope that after the next four years following the 2019 general election, the governorship of the state will commence with a new rotation, enjoining other governorship candidates from the north to subscribe to their position,” Ukpo stated.
The Forum is made up senior citizens include Gen. Anthony Ukpo (rtd), who is chairman, Chief Linus Okom, Joseph Ugbe, Dave Ashang and Mike Aniah, and all former secretaries to the state government, Chief Joseph Ugbe, Dr. Peter Ojie, Special Adviser to Governor Ayade, former council chairmen and other statesmen from Ogoja, Obudu, Obanliku, Bekwarra and Yala local government areas within the zone.