by crossriverwatch admin
Barrister Tanko Ashang, Legal Adviser to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has his eyes on the governorship position of Cross River State in 2015. In this interview with, Bassey Inyang, he spoke on this and other issues.
Why do you want to run for the governorship of Cross River State in 2015?
It is commendable that many more people are interested in running for the position of governor in our state. It is commendable for the present administration that they have made governance attractive for people to want to seek office. If people didn’t show interest it would have been a testimony that the administration had not done well, and made government not attractive. I commend everybody who feels able to run the state. It is a very difficult decision to make. If somebody had asked me to run for the governorship, by now, I would have opted out. I asked myself to run because I saw myself in the mirror and I was convinced I could stand the heat and still come out of that heat smelling like a rose. Governance is more like being in the kitchen. Those who are working with government now would understand that; sometimes, tough decisions that come out from nowhere and you have to make them or destroy the whole administration. So, I looked at myself and I am satisfied that I can stay in that kitchen and cook the food well and come out still smelling like a rose. So, by that extension I commend those who have stepped out to come and offer their services. Governance is not easy, let us get that straight. We are a bundle of complicated people with various aspirations. As governor you have to be able to give leadership without shutting down very excellent voices on the table. It is a very difficult complicated task, so governance is not easy. That is why I seek your cooperation to say yes, people would show interest including me, but anybody who is not worth this office should be told in clear language that the state cannot be used for political experiment. Whether we like it or not, the last two administrations have raised the ante in governance. These two administrations have created a large pool of capacity and now Cross River is no longer that small state. It is now a state with personalities. Governance is a continuous process. From time immemorial. People have contributed their lot and moved on. As we march forward the desires of everyone is that we would be better off. Everybody needs progression and change. So, whether you find yourself aspiring or not, whether as individuals or professionals in your offices, you want some progress in this state. If there is prosperity, there would be few people knocking on your door for one help or the other. Those who know me would tell you I am a very humble person. I am from Obanliku, a small Local Government Area. Naturally, to seek the top office of government is mind-boggling, to say the least, but nevertheless we feel the need to offer our services. I come from here, as I said, and naturally if God has blessed me and I feel able to offer myself to serve, I feel it is a thing I need to share comfortably with the people I meet. Cross River is our state and it must continue to strive. The efforts of the last two administrations have essentially put the state on a very high pedestal, but much more needs to be done. It is work in progress, but we need to put in our efforts to ensure much more is done.
Besides your personal desire, what are those things you consider peculiar about the state that must have fuelled your interest to contribute your own quota from the topmost position in the state?
People take the advantages of Cross River State for granted. First, our advantage is our land; our fertile land, our people too. We have educated people and people are tempted to think it is a civil service state. I think it is an area of advantage. The middle class is blossoming people with a lot of skill and capacities that need to be properly placed to take full advantage of the people. Those are the areas we should start; we have to exploit them fully and confidently. As you will observe, I grew up in even worse conditions than some of you, maybe, passed through. I have positioned myself constantly to seek greater heights and I have excelled with singleness of purpose and determination to succeed. These are the things that drive me always. I tell people that it was easy for Donald and Liyel to come and run the state because they had name recognition. For the rest of us coming now with little name recognition, the first task is to get people to recognize you enough for them to want you to lead. By the time we get to 2015, we will have developed people with much more capacities coming to rule. Donald inherited people who knew very little, Liyel inherited people who knew much better and the next person is going to inherit people who know so much, and the challenge of steering the ship would be really challenging.
What do you have to say to the widely held view that it is increasingly becoming impossible for straightforward people to have the opportunity to be elected to serve, due to corruption in the country?
We are corrupt because we are intimidated by names and personality types. We are intimidated by cash and affluence, everything else takes us away. If few of us here, even by mere declaration of faith, say we stand on one thing it would come true. For those of us who read the Bible, how many people did it take to save a city when Abraham was begging God? So, if by faith we declare that we are ready to save our states, we can do that. But, more often than not, we don’t want to do that, we don’t feel inclined to do that because everybody would say I have my own personal challenges. ‘This guy Tanko, he just came from Abuja and he has eaten well and he is full and he has come here to talk to us, we don’t want to listen to that, we have been suffering and having our problems.’ If you have a government you don’t own, there is usually a problem. It is difficult to reach a government you don’t own in terms of participation. Governing is different from campaigning. Governing is our challenge, campaigning is not. Governing is day by day coalition building. If I put nice posters, nice speeches, nice clips, I can win an election. In Nigeria, if you have a lot of money you can win an election. But guess what, giving delegates N1m would not give us the prosperity we are seeking. When you finish buying the delegates and you win, then you have to govern. Recently, somebody made a comment and said we are very poor and that is why we are peaceful. I hate comments like that. We are really not poor. Poverty is an index not used just because of cash. We are very happy. Everybody has his own capabilities and that is what the next governor should realise. I am not going to be the security man at my gate. My security man is the most important person for me here, but he does not own this big house. He just stays at the gate and rolls it open and close, but he is very important. We get so carried away by the serious things, we forget about the small things.
Culled from Daily Independent
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