Cross River North: The Carrot And Stick BY SIMON UTSU

In Columnists, Opinion

Being the first of a three-part series by the author…

The year has all but come to an end. I have decided to do a tripartite series on the politicians who deserve carrots and those who need sticks based on their outputs in 2019. Like they say, charity begins at home so I will start with my senatorial district; Cross River North. 

The Carrot…

Without a doubt, the two most outstanding politicians from this zone this year were Representives Jarigbe Agom (PDP, Ogoja/Yala) and Legor Idagbo (PDP, Obudu/Obanliku/Bekwarra).

To put things into perspective for the layman to understand, they could be likened to Messi and Ronaldo, Wizkid and Davido or Da Vinci and Michael Angelo. Their styles are different but their individual drive in pursuit of superlative excellence, is pretty much the same.

From my thorough assessment, they are the biggest winners in Cross River North this year in terms of achievements. I spent some time around them in Abuja this year and by so doing, understood their styles even better.

Jarigbe has sponsored beautiful bills and moved meaningful motions- the most recent was the motion to quash the 6 year single tenure (for politicians) debate where he looked his colleagues in the face and boldly referred to it as “self serving”.

Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, MHR (PDP, Ogoja/Yala)

Legor on the other hand, seems to be Cross River’s most dependable connection to the center in Abuja – as the chairman of the pivotal congressional committee on Nigerian content. He has already hit the ground running; next year I see him hitting cruise control on a very high altitude. From what I observed, he doesn’t joke with his political associates and childhood friends – he carries them along. Such an attitude epitomises a man with a good heart. Both representatives have done very good in constituency empowerment this year. They need to raise the bar even higher in 2020.

Legor Ochikry Idagbo, MHR (PDP, Obudu/Obanliku/Bekwarra)

The leader of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Honorable Peter Odey (PDP/Ogoja) has also been impressive. He is the only member I know who peruses the social media to feel the pulse of the people and contribute actively to discussions online – realtime and sometimes mops them up; takes them to the House of Assembly chambers to debate with his co-members.

He has also been at the forefront of the campaign encouraging members of the public to come to the parliament for public sessions, where they can throw in their opinion or join the debate towards a common resolution. Case in point was when the CRUTECH nomenclature and designation (from Technology focused University to Conventional University) change bill, incidentally moved by Mr. Peter was being debated on. He also has a knack for being well dressed – wearing classy stuff. I am not saying other members don’t dress well but hope you know there is a difference between “well dressed” and “dressing well?”

Peter Odey, Leader 9th CRSHA (PDP, Ogoja)

Last on the list is Sunny Omagu Ogar. He is an American based Yala son who has been very active on the local social media space for a while. He has also been deeply involved in the politics and development of his community from afar and I must say, his energy and consistency has been annoyingly commendable! Midway through the year, he started a micro grant scheme; giving out monies to market women and vulnerable constituents back home to help support their businesses or startups.

He recently indicated interest to run for the chairmanship of his local government area and seems to be the candidate to beat as he draws huge support across party lines. From what I gathered, locals have been contributing resources to his campaign organisation. In a free and fair contest, Ambassador Sunny Omagu will win by a landslide. In my opinion, Governor Ayade who has so far supported a transparent process in the local government election, should allow this guy so that Yala people wont come tomorrow and ask for his head if his anointed candidate emerges and ends up not performing. 

Sunny Omagu

The Stick…

Without a doubt, Governor Ben Ayade who is the political and administrative leader of the State, deserves the stick. If not for anything, for the continued detention of Journalist, Agba Jalingo for reasons best known to him. Odok Joseph is also in detention. Even though he (Odok) crossed the line continuously by leveling unverified allegations and defaming the governor and his associates, the rule of law must be followed. Detaining these guys does not just augur well for the image of the governor but also the State. The earlier he realises this and makes their unconditional release possible, the better for him and everyone. 

Benedict Ayade and Jedy Agba

The main recipient of stick in 2019 in my senatorial zone is Prince Jedy Agba. I can’t be happy hitting out at my kinsmen back to back but my hands are tied on the altar of objectivity. Out of the blues, he emerged to be Cross River’s ministerial pick and for the first time in the State’s history, one local government produced both governor and federal cabinet minister – I stand to be corrected. From the point when his nomination was announced and up to when he was screened and sworn in, he was overwhelmingly supported by Cross Riverians but his leadership so far hasn’t been inspiring. In fact, the first red flag was on the day of the swearing-in. At the after party when we got some disgusting feedback from Cross Riverians (his party men) who went to his house to join in the celebrations that he had shut the gates to them and was only allowing his associates from a particular part of the country to get in. It was very embarrassing to even hear talk more of experience. A fortnight ago, while I was in Abuja, I stopped by at the power ministry’s office where the honorable minister operates from but was unable to meet with him after waiting for about six hours. His PA, one huge guy by name Koko stood before me like a bouncer and told me it wasn’t going to be possible to see the minister – even though a deluge of guests (mostly female) kept making their way in and out. I couldn’t argue with Mr Koko for two reasons – he seemed a nice guy and I was quite intimidated by his huge frame. I did not want to risk getting swallowed by the big man so I did as I was told.

By virtue of my position as a social commentator from Cross River State who through providence, has been able to gather a fair amount of traction and maybe notoriety/popularity (whatever you chose to call it), I can book an appointment with any politician from my State with a few days’ notice but the minister seems to be an exception.

It is almost impossible to have a one on one with him – from time immemorial, he has always been very busy. It is much easier to book an appointment with Governor Ayade. In fact, it is difficult for even the Governor to get an appointment with him – that is if we are to go by the news of three weeks ago where he was alleged to have snubbed the Governor and other traditional rulers in Obudu who scheduled a meeting with him at the behest of some key stakeholders in Obudu and jetted back to Abuja (from Calabar).

Some senior All Progressives Congress leaders in the State have also been murmuring aloud for sometime now about his leadership style and the way he has been treating party men from the State.

Errm, Mr minister, we know you are a billionaire, you could even be a zillionaire. We thank God for his blessings upon your life. But all we want from you is for you to be close to the people you are representing and lead them well. Stop treating them with disdain or loathsomeness like they’re scum or filth or is that too much to ask for?

Simon Utsu-Ingwu, a Cross Riverian writes in from Lagos via simonutsu@yahoo.com

NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Simon Utsu and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.

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