by crossriverwatch admin
The banquet hall of the Transcorp Hotels Calabar witnessed a different kind of gathering on August 13, 2014.
It was midweek, and the gathering which started converging as early as 9.30 a. m. was at the instance of the Conference of Cross River State Professionals, a body formed by a group of professionals of Cross River State extraction.
The aims and objectives of the group are among others, is to create a new consciousness in the people of the state; educate them on their right to good life and make them understand that the power to effect change in their environment resides with them.
With the initiator and most of the members based in Lagos, the Conference of Cross River State Professionals is still seen with skepticism by many.
On this day in question, the CCRSP did everything, humanly possible, to clear any doubts in the minds of the indigenes as regards what it stands for by organizing a one day summit with the theme: Sustainable Development and Growth of Cross River State.
Convener of the CCRSP, Effiong Nyong, an ex-athlete and a Lagos-based media practitioner was evidently happy that the event which, according to him, “is a big step in the right direction,” ended well with over three hundred participants, cutting across the entire social strata in attendance.
Three papers were presented and so much was discussed and lots of ideas exchanged among participants on how to make Cross River State a better place.
The first paper titled “The role of the electorate in determining the political climate in a democracy,” was presented by Professor Zana Akpagu, Dean of Arts, University of Calabar and a former Commissioner of Education in the State exhaustively discussed the importance of educating the electorate on the importance of participating in the process for change.
“The electorate must register to vote; ensure they exercise their civic duty to vote at elections and should, as a necessity, endeavor to acquaint themselves with each political party’s manifesto.
“Acquainting itself with a candidate’s manifesto will help the electorate to take an informed decision on which candidate to vote for, especially when you have a plethora of aspirants,” Akpagu said.
The university Don also tasked the electorate to ensure they vote according to their conscience, must insist their votes count, must not accept bribe and must participate on voter education programs.
Above all, Dr. Akpagu insisted that the electorate must not allow themselves be used in perpetrating election malpractices and should willingly give evidence in court against electoral criminals.
The timeliness of the presentation was underscored by some participants who insisted that the State Independent Election Commission be sent copies of the communique.
The second presentation by Honorable Patrick Antigha Ene, a former deputy Speaker in the State House of Assembly, centered on “Current state of insecurity in the country and the dangers it portends for our tourism-based economy and the implications of boundary delineation of Cross River State on the lives of our people”.
Antigha Ene went down memory lane, recalled with chagrin the International Court of Justice(ICJ) judgment of October 12, 2002, and said it was “the deep price Cross River State paid to sustain the fragile peace between Nigeria and Cameroon.”
He observed that “the judgment and the severance of the Bakassi Peninsula dealt a devastating and deadly blow on the social and economic life of the people of Cross River State. Not only had the state lost her land and water resources, her oil resources, the tourism potentials that were possibilities within the 1000km body of water contiguous to land and its’ archipelago of islands were lost.”
The state has become the butt of a perennial victim of legal paradigms. “As if the loss of territory and resources (both human and natural) were not enough, a landmark judgment by the Supreme Court of Nigeria stripped the state of whatever revenue that was accruable to her from crude oil activities within her coastal purview.
With a reduced source of revenue, the state’s tourism-based economy is in jeopardy as government now struggles to even pay salaries. Every aspect of development, including tourism, is witnessing a lull as a result of the state of the economy.
But the presenter sees hope in the state after all. “I see a silver-lining and I am profoundly consoled and relieved by the words of our Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke who when faced with the dire realities of the state’s economy declared thus, “there is life after crude oil.”
The state can overcome this through Foreign Direct Investments, tourism and above all, human capital development.
The third paper on child and drug abuse and the threat it posed to human capital development in Cross River State was presented by Mrs. Josephine Chukwuma, a civil rights activist based in Lagos.
She said with a population dominated by youths, “the danger will be enormous in our bid to become a productive population. A drug addict cannot think right or be productive. It affects human capital development,” she said.
“It was a well timed program,” Julius Olom a Lagos-based insurance practitioner said, adding that the state government did not show concern for the summit as it did not send any representative. “It is not good enough.”
The event ended with participants praising the organizers and advising the state government to embrace the ideals the Conference of Cross River State Professionals stand for.
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