In May 2015, Ben Ayade, the Obudu born Professor, Senator representing Cross River North at the time, and governorship flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the 2015 general election in Cross River State, declared an end to the sufferings of Obudu people to the delight of an ecstatic crowd that gathered at the Chief J.A. Agba memorial stadium in Obudu.
Filled with satisfaction over the manner, disposition, and the massive turn out of his people to welcome him, he could not control his excitement as he announced the end of perils in Obudu. In his words ” Kugbudu, Kingie Kimen Kimbe ” which means, “Obudu, your suffering has ended”. It’s exactly 7 years and 52 days after that day and the question on my lips this morning is: “Has the suffering of Obudu people ended?
Since he took over as Governor, Ayade has nursed some very ambitious projects for Obudu, his hometown. Principally, these projects include The British/Canadian School, the Obudu International Airport, the Obudu German Specialist Hospital, the Obudu Independent Power Project, and the Mini Super Highway which is supposed to criss-cross the five LGAs of the Northern Cross River. No doubt these are the most touted projects of the governor in Obudu. But let us examine them one after the other.
- The British/Canadian School: Most of the buildings have been completed. But nothing is going on there. The governor says he wants to turn it into a university campus, contrary to the original concept of a basic and high school. It is practical to say he will leave office without any activity in that place. But it will be a thing of great joy for me, even if it’s the primary school that can start functioning first, like the one inside the Teachers Training Institute in Biase, so we can at least remember that he built us a school. For now, there is no school in that place yet. Just some structures.
- The Obudu International Airport: Governor Ayade said publicly that if he doesn’t complete it, we should carry our sacred “bizu” leaves and banish him from Obudu. That’s what will happen because since the terminal building of the airport collapsed, not much is going on there. Our governor simply doesn’t have the money or the time to finish any kind of port now, not to even talk of an airport. He has only 289 days left. Airports aren’t built in days. He has only set a recipe for communal crisis as homeless landowners are already returning to reclaim portions of the now bushy site, which may snowball into crisis.
- The Obudu German Specialist Hospital: The buildings have also been erected and beautifully painted like sepulcher. Even the fence is so beautiful from the road that when you see it, you will wonder what is happening inside. But verily verily, nothing is going on inside and I don’t know when empty buildings started bearing the name, hospital. We all know what a hospital is and what happens inside. There is nothing like a German hospital in Obudu yet. I am not lying. It is the truth. What we have there are some painted structures and a few equipment supplied and abandoned by Coscharis. The only public hospital in Obudu till today is the Sacred Heart Hospital along hospital road, built by the Catholic mission. If we eventually have a new hospital in Obudu, whether you call it a German or Nigerian hospital, I will not hesitate to tell you.
- Obudu Independent Power Project: Our governor trumpeted this as one of his flagship projects in Obudu. He went and purchased two diesel-powered generators and brought them to power an entire LGA, in the 21st century. A small diesel generator used to power a BTS consumes about 18,000 liters of fuel per year. CO2 emission from one liter of diesel fuel is 2.68kg. Meaning one generator emits 46.5 metric tons of CO2 annually. With those large LPFO-powered generators, it is a massive environmental risk that should have been put into consideration by a Governor who is an environmentalist. Yet, the last time those generators came on was in 2019 when Ayade’s niece, Memshima was getting married. The power project has since been abandoned and the generators are parked somewhere along Ranch road.
- Mini Super Highway: I don’t need to talk much here. I just shared a video of the road with you yesterday. A road still under construction has been washed off by the rains. A road without drainage. A road so terribly done that it cannot even stand till the completion of the project. The road that failed before Ayade deceived us that he is fixing it, lasted for over 30 years. Even the job that Ayade’s construction company, Leophina Construction, got from the Federal Ministry of Works to do total rehabilitation and resurfacing of the highway from Obudu to Wula in Boki, the Governor and his brother Franko, collected the money, managed to grind the road up to Akorsie in Obanliku, abandoned the project and pocketed the money. Today, you can’t go to Obudu through Boki. We have to pass through Ogoja which is a longer route.
I am from Obudu. I wish above all things that Obudu is developed and prospers. I won’t be deceived by anyone. Not at my age. I will not join those who want to perpetually lie to our people to say what isn’t verifiable. If all these projects take off, I will tell you so. If governor Ayade leaves office today, there is nothing, absolutely nothing in Obudu, that we will point to that he did for his people other than these meaningless food on the table titles that will evaporate on his exit. It is rodents and reptiles that will live in those empty buildings.
Don’t lie to me. Complete these projects. Get them working and let us indeed know that even if you were unable to end our suffering in Obudu like you promised in May 2015, at least you were able to reduce the suffering.
Citizen Agba Jalingo is the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch and a rights activist, 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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