BAKASSI, STILL A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCES-AGBA JALINGO.

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By Citizen Agba Jalingo.
In February 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the Appeal Court judgment which ordered INEC to delineate and conduct elections in 10 new wards in Bakassi LGA that were created from the former three Ikang Wards in Akpabuyo Local Council of the state. In the lead judgment which was delivered by Justice John Inyang Okoro of the apex court, the court ordered that INEC should take steps to ensure that the constituencies were created. But it is not surprising that up till now, six years later, nothing has been done by INEC.
The Cross River State Capital, Calabar which generally inculcates Bakassi, can boast of tasting and entrenching democracy in Nigeria, earlier than any other part of this country except Lagos. Calabar remains the only part of Nigeria, along with Lagos, that earned the only four elected seats in the first-ever legislative assembly Nigeria had and that culture has remained entrenched and cherished amongst her people since 1922.
Let me take you down memory lane. The colonial masters tested elective representation for the first time in Nigeria by granting it to the Lagos Town Council in May 1919. This concession was made in exchange for the power to impose township rates, which were introduced in the Township Ordinance of May 29, 1919. So the first election in Nigeria was held into the Lagos Town Council on March 29, 1920. Mr. A. Folarin, Dr. A. Savage, and Mr. G. D. Agbebi were the first indigenous parliamentarians in Nigeria.
The Clifford Constitution of 1922 then extended elective representation from the Lagos Town Council to the (National) Legislative Council, which was made up of 46 members; comprising, 27 colonial officers as official members, 15 unofficial members, nominated by colonial officers, and only four elected members. Lagos alone had three of the legislative seats while the remaining one was delineated to Calabar. The contentious Constitution however left out the whole of Northern Nigeria from the electoral process.
A prospective legislator was required to be a male of twenty-one years and above. He must be either a British subject or a native of the Protectorate of Nigeria and must have been resident for twelve months in the constituency before registration. And must have a total annual income of not less than one hundred British Pounds during the calendar year preceding the date of the election. And the four elected representatives in that first election were, Egerton Shyngle (Lagos), Eric Moore (Lagos), Prince Kwamina Ata-Amonu (Calabar), and Dr. Adeniyi-Jones (Lagos).
Kwamina Ata-Amonu was a buoyant lawyer from the British Gold Coast (now Ghana), who was practicing his legal career in Calabar. He was also a member of the influential National Council for British West Africa NCBWA and the Calabar Improvement League, CIL.
While Herbert Macaulay’s Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), was winning all the legislative council elections in Lagos, the situation in Calabar was different. There was no political party. Independent candidates were sponsored by local associations. After Kwamina Ata-Amonu, it was the Calabar Rate Payers’ Association CRPA, that successfully sponsored the election of C.W. Clinton, who represented Calabar from 1928 to 1938. Similarly, it was the Calabar Improvement League, a sociocultural organization, that sponsored the election of Rev. O. Effiong in 1938. That is the tale of the despised town.
It is now very flabagasting to imagine that a place with such a rich culture of independent politicking and political awareness, will be treated with such shabbiness by our electoral body even after a judgment of the apex court. Bakassi deserves all the urgency and attention not only because of elections but because of the fact that a huge chunk of their ancestral land, waters, and heritage was sacrificed by Nigeria on the guillotine of international politics, to swell the ego of a few individuals and cement international handshakes.
It is not election time but it is time to return the conversation to the front burner with a view to seeing how stakeholders can bring this matter to a mutual closure.
Yours sincerely,
Citizen Agba Jalingo.

Amawu Cletus Albert Amawu

I'm a Journalist, Host/Producer of The Verdict, your voice of conscience on FAD FM 93.1, Calabar, Public Affairs Commentator, Social Change Agent.

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