The senator representing Cross River South in the senate, Senator Gersom Bassey has said that the southern senatorial district of the state is ready to take over power from the current governor, Prof Ben Ayade. He however believes that it is the right of the region to produce the next governor.
In a statement he issued as a direct reaction and contribution to the zoning debate, Bassey said zoning and power rotation was enshrined in the constitution of the PDP and that the contest cannot be thrown open.
His position ran contrary to the position of Senator Sandy Onor, the senator representing Cross River Central in the senate, that the state has never zoned the governorship seat to any zone in the past and that it can only be done if all stakeholders from all the political parties meet and agree to start the practice.
Bassey said in the statement: “my attention has been drawn to videos on social media of our Former Governor, my dear friend and constituent, HE Donald Duke, in which a courtesy visit was paid to him at his residence. He specifically talked, amongst other things, about the issue of zoning. I must comment on the issue of zoning and clarify the position of the people of the South.
“In the People’s Democratic Party, which is the party to which I belong, and even in the All Progressives Congress, it is very clear that the people of the south have insisted on zoning and the need to zone the Governorship position to the Southern Senatorial District in the upcoming election cycle. The reasons for this are not far-fetched:
“The Constitution of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), explicitly stipulates the Parties position on the principles of rotation and zoning in Party activities and political candidacy. Section 7(3)(C) of the PDP Constitution, mandates that in the pursuit of its aims and objectives, the Party shall adhere to rotation and zoning policies in Public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness.”
Bassey said the southern senatorial district had always supported all the other senatorial districts to produce the governor and noted that it was time for the other zones to support the south ahead of the 2023 election.
He said: “The people of the Southern Senatorial District have solidly stood behind the 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 the PDP. The South did not present a candidate in 2015. They supported the North.
“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. In 2023, we believe that now is the turn of the South, under the same rotation principle.
“As the incumbent Senator representing the Southern Senatorial District, I currently hold the mandate to speak for the people of the South. 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. The reason for this is very clear. In 2015, when my brother, Donald Duke, was not in the party, there was a caucus meeting which zoned this Governorship to the Northern Senatorial District, with the understanding that after the North, rotation would continue with the South.
“The vast majority of Cross Riverians agree with this rotation and agree that it is the turn of the South. As is now common knowledge, I am contesting the 2023 elections and I have said repeatedly that my candidature does not depend on zoning. I will contest the election for Governorship with or without zoning, confident that I have the capacity to win and win for the PDP.”