Filthy Calabar: A Tale Of Two Endings BY AGBA JALINGO

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Exactly 390 days from today, I don’t know where the event will hold yet, most likely, the UJ Esuene Stadium or Cultural Center or Calabar International Conference Center, but Governor Ayade will be handing it over to another Governor who we also don’t know yet. Like Ayade did inherit from his predecessor, he will also be handing over a very very filthy Calabar to his successor. How they made this a transition menu is what is intriguing.

In the last months of Senator Imoke’s reign as our Governor in 2015, the political battles to force Ayade on Cross River State as his successor relegated the cleanliness of our State capital to the nadir. Governor Imoke practically relocated to Abuja to battle with Jedy Agba and Senator Ndoma Egba at the Wadata House horse-trading.

All these came with a heavy toll on the finances of our State and the Government began to default in paying the two contractors, Patson Environmental Services and Fakonson Nigeria Limited, who were evacuating waste in Calabar. Refuse heaps began to mount all over the town. There was a public outcry by residents and very little was done in response until Ayade took over as Governor.

After taking over, Governor Ayade quickly ran to Innoson in Nnewi to acquire waste evacuation trucks and collection bins which were deployed to the rescue. This effort too was incapable of clearing Calabar of filth and the Governor decided to license new companies to take over the waste evacuation. He said Calabar was too big to have only two waste management contractors and licensed more. For five months, the new contractors were not paid and they protested at the Government House where they waited with their trucks for days to see the Governor.

While their trucks were still lined up in front of the Governor’s office and waiting to see him, the Governor terminated their contracts and announced the introduction of the waste to wealth program that was to commence from the first quarter of 2019. The program, according to the Governor, was meant to create employment opportunities for youths and generate organic fertilizer for farmers in the State.

In his words, “Indeed there is a new system coming into Calabar, it has already been shipped. In a few weeks, you will see people struggling to sell their refuse because we are installing a plant that processes urban refuse into biofertilizer to do away with the inorganic fertilizer that has cumulative negative impacts on human health. In no distant time, once you have your refuse, you will hold back the bag until you are paid before you release it. So, Calabar will naturally become clean.”

But like most things Ayade initiates, the program started and ended with that grammar. And today, towards the end of his days in office, refuse heaps are mounting and taking over Calabar again without any response from the Government. Those who are responsible for clearing the mess are all pursuing utopian electoral dreams fuelled by their fear of unemployment after leaving their current offices.

From Calabar South to Calabar Municipal. From Marian Market to Watt Market and almost every street, piles of rubbish are everywhere struggling for foot holes with pedestrians. There is a palpable fear of a possible outbreak of diseases in the once cleanest State capital in the country. Yet no one in the Government even cares to listen. It’s all about politics now. That is the top priority for all of them now. And in the end, it may just be a tale of two of a kind, as his predecessor handed a filthy Calabar to him, so shall he also hand it over to his successor as part of their transition token which they have now turned to a diadem. That’s our unfortunate reality.

Yours sincerely.

Citizen Agba Jalingo is the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch and a rights activist, is a Cross Riverian and writes in from Lagos.

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

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