C'River 2019 : Is the Calabar-Ogoja Accord Still Relevant?

By Okoi Obono-obla

One of the topics of discussions as the election to elect the Governor of Cross River State of Nigeria draws near is the rotation of the office of the Governor of the State. Proponents of rotation largely based or premised their argument on the fact that since former Governors, Donald Duke (1999-2007) and Liyel Imoke (2007-2015) from the Cross River Southern Senatorial District and Cross River Central Senatorial District respectively did eight years each in office as Governor; then somebody from Cross River Northern Senatorial District must equally do eight years in office. It is noted that the current Governor, Ben Ayade is from the Cross River Northern Senatorial District.

Yet another School of thought (proponent) of rotation premise it supports rotation or zoning on the so-called Calabar-Ogoja Accord 1980. The kernel of my writing will specifically be based on the Calabar Ogoja Accord and whether or not it is relevant in view of the present constitutional order and reality in the State.

The Calabar Ogoja Accord was a document drawn up in 1980 by the leaders of the Creation of the New Cross River State Movement. The signatories in the document were as follows thus:
Signatories representing Ogoja in the document include:

Chief (Dr Okoi Arikpo)
Senator (Dr) Joseph Wayas
Chief Matthew T. Mbu
Chief I. I. Murphy
Dr Peter Ogbang
Hon. C. O. Agbor
Mr C.O. Tawo
Hon. Ekok Ojogu
Hon. D.J. Ogar
Chief Joseph A. Agba
Hon. L.O Okoi
Hon. Timothy Omang
Mr C. I.Onah 

Those who were signatories in the document representing Calabar include thus:
Senator Joseph O. Ansa
Chief (Dr) Bassey James Ikpeme
Chief Frank N. Inok
Chief Ita Ekanem Ita
Mr U.B. Ugot
Chief Etim Ernest Bassey
Chief Gershom H. Bassey
Chief John Henry Bassey
Hon. Effiom Ita Effiom
Chief Anthony A. Ani
Hon. Ita A. Bassey
Hon. (Chief)  Effiong Asikpo Okon
Mr Archibong Omon

In 1980 there was no Cross River State as presently geographically, territorially and politically constituted. In 1980, we had the old Cross River State (created as Southern Eastern State on the 27th May 1967 from the old Eastern Region of Nigeria but the name was changed from South Eastern State to Cross River State on the 16 February 1976 by the Federal Military Government headed by late General Murtala Ramat Mohammed).

The old Cross River State comprised the present Cross River State and Akwa Ibom State.

So, when the Calabar Ogoja Accord was drawn up, the constitutional order prevailing in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979 (that came into force on the 1st October 1979).

Under the 1979 Constitution, every State of the Federation had five senatorial districts. Section 44 of the 1979 Constitution provide thus: Subject to the provisions of Chapter VIII and other provisions of this Constitution the Senate shall consist of 5 Senators from each State.

Accordingly, the then Cross River State had the following senatorial districts namely Calabar, Ogoja, Ikot Ekpene, Uyo and Eket Senatorial districts.

Evidentially, the Calabar Ogoja Accord was an accord between the Calabar and Ogoja senatorial districts of the then Cross River State (as the name implied).

It was essentially an agreement between the leaders of the Calabar and Ogoja people that were then clamouring or agitating for the creation of a new Cross River State out of the old Cross River State.

The then Calabar senatorial district was composed of Calabar municipality, Odukpani, and Akamkpa Local Government Areas. Whereas, the then Ogoja Senatorial district was made up of Obubra, Obudu, Ikom and Ogoja Local Government Areas.

It follows that the Calabar Ogoja Accord contemplated only then Calabar Ogoja Senatorial districts and their constituents local Government Areas.

The Accord obviously never contemplated a Cross River State with the present Southern, Central and Northern Senatorial districts deriving its legitimacy from the provisions of Section 48 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

I, therefore, submit that Calabar Ogoja Accord is no longer relevant for the purpose of deciding which part of the present Cross River State the position of Governor should be zoned to. The Accord is a historical relic or even an anachronism that must be consigned to the dust bin of history. It is out of tune or sync with the contemporary political, legal and constitutional reality of the Cross River State nay Nigeria.

It is clear that those who rely on the Calabar Ogoja Accor to support their proposition that the position of Governorship of Cross River State should be zoned based on the present three senatorial districts (South, Central and North) have a weak and indeed unconvincing argument. 

I will reproduce verbatim the whole Calabar Ogoja Accord 1980 so those readers will read and appreciate the document to enable them to judge for themselves whether or not it is still relevant to contemporary times.



1. We, undersigned Representatives of the peoples of the calabar and ogoja senatorial Districts in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, do hereby agree to constitute our people into a separate State within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The new state shall be named after the dominant geographical feature of the area, namely THE CROSS RIVER and shall be called the CROSS RIVER STATE .the name of the new state may not be changed except by the overwhelming consent of the people of calabar and ogoja senatorial Districts expressed at a plebiscite.

