by crossriverwatch admin
With barely six months to the Governorship elections in Cross River state, we are faced with some of the greatest puzzles in our states’ political history. Too many questions with little or no answers.
We are faced with different types of aspirants ranging from those who claim they are anointed, to those who claim they are wealthier than the state, to those who claim they have the eyes and ears of Abuja king makers, and to those who claim they have an unholy pact entered 16 years ago as three wise men.
While their individual assertions may be legit, the question is, do they represent the interest of the people?
As a public and social commentator, my concern is on the consultations going on. Who matters in these consultations? Is it the local people or the Political godfathers?
What are the questions being asked during these consultations? Are the aspirants being asked the right questions or are they simply meeting with godfathers to inform them of their intent to run for office?
In separating the wheat from the chaffs, and in determining the aspirants that mean business from career political aspirants, these are some of the questions we expect they should be addressing with the locals:
When meeting with the local business community in Calabar, the people should ask the aspirants, what exactly is the true state of affairs in Tinapa? What do they understand by AMCON taking over Tinapa? How much was paid for the property? Has the banks been paid off? If yes, how much was remitted to the State? What is the plan of the new owner and what stakes if any do the people still have in the project?
B. ON LOCAL INCOME TAXES
Recently the states IRS sealed a local market and some businesses in Calabar. The local market women should be able to ask the aspirants their proposed perimeters for taxation. How do you determine taxable income? How do you tax a vegetable seller whose stock worth is less than three thousand naira and has children at home to feed and pay rents? In consulting with the local market woman, the aspirants should be able to explain their proposed tax plan.
The locals in Obudu/Bekwara and Obanliku should be able to get answers from the aspirants on how they plan to transform the Ranch and make it a commercial entity. For the past sixteen years, the ranch has been a liability to the government of Cross River State. Rather than making revenue to help improve the state’s meager income, the Ranch rather receives subsidies and tax breaks from the state.
The natives should ask the aspirants their proposed plan for the ranch if different from what has been obtained in the past sixteen years.
The locals in Ikom/Etung/Boki should ask the aspirants their proposed plan for the Cocoa plantations in their forest. The incumbent administration, as part of her commercialization drive had recently advertised the sale of these cocoa farms to the private sector. The cost of the application forms is in a non-refundable range of three hundred thousand Naira, a fee that 99% of the locals cannot afford.
We assume this exercise will not be completed by this regime because of some injunctions, we hope the next administration will complete the privatization process.
In this regard, the locals in these communities should ask the aspirants what their opinion is, on the privatization of their farmlands. As we are all aware, majority of Cocoa merchants in Nigeria are non Cross Riverians so it will imply that these merchants will ordinarily buy these farms. The locals should ask the aspirants what their fate will be if these farms are privatized.
Will the locals turn to tenants in their own traditional fatherlands? Or do the aspirants have any proposed plans to provide micro credit to the locals in these communities to become entrepreneurs and buy out these farms from the state? The people of this area should not consider voting for any aspirants who fail to address this critical concern.
The locals in Biase should ask the aspirants to explain what’s going on with Wilmer international farms. In November 2012, Governor Liyel Imoke confirmed the approval of 50,000 hectares of land belonging to three communities in Biase and Akamkpa Local Government Councils of the state to a Singaporean firm, Wilmer International Ltd, for palm oil farming. We were told the plantations will have the capacity to employ over 20, 000 persons, which is equivalent to the work force of the Cross River State government.
We were further told the investment will transform the communities to the top oil producers of oil palm in the country. Today, in a recent publication, we are made to understand Wilmer international intends to withdraw over four hundred million dollars proposed investment from the area due to disagreements and alleged certificate forgery by locals in employment.
The people should request answers and explanations from the aspirants as they tour their constituencies.
What are the proposed plan to attain the 20, 000 jobs as proposed? Why can’t the dispute between the locals and Singaporean firm be resolved? Can an investor pull out of contractual engagements because of local nonviolent disagreements?
What’s Cross River states dispute resolution strategy when it affects farmlands? The people should engage the aspirants with these questions; it will separate the real aspirants from political jobbers.
E. CALABAR-IKOM-OGOJA-OBUDU HIGHWAY:
The locals residing on these roads should demand direct answers from the aspirants. What is your plan to fix these roads. While we understand that these roads are federal roads, we also understand that contracts amounting to over 6 billion naira have been previously awarded to fix these roads, however, these roads are still a shadow of itself.
Aspirants should be made to answer yes or no. Are you willing to source for funds and fix these roads once and for all or will you spend another four years negotiating with federal government to make budget allocations for the road?
These roads are the live wire of our dear state. No amount of rural road construction would bring value to the states accessibility compared to these roads. Wilmer farms, Shanghai farms, Ugep Polytechnic, Obudu Ranch and Ikom Commercial City all depends on these roads. We cannot afford to overlook it. The aspirants should be able to provide a straight forward answer to these questions.
How to know the real aspirants:
Don’t be deceived by aspirants who spend the bulk of their day on telephones talking to godfathers and plotting how to highjack the primaries, if they do not come to your villages to discuss these pertinent issues, they have no plans for you.
Don’t be deceived by aspirants who have made Facebook their campaign headquarters hiding under aliases. If you vote them into office, they will remain Facebook Governors, making promises they cannot fulfil. If they don’t come to you to answer these questions, they have no plans for you.
Don’t be deceived by anointed candidates, if voted into office they will only come in to do the bidding of their master, if they don’t come to you to address these issues, they have no plan for you.
Among the aspirants who have so far shown interest in running for the office of Governor in Cross River State, look out for that aspirant who are politically savvy to bring together all the factions as one family and the economic pedigree to execute projects that align meaningfully to the benefits of the people.
In summarizing this piece, I will quote a response to one of my past articles by Mr. Missang Oyama, he writes “ I know some of them who should not even declare to be counsellors of their wards at Local Government Councils in some sane climes. These are career aspirants and political jobbers. Men who are bankrupt in principles, standards, credibility and integrity, with flawed character. This is not the time for amala politics in Cross River State. Integrity is a scarce commodity and we need men who have it to vie-to-rule-us.
Cross River State is in dire financial strait, therefore, the man who seeks to rule the state must hinged his aspiration on two prong pillars; a clear economic blueprint and unambiguous template for governance.
Successive administrations in the state from the inception of this fourth republic have shown that we have had men with short supply of these two indices ruling us.
Government is a social contract, so, anyone who is vying to take over the reins of governance in the state must show capacity to deliver. His prowess with respect to an in depth knowledge of our socio-political economy and how to take us out of the doldrums must not be in doubt”.
Fellow Cross Riverians, In this era of social media, Politics will not be business as usual. Don’t allow Abuja choose your next governor as it has been in the past. We will work against any imposition on the people.
Don’t support any aspirant who fails to come to your level to discuss these issues. We may have been ignorant in the past, but with the right decision at the polling booth, we shall see the bright of day.
Princewill Ojong Odidi is a United States of America based Project Consultant and Social Commentator. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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