by crossriverwatch admin
As someone who has followed political permutations in this country, I do not accept holistically that the biggest factor working against Cross River in the summit of states in Abuja is our low voter strength.
Rather, I will argue that part of our greatest undoing has been our inability to produce charismatic politicians as governors who are strong enough to enact the requisite impact and influence among their inter peres in Abuja to enable the state get its just dues.
The last eight years have seen the lowest in this influence game. If the state ever had any, it was eroded under governor Imoke.
It is common knowledge that in this country, when the council of state meets, there are some governors that if they have not arrived, the meeting can wait for a few more moments, Mr. President will not emerge from his chamber. There are some governors, out of the 36 that Mr. President calls by their first names and there are those he addresses by their state e.g. hmmmm…Governor Anambra, Governor Ebonyi, Governor Cross River etc. There are governors that their colleague governors bow to greet not because of age but because they know the influence they wield.
You may wonder what this has got to do with our fortunes as a state but in this kind of feeding bottle federalism that Nigeria practices, where the boys are all waiting for ‘chairman’ to dispense the goodies, it is factors like the ones I have just talked about that usually determine who gets what in most circumstances. Those who understand the inner workings of this country and the intrigues of Aso Rock will confirm my assertion.
It is also part of the reason why Cross River lost Bakassi, It was because of this same feeding bottle politics that made us loose 76 oil wells, it is still part of the reason Cameroon is daring to encroach further and further even into the Central and Northern senatorial districts of the state to grab more land. Who is that charismatic enigma, armed with political power to rise and take our course?
As 2015 draws closer, we must make haste to shift the argument from who the establishment wants, from who the governor wants to replace him, to looking for someone who has all it takes to stand in the gap and be counted. Not someone who will go to Abuja and bow for other governors. Someone who really possess the competence, exposure, connections and parameters 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 2013 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 with Imoke saying that figure has moved to N1billion.
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 was applied. The result outlined 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 who some king makers or the governor wants as his replacement.
Regardless of the denials, the governor’s team has already opened the New Agenda Group office along Marian Road in Calabar to begin campaign activities for Barrister Legor Idagbo, the anointed candidate of the Cross River kingmakers. The group is headed by a retired Major General, Obi and administered online by Hon. John Gaul Lebo, member representing Abi State Constituency in the State House of Assembly.
Legor no doubt is a very brilliant young man who has risen so sharply to the top of the Cross River political matrix. It could not have been for nothing that he rose so quickly from being a first time local government chairman to be appointed Commissioner for Works. It sure must have been by tint of hard work and commitment to party ideals.
Good as that may sound, the task of being a governor, particularly in a near financially distressed state like Cross River, the depth of strength, experience, exposure and connections required to successfully steer the ship of state transcends the experience garnered from merely being the chairman of a back water LGA like Bekwara and being appointed from there as Commissioner in Calabar and having the opportunity to travel to London and America a couple of times.
You cannot juxtapose that with the depth of another man who has spent over thirty years rising through the most critical phases of the civil service to the top echelon of one of the most complex organizations in this country, the NNPC. A man who is not only a Prince of the finest breed but who has also within the period built several successful relationships, connections and businesses across the four corners of the country and the international community.
Mr. President only recently recognized his service to the nation and deservedly accorded him Nigeria’s fifth biggest honor, Officer of the Federal Republic, OFR. I am talking about Mr. Goddy Jedy Agba.
Beside every successful governor will also be a successful and experienced first lady. The young and adorable wife of the Works Commissioner, Mrs. Sandra Idagbo, a pilot still full of dreams and ambitions for the sky should also not be dragged into the political turf at a time when she is just beginning her career as a pilot. The time is certainly not ripe.
In the contrast, beside Jedy Agba is Beatrice Jedy Agba, the Executive Director of National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons, NAPTIP. Beatrice is also a grounded civil servant who rose through the ranks of the civil service to attain her present enviable position. Her passion and energy in challenging and facing dangerous trafficking cartels have endangered her life several times yet she remains undaunted.
In global recognition of her work and commitment, the USA gave her an award as the Hero of Trafficking in Persons 2014. The award was presented to her in Franklin Hall, at the US State Department recently by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry.
How about having her as the State’s next first lady?
I think sincerely that it is this pair that will serve the best interest of the state at this critical moment. A pair that will wield the kind of influence that will permeate the fortunes of our State.
The mere fact that those who are battling with him cannot summon courage to declare their intention by itself is a big question mark on the capacity of those aspirants to be able to fight the course of the state in the face of intimidation like this one that has cowed them.
For the people of Cross River state, it is a lucid statement that we must read clearly. We must not miss this opportunity. An opportunity to elect a governor/first lady that will command the respect of his colleagues, a governor/first lady who will be able to negotiate the fair share for our state. A governor/first lady that will be called by their first names, a governor/first lady that will draw on their contacts and connections to bring to bear on the fortunes of our state.
God bless Cross River State
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