By Archibong Jeremiah/Christiana Alawa
The ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP House of Representatives candidate for Obudu/Bekwarra/Obanlikwu federal constituency, Barrister Legor Idagbo, who is also the immediate past Commissioner For Works and former Bekwarra LGA Chairman in this exclusive interview with CrossRiverWatch shared his plans for his constituency and personal position on issues such as state police and local county autonomy, creation of Ogoja state, politicization of the resettlement of the displaced people of Bakassi and more.
What is your plan for the constituency you are vying to represent?
I intend to give my people effective representation in the sense that, look at our federal roads they are in a deplorable state, it is only when we have a strong voice in the legislature to speak for us that we can achieve some things, look at the Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort at Obanlikwu with the Bebi air strip to ensure that we have easy access to it through flights but the airstrip is in bad condition, with the air strip we would have flights stopping in Calabar and the air strip. Another blue print of mine is that we will need to improve on our agricultural produce; going from subsistence farming to commercial will boost agriculture. Imagine if we have a company that produces yam floor which is in high demand and has high quality nutrient, the region will develop. Our rice and other agricultural produce if properly utilized will boost our economy; we need to encourage the farmers in the rural areas in particular to commercialize their farm produce and encourage more access roads which agriculture will hardly thrive without. We need to empower our people to utilize the full value chain, that is to enable those people empowered to be able to make a living from their handwork, to ensure that people have access to loans for small scale businesses that will be beneficial to them not buying bikes and cars that they can’t fuel, making them dependent on you rather than been productive.
What are some of the experiences you have that make you feel you’re the right man for the job?
I have been in the service for quite some time now as Council chairman, Commissioner for Works among others which I believe is enough to make me know the plight of my people. I also know the processes involved in the award of projects by the federal government with my experience as Commissioner for Works. Most times the government just decides to treat only 10km of road out of a State, if this continuous it could take over 100 years to go round a vicious circle. Cross River State is a commercial place where a lot of businesses take place and thrive naturally, trucks come in to do a lot of businesses like quarrying, taking granite, oil, even cement, therefore our roads are supposed to be good to allow and enable the state be easily accessible by dualizing the roads.
What is your political philosophy?
I am a grassroot person. My philosophy is service to the people. I believe the people at the grassroot are those who need my service, so I try to make myself accessible and reachable at all times by attending to my calls always, you know, I like listening to advice and filtering them properly to ensure proper service.
You have noted some areas of the federal government’s negligence such as our federal roads, what then do you think is responsible for that?
Like I said the federal government is in position of some sectors that they can’t handle effectively which roads is part of, the federal government should release these roads to the state government and allocate funds for execution of projects as at when due. Unlike Cross River State that has a federal road that passes through almost all the 18 Local Governments. If the state government has autonomy over these roads, it will ensure that the roads are done since the roads are used by Cross Riverians because it is, he who wears the shoe that knows where it pinches. Also, the awarding of these contracts is given to unqualified companies, whereas, they are professional and qualified companies in the state. Taking the Obudu, Obanlikwu, Bekwarra roads, they could be awarded to unqualified people who do not do their jobs properly unless the state has autonomy over its roads can such half baked companies who cannot deliver effectively be kicked out. So my mission in Abuja is to follow due process to ensure that the companies allocated to handle these projects and many more projects are qualified.
What were some of your challenges and achievements while in office as Commissioner for Works?
Cross River State is lacking funds, we are not as lucky as our sister states. By the time we pay salaries, we are as good as broke. We had to come to a compromise and mutual understanding, with the contractors to work without mobility which boils down to the fact that we have a long working understanding together. Also this terrain in Cross River, we experience rainfall almost throughout the year, so we had to push the contractors to work harder when there was less rain so that the heavy rain wouldn’t slow their output. On major achievement, the Margret Ekpo International airport fly over is the first in the state; the place was a swamp so deep that it swallowed half a truck, but despite challenges it was a success at the end of the day and commissioned by Mr. President. The second is the tunnel in WAPI junction Calabar which has removed flood from that area, 474km of rural roads etc.
What are your chances of winning?
My chances are very bright, my works speak for me, as a grassroot person, we have campaigned in the constituencies I am to represent and the massive support is overwhelming. It means the people believe in me and are giving me their support and mandate. Also from Bekwarra where I represent, I am unopposed, I was unanimously chosen since it was zoned to my community. The party in her wisdom thought it wise that since the governorship position has been zoned to Obudu and Obanlikwu has been on that position before, so they decided to zone the position to Bekwarra, where I am from.
What is your position of the creation of Ogoja state?
It will be a good thing to have ogoja state. Just that Nigeria is going through a lot of financial troubles, but the creation of Ogoja state will open a lot of opportunities that should be encouraged; I support the creation of Ogoja state.
What is your position on State Police and Local County?
When you send a police man from another state to somewhere like Bekwarra where he has no bearings at all, it is difficult for him to do his duties fervently because he does not even know how the community is. But someone from the community who knows the people, understands them very well and knows the culture such will perform his duties well. I support state police because like in America and many other countries, there is federal police, state police and local county. Only in cases where a matter is beyond the local county and the state police can the federal police now come in.
The Bakassi issue has become so politicized that the plight of the people grows as every day goes by, and they have not been resettled properly till date and it seems there is no hope for them?
I say authoritatively that the federal government didn’t do well. Bakassi was ceded against the Constitution of the Federal Republic. For peace sake, we did not challenge the federal government on why they didn’t meet with the National Assembly before ceding Bakassi because constitutionally before any part of the country is to be ceded, the National Assembly will give its consent which didn’t happen. We shouldn’t have even followed the International Court of Justice, ICJ injunctions. The court decision was persuasive; we shouldn’t have subjected ourselves to the court decisions. Many countries world over including the famous America, never followed the ICJ orders. So many things went wrong. Part of my going to the federal House of Representatives is to ensure that the federal government pays adequate attention to them. For instance, the people who are mainly fishermen, who lived only on water, were relocated to dry land without any means of caring for themselves as they know.
Apart from roads that you think the federal government should relinquish control to state government, which other tasks should they release?
The federal government has a lot of responsibilities to relinquish to state government, like Federal Ministry of Agriculture, I wonder what they are doing with that. The federal government should allow the local government and state government to take up the agricultural sector since they can relate more with the farmers.
What is your advice to your constituents, Cross Riverians and Nigerians at large?
I aspire to serve my people fervently, my words to Cross Riverians is, come 28th of March, 2015 and 11th April, 2015, they should all come out and vote PDP. Even with our limited resources we have been able to deliver in certain areas. Today Cross River State is leading in international discuss. It isn’t always easy to change at once, truthfully PDP has tried for Cross River State, we may not have been perfect, but it is not enough to bring in another party.
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