A few days ago, precisely on September 1, Okoi Obono Obla was on air, this time on Channels Television, where his outing on the station’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, offered a glum study in self-contradiction.
If his aim on that fateful morning was to offer further explanations to those who have wrongly or otherwise accused his party, the All Progressives Party (APC), of engaging in motion without movement in the last three months of ascension into power, Obla no doubt, left his party faithful cringing in disappointment for a number of reasons, chiefly, his abject failure to convince.
As inchoate as he tried to force his thought through, so did he expose and ridiculed himself as a pathetic narrative in inconsistency.
It must have come as a shock to his fellow APC watchers that morning that their chieftain from Cross River state got unnecessarily combative, to put it mildly, on air as he railed and screamed at his hosts for daring to ask innocuous questions that were seemingly a critique of the APC administration at the centre in the last three months.
With ministerial appointments yet to be announced, it is understandable that voices, at this time of heightened expectations will no doubt cackle to be heard all in a bid to hoot oneself into reckoning. So on this day, Obla was on overdrive, casting moderation aside.
But while only five days earlier he would not allow any assessment of the performance of his party, Obla would seek to assess the performance of the administration of Professor Ben Ayade in Cross River State in the most jaundiced manner.
His inconsistency is akin to the Greek mythical Oracle, Delphi, whose messages the people of ancient Greece found difficult to understand.
While no one can begrudge Obla for the task he has taken upon himself as society’s watchdog, one takes issues with the way he has gone about it. Even Socrates, in his time as ancient Greece’s gadfly, did not appropriate to himself absolute answer to everything that was wrong with his society. Just as he reproached the Greek society of his era, he still found something ennobling to say about the society and its poerators.
But can anyone truly, truly say the same thing about our own self-styled social crusader, Obono Obla, whose antecedent is well documented? Why must things be done only his way? Or better still, viewed from his own prism?
In his febrile effort to chastise and fasten himself upon his society, Obla has depressingly reduced himself to an irredeemable whimper, a serial grouch, and a grumpy figure, perennially at odds with others who do not share his point of view.
Nobody can deny Obla his right to freedom of expression, especially if it bothers on objective criticism. Sadly, his rants often times bother on sheer alarm and wild and baseless claims. While he can demonstrate crass intolerance for others asking questions about APC, it is, however, fit and proper to demonize others people in other parties.
In his assessment of the governor, Obla played the role of a Daniel who has come to judgment. His verdict: Governor Ayade is playing to the gallery and deceiving the people of Cross River and therefore, he must apologize.
On the issues raised by Obla, one of which is Ayade’s ‘many’ signature projects, it needs clarifying here that the governor promised just two signature projects- a dual carriage superhighway and the Calabar deep seaport. One wonders where Obla got his ‘many’ signature projects he claimed Ayade promised Cross Riverians.
It is clear that our social crusader was too busy either trying to find out if the cup was half full or half empty or too preoccupied with filial issues and relied as he is wont to do on second-hand information on the proceedings at the Calabar International Convention Centre, venue of the inauguration not to have read Governor Ayade’s inauguration speech, copies of which were available for everyone to take home.
In his abject desperation to hoodwink and influence the public, Obla, once again was out to vend one of his unsubstantiated mendacities which is that Governor Ayade promised to deliver on his signature projects in his first one hundred day in office.
Haba! Even a child knows that there is no way a 240kilometre of a dual carriage road can be completed in just three months. No amount of magic or miracle can make this happen.
While it is not in my culture to call an elder and an aging parent a liar, suffice to say that what Obla said about the signature projects and their date of completion is not true.
However, it is imperative to mention here that preliminary work on these projects have since commenced with President Muhammadu Buhari set to officially flag-off construction sometime this month.
On the funding of the projects, Chief Ofem, ooops sorry, Okoi Obono Obla said he is at a loss as to where funds were going to come from, given the lack of clarity on how investors will recoup their investment. It is obvious that Obla is too ensconced in Abuja and too far removed from Cross River for him not to have know that already, investors are falling over themselves to fund the dual carriage superhighway.
In real terms, the project has already attracted 500 million Euros from Broad Spectrum of Germany with more investors daily flocking Calabar with expression of interest in the two projects. The 500 million Euros funding is in the public domain, with several reportage in newspapers and national television stations such as Channels TV. So, the truth of the matter is that Obla is either feigning ignorance or completely uninformed about issues in the state.
Obla also alluded to Tinapa, which he described as white elephant. I leave that to the appropriate person to say why it is moribund.
While Obla would want the whole world to believe that government has no business being in business, and that Governor Ayade has no business establishing a garment factory, one wonders why it has not occurred to him to begin championing the sale of the country’s refineries which his party, let me borrow his phrase, is pussy footing on selling to private investors?
Why has Obla not taken on his party, the APC for not commencing its promise of offering meals to primary schools’ pupils? What about the promised N5000 to unemployed graduates? Or is it not one hundred days already?
On the garment factory, it is worth noting that work is ongoing on the structure. Construction has however, been slow due to the unrelenting downpour. It is being hampered by almost two and a half month of non-stop rain in Calabar. Even professional critics of the government can attest to this.
Instructively, equipment for the factory has long been shipped into the country and awaiting onward delivery to the site, as soon as the rain lets up.
In Obla’s reckoning, Governor Ayade has not achieved anything in his first one hundred days and is rather deceiving the people.
But the people know this for a fact that since Ayade assumed office, their salaries are being paid not just regularly, but not later than 25th of every month.
This feat is hardly achieved by most states including those with even higher revenue allocations from the federation account.
Just recently, the governor abolished taxes for low income earners and other forms of levies for petty traders in the state. This is besides lifting the 23-year-old embargo on employment into state’s civil service. If these are not commendable feats, one wonders what Obla would deem as achievements.
The governor also established the Green Police, a non-armed bearing organization whose brief is to not only protect the state’s vast forest resources but to also take care of its environment.
The Green Police has just concluded the recruitment of 1500 cadets and officers across the three senatorial districts of the state. To make Obla happy, may be the governor needs to apologize for this.
The governor may also have to apologize to the about 1000 women, especially widows, employed to work at the garment factory, for providing them with a means of livelihood.
The low income earners in the state may need to be apologized to too by the governor for abolishing taxes they hitherto were paying, and thus enhancing their purchasing power.
The governor may also have to apologize to the would-be beneficiaries of the 5000 modular homes for which he signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an Irish firm, Affordable Homes Limited.
For those who will pick up jobs at the Automated Poultry and Dairy Plant, for which the governor signed an $18 million MoU with Cavenco of Spain, the governor must say he is sorry.
It is rather sad that Obla can hardly tell the difference between the energy of a man challenged by the need of his people and urgency to hit the ground running and overzealousness. Energy and overzealousness or playing to the gallery as Obla puts it are two different constructs, with the former an attribute of someone with drive and passion.
A lot of administrators have variously been labelled ‘go slow’ on account of perceived listlessness, yet Governor Ayade is accused of playing to the gallery.
Does the governor need a legislation to find a means of livelihood for his subjects?
Christian Ita, is Chief Press Secretary and Senior Special Assistant to Governor Ayade on Media and Publicity.
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