I told CrossRiverWatch Ukung’s Alawa on telephone after reading her piece titled ‘Who owns these roads’ that unless a visionary takes the mantle of leadership and Cross Riverians take charge of the electoral process as well as the evaluation, implementation and monitoring of projects, we will continuously see a microscopic few with a bourgeois mentality insult our intelligence to get into power.
A few months later the question pops up in my mind when somewhere between Abakpa and Ekpogrinya junction in Ogoja local government area a bystander upon noticing the government house press corps vehicle screamed “Una see this road?”.
The lingering issue of bad road networks has unofficially become the second state anthem (or is it song) amongst politicians with the few brilliant ones refraining from using it as a campaigning strategy but hiding it under the rather ambiguous ‘infrastructure’ bluff.
The attendant negative impact of this on the socio-economic development of the state has been espoused by many in several fora which leaves me wondering if the so called elites pay attention to the yearnings of the people despite hanging the tags of ‘grassroot politician’ around their necks like dog collars.
It is an anomaly for anyone to promise good roads which in a civilized clime as we view ourselves is supposed to be a routine job for the government of the day and then there are the excuses ‘it is a federal road, it is a state road’ and so on.
It is indisputably true (not fact) political administrators change vehicles almost yearly due to wear and tear suffered from plying these same roads which they have failed to rehabilitate or is it reconstruct.
We also share part of the blame for deliberately refusing to hold these crop of recycled personalities over the years to their word and engaging in participatory democracy not the ‘wait it is not your turn’ system which has since become the norm with arguments on who gets to eat what and sycophantic statements fill the basket of discourse in the place of policy debates.
The few who attempt to question certain things are crucified and given bad names just to be hanged. I am one of those yet to get carried away and applaud with hysteria the recent model proposed by the current administration as clear cut strategies and policies are yet to unfold on what happens to other roads apart from the one making the headlines.
Cross Riverians need to take charge and not just wane and complain about poor evaluation, monitoring and implementation of road projects if they are to get any better than they are now.
One way to do this? Contact media outfits and make known your thoughts, until then Una see these roads?
Jonathan Ugbal is CrossRiverWatch Government House Correspondent
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