By CrossRiverWatch Admin
As preparations gets high for the conduct of local government elections in the state by the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission (CROSIEC)
I implore young Cross Riverians who sincerely desire to effect and see genuine change in the state to go back to the grassroot and begin genuine campaigns.
The place of democratically elected local government officials cannot be wished away.
The Nigerian state runs a very bogus and humongous system of government that the administration of local government through elected officials becomes very cardinal for any meaningful progress to be achieved.
It becomes imperative for us to understand that the transformation of any society actually begins at the grassroot. Therefore, any people that misses it at the local government level looses all completely.
Many times local elections are often overlooked and thought to be not too serious, but for any serious society, this is the most critical election because it serves as the springboard for any concrete development.
Any society with sincere desire for rapid economic growth cannot afford to joke with local government elections, which of course is the main catalyst for economic, social and political growth.
And such is the new atmosphere in Odukpani LGA in Southern Cross River state where younger citizens are showing renewed interest in the grassroot election.
While Cross Riverians are eagerly awaiting the announcement of the election timetable and date, Odukpani indigenes are demonstrating increasing awareness of what the expected polls hold for them.
Clearly, Odukpani has risen to become strategically critical in the political equation of Cross River State and indeed Nigeria.
Not only because of the calibre of intellectual, economical and political giants the local government boasts of, as well as the many important roles indigenes of the local government have played at both state and national politics but also that some key national assets like the National Integrated Power Plant (NIPP), Proposed Oil and Gas Industrial Park championed by Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Gas companies etc, are sited within the LGA.
Odukpani is a land largely blessed by God and nature with very rich mineral deposits and human resources.
All these endowments have naturally continued to inspire persons from the different sections of the LGA to continue to aspire to lead the council to maximize its potentials.
However, there are communities which have been denied this privilege over time and I think it deserves a mention as much as it is important.
The Ikoneto Factor
Political balance is often not achieved until all parties are satisfied. Which is why at this time the much deprived people of Ikoneto, the cradle of Efik civilization and home to very great minds and achievers like Sir Michael Ani, first indigenous Head of Service, Etubom (Dr.) Anthony Ani, former Minister of Finance, Chief Ernest Etim-Bassey, foremost journalist to whom the Nigerian Union of Journalist Press Centre, Cross River Chapter is named after, must at this time around be given a chance for the council headship.
Talking about Chief Ernest Etim Bassey, a revered and fearless ‘pen-man’ a man who I grew up admiring his journalistic prowess, fearless forthrightness, and intellectual acumen in the ‘pen profession.’
I had hoped people like him would live a little longer so those of us who looked up to him in the profession could still lean on. But I heard his nephew is seriously involved and determined to become the next Chairman of the council.
With such key national assets sited in the LGA including the soon to commence Oil and Gas park, it is critical that a man with wide and deep experience in the oil sector such as Mr. Philip Etim-Bassey is given the mandate at the affairs of the council.
As a stakeholder in the oil and gas sector myself, I can say loudly that no one plays tombo tombo in the oil sector.
It is either you are knowledgeable about the workings in the sector to benefit maximally or you are ignorant to your own dire detriment and that of your people.
The many issues plaguing Niger Delta are as a result of initial ignorance on the part of the leadership of the people at various levels.
It is the dissatisfaction of the people and ‘our mumu don do’ mental awakening that gave birth to the era of militancy and other forms of restiveness.
But, of course, such restiveness is in itself an after thought and a medicine after death approach. It is a direct attack on the sickness when the symptom would have been nipped in the bud if the leaders where initially armed with knowledge about the sector.
In the oil and gas sector, ignorance on the part of leaders of any community is not only dangerous but deadly. Now, this is a situation we must not allow to happen in our own state.
Already a lot is happening in Odukpani, different communities in the LGA keep playing host to august visitors and prospective investors as they come in to explore the vast deposits in the LGA.
The local government has been rumoured among major players to harbour some of the largest deposits of fossil fuel in Nigeria.
When oil multinationals come into your community to explore and realises that you are nakedly ignorant of the workings and systems in the sector, they simply override you and your people because they are basically around to do business and make profit.
This is why at a time like this where Odukpani has become the beautiful bride of oil multinationals and other investors, an experienced hand in the sector is greatly needed to handle affairs in the council.
With this in mind, it becomes imperative as elections draw closer, to vote as chairman, one who is adequately vested with the required professional know-how, business acumen and political will to ensure proper, effective and efficient utilization of these deposits.
Which is why I believe Philip Etim-Bassey stands a perfect chance.
Philip Eyo Etim-Bassey, a nephew of the revered and highly respected journalist Ernest Etim-Bassey, is a complete and thorough breed professional, a complete gentleman, visionary and one with the mind of a leader.
I have known Philip for a while, I have watched his social and professional life from his days at the prestigious Hope Waddell Training Institution up until his times at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation -NNPC and have no doubt that his over one decade experience at the nation’s crude headquarters will come to bare if given the mandate as he is presently yearning for.
Philip Eyo Etim-Bassey as Chairman of Odukpani LGA will not only translate to great economic benefits for the state but will also balance the long political equation and satisfy the hitherto deprived Ikoneto people.
I believe Philip Etim-Bassey represents the brighter side of the Odukpani project. We cannot afford to get it wrong at this time, we need a very serious minded individual with the necessary experience at the saddle of the council affairs.
For example, the Oil and Gas industrial park project alone can bring a lot of job opportunities for the unemployed youths in the LGA. But if the person at the helm of affairs is not vested with the workings in the sector, there could be many opportunities that will slip away.
Which is why, after a careful study of the various aspirants who have indicated interest for the position of chairmanship of the local government, I am most comfortable to say that among all, Philip Eyo Etim-Bassey stands out.
If Odukpani must be great again, indigenes of the local government must this time around get it right by choosing a personality in the like of Philip Etim-Bassey.
Edem Darlington is a journalist and writes from Calabar.
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