Cross River State Carrot 🥕 And Stick🥢 2020 Ending BY SIMON UTSU

In Breaking News, Opinion, Politics

The year has been a very peculiar one. A tough one for everyone. For that reason alone, I’ve been very careful or should I say, deliberately stayed away from being too critical of the local politicians and politically exposed (in my home State). Well, today is boxing 🥊 day 2020. A good day to throw some punches and whip some lashes at the creme de la creme of poorly performing politicians in my State, so without much ado, let’s get straight to business.



Dr. Betta Edu, Commissioner for Health.

It’s usually said what a man can do, a woman can do better. Betta has quintessentially proven this adage right and sits atop this list for obvious reasons. COVID-19 has been in the front burner all through this year. About a year ago when Ayade was about to announce his cabinet, rumors were rife that Betta was going to be appointed Health Commissioner. I openly wrote advising against it as I felt (obviously so) that she wasn’t ready or should I say, experienced enough for such an office.

She was eventually appointed and didn’t take much time to prove my doubts right. From the get go, her handling of the pandemic left mouths agape. From the ‘purchase’ of the wrong ventilators to suppressing of COVID-19 infection figures to going into an open civil war with her professional colleagues in charge of the local Nigeria Medical Association that led to her being queried and invited by the national body and which almost led to her professional license being withdrawn. I strongly hope she redeems her image professionally in the next couple of years because she has a lot to lose if she doesn’t.



Director General of the Cross River State Due Process Agency.

The highly ambitious Director General of the Cross River State Due Process Agency and an integral member of Governor Ayade’s political think tank has also made the cut. He perfectly fits the description of a meddlesome interloper. He’s always in the news for the wrong reasons. Some days ago, a video was made public where the DG was seen being escorted out of the Senate chambers by stern, no-nonsense looking parliamentary security. The deputy acting Senator for Cross River North, was close to being manhandled and was only saved by the little local wisdom he possessed, which must have informed his sharp and quick movements out of the premises in concordance with the instructions of the sergeant-at-arms’ men.

Earlier in the year, he was in the news for publicly instigating a fight with veteran politician, Vena Ikem in the lobby of the Calabar Hilton. In between, he has made the headlines for only the wrong reasons and deserves as many strokes of the stick 🏒 as possible.


Asuquo Ekpenyong, Commissioner of Finance.

Our Eniong Rick Ross has made the list for about the umpteenth time. Since the inception of this administration in 2015, the young politician, in-law to Donald Duke, scion of the Asuquo Ekpenyong dynasty, has failed to live up to the billing. It seems he has been putting in his best – apparently, his best hasn’t been good enough.

Middle of this year, the Nigerian Ministry of Finance listed Cross River State as one of the few States that was going to miss out on some international agency largesse to the tune of millions of US Dollars due to what it termed “fiscal irresponsibility/recklessness”. And this recklessness was largely due to the Finance Commissioner failing to tidy up the books of the State in time before the FG’s team came for a routine audit.

Invariably, Mr. Suki was caught snoozing on the job by his bosses from Abuja even after being told they were on their way. Only God knows how long he’ll continue with the slumbering.


Prince Goddy Jedy Agba, Minister of State for Power.

Chief Jedy Agba is fast becoming a constant on this list. At this rate, the Minister of State for Power may just become an SI Unit for lacklustre performance. At the beginning of the second quarter of this year, news broke that the Minister chased an entourage of hungry Cross Riverians away from the gate of his Abuja home.

Their only crime was that they found their way to the house of their rich brother in a far away land, in the middle of the lockdown, to beg for some food. There was even a side spin to that story – that he called the Police on them – a spin that was vehemently denied by his camp when I got in contact with them. That aside, the Minister of State for Power has literally kept Cross River in the dark (pun intended).

There has been no commitment whatsoever from him in the year running on the legacy capital projects his Ministry plans to execute in his home State. This is in contrast to the much publicised 20 something projects the Senior Power Minister, Alhaji Mamman Saleh penciled down for his Niger home State.

In addition to the above listed sins, our dear Dishonorable Minister is said to surround himself with official aides from outside the State as he always claims Cross Riverians don’t meet his recruitment standards. How many sticks for our dear Prince?




Hon. Jarigbe Agom, member representing Ogoja/Yala constituency in the House of Representatives.

Without any doubt, the parliamentarian deserves to be named the politician of the year in the Cross River State political circuit. It’s not easy for a ‘mere’ Reps. member to sustain a fight with the Governor of his State for several rounds even as he leaves him with a bloodied nose 👃🐽, a battered eye and shattered teeth😬.

