From Judex Okoro, Calabar
The controversy over the governorship rotation arrangement in Cross River has continued to gather momentum as Sen Gershom Bassey has stated unequivocally that zoning has existed in the state since 1999.
Bassey, representing the southern senatorial district, maintained that it is not only the turn of the south, but that the constitution of PDP, which he belongs to, explicitly stipulates the party’s position on the principles of rotation and zoning of political offices.
Reacting to statements credited to former Governor Donald Duke and Sen Sandy Onor that there has never been zoning in the state, he explained that ‘section 7(3)(C) of the PDP constitution mandates the party to adhere to rotation and zoning policies in public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness.
‘Therefore, the significance and recognition of these principles by the PDP cannot be overemphasised. Moreover, the applicability of these principles in the Cross River State PDP governorship candidacy selection process are embedded in the party’s constitution.
‘Again, the people of the southern senatorial district have solidly stood behind power rotation principle. After Donald Duke’s tenure in 2007, they wholeheartedly supported a candidate from the central senatorial district. They did this in my party, by not presenting any candidate from the south in that election. Furthermore, they voted massively for the PDP candidate from the central senatorial district. Of course, power shifted to central and Liyel Imoke became our governor.
‘Thereafter, the people of the south stood solidly behind the north and the zoning principle that was applied in PDP. The south did not present a candidate in 2015. They supported the north,’ he stated.
He argued that there were potential candidates from the south, who could have created a contest in the field in 2015, but the people of the south decided to go with the zoning principle and supported the north on grounds of equity and fairness.
Further arguing that there was a caucus meeting which zoned this governorship to the northern senatorial district, with the understanding that after the north, the rotation would continue with the south, Bassey said: “My constituents in the southern senatorial district categorically and without equivocation, expect that power will come to the south in 2023, based on the rotation principle.
‘In my party specifically, the PDP, we expect that the governorship will be zoned to the south in 2023. Besides, the vast majority of Cross Riverians agree with this rotation and that it is the turn of the south.’
He, however, said he has the capacity to win and win for the PDP, adding that he would contest the election for governorship with or without zoning.