By Margaret John and Patrick Obia
A former attorney general of Cross River State and a gubernatorial aspirant of the Social Democratic Party, Mr. Eyo Ekpo has said that the state will not achieve its full potential until Nigeria as a country stops being a federation only in nomenclature.
Ekpo made the assertion while speaking as a guest on ‘The Dialogue with Agba Jalingo’ a radio program on Hit FM monitored by CrossRiverWatch where he hinged on restructuring and the need for states to manage and control their own resources.
“The real question about Cross River and Nigeria ties in with the restructuring issue. We really will not achieve our full potential until we have a true federation in this country, until we find ourselves being able to manage and control our resources more, have a greater say in how our natural assets and our natural endowments are utilized and deployed for our own benefit,” Ekpo said.
Stressing on the point of restructuring, he cited the Tinapa project which he said had failed because, “no matter how much we were able to shout, the federal government and NPA (Nigerian ports authority) did what they wanted to do… The Calabar channel could not be dredged up to the designated port and customs said the goods coming in were fake and all that.”
Insisting that states “should have control over our own resources,” Mr. Ekpo argued that, “we can’t demand the attainment of Nigeria’s rightful place in the comity of Nations, without also demanding that we address the question of whether we are a federation of 36 states or a unitary state.”
He dismissed insinuations that the state is heading for destruction even though he criticized the agenda of the current administration which he said had veered off the plans set by preceding administrations.
Ekpo posited that the state had several development templates, but insisted that the building of cottage industries by the present administration cannot pass for an industrialisation drive. “The state has not been industrialised by this administration, we have actually been de-industrialized. The things we see here currently are not indices of industrialisation. When you bring in Wilmar, Unicem as it was and now Lafarge, that is industrialisation. You don’t build cottage industries and call it industrialisation.”
Furthermore, he said the state has always had a lot of human and natural resources with its civil service at one point termed the best in the country even as he hoped that there will be sincerity of purpose on the part of the leadership to chart a proper course for the future.
“We have been fortunate to have leaders who understood what governance is and who managed our resources pretty well,” he said.
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