Northern Cross River Governor or The Task Ahead by AGBA JALINGO

In Breaking News, Columnists, National News, Opinion, Politics

by crossriverwatch admin

Agba Jalingo
Agba Jalingo

Have you ever wondered why, though He could do it, God did not allow a woman to conceive and give birth the same day but must wait for nine months, and the elephant for eleven months?

If he so desired, God could have as well enabled the farmer to sow and reap the same day rather he choose to make everything a process. A very fervent lesson that, in life everything is a process!

Usually, this process begins from the intangible to the tangible. It is a synonym for route or progression or procedure. The procedure does not begin from the reverse. First things must be done first.

It is in this line of understanding that I have been ruminating on the heated debate about which Senatorial District in Cross River should produce the next governor of the state.

Pundits have argued and rightfully so too, that the northern senatorial district should produce the next governor of Cross River having been the only district yet to do that since the splitting of Akwa Ibom State from Cross River State in 1987.

There are also constitutional provisions on rotation of power and federal character which some others have also cited to support their argument in favor of the northern senatorial district producing the next governor of the state after Imoke.

My worry however is that, the whole argument sounds like I am going to have to walk to the polling booth the next election and give my vote to a candidate only because he/she is from northern Cross River. Is it that simplistic?

The last time Nigerians did that without asking more pertinent questions and voted in President Jonathan merely because he is from the South South, he did not have shoes, his region is the region laying the golden egg that sustains Nigeria, he has PhD and all that, it has not translated into good governance nearly four years after.

It may have satiated the psychological yearning of the people of the region and the avarice of political jobbers who have benefited one way or the other but on a general note, life has not become better even in the South South because a person from the region became president.

From a personal point of view, my village Bedia produced two chairmen for Obudu local government in succession (one elected and the other caretaker). In fact, both were first cousins from the same compound. Bedia, our village, did not in any way become better than other villages because of that. As a matter of fact, the only road to the village remained un-tarred until a few years ago when the Imoke administration tarred the road.

Presently, the person representing Obudu state constituency in the State House of Assembly is still from my village, Bedia. Yet the only secondary and primary schools in the village are the only ones that have been neglected in the ongoing renovation of schools in all other neighboring villages by the state government.

Now I repeat that this is my own experience and from this experience, I need more than just emotional arguments to convince me to give my precious vote to a candidate merely because he is from a particular part of the state.

For what I want is not just a governor from the north, I want a clear headed governor of the state who has a proper grasp of what the challenges on the ground are as well as a workable blue print to solving those problems.

That governor can come from any part of the state. If the person is able to clearly demonstrate his capacity to empower the youth to create wealth and help themselves, the last thing I will ask of is where he/she comes from.

As 2015 draws closer, we must make haste to shift the argument from which part of the state the governor should come from to looking for someone who can really present to us a blue print on how to translate our potentials to prosperity because our state in dare need of that person.

That man or woman that should take over from Imoke in 2015 must be an expert in public debt management because Cross River State is the third most-indebted state in the country (behind Lagos and Bayelsa) due to all the bonds and loans that successive governors have amassed.

In setting up tourism sites like Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort and upgrading the old Obudu Cattle Ranch into the modern and high-tech Obudu Mountain Resort complete with its international race competition track and cable cars, the government needed massive funds, and these funds had to be borrowed.

Payback time started way back and will continue well into many years in the future and after all deductions from our federal allocation at source every month, what our state takes home is barely enough to carter for the numerous challenges on the ground. This fact must be clearly understood by Cross Riverians in general and the next governor in particular.

According to a report released in March 2013 by the Debt Management Office DMO, our state along with six others failed the domestic debt sustainability analysis undertaken by the Federal Government agency.

According to the report, which the DMO board, headed by Vice President Namadi Sambo met in March to consider, the seven states’ domestic indebtedness relative to their IGR positions ranks high beyond the recommended international threshold of between 92 per cent and 167 per cent.

Indeed, the affected states, according to the report on Pages 26 and 27, were presented in pink color signifying the danger level of their indebtedness.

Cross River State, by end of 2011 had a domestic debt stock of N90.750 billion, relative to its IGR size of N16.553 billion.

The debt management agency said the state’s indebtedness ratio is 548 per cent far above the recommended threshold.

The DMO offered explanation on the solvency exercise relative to IGR: “Given the fact that sustainability or otherwise of domestic debts are by best practice to be measured against the own revenue of the borrower, an analysis of the domestic debts of the states to their IGR was also undertaken.

“For this, the Debt Relief International (DRI) solvency threshold of 92 per cent to 167 per cent is applied. The result as shown in the table below outlines the need for the sub-national governments to grow their IGRs to reduce excessive pressure on their statutory allocations in the running of their governments and free up resources for other developmental projects.”

How to get someone that will be able to make the best of our ineffable and munificent endowments to grow our IGR as recommended by the DMO to free the state from this obvious debt burden transcends where the person comes from.

