Monday, 18 June 2018

Why Ogoja should take the Senatorial Slot in 2019! —by Solomon Asha

Asha|18 June 2018 

Ogoja Province was among the several  provinces created across the country by the colonial administration in 1945, after the provincial system was experimented in the Northern region prior before now and found  to be workable and suitable for the administrative convenience of the colonial over lords for their colonies/the natives. 

Interestingly,  in terms  of the first  areas in Nigeria  to have been among the pioneers in clamouring for autonomy and freedom from domination and tyranny of the majority, Ogoja  made an unequivocal history  of being among the three areas  who  first demanded for states creation in Nigeria: the historical Calabar. Ogoja, Rivers  States (COR) states. 

Ironically, the larger or greater Ogoja area known as Ogoja Province has remained as  the only former  provinces in Ngeria to be conferred with the status of a state besides Ijebu province. Again, Ogoja remains the only COR state stripped bare of a status of a state when Rivers has been broken into Rivers and Bayelsa states and Calabar, into Akwa Ibom state while Ogoja is left with the less fancy status of sharing a state with the remaining part of Calabar.

Regrettably, the larger Ogoja region is still suffering this glaring injustice till date as the area is one of the least developed in terms of infrastructures and other aspects in the country 
Injustices against the greater Ogoja region from without has gone unabated not  because it is acceptable by the people but because those who oppressed them have edge over them in virtually all aspects, yet the  people, especially the  younger generation are not disillusioned as they keep fighting with the high hopes that decades of monumental injustices against them will surely be addressed. 

The  oppression of mother Ogoja and her children by the larger Nigerian state is well established but what is most shocking, unacceptable, an affront on the sensibilities of sane and rational minds is the political sidelining which the mother Local Government Area of the greater Ogoja land has suffered for some years now in the political hands of some of  her up-springs who shares the same Senatorial District known as Northern Senatorial District in Cross River State with her. 

Ironically, these up-springs or political children of Ogoja  which comprises of Yala,  Bekwarra,  Obudu  and Obanliku who enjoy not just traditional, cultural affinities with Ogoja as a mother  Local Government Area, that houses the senatorial headquarters, but had been from the early times of political evolution and administrative structure of the colonial government  been part of the first administrative division known  as Ogoja Division, in the  area refers as the Northern Senatorial District  today. 

Modern history of the area reveals that no Ogoja man,  I mean  a man from the political division or creation called, Ogoja Local Government Area has ever  occupy the Senate seat or position from the dawn of democratic dispensation beginning from the short-lived first and second republics to the ill-fated Ibrahim Babangida's  political experimentation to the current  democratic dispensation which  commenced in 1999.

In the  second Republic when  the present  Cross River State was still together  with Akwa Ibom, and the senatorial district covered virtually the entire old Ogoja Province, it was Dr. Joseph Wayas from the then Obudu Local Government Area (now Obanliku LGA)  that occupied the Senate seat from 1979-December 31, 1983 when the military toppled the democratically elected government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and ended that democratic dispensation. 

During  the ill-fated political experimentation of Babangida as military President  with politically elected leaders at the states as state governors,  elected States' Assembly members and elected National Assembly members (Senate and House of Representatives), it was late Dr. Paul Ukpo, from Yala who occupied the Senate seat for the district between 1992-93.

Between 1999-2003, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, from Bekwarra Local Government Area was elected a senator representing the  district. When the erudite and distinguished senator Agabi was appointed into the Federal Executive Council, a business magnet and politician, Musa Adede, from Obanliku LGA was elected to replace Senator Agabi and he served out his tenure.

Between 2003-2011, distinguished Senator Greg Ngaji, from Yala occupied that position for eight years, the only senator from the Northern Senatorial District who has so far enjoyed uninterrupted two tenures at a stretch in the hallow red chambers. 

The  incumbent governor of Cross River State,  Senator Ben B. Ayade, who  is from Obudu local Government Area was elected to take over from Senator Ngaji, and served from 2011-2015, after which he was given the mandate by the people to be their governor, a mandate he is still fulfilling presently.

In 2015, Political fortune again smiles on the people of Yala as one of their  own, their  daughter and former Commissioner for Education  in the state, and member, House of Representatives representing Ogoja /Yala Federal Constituency in the House  of Representatives  Senator Dr. Rose Oko was elected by the people of the senatorial district to be their voice in the upper chambers. 