2. The area comprising the new state shall be:

(a).calabar senatorial District, calabar municipality, odukpani and Akamkpa Local Government Area as at present constituted;

(b). ogoja senatorial District obubra, ikom, ogoja and obudu Local Government Area as at present constituted.

3. The capital of the state shall be called CALABAR.

4. THE CROSS RIVER STATE shall be administered on the basis of strict equality as between the two senatorial Districts on the basis of equity and good conscience as between all the component communities of the state. These principles shall be expressed in the conduct of the affairs of the state, especially in the provision of social amenities and appointments to policy-making bodies and Government agencies.

5. In the distribution of key political posts the principle of rotation shall apply in addition to strict equality. The following combination of public offices shall   be held at one and the same time by persons of the same senatorial District viz:

a. Governor and Deputy Governor;
b. Governor and secretary to Government;

c. Deputy Governor and head of service;

d. Chairman of the civil service commission and head of civil service;
e. Chief judge and speaker of the House;

f. Chairman of Local Government service commission and Chairman of Electoral Commission;

g. Chairman of Teaching Service Commission and Chairman of Civil Service Commission.


a. Governor

Consideration will be as stipulated in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. A very special note has to be taken of the fact of the principle of rotation, whereby any community/senatorial District shall not produce a governor twice in succession. Where any senatorial District produces a Governor, in the first instance, it will fall on the other senatorial District to produce a governor during the next run.

b. Deputy Governor

The Deputy Governor and the Governor shall not come from the same senatorial District. All other provision will be as contained in the Nigerian Constitution 1979.


The state shall have an executive council, the members of which shall be drawn equally from the two senatorial Districts with the proviso that each area shall take care that the interests of all its constituents are adequately represented.


The conventional Civil Service structure for the state will be established with the Head of Service as its head. The incumbent of this office shall be an indigene of the state.


The composition and functions shall be as prescribed in the Nigerian constitution 1979.


As contained in the constitution of Nigeria 1979.


To conform with the provisions of the constitution of Nigeria 1979.


To conform with the provision of the Nigerian constitution 1979.


The Local Government structure shall reflect equal distribution of units between the two senatorial Districts whilst the functions will be as prescribed in the Nigerian constitution 1979.


There shall be a state Local Government service Board comprising equal representation from each of the two senatorial Districts. The Board shall be responsible for all matters of appointments, postings, promotions and discipline of all local government staff.


The chairmanship and membership of the state Boards, corporations and companies shall reflect equal representation of the two senatorial Districts. Care shall be taken to ensure the representation of the various sections within each Senatorial District.


1. The State shall concentrate on the expansion and improvement of primary and secondary technical education as a first priority.

2. Without prejudice to the establishment of State School Board for the maintenance of standards and discipline in schools, voluntary agency schools may be allowed to exist side by side with state owned institutions. The School Board shall act in an advisory capacity between the State Ministry of Education and the voluntary agencies.

3. The State shall award scholarships at all three levels: primary, post primary and post-secondary to deserving indigenous candidates provided that the quota system shall be maintained on Local Government basis. Where an area falls short of its quota for higher wards, it shall be compensated with an increase of lower wards representing the value of its unfilled quota. The General policy of spreading allocations to all sections of each senatorial District shall apply, until education becomes free at all levels.


There shall be a policy of even distribution of development projects in the entire state without prejudice to the siting of industries where they are considered to be most economical.

18. INTRA-GROUP agreement

1. As a necessary corollary of this agreement the concept of Senatorial District equality and even development shall also be applied in the relation of the various clans/ethnic groups within each of the two Senatorial Districts.

2. The various group interests concerned are expected to work out the basis of association of their respective Districts. The government of the proposed Cross River State shall identify and recognise these groups for the purpose of implementing this policy of equality and even development.


The above articles of association are subject to review provided always that no proposal for amendment shall take effect unless fully discussed and adopted by the two parties to this agreement.

Dated at Calabar this 26th day of July 1980

                 Representing Calabar
1. _____________

Senator Joseph O. Ansa
2. _____________

Chief (Dr) Bassey James Ikpeme
3. _____________

Chief Frank N. Inok
4. _____________

Chief Ita Ekanem-Ita
5. _____________

Mr U. B. Ugot
6. _____________

Chief Ernest Etim-Bassey
7. _____________

Chief Gershom H. Bassey
8. _____________

Chief John Henry Bassey
9. _____________

Hon. Effiom Ita Effiom
10. _____________

Chief Anthony A. Ani
11. _____________

Hon Nsa A. Bassey
12. _____________

Hon. (Chief) Effiong Asikpo Okon
13. _____________

Mr Archibong Omon

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