The good news however, is that Cross River State has the potential to not only pay these huge debts, the state can also rise to create opportunities for her teeming youth.

The state is one of the most richly endowed agricultural lands in Nigeria.

Rubber and oil palm plantations generate export commodities. Forestry accounts for about 22.4 percent of the total land areas and forestry products rank next after agriculture.

The Melina plantation in Akamkpa used to supply the Nigerian Newsprint Manufacturing Company at Oku lboku in Akwa lbom State.

Plywood and other wood products are manufactured in Calabar using the rich timber from Cross River State forests.
A great variety of tropical woods are found in Cross River State including Brachystegia, Mitrogyna, Akwamini, Camwood, Iroko, Ebony, Mahogany, Rhizophora, Obeche, Opepe, Black Afara, et cetera.

The Cross River National Park, comprising the former Oban Forest Reserve and the Boshi Okwangwo Forest Reserves, is the largest rain forest conservation in Nigeria.

It was initiated by the WorldWide Fund for Nature in collaboration with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation.

The Oban sector contains the highest tropical biodiversity in Africa, with remarkable wildlife including the rare redheaded rock fowl, the golden Potto, red Colobus, the drill, needle-clawed Galago, Bate’s Pigmy Antelope, day Duiker, Ogilby’s Duiker and the rare olive Ibis.

In the Boshi-Okwangwo section is a high population of lowland gorillas and other endangered species including the drill and the chimpanzee.

The state also has great potential for marine fisheries and freshwater aquaculture. Because of the large rivers which drain areas with heavy rainfall where the rocks are deeply weathered, the rivers are nutrient laden with elements and dissolved salts, for diverse forms of aquatic life.

Indeed, these nutrients and vital elements support abundant shrimps, clams, periwinkle and fish in the lower courses of the rivers, and throughout the coastal swamps and shelf waters.

In mining and quarrying, Cross River State has great potentials. But so far, industrial minerals have dominated this sub sector.

But, by far the greatest natural asset in Cross River State is the availability of extensive and highly fertile soils spanning 20,156 square km.

Natural rubber, palm oil and kernel are already established plantation products, and the main raw material exports of the State.

Cocoa, soya beans, and food crops such as cassava, yam, rice, plantain, banana, and maize are produced in great abundance.

Already, the State is considering the feasibility of the following projects to utilize the locally available raw materials, glucose (maize); egg powder (eggs); yam flour (yam); fruit juice (mango, orange, cashew, pineapple); cocoa products (cocoa); and baking yeast (palm wine).

Industrial materials such as crushed rock, sand, gravel and limestone are already being produced from the state.
Cross River State holds the purest (97% CaCo3) and largest reserve of limestone in the country.

The Mfamosing lime stone deposit is quarried for the manufacture of cement by Unicem, and by the Cross River Limestones Ltd., for shipment to the Delta Steel rolling plant at Aladja, Warri, for use as a fluxing agent and for making hydrated lime.

Geologic exploration by the Geology Department of the University of Calabar uncovered limonite deposits in Obudu. Limonite is a titanium bearing mineral that is used in the manufacture of paint.

Other mineral deposits in Cross River State include 3 good quality kaolin, graphite, manganese, barytes, tin, marble, brines (up to 8.6 per cent NaCl) at Okpoma in Yala LGA and brines with lower salt concentrations in Ikom. Cross River brines offer the prospect for manufacturing chlorine and caustic soda.

They are the richest brines in the country, richer than the Uburu Okposi brines in Abia State, the Abakaliki brines and those of the Keana Awe area in Nassarawa State.

In the final analysis, it is someone who can demonstrate the capacity to translate all of these resources and many more to a better life for our people that I will vote for.

A pragmatic and charismatic politician that will strive and ensure the Calabar Wharf is dredged and will mobilize for the construction of a modern passenger and haulage speed rail from say Ogoja to the Calabar wharf to facilitate faster movement of goods and people between the north and south of the state will be my candidate.

Someone that won’t be a coward but will have the courage to call on the Federal Government to end the plight of the people of Bakassi who have been abandoned, a governor that will end the incessant inter communal and inter-state wars in Cross River central and north, a governor that will unleash our potentials!

If I find that person now or in 2015, the last thing I will ask for is –Which part of the state he/she comes from.

The views expressed in this article are views of the writer and do not in anyway represent the views of CrossRiverWatch

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2 commentsOn Northern Cross River Governor or The Task Ahead by AGBA JALINGO

  • collette winter arikpo

    Such will be my candidate also. A governor who will see to d plight of d people

  • Frank talk Jalingo. I agree with you in total. Who becomes governor in 2015 besides all you said must posses also the fear of God and willpower to change the age long
    order of reasoning that public office is an opportunity to amass wealth & enrich croonies, friends & family.

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