Chief Sam Bassey react on zoning by stating it clear that the people will decide who the Governor will be come 2023, but that would be based on contemporary sentiment and it is a seat where they talk about zoning the Governorship back to the South. But then, in terms of back to South, in the Southern Senatorial District, we have the Efiks, Akamkpa and Biase people.
From 1999 when we started this democratic dispensation, the first governor, Donald Duke, is Efik. Also in that dispensation, the Senator, Mrs. Florence Ita-Giwa is Efik. Along the senatorial line, after Mrs. Ita-Giwa who is Efik, you have Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw who is Efik. After him, you have Senator Bassey Edet Otu and after him, Senator Gershom Bassey who are both Efik and now, we have another Efik son, Asuquo Ekpenyong (Jnr) on the platform of APC and Ekpo Okon on the platform of PDP, also Efik (Ekpo Okon is Okoyong). So what is the position of the Biase and Akamkpa people in the Southern Senatorial District?
These are the sentiments but the question is, in the southern senatorial district, is it only the Efiks who are here? Are we from Akamkpa and Biase not from the southern senatorial district or are we not entitled to certain offices in the southern senatorial district? Are we second class citizens or slaves? And if we are not, why are we not in this position? If you throw a contest open and a winner emerges from anywhere, it is fine but if you bring in the word “zoning” the zoning should be done in such a way that it reflects equity, natural justice and good conscience. You do not do zoning and always restrict it to a particular race.
If you say zoning and insist that it must be a particular race, which is the Efiks, then it is now injustice and against good conscience and it is most unfair. I can bet you that the people of Akamkpa and Biase are not going to buy into this arrangement. I am speaking categorically because I have been talking with my friends, brothers and sisters across board in Akamkpa and Biase, both PDP and APC. I do not think anyone from Akamkpa and Biase will key into an arrangement where we are subjected to the position of second class citizens or no class citizens at all. It is not that I reject zoning because for me, I marry zoning and competence, I am only saying that if we are talking about zoning, the first governor of Cross River State in this dispensation is from the South, who is Efik and so if it is coming back to the South, there are other components of the South which are Akamkpa and Biase, it should have gone there.
Chief Sam stated that he’s not rejecting zoning, he’s only rejecting zoning at the extent that it makes my people seem to be like second class citizens. If you want to zone, there is something called macro and micro zoning. Even if you look at the Calabar /Ogoja accord, if it goes the other way and comes back, the community that took it the first time should give way to the other community in that zone. In other words, since Donald Duke, an Efik, was governor in 1999 and it then went to Central and then North, now governor Ayade, if it is coming back to the South, the Efik should not go for it anymore, it should be for Akamkpa and Biase, the other components of Cross River South.
To that extent, Chief Sam Bassey accept zoning but he reject zoning that says we do not belong and that is the sentiment of my people from Akamkpa and Biase.