The above verifiable data as regards the Senate position in the northern senatorial district is lucidly that between 1999-date, Bekwarra occupied the seat only about six months, Obanliku,  for about three and a half year, outside the second Republic slot of the larger Ogoja which Senator Wayas benefited. 

Obudu has shared in the senatorial cake for one tenure while by May 29, 2019 Yala would have completed more than 13 Combined years in the Senate leaving only Ogoja, the mother LGA of the northern senatorial district as the only Local Government yet to have a feel of the coveted Senate seat.

The yet to be answered question is, are we politically, ethically and morally justified for excluding Ogoja LGA from the benefit and the opportunity to represent us at the hallow red chambers?

The  answer is unequivocal capital 'NO'. 
It is a common  parlance among the people of the five LGAs of the northern senatorial district that a mother must not allow a child to cry before carrying out her divine motherly duties of breast-feeding, nurturing and nourishing her baby. 

Sadly enough, in the case of  Ogoja, the reverse  is the case, where it is rather the children who after the mother has nourished and brought her children to adulthood, they had so far refused to acknowledge the fact that their mother equally need food and nourishment to stay alive,  rather they have carry on as if their political mother does not exist.

It is based on this shameful injustice meted out to Ogoja as far as the position of senatorial slot or seat is concerned that this writer and all those who are opposed to the political oppression of Ogoja, especially the members of the Northern Solidarity movement (NSM) are individually and collectively committed to the fight of ensuring that on May 29, 2019, Ogoja LGA indigene occupy the Northern senatorial District seat. 

Ogoja Local Government Area is  blessed with erudite and all-round qualified sons and daughters beginning from the very charismatic Commissioner for  Power and a great politician, Mr. Thomas Udam (TIMMY TOM) and others possesses all that it takes to occupy the Senatorial seat of the North.

Remember that injustice to one is injustice to all and that what goes around comes around. Today you might be in your comfort zone not feeling or minding the pains that those who are deprived  of their  rights are going through. 

The truth is that nature has a way of throwing back at those who deals  with others in  a mindless and ungodly manners, the very treatment they  gave others. 

This  is the time for men of conscience and good will to come together and support the call for the Senate position to move to Ogoja  LGA by  2019.

This call is devoid of any political malice towards aspirants from the other LGAs in the district eyeing the position in 2019 rather it is borne out of altruistic spirit of brotherly consideration of live and let's live, and the moral tenet of the strong supporting the weak  that  all may have space to operate and co-exist in the same society. 

It is based on this universal truism that in "The Republic',  Socrates, speaking through the voice of his student, Plato, looked at Justice from both the individual and social perspective,  meaning that justice is a human virtue which makes an individual person self-consistent and good, while at the social level, it's the consciousness which guarantees internal cohesion and harmonious existence that produces the collective good of the society.

Justice according to Socrates and Plato, is a part of human virtue, that cements the society together  making  good  and sociable for all  in the  society. They strongly maintained in their moral postulations that justice is not all about mere or irrational strength  but a harmonious strength,  and that it is not the display of the right of the stronger, rather it is by the use of it to ensure effective harmony of the entire  whole or society. 

Justice therefore means that all in the society must necessarily have their fair share in the running of the society as the strong or stronger in the society  must employ such strength for the collective good of all in the society to bring about harmony.

When the strong extend hand of fellowship and understanding to the weak,  provides what Senator Ayade Would refer to as,  "providing a shoulder for the weak to lean on", there will be a leveling and balancing between the strong and the weak in all aspects of our social existence. 

This is what Cross River North Senatorial District needs now as a senatorial district that was once the Political strength and headquarters where political decisions were taken even when we existed as one political entity with the present Akwa Ibom State.

When we learn to correct the injustice within us,  the wrongs meted out against us collectively from the Nigerian state would naturally be addressed. It is against the natural law of justice for an individual  or  a society to demand for Justice when such individual or society is enmeshed and practices all forms of injustice against others or within its fold. Remember,  what is good for the goose is equally good for the gander.

It is when we as people of the northern Senatorial district with virtually common affinity chooses to correct the injustices and neglect which Ogoja has suffered in our hands as regards  the senatorial seat that we can truly say we are building a fair and just society. This is the basis for this short article.

God bless Cross River North and the entire Cross River State. 

Is a journalist 

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