CROSS RIVER STATE LEADERSHIFT 2019:
BEING THE FULL TEXT OF THE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY JOHN UPAN ODEY IN HIS DECLARATION FOR GOVERNORSHIP IN OBUDU YESTERDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2018.
Ladies and Gentleman, Fellow Progressives,
My father Ukandi John Upan Odey described himself as a child of providence. I consider myself the grandchild; My father was left to a foster mother in infancy and sickly as a child but by divine grace was privileged as one of our first scholars, parliamentarian, educationist and public servant not as a result of being better than others but by being presented with an opportunity to achieve a destined path.
I view politics as a calling and have had my own appointments with faith. I was fatherless as a ten year old child, raised by my mother, Christiana, amongst other young kids. I have seen the face of adversity and yet God has blessed me the sight of opportunity which is also a major lacking incentive for our young people today.
I grew up here in Obudu and saw by my own eyes running taps, an effective Works Ministry to fix our roads and working phone lines , all of which seem as they never existed. I saw as a kid a thriving democratic culture where political parties competed on the credibility of their candidates and their acceptability rather than their inclination to violence and thuggrey.
Politics is an avenue to serve and this has been my fuel. I joined partisan politics in 2010 on the side of the left of center political party Action Congress of Nigeria and was criticized by many as going to the opposition when I could wait to be given something by the PDP.
My response was “I did not come to politics to be given something but to find something “ -I could give to politics and the nation. This is still the case and I consider myself a progressive through and through and my participation in politics is about problem solving.
In 2011 I was the candidate of the ACN for the House of Representatives election of the Obudu/Obanlikwu/bekwarra federal constituency and I gave my all in that race only to fall to the pervading singularity that the Peoples democratic Party and our political class had colluded to create.
Our politics is in evolution and it was no surprise when our party the All Progressives Congress was formed from a coalition of political parties and a little less of an expectation by many when this progressive political movement won the 2015 elections.
Much has happened since then as the nation grappled with many long festering challenges and I will not bore you here with those but to focus squarely on our subject Cross River state.
Cross River as the rest of the nation returned to civilian democratic rule in 1999 and have had successive administrations anchored on the platform of the PDP and the state has made huge investments by borrowing in tourism, Tinapa and rural infrastructure but the investments have not paid off in a capacity enhancement sense and we have a growing stock of unemployed young men and women while graduating more and more of them each year in a clear case of putting the cart before the horse.
We built Tinapa without creating the enablers like legislation to make the covering area duty free, the dredging of the Calabar channel or the expansion of the Calabar airport tarmac to take commercial cargo planes and the quantum of goods that was to create Africa’s Dubai never came.
We invested in the Calabar Carnival taking a Siamese copy from the Trinidad & Tobago carnival and created a world class street party and just when we were to make this lofty idea a self funded commercial entity, we dragged the state’s resources back to funding it year in year out as a political show rather than an international cultural event showcasing who we are as its theme.
The carnival needs to entertain but more it needs to earn us money all year round. Under the PDP we lost our oil wells to Akwa Ibom State and ceded Bakassi to Cameroun and till this day it is heart breaking where our citizens from that LGA are and palliatives meant for them are perennially pillaged by people of power.
Cross River is blessed by lush vegetation and the future of our state lies in agriculture, commercial agriculture. We need to invest in commercial size farming , ranching, dairy products and fishing by creating the right environment for investors to come to us and not by traveling the world signing MOU’s when all investors want is a business friendly state.
We need to rid ourselves of stifling regulation and multiple taxation to woo business to our state. The key measure is the ease of doing business and we need to make government fall in line with modern realities. We need to encourage enterprise and roll back on patronage. We need to reward hard work and ingenuity.
The way forward in government investments lies in something the PDP does not like-continuity. We need to make Tinapa work. We need to engage the business world and the government of Nigeria to provide this massive investment with the legs to run.
We need to open the opportunities in tourism of the Obudu Ranch resort, Agbokim Waterfalls, Qua Falls and others. We can no longer afford to litter the state with white elephant projects to enable us pay attention to what matters most, the Human Development Index.
We can not run a modern state without world class education. We are one of the states with good primary school enrolment of both boys and girls but we must now improve the conditions under which they learn.
We need to build and support existing learning points including libraries and off curriculum skill acquisition for our young people and open to them opportunities being offered by the world for first class learning in Information Technology, business and research.
The world is stepping into its fourth industrial revolution which is to be driven by artificial intelligence and the Federal Allocation system is running towards its end, driven by the agitations for restructuring of the federation and burgeoning alternate energy sources, less and less money will be on the table for sharing.
We need to pay more attention into Internally Generated Revenue. Outside agriculture and tourism we need to create manifest support for mineral mining, cottage industry and entertainment to drive up revenues in a sustainable fashion.
We cannot do the same thing over and again and expect a different result and we therefore need to change our posture on leadership. We need a LeaderShift, a new tribe of Cross Riverian’s who truly believe in working for the realization of the potential that lies within our state.
People who will not lord over their country men but serve them; people who will not consider a leadership position as an end but the beginning of a new end; the prosperity of all. We need a leader who does not know it all but knows that by consulting all we can achieve all of what we desire.
I come into this race not as one from the North, Central or South of Cross River but one from the GOOD Cross River.
I come for us, our children and our children’s children. I come into this race as a progressive who is open to new things for growth. I come as one who is willing to sacrifice and stress soul now for the betterment of tomorrow. I come into this race not as the oldest or most experienced politician but I come into this race from the heart and my authenticity and vision complemented by your support will open a new door of prosperity for Cross River.I HAVE COME TO SERVE.
God bless Cross River State!
John Upan Odey Jnr