CrossRiverWatch And The Development Of Cross River State: 2 Years After BY JEREMIAH ARCHIBONG

In Breaking News, Columnists, Opinion

by crossriverwatch admin

Attendees at the CrossRiverWatch 2nd Anniversary Lecture at Transcorp Hotel, Calabar recently
Attendees at the CrossRiverWatch 2nd Anniversary Lecture at Transcorp Hotel, Calabar recently

Over 24 months ago, an ambitious, energetic and media infused minded young Cross Riverian of Obudu Local Government extraction, burning with the irrepressible passion to tackle the problem of information gap and poor reportage which Cross River State was suffering from, stepped out boldly and successfully put to birth the online portal, www.crossriverwatch.com

In spite of the difficulties, he patiently nurtured the baby called CrossRiverWatch as a mother will her child, and in two years raised it from obscurity to a position of respect and love of the people and dread/envy of wrong doers in our state.

That young Nigerian and the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch is the crack, versatile, fearless investigative journalist and an unrepentant activist, Mr. Agba Jalingo.

That laudable vision of placing Cross River State among the most read in terms of factual, in-depth, unbiased news reports has been transformed into concrete reality.

In August 27, 2013, if anybody had thought that the first year anniversary was going to be the first and the last for the budding online magazine, the person or persons might have underrated the power that flows from the fruit of a sincere and a determined mind or that such persons were/are persons of low intellectual acumen, demented or both.

It was based on this concrete successes recorded by the first Cross River online medium that on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, Cross Riverians and other Nigerians residing within and outside the state, all thronged the Prestigious Transcorp Metropolitan Hotel, Calabar to be part of the CrossRiverWatch 2nd year Anniversary, Lecture/Launching of CRWATCH/ ACRIYOF Entrepreneurship Grant.

Every seat in the Diamond Halls and bars of the Hotel was occupied with hundreds of others without seats but joyfully standing and clapping intermittently to the power of presentation of the erudite guest lecturer, and Professor of International Law and Jurisprudence, University of Lagos, Professor Akin Oyebode, and other speakers who commented on the lecture topic which hinged on the vexed issue of Bakassi Peninsula.

If those who connived with the imperialists and the hegemonic West to cede Bakassi to Cameroon had thought that Nigerians will forget the matter in months and even forgive them, then they had deceived and told themselves a lie, as the greatest tragedy that can happen to people is when they decides to tell themselves a lie.

The event was attended by the Chairman of the occasion, and Chairman, Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw, who was represented at the occasion by a Professor of Geology, Professor Eyo Etim Nyong, the guest lecturer, Professor Akin Oyebode, the leader of Efut Nation, Muri Effiong Okokon Mbukpa Eta Odiongnka Ebuka VII, The Director-General, Cross River State Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA), Mr. Ignatius Atsu, representative of the Akwa Ibom state Commissioner for Information, the State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ), Pastor Ndoma Akpet, representatives of NGOs, CBOs, other online publishers , actors/actresses and beauty pageants among others.

The guest lecturer, and the erudite professor of International Law and Jurisprudence, University of Lagos, held guests spelt-bond for more than two hours as he took the audience through the European countries scramble for Africa and partitioning of the continent according to their economic interest, the 1884-5 Berlin Conference, the Anglo-German Treaty of 1913 upon which the Cameroon based its sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsula and the basis of the ICJ Judgment, the Nigerian Government shameful and unacceptable diplomatic and legal blunders throughout the period and ten years after when it had the opportunity to appeal the matter, the suffering of the Bakassi people who are dislocated and disconnected from their ancestral homes, and the three possible outlets Nigeria can take out of the woods to restore its global pride/image which Cameroon had seriously battered.

The lecture topic: “Bakassi: Footprints of Democracy Without a Human Face”, deals with and explained the artificiality of the Africa’s boundaries, placing Africa with 106 boundaries as the continent with the highest numbers of boundary lines in the world.

He disclosed that Nigeria allowed herself to be outwitted and outmaneuver by the Cameroon and that Nigeria refused to make use of the services of her citizens who were/are experts and are vast in the complex field of International Law and Diplomacy, and whole gamut of International Politics.

The Professor of International Law and Jurisprudence for more than 40 years explained that Nigeria’s taking of commitment to abide by the decision of the court before the Judgment was delivered, Nigeria’s acceptance of the court presided by a French national, Obasanjo’s signing of the Green Tree Agreement and subsequent transfer the oil rich peninsula to Cameroon in violation of the nation’s Constitution and without the consent of the Nigerian people, government officials constant songs of “there was no need crying over spilt milk”, among other disgraceful blunders all combined to cause the country to loss the Bakassi case.

Professor Oyebode disclosed that Nigeria still have three options to chose from to reclaim Bakassi, which include the “Nigerian government might just accept the fait accompli of the loss of the territory forever and urge Nigerians to cease and desist from bemoaning the loss and move on with their lives. Second, the government can make a monetary offer to Cameroon in a bid to re-purchase the Peninsula, a situation that is not without precedence in history. Finally, Nigeria can embark on the unthinkable in order to recover its lost territory, that is to say, go to war”, but warned however that all the options entails cost and consequences.

On his part, the Chairman, Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw, referred to the ceding of Bakassi as blatant and illegal and that the fight for Bakassi is not belated “because Bakassi continues to stick out like a sore thumb in the conscience of Nigerians and the agitation for righting the wrong that has been done remains undying”.

He stressed that the impunity which attended the ceding of Bakassi must be redressed and wondered that the same members of the International Community which aided in the injustice against the Bakassi people are the ones currently dropping bombs in some regions of the world in defense of democracy.

