BY Agba Jalingo
January 22, 2015, months before he became Governor, Senator Ben Ayade who was then the governorship flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, 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. Yours sincerely was there present with a huge CrossRiverWatch team.
The CrossRiverWatch team was told that, in a resolve to demonstrate total support for their son, all the village chiefs in Obudu summoned all and sundry the previous day with the native drums, and announced the expected arrival of ‘their son’ in their respective village squares and barred anyone from either going to the farm or opening the markets or shops, but to all throng the stadium to welcome the governorship hopeful.
Senator Ayade boldly told his people that he will transform the fortunes of Obudu. He added a caveat, “If I am not able to change your fortunes in fours years, reject me as your son.”
It’s more than 5 years after that faithful day, now Governor Ayade went back to Obudu yesterday, to again promise his people that he will build and complete an international cargo airport for them and if he does not finish it before he leaves, they should banish him from Obudu. This time, he also added that he is the richest son of the soil.
Five years after the first promise was made, I am from Obudu, I look back to our communities back home and I wonder why Obudu has not rejected the governor like he requested himself or has the fortune of Obudu really changed in four years?
There is an army of unproductive youths who have been given government titles by Ayade to earn some food on the table. So also has his administration aided and abated the proliferation of gangs and gang violence into nearly every hamlet in Obudu LGA, including remote villages where such things were never heard of before his coming to power. It is under Ayade that for the first time, a DPO was attacked and killed in his police station. It is under Ayade that a DSS head in charge of Obudu, was attacked by hoodlums and hospitalized. These things were hitherto unheard of in Obudu.
Obudu is still riding on rural roads that were constructed by AfDB and Ayade’s predecessor. Pipe borne water that was flowing in Obudu dried up under Ayade. Water pipes were destroyed and uprooted by this same government. No power in Obudu after this same governor deceived his own people with a diesel powered experiment that was designed to fail. There is only one government doctor in Obudu where the governor comes from. Even the monuments he is building as industries, none is in Obudu. Just some “powerful men” and family members who he has empowered to terrorize the rest of us in Obudu.
Rabid land grabbing schemes in Obudu by the governor are tearing families apart including deaths coupled with incessant intimidation from government agents. These are the immediate existentialist concerns of the Obudu people. The governor has been completely cut off from this reality and has no idea how his people loath him. Now he has arrived with another bogus and unrealistic gerrymandering.
An airport with facilities for commercial cargo and passenger air transport requires just more than a loquacious and hollow promise. Preparedness must be ticked for facilities to store and maintain aircraft, a control tower, a landing area, which comprises an aerially accessible open space including at least one operationally active surface as a runway for planes to take off or land, and often includes adjacent utility buildings such as control towers, hangars and terminals. Other facilities for an international cargo airport will include, airport aprons, taxiway bridges, air traffic control centers, passenger facilities such as restaurants and lounges, and emergency services.
Governor Ayade has only 1,050 days left in office. He does not have any time to construct an airport. The State does not even have any money to construct an airport and even if we did, there is no political will. Besides, from January 2021, governorship campaign support groups will start mushrooming. We will begin to hear RESCUE CROSS RIVER 2023, RESTORE CROSS RIVER 2023, RECLAIM CROSS RIVER 2023, CONTINUITY 2023 etc. Sirens will become multiple in that small Calabar as the aspirants begin to assert themselves. The succession struggle will begin and catch up with Ayade. He will abandon governance and begin the succession struggle. The airport will be the last thing on his mind. Let us not be deceived again.
Let governor Ayade attain to those little things that will change the everyday lives of our people and strengthen their capacity to pursue their happiness and waste no more time in pursuing an elitist utopia that holds little benefit for ordinary Obudu people.
For the hackneyed talk about being the richest man in Obudu. Such flippancy is expected when gubernatorial excitement refuses to wean. If not, how will the most quoted cliche of a governor from most of those who work and interact with him, be his constant boasting about being the richest man in Obudu? If a man is richest in Obudu, I don’t think that person is rich yet. In any case, whether governor Ayade is the richest or not, that is his personal business and I have promised never to discuss anything personal but I remain curious to know which if his companies was successful and spinning millions before he started signing government money, name it; or is it with public money that he is boasting?
Citizen Agba Jalingo.