Even if Gov. Ayade wins subsequent rounds, Rep. Jarigbe has done enough to have his name etched in the annals of Cross River State political history. That said and with due respect to Jarigbe’s ‘sagacity’, it’s obvious the Governor isn’t cut out for core politics. Because there’s no way any of his post 1999 predecessors would have been held down in a political battle for this long by a ‘downliner’.

We all remember how Imoke rounded up Senator Ndoma-Egba and Otu together with Jedy Agba some five years ago. Three super heavyweights. This was after they seemingly knocked him of his perch and left him almost for dead. Liyel bounced back and put them where they belonged. Ayade has been unable to fight this battle like an expert. He naively succumbed to Wike’s attack last year and let him install Sandy Onor. Nyesom Wike is a few steps away from installing another Senator.

All in all, I wish Jarigbe the best even as I advice him to never lose his guard – You’re up against a Governor for crying out loud … He should not be a sectional Senator if/when he gets there. Thirdly, he should not allow pride set in as this would determine how long he stays on top.


Dr. Inyang Asibong, Commissioner for International Development Cooperations.

The Commissioner for International Development seems to be a woman backed by grace. Her endeavours almost always yield maximum output with minimum effort. About a year ago, she was redeployed from the Health Ministry. According to the State’s constitution, anyone to be appointed Health Commissioner, should have had at least ten years of medical consultancy experience. Dr. Inyang didn’t meet this requirement when she was made Health Commissioner in 2015 neither did her successor, Betta Edu, last year.

That said, she fared well as Health Commissioner in the period under review and seamlessly fitted into her new portfolio against all expectations. As International Development Cooperations Commissioner, she has been able to optimally harness the potential of Nigerian based foreign donor agencies. She’s always in the news 🗞️ for that reason.


Mr. Eugene Upah, Senior Special Assistant on Public Communications to Governor Ben Ayade.

Eugene used to be a very good friend up until when he was appointed by Gov. Ayade as his Senior special Assistant on Public Communications. I told him that our friendship had been suspended as he had accepted Ayade’s appointment which to me, was a poisoned chalice.

In all honesty, he has surprised me. He has been outstanding. He’s about the only media aide of the Governor who is able to use the social media optimally – to communicate Government’s policy effectively, devoid of insults. I understand he also pushes content on traditional media platforms like the local radio and TV stations, in his bid to inform the people about the progress being made by the Ayade Government.

Most a’ times, I strive not to doubt his communication because I feel the conscious efforts he puts to sell the ideas of the Governor and the progress of some of the numerous appointees of State. Pound for pound, Mr. Eugene is the best media aide of Ayade and one of the best three aides in the Assistant/Adviser cadre.


Mr. Princewill Odidi, International Development Consultant.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t include Mr. Odidi on this list but for the sake of this discourse, I’ve decided to categorize him as a politically exposed person because he isn’t a core politician. Well, the North America based International Development Consultant deserves to be here, being someone who has developed a knack for using his time and space to always inform Cross Riverians and Nigerians. In the year under review, Mr. Odidi has spent time educating Nigerians on all sorts of policy related topics. Ranging from domestic to foreign policies. And he usually does this by simplifying the discourse to the most elementary form and projecting it across the social media space to reach all nooks and crannies. Hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Nigerians have been educated by the soft speaking Princewill Odidi for next to nothing in the year under review.


Citizen Agba Jalingo.

He needs little introduction and has been included here also as a politically exposed person. A journalist and an activist of no mean repute who was catapulted to international fame in the year under review after being incarcerated by Cross River State’s Governor Ayade. Veteran journalist Jalingo Agba has kept the Cross River State Government on her toes all year round due to his frequent expositories.


Mr. Joseph Edet, MD Cross River State Garment factory.

The MD of the Cross River State Garment factory, Mr. Joseph Edet AKA La Shakara, is no doubt, a man of excellence. Since coming on board last year, he hasn’t shied away from shining. Under his watch, the garment factory has become a symbol of pride and a steady revenue point for the State. His wealth of experience as an entrepreneur, has been brought to bear and is worthy of emulation.

Not to forget the biennial giant flag hoisting ritual which he funds from his pockets. He’s indeed a role model and the human representation of the “spirit of enterprise” brand introduced by Governor Ayade some years back.

Simon Utsu, is a Cross Riverian and writes from Lagos via

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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