For the average Cross Riverian the most pressing concern is often about a steady stream of income, via salaries, to cater for a nuclear family of about four and few extended relatives, but hardly has any thought towards investments.
This is not an indictment on this cadre of people but an issue that core and prospective investors from the State seem to have consciously decided not to invest in their home. This, on its own, is very worrisome.
It is often said, and in the worst of derogatory manners, that Cross River State is a Civil Service State. While this is not aimed at impugning on the character and reputation of the hardworking Cross Riverians in the Public service, current economic realities beg the question about our back up investment strategy.
Many, who have been blessed through fortuity, only have one house or two in the state with over sized egos to show for the long and successful sojourn during their working years while others, though very few, have set up commercial centres across the world, some have singlehandedly developed value chains that never existed before their incursion in that field but these business concerns have no presence in Cross River State. This trend is decades old.
While historians will regale us with the exploits of our forebears from the colonial era till the post colonial decade such as ‘first Nigerian Capital’, ‘first Nigerian Inspector General of Police’, ‘first Nigerian Doctor to separate cojoined twins’, ‘first female Librarian’, ‘first female Pharmacist’ etc, If we are to honestly self examine, can we say that we have built on this laudable foundation that was laid for us by our heroes past?
If we are true to ourselves our response will be a resounding NO.
In essence, this conversation should be a deliberate attempt to stoke the fire in the minds of economically blessed Cross Riverians to heed the call to invest in cottage, medium and mega industries back home so as to sustainably empower the local economy.
Presently there is nothing to show that Cross Riverians control their state economy. The state population is about four million of which indigenes make up over 60 percent. But inspite this huge numerical advantage, Cross Riverians own just about Five (5) percent of Income Generating enterprises operating in the State. This entails the entire gamut of businesses dealing in health, automobile parts, building materials, shoes, clothings, fast food, transportation to worship and recreational centres, hospitality, and agricultural value chains.
This grim reality, notwithstanding, many remain unperturbed due to the wrongly held perception that only jobs in Government establishments as career or appointment, procurement of trycycles and grinding machines for the men and women respectively are the best way to improve the fortunes of low level income earners and empower the economy.
Unfortunately, tales of woe witnessed by our retired parents seemed not to have given us enough thoughts for introspection, the future is bleak so there is drastic need for a total re-orientation of our collective mind set to a more investment prone approach.
This should go beyond mere sloganeering with the resultant sprouting up of a few kiosks that will fold up within months of operation due to debts and taxes. It should be a multi year plan that will get the buy in of our families and equip communities as the only sustainable way to save for the seasons of adversity ahead.
This should not be misconstrued as a call for bigotry, self aggrandizement or unscrupulous practices. The sooner the opportune class realizes that just as COVID-19 made many run to hospitals that were not built so would we retire to homes where our children may not be able to contend with the maintenance and challenges of our geriatric lifestyle.
If we truly want an egalitarian society, we have to look deep, reflect and understand the dynamics at play in order to take calculated risks that will pay off and will liberate our people from a total dependence on Government for sustenance. Our activities should be able to empower the average Cross Riverian to interrogate Government actions and inactions. This invariably will lead to better governance for all.
I understand that there are risks involved in building investments. Exactly why we should all do this together until nothing can deter us. This is a call for collective action.
The time is now to start the conversation where we will be able to stock our barns despite not seeing rain or sun.
Sir Arthur Jarvis Archibong is an educationist. He tweets via @SirArthurJarvis.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Arthur Jarvis Archibong and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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