Senator Henshaw warned that Bakassi was a time bomb ticking away, and that if this generation refuses to defuse the tension by doing what is right and let the consequences follow by restoring the rights of the Bakassi people to them, the coming generation may do so but in an unpalatable manner.

While contributing, the representative of the chairman of the occasion, Professor Eyo Etim Nyong, was of the opinion that from every indications, since Cameroon interest in Bakassi was/is on economic basis, in addition to the suggestions by the guest lecturer, Nigeria should explore the avenue of Cameroon and Nigeria having a joint exploration zone to exploit the resources of the area and share on percentages to be agreed upon; in the alternative, set up an asset evaluation on Bakassi that will lead to a statutory payment of compensation to Cross River in perpetuity for the ceding of the territory to Cameroon.

Contributing to the lecture delivered by Professor Akin Oyebode, Hon Cletus Obun, a former member of the Cross River State House of Assembly and chieftain of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC in the state, gave vein to the facts raised by the lecturer and that of the chairman of the occasion and said that it is because Nigeria as a nation has consistently shown a very large appetite for looking down on the southern minorities, especially of former Eastern region and ceding their territories without any regards to the feelings of the people, especially the ceding of Bakassi that has emboldened Cameroon to extend its greedy quest for territorial expansion to the hinter-lands such as Boki, leading to the recent attempted effort to take more than 9.6km from the border of Nigerian land to Cameroon.

He warned that if that is allowed to happen, a large part of Cross River will go, and stated however that since Cameroon has over the years demonstrated pathological hatred for the people of this area of both divide, and Nigeria has equally but shamelessly refused to protect these same people, the people were out to assert their fundamental human rights to self-determination, seeking to join forces with the people of southern Cameroon for the actualization of the Republic of Ambazonia.

The Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Cross River State Council, Pastor Ndoma Akpet who also represented the National Chairman of the NUJ, posited that the injustice meted out to Cross River State and the people of Bakassi in particular was monumental, coupled with the fact that after ceding Bakassi to Cameroon, the state was further victimized by taking away its 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom alleging that Cross River state was no longer a littoral state by the ICJ judgment of October 10, 2002.

The Paramount Ruler of the Efut Nation, Muri Effiong Mbukpa Eta Odiongnka Ebuka VII, said that the ceded Bakassi peninsula is owned by the Efut, Efiks and the Quas, and that the removal of the people from their ancestral home of many hundreds of years was/is an attack on the collective customs and traditional values of these people, their gods and the almighty God who gave them that land as their inheritance. “How do they expect these dislocated and disconnected people to worship their ancestral gods and perform such rituals from a strange land”? He queried.

The Publisher of CrossRiverWatch, organizers of the event, Mr. Agba Jalingo, told the mammoth audience that the journey for the past two years so far has been interesting, challenging and full of landmines planted by those who felt their ego had been bruised by the unbiased reportage of the online magazine, but thank God for giving him and the CrossRiverWatch team the grace so far to overcome these obstacles.

He said through CrossRiverWatch reportage, the culture of impunity in our body politics in the state has drastically reduced, just as Cross Riverians and other Nigerians interested in the affairs of the state now have access to information on the tip of their fingers and a platform to state their views in line with democratic tenet globally.

He added that it is a beautiful thing that within two years of its establishment, CrossRiverWatch, Cross Riverians in the Diaspora now have access to what is happening at home on daily basis, just as our people in the state now see internet beyond the business of face book, coupled with the fact that the rate of internet and ICT usage amongst our people has equally soar higher from the 17 percent when the online magazine came in to fill the huge information gap on the state.

CrossRiverWatch has also been able to collaborate with the “All Cross River Youth Forum (ACRIYOF) to register a Cooperative Society with the State ministry of social development and are now working with the Microfinance and Enterprise MEDA to establish a groundnut processing factory in Yala LGA in the northern part of the state.

According to Agba, the emergence and tenacity of the platform has also motivated eight other Cross Riverians to establish their own online portals to continue solidifying the foundation for a free press upon where our people can be liberated. Accordingly, the state now has calitown.com, calabarblogspot.com, celebmission.com, eaglevoice.com, yakurreporters.com, paradisevoice.com,undergroundwatch.com and the recent entrance to the group, mycrossriver.com.

CrossRiverWatch has also midwife the registration of the Association of Cross River Online Journalists (ACROJ) (www.acrojonline.org). An association that is expected to institute a peer review mechanism that will ensure ethics and professionalism in online journalism in the state as well as defend the interest and welfare of online journalists in Cross River State.

Within two years, the online magazine, CrossRiverWatch has garnered over 5.6 million visits, 366,923 monthly visits, peak of 42,000 visits on daily basis with 31,390 followers on Facebook and 483 followers on Twitter respectively.

In two years CrossRiverWatch has soared as an eagle in spite of the difficulties. It is based on this reality that Mr. Jalingo, in its 2nd Year Anniversary speech stated that “Even when we have had to take the jabs from those whose comfort zones we have allegedly invaded, we refused neither to be deterred nor to genuflect. Our courage is not because we think we are invincible, it is simply borne out of our clear conviction that this is a task we must do and that indeed, there is nothing that can stop an idea whose time has come”.

Indeed, CrossRiverWatch is an idea whose time has come and there is nothing any person can do about it because it is a shining light to liberate the people of Cross River State from years of political impunity, socio-economic, cultural and political backwardness and inferiority complex which all had their foundations rooted in the unbelievable information drought that had hitherto been the lot of Cross River.

CrossRiverWatch has come, CrossRiverWatch will certainly stay and do exploits for the good of all and not a few privileged politicians, but could happen only because some person had “the audacity to dare”.

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