“What office is there which involves more responsibility, which requires more qualifications, and which ought, therefore, to be more honourable than teaching?” – Harriet Martinaeu.
The facts are no longer in dispute that Cross River State stands at the vicissitude of this juncture and at the pinnacle of decision making. Granted that everybody is fully prepared to make a sound decision and individually, you alone have the choice and the final say, while having posterity in view in making up your mind. This is a solemn moment for the good people of Cross River State.
Like Winston Churchill, one of the greatest British Prime Ministers would put it, “Opportunity is here now, clear and shining for us all. To reject it or ignore it or fritter it away will bring upon us all the long reproaches of the aftertime”. This opportunity is more important than ever, it is our finest phase.
In his address titled, Democracy, Media and the United Nations, to the Freedom Forum of the Columbia University, USA, Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the erstwhile Secretary General of the UN said that,” history has demonstrated that after the end of one era, it takes time to shape the next one”. It is no news that the era of a new political dispensation dangles at the front burner in our dear state.
The era in which this piece focuses on is the governorship position that has been zoned to the northern senatorial district which hinges on the three cardinal principles of Justice, Fairness and Equity; and on who becomes the next governor comes 2015. However, democratic transition involves the decision of the vast majority.
What caliber or qualities of a man should our would-be governor possess? To say the least, the people need a man with chauvinistic mindset. A man prepared to take up the gauntlet and to cut the Gordian knot by solving difficult problems; propounding solutions to some through adopting bold and drastic measures.
Such a person should be a man of pedigree who has been tested and confirmed to be experienced and erudite in legislative/executive knowledge, managerial competence and administrative proficiency in fostering excellent governance. A man like a candle wax that consumes itself to light the way for others. A devoted Christian; humble, purposeful, loyal; one that honour men, love the brotherhood and fear God.
In the light of the aforesaid attributes, as we consider together, the perfect match is Rt. Hon. Larry Okori Odey, the incumbent honourable speaker of Cross River State House of Assembly, CRSHA.
A great teacher and a shrewd legislator per excellence. He needs no further introduction—but for the benefit of those who might have forgotten that every man’s umbilical cord is traced to his mother’s placenta, Mr. Larry comes from one of the most peaceful, loving, hospitable and accommodating tribes – the Yala nation.
In his teaching profession, he rose through every rank with tenacity; hard work and dedication to the height he found himself. Relying upon Williams Arthur’s quotation that goes thus, “the mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires”. Many young people have been inspired by this great teacher.
As an astute advocate for Justice, Fairness and Equity in all areas he has found himself, and most especially his antecedents at all times and particularly in the hallowed chambers of the State House of Assembly have shown intrinsically that he is a de-tribalized Nigerian and his yearnings are geared towards patriotism, political responsibility and the effective representation of his people and the state in general. This he has been doing while he was yet an Honourable member of CRSHA.
Of course yes! We need not be told that the vibrancy of a legislator is measured by the quality and number of motions he or she sponsored and co-sponsored. Including others not limited to this. They are measured by the frequent as well as the quality of contributions to debates etc. In his first tenure, he sponsored about fifteen (15) motions and co-sponsored over fifty (50) others which include the motion on the deteriorating/dilapidated infrastructures of the state’s educational sector.
Consequent upon the motion, according to him, “I consider it as my most important achievement because it contributed to the policy of government to execute a holistic rehabilitation, renovation and construction of new school blocks in sixty (60) secondary schools across the state. He was chairman, vice chairman and member of various committee(s) and carried out special assignment successfully for the Assembly.
As a teacher, he aptly understands the wonder-tools of education in curbing societal menace; no wonder he has always given it a deserved priority attention. Today, our dear state is currently oscillating on the tripod of simple pendulum of Educationally Less Developed States, ELDS.
With such a man with an extraordinary passion for education, who has by God’s grace secured admission to over two hundred and ten (210) students in tertiary institutions and has given financial assistance to about one hundred and thirty (130) students in mostly tertiary institutions, if he is given the opportunity at the helm of affairs, one would thus expect the incredible and the rest will be history.
As a speaker, the Assembly is currently enjoying absolute tranquility. The collaborated synergy between the executive and the legislature under his superintendence has brought peace that transcends beyond the length and breadth of the state. This peace, like the river, has aided political decorum; economy robustness, ideas and philosophical syncretism, infrastructural development, citizen empowerment and political stability in the administration of Sen. Liyel Imoke.
It is necessary to avow at this point that consistency of mind, persistency of purpose, and the grand simplicity of decision should guide and rule the conduct of Cross Riverians at this chapter of our political stage.
In Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher, he writes,” that for every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader”. Mr. Larry has shown in deeds and in conduct that he is a dedicated leader when he was reposed with the responsibility of the Acting Governor of Cross River State and at this point in which he is the speaker of CRSHA.
Unlike some selfish politicians with sit-tight syndrome who would want to occupy till eternity, he (Larry) spent just one month and a day out of the three months period of time allowed by the law to conduct the bi-election when the Supreme Court demanded for a fresh election of Sen. Liyel Imoke’s governorship election.
During this period, he demonstrated true loyalty to his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and to the substantive governor with the fear of God at the centre-piece of his heart which is a symbol of a dedicated leader. If loyalty to party’s ideology is a crime, then he would need to commit it again. Worthy of note is the fact that the supposed political tension as envisaged by the opposition, only existed in the realm of figment of imagination.
‘Don’t be weary in doing well”, wrote a song writer. This man has done well in any task given him. Call him a philanthropist, you are right. The health of the people is so important to him, as such, he has settled hospital bills of many patients amounting to millions of Naira. As a Speaker, Larry stands out very tall.
Bishop David Oyedepo says, a lacking hand is a slacking hand; and a slacking hand is an idle hand. For that reason, Mr. Larry having understood that there is dignity in labour, has successfully through God’s will assisted many Cross River State indigenes in securing recruitment into military forces and employment in public and private parastatals.
In raising a generation of skilled and purpose driven young men and women, several youths have been sponsored by this ebullient man in National Industrial Skill Development Programme, NISDP. Some of these beneficiaries are employers of labour today. Obviously, there is no better panacea in curbing youth’s restiveness than this. Rural-urban drift is drastically reduced courtesy of such? This measure is a drive mechanism for a new structure for global stability; human empowerment and action plan for social development.
As a legislator, he has no capital vote but he has provided basic amenities to a few communities and placed one hundred and twenty (120) persons on monthly stipend. These are the people he is yet to secure employment for. This is what Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon, the master of verbosity would describe as audible to the deaf and visible to the blind. Having performed excellently well in this seemingly little assignment, one need no debate whether he would do well in perhaps bigger assignment. To add verisimilitude, he is equipped for the job.
One good turn they say deserves another. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties of making a choice and so bear ourselves that, if the yearnings of the people of Cross River State is to produce a charismatic, proactive, energetic and a sound governor from the north sees the light of the day, men and women will still say, this was their finest hour.
For every generation has their brightest chance as such this is our chance. For this cause, we must know that the distinction between a just and a prejudice decision is the prerogative perception of posterity. Experience is the best teacher. The only experienced man in the race is Rt. Hon. Larry Okori Odey. He is our man! Our choice! Our best man for the job! Our governor comes 2015 by the choice of men and blessing of God.
To that extent, Paul the Apostle in his epistle to the church in Philippi admonishes thus, Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, think on these things.
Yes, we can do it for ourselves! We can do it for Cross River State! We can do it for the generations yet unborn through Christ who strengthens us!
Ogar, Emmanuel is the Coordinator, Youths Alliance for Cross River Dreams, YACRiD and writes from Calabar
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