I’ve read several remarks and opinions on the recent outburst between their Excellencies, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State and Governor Nyesom Wike, his Rivers State counterpart. As a Cross Riverian, it seem natural or better put patriotic to take sides with our own (Governor Ayade). This narrative would expectedly accord even the fiercest critic of our Governor a good spot on the mind of his ‘hallelujah boys’. Saying anything shot of their expectations will amount to selling yourself out to a meddlesome interloper or a foreign invader.
However, I hasten to state here without fear of contraction that the fight between the two South South Governors has nothing to do with Cross River State. If anything, it is in furtherance of their unbridled egocentric political voyage. It is a normal thing in politics.
Recall that just recently, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Governor Bala Muhammad of Bauchi State were involved in bitter media brouhaha over whether or not Fulani Herdsmen have right to go about with AK47. We’ve read and heard the battles between Governor Ganduje of Kano and Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna over repatriation of ‘almajiri’. These are normal misunderstandings that are always going on for several reasons.
Let me also state clearly that Governor Wike of Rivers State does not hate or have problems with Cross River State as some people would want us to believe. Only recently, Mr. Donald Duke, former Governor of Cross River State was invited by the Rivers State Governor to commission projects and I’m aware that Governor Wike has friends in Cross River State just like he has in other States too. Rivers State is not at war with our State. So we should always learn to deal with issues arising from subnational actors as individual conflicts of interest so as not to offer ourselves as cannon fodders to be used in their personal fights.
At this point, it is pertinent to dissect the issues emanating from the altercations of the two Governors. I read from Cross River State Government media that, the visit of Governor Bala Muhammad of Bauchi State was to discuss Agricultural value chain. Governor Nyesom Wike in his now viral video accused Governor Ayade of plans to sell Cross River State forest reserve.
Also recall that the Bauchi State Governor has recently been a strong advocate of the settlement of Fulani Herdsmen in Government reserved forests. Should Governor Wike’s allegations be swept under the carpet? Is he right? Is Bauchi State Governor coming to Cross River State to buy land for the dreaded Fulani Herdsmen having failed woefully to achieve same in Benue State? Is Governor Ayade willing to sell our forest reserve to the Herders?
My recent visit to Boki Local Government Area made me to weep for our State because of our depleting forest reserve. The level of primitive deforestation going on there by wood merchants from the North leaves one with strange imagination of what is likely to befall our State in the event that Herders are finally given a place to stay in Cross River forest. At a time when Fulani Herdsmen are losing their places of abode in Yorubaland and South East forests through the patriotic efforts of Sunday Ighoho in South West and IPOB Eastern Security Network in South East, how prepared are we for the coming onslaught?
Moreover, since critical stakeholders in our State have refused to ask our Governor questions bothering on how the State has been ran in the past 6 years, shouldn’t we rather amplify the voice of Governor Wike to ask what happened to the refunds made by the Federal Government to our State? Was Wike also wrong in his claim about our poor budgeting process? Can our own big brother also save us the shame of being attacked by outsiders by commissioning projects initiated almost 6 years ago?
Rather than join in a battle that doesn’t concern us, we should rather ask questions and think deeply because a good neighbor may be better than an uncaring brother.
Before you come here to attack, please, handle Governor Wike first.
Mr. Anthony Bissong Attah is the Cross River State Chairman of Young Progressives Party (YPP) and Inter-Party Advisory Council Chairman, he writes from Calabar, the first Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Anthony Bissong Attah and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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