By Jonathan Ugbal
Following Usani Uguru’s swearing in as Niger Delta Affairs Minister by President Muhammadu Buhari, Cross Riverians have greeted the news with mixed reactions as respondents who spoke with CrossRiverWatch have diverse expectations.
A senatorial aspirant under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general elections Raymond Ugba, in his reaction said it was time for people with a different ideology to mount the saddle of leadership in the State.
“Usani will bring freshness to the politics of Cross River State. For too long power had resided only in one vindictive block that kept others out. For the first time in 17 years an opportunity has come for other Cross Riverians from a different ideological and moral block to mount the saddle. I think it is good for our state.
“Furthermore, I have known him for a while and I believe him to be dogged and fastidious. As such I think he will perform well… and with Usani as Minister of Niger Delta, I hope that the endemic corruption in that sector will come to an end”.
Emmanuel Etim who is the State Director, Nigeria Youth Chamber of Commerce said “I congratulate Pastor Usani Uguru Usani on his swearing in as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and designation as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. There is no doubt that with his track record he is equal to the task and we will like to see him get to the task immediately because the region faces grave challenges which need sustainable solutions.
“As the work ahead is daunting he must put aside political sentiments and get the best hands to work and deliver democratic dividends. The Calabar-Itu, Calabar-Ogoja federal roads are of particular interest to Cross Riverians”.
Kalita Joseph Aruku, a youth leader of the All Progressives Congress in the state, described Usani’s designated role as a “round peg in a round hole. It fits his persona as he has a background in the sector. It is a welcomed development especially for the state. I wish him well”.
For Thomas Abi who lamented that the state always got ministerial positions that do not aid its development template, “It is a welcome development. Let him not see himself as an APC minister but one of the ministers of the federal government and from Cross River State. A good partnership with the state government will go a long way to benefit Cross Riverians with emphasis laid on the deplorable state of our federal highways. The legislators can move motions but it is the minister that implements”.
For Ifere Paul, Usani’s background fits his new role in this era of change, adding that “I believe that Usani Usani will do well in that Ministry. The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is to rally the focal developmental agenda of these areas for national attention and development. I believe that as one person who studied Geography, Usani should know the environmental degradation currently faced by this region.
“His ability to rally government to support the developmental template will decide how far he can go to be remembered. My advice to him is for him to remain studiously committed, developmentally committed, and transparent as much as possible. His time now is not the time of Godswill Orubebe when everything was considered normal”.
A media aide to Cross River governor, Emmanuel Ulayi in his reaction, says “It is a positive development and our expectations as Cross Riverians is that the state will get a better deal under this dispensation with our son as the Niger Delta Affairs minister. It is a clear indication that Cross River State will have a better patronage from this government and we hope the minister can mobilise goodwill from the center so that the State can develop her infrastructure”.
For Richard Romanus, a unionist and student of the University of Calabar, it is a “good one for Cross River”.
A chieftain of the APC and human rights activists and lawyer, Okoi Obono-Obla in his reaction chronicled events that would have created disaffection between the state and federal government but is not happening due to the goodwill the state is currently enjoying with the unveiling of Usani’s portfolio the latest of such.
“The President has demonstrated tremendous affection and goodwill towards the people of Cross River State yet again, by appointing a Cross Riverian as substantive Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs. This is remarkable because the people of the State failed to vote for him and indeed were hostile towards his candidacy in the last presidential election. The hostility climaxed when the former governor, Liyel Imoke refused the then candidate General Muhammadu Buhari the use of the stadium for his campaign rally in Calabar.
“The school principal in Calabar that graciously gave the school football field for staging of the rally was arbitrarily and capriciously dismissed from service. However the President has shown exceptional magnanimity towards us and we are obligated to reciprocate by total support for his administration.
“The President has appointed the Chief of Naval Staff and Head of Service from the state previously. This is the first time since independence we are seeing such magnanimous gesture towards our state and we must not disappoint him” he said.
Princewill Odidi, a Cross River born management consultant based in the United States said “It is a great development”
The Spokesperson of the state chapter of the APC, Mens Ikpeme, when contacted said it is a welcomed development and shows that Cross River under Buhari as President will go places.
“He (Buhari) had told us he will move the state from backwardness to forwardness and with his conferring of Niger Delta Affairs Minister to our Chairman, Pastor Usani Uguru, preceded by the appointment of the Chief of Naval Staff and Head of Service, both from Cross River, it shows we are on the right track under him and many good things are yet to come” he said.
The State Chairman of the PDP, Ntufam John Okon told CrossRiverWatch that the gesture of the APC government to Cross River State is “a lesson for us in PDP. Maybe we did not know how to negotiate, but we are very grateful to the President for keeping his word that he will be President of everyone. We also want to thank our governor for maintaining a very good and cordial relationship with the President.”
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