By G9ija

Former Presidential candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP) during the 2019 general election, Mr Donald Duke, has kicked against zoning of governorship slot in Cross River, saying anybody person who meets constitutional provisions is qualified to contest the election.

Those who have signalled their intention to take over from incumbent Prof Ben Ayade include Sen Gershom Basey, Sen Sandy Ojang Onor, Rt Hon Daniel Asuquo, and Sir Authur Jarvis. While Sen Onor is the only one from the central senatorial district, the rest are from the southern senatorial district of the state.

Speaking while hosting some PDP stakeholders in his house in Calabar at the weekend, Duke, who was the former governor from 1999 – 2007, declared support for Sen Sandy Onor’s governorship ambition, saying there has never been zoning in the Cross River State governorship race.

He maintained that the time has come for PDP to elect a new crop of leaders who can salvage the state and reposition the party ahead of 2023, challenging governorship aspirants to go into the field and convince the people why they should be given the opportunity to lead the state.

He said: “It is time for a new crop of leaders to mount the saddle of leadership in Cross River as governor. Note that I am not against zoning, but there has never been zoning in the first place in choosing of our governorship.

“But if they have to be zoning, then the political leaders of Cross River State across party lines (both intraparty and inter-party) should, in a joint meeting, sit down, adumbrate and unanimously draw up the modus operandi and modus vivendi of zoning as commonly agreed by all politicians. Not when it suits you, then you talk of zoning at other times when it doesn’t suit you, you dispense with it.

“But even zoning is well contrived, it remains a gentleman’s agreement because the Supreme Court has, in a celebrated judgment between Jerry Gana and Donald Duke (on zoning) ruled that once a person meets the constitutional provisions for contesting any particular election, he or she cannot be stopped from running that election on the basis of zoning.

“I, therefore, call on all governorship aspirants from the southern senatorial district to go into the public space and rationally market themselves, rather than relying on the whimsical and unsettled sentiments of Zoning.”