Sunday, 3 October 2021

C'River 2023: Zoning, Rotational Politics is Constitutional - PDP Stalwart Insist



Ukorebi Esien | 3rd October 2021 



A PDP stalwart and one time House of Representatives member who represented, Calabar Municipality, Odukpani Fed Constituency, Amb. Nkoyo Toyo has insisted that the zoning and rotational politics some Cross Riverians are struggling to destroy is Constitutional as it is enshrined in the Amended constitution of the People's Democratic Party. 

This is coming on the hills of a publication that went viral over the weekend, where the author claimed zoning and rotational politics practiced said to be practiced in the state has no constitutional root. 
Joe Obi Boeing, a former Publicity Secretary of PDP in Cross River State, who authored the article hinged his views on a 9 points arguments on where he opined that there have never been a time in Cross River State where politicians from other zones didn't contest the gubernatorial slots despite the alleged zoning, 

"...at no time has the political class of Cross River State, either intra Party or inter Party, institutionalised or enacted on the modus operandi or modus vivendi of the Rotational Governorship basis for the three Senatorial Districts! This is why in virtually all Gubernatorial elections, both intra Party and inter Party, ALL SENATORIAL DISTRICTS HAD CONTESTED!" Obi's article reads in part. 

Read full text of Mr. Obi's article here: THE GOVERNORSHIP ZONING PROCESS IN CROSS RIVER STATE POLITICS: THE TRUE POSITION FROM OUR INSTITUTIONAL LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES
In response to Obi's postulations, Amb. Toyo, had this to say, "If he is talking about zoning and rotation as the PDP former publicity secretary,  I would rather he dwelt on what the constitution of the PDP says and how the party has acted over time. 

The fact that people from other parties contest an election does not obliterate the need for zoning and rotation by the PDP. As far as the constitution of the PDP as amended is concern, ZONING AND ROTATION IS A CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENT. It is left for us to argue, why did the party envisage not only ZONING BUT ADDED ROTATION?.  As a matter of fact Chapter 1 Sec 7 (c) predicated this action on fairness, equity and justice." 

Furthermore, Obi conclude his arguments by summarizing thus, 
"Conclusively therefore, as it was in the beginning, and now is,  so shall it be in 2023 Cross River State Governorship Election! To whom God wills, let the power fall, then the conventional or normative process of ZONING BY SELF ELIMINATION FOR THE THREE SENATORIAL DISTRICTS  starts from there and then again in this new circle"


In what looks like a direct reply to Obi's Conclusion on the matter, the former lawmaker punctured his conclusive argument with an example she picked from the 2015 Presidential Election which involved President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of the People's Democratic Party. 

"...Is it therefore fair, equitable and just to start all over again unmindful of the history of the PDP as a party (not individuals) in the state? There is grave danger in doing so, as we saw in 2015 when President Jonathan insisted on running against certain agreements enters between the North and the South ...( refer the Ekweremandu Report that showed that the refusal to respect the rotational agreement was a major contributor to PDP's defeat in 2015 by the APC)."  Nkoyo admonished. 


Below is the full script of Amb. Nkoyo Otoyo's response as it concerns zoning of Gubernatorial office in Cross River State:


My personal reaction would be to say that the research by our brother is a bit muddled up because it address apples and grapes together. 

If he is talking about zoning and rotation as the PDP former publicity secretary,  I would rather he dwelt on what the constitution of the PDP says and how the party has acted over time. 

The fact that people from other parties contest an election does not obliterate the need for zoning and rotation by the PDP. As far as the constitution of the PDP as amended is concern, ZONING AND ROTATION IS A CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENT. It is left for us to argue, why did the party envisage not only ZONING BUT ADDED ROTATION?.  As a matter of fact Chapter 1 Sec 7 (c) predicated this action on fairness, equity and justice. 

Is it therefore fair, equitable and just to start all over again unmindful of the history of the PDP as a party (not individuals) in the state? There is grave danger in doing so, as we saw in 2015 when President Jonathan insisted on running against certain agreements enters between the North and the South ...( refer the Ekweremandu Report that showed that the refusal to respect the rotational agreement was a major contributor to PDP's defeat in 2015 by the APC). 

Individuals contesting an election is different from the responsibility of the party to ZONE AND ROTATE. That function as laid out in the party's constitution was in operation this last week at the national level. The PDP national zoning committee went ahead to swap positions between the North and South. On this national assignment of zoning and rotation were two distinguished Senators from Cross River State.  Senators Bassey Ewa Henshaw and Prof. Sandy Onor. What business did they have on a national zoning committee, if zoning and rotation were matters of mere self elimination as argued by Mr. Joe Obi Bisong. 

I trust that our former Publicity Secretary knows the difference between the position of a party and that of the individual to exercise certain constitutional rights. If an individual chooses to run independently, that is within his/her powers to do but that cannot take away the powers of the PDP as contained in chapter 1 Sec 7 (c) of the PDP Constitution to ZONE AND ROTATE.  I do not know whether the APC has a similar position but this is what the PDP has to do constitutionally. 

Unfortunately, the physical office/properties of the PDP on the Highway has been taken over by the APC and stakeholders are unable to access the party files. In 2014, an expanded State Caucus met to discuss and decide on the issue of zoning the gubernatorial position.  The arguments presented were premised on the principle of fairness, justice and equity. After much discussion, a motion was moved by Hon Chris Etta then representing Boki/Ikom to zone the position to the Northern Senatorial District.  Before the secondment of the motion, I Nkoyo Toyo rose on a point of order to demand an amendment to the motion. I led the expanded caucus on a similar argument that it will be fair, just and equitable for  the position to be thereafter zoned to the South as a matter of reasonable succession. My position was upheld and even reinforced by Ntufam Ekpo Okon, who seconded the motion as amended.


If Mr Bisong is in doubt, it maybe useful for him to remind our party of how we arrived at the decision to zone the governorship to the Northern Senatorial District. It will be recalled that at the time, there was some talk of Gershom Bassey running for the position from the South and his ambition was put on hold by that decision taken at the expanded caucus. 

It is important therefore to conclude that zoning and rotation are not optional issues, they are requirements of our Constitution as PDP. The PDP is obliged as it did in 2014, (must as a matter of law) to undertake zoning. Otherwise, why did PDP zone the chairmanship of the party to the North of Nigeria in the case of the National Committee set up by NEC and in the case of CRS, to the Northern Senatorial District. The emergence of Barrister Venatius Ikem as chairman is a product  of such zoning. 

In conclusion, parties are governed by their constitution not the sentiments of its members.  The decision of the party organs on this matter, will lay to rest this burning issue. 

Nkoyo Toyo

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