THE BETTER CROSS RIVER MOVEMENT (BCRM)
* Are you a man or woman of conscience? Do you earnestly yearn
for rapid economic and social development?
* Are you concerned about our future in Cross River State in the face of dwindling revenues?
* Are you concerned about the sustainability of the recorded progress in our State since 1999?
* Do you desire a smooth and progressive transition from the present to the future?
* Are you concerned about the peace and security of Cross River State after 2015?
If you are, then you must be a candidate for the Unifier project.
What is the Unifier Project?
It is a project designed to search throughout the length and breadth of Cross River North and nominate the best person to be governor of Cross River State in 201.
It is a project which insists that such a person must be a unifier. He or she must bridge the gaps between the North, the central and the South. This means that he or she must have a global temperament and must be totally detribalized.
The Unifier Project is the vehicle which has decided to announce to all Cross Riverians that Rev. Fr. Francis Agantem Eworo is the best person to succeed Senator Liyel Imoke as Governor of Cross River State in 2015.
THE MAN REV. FR. FRANCIS AGENTEM EWORO
Fr. Francis Eworo is a priest of the Roman Catholic Church of Ogoja Diocese. He was ordained in 1997.
He comes from Egbung – Bansara, in Ogoja Local Government Area of Cross River State
He was trained at St. Joseph Major Seminary, Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria (affiliate institute of Pontifical Urban University, Rome) and obtained a Bachelors Degree of Philosophy in June 1993 and a Bachelor Degree of Sacred Theology in 1997.
Fr. Eworo was the former chaplain of the Knight of St John International and Nurses Guild and was a one-time Pastor and Proprietor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Bunyia Irruan Boki – Ogoja Diocese from 1997 to 2003. He later became a Parish Priest of St. Joseph Parish, Okuku Ogoja.
After a remarkable career in local dioceses, here in Nigeria, Fr. Eworo went on to become the Parochial Vicar of the Diocese of Rochester – Sacred Heart Cathedral, in New York, U.S.A.
Today he is the Founder and Visitor of Pope John Paul II University in Ogoja – a project that is under construction right now.
Fr. Eworo has always been involved in the politics of PDP since 1999. He has been very instrumental to the successes of the party in the State and a mentor to numerous elected and appointed political office holders in Cross River State.
In spite of his ecclesiastical duties, the leaders of PDP in the state deemed it fit to appoint him to political positions in the state. These positions include:
Member of Cross River State Pilgrims Welfare Board 2004 to date.
Member, peace promotion team and provision of relief support to warring zones in Cross River State – 2004.
Member, panel of investigation into allegations of fraudulent activities in Cross River State – 2003.
Fr. Eworo is a bridge builder. He is not only humble, charismatic, diligent and intelligent, but he is also noted for his philanthropy.
Fr. Eworo has excellent skills in oral and written communication and he is an expert in mobilization and conflict resolution
Fr. Eworo is also an expert fund raiser. This can be seen through his university project – Pope John Paul II University in Ogoja.
You can trust him. Cross River State will be safe in his hands.
Why Fr. Eworo?
Fr. Francis Eworo is unique because he is a unifier. He is the only bridge that links the spiritual with the physical, the temporal with the ecclesiastic, the old with the new, the youth with the elderly, the former Governors with the present ones and between the North with both the Central and Southern Senatorial zones of Cross River State.
For those gifted with spiritual perception, Cross River State needs a man who understands the spiritual and sociological dynamics that govern the state. Cross River State has faced serious economic challenges and political setbacks, for instance, the loss of Bakassi, the oil wells, etc. At this stage in our history, it is no longer politics as usual. We need both spiritual and political guidance in charting the course forward. Fr. Eworo stands out very clearly as a man destined to prosecute this mission.
Cross River State needs a peace maker and a bridge builder. That bridge is Rev Fr. Francis Agantem Eworo. He is not only an expert in conflict resolution, by virtue of his training and calling, Fr. Eworo is the most detribalized Cross Riverian of all the aspirants who have indicated interest to run the race.
Fr. Eworo is an international figure with a wide network of partners. He has the capacity to attract funding for his projects. His university project in Ogoja is a perfect example of his capacity.
You can trust him. Cross River State will be safe in his hands.
A WINDOW ON THE MIND OF A GREAT MAN!!!
His Philosophy of Life
“God First! In all I do, God comes first. I believe in the sovereignty of God and I believe in the fellowship of all men. To me, no matter who you are, no matter your estate in life, all men are equal before God. I seek to lift up the weak and the poor in the society; I am always wounded deeply in my soul when I see poverty, disease and pain in the society. I feel depressed when I see people use their power to suppress the poor. I have vowed in my life to do my best to eliminate poverty and suffering. For me, politics is the means to realize this. I also have a strong passion to equip women and youths. I believe that if we equip our women our families will be strong and the society will be better.”
His views and roles in politics:
“As a young kid I have always desired democracy and the well-being of our people. I have always had an incurable passion to better the lives of the people. I got involved in politics for only one reason to help the poor and give our young people the opportunities they would never have had in their lifetime. It is for this reason that I have been active in politics since 1999. I have worked for politicians since then, I have helped politicians mobilize the people during elections. I have played key roles in the democratic process because of my passion for democracy.”
Insight on why he wants to be Governor:
“I want to be Governor because there is need for a core member of the PDP family to continue to consolidate on what Senator Liyel Imoke has been able to achieve in his 8 years in office. Also, I want to serve as the unifier of the various divides or gaps existing in the state. Cross River State has always been a theatre of vicious ethnic divides. About two decades ago, Professor Emmanuel Ayandele, then Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, defined Cross River State as “an atomistic society perpetually at war with itself.” Donald Duke confronted this inter-ethnic animosity many times and tried hard to defeat it. It was Imoke who totally arrested it. But Imoke is leaving and people are once again worried about whether we will return to the era of inter-ethnic suspicion. The state is today looking for a Governor who will not promote only Northern interests or the interest of one Local Government Area. I believe that I am the most detribalized of all the aspirants. “
On why as a Priest, he is aspiring for political power:
“Throughout history, God has chosen special people to perform special tasks. I believe we have reached that stage in the history of Cross River State where a priest with a passion for politics is needed. I have searched myself very carefully. Am I looking for a job? No. Do I need wealth? No. Am I looking for fame? No. There is a power greater than me pushing me on. Do not forget, Cross River State is very spiritual and some of the things that have happened here are as a result of the interplay of spiritual forces. Things do not happen by chance. I believe that God wants to use me to move Cross River State forward. The state has had recent misfortunes that led to the loss of our land and the loss of our oil wells. These things are not ordinary. The appearance of a priest in our politics today is symbolic. Let God’s will be done.”
How he will actualize this noble dream:
“Simple. I have always played the role of a unifier. I am the only aspirant who can dissolve factional boundaries. I am the only aspirant who has delegates already waiting even before congresses. I have men, women, and children all over the state who will follow my direction. It is not something you gain overnight. It comes as a result of years of living among these people, relating with them and helping to solve their problems. Cross Riverians already know they can trust me. They know they are safe in my hands. I have assisted so many to get to where they are today. These people will speak for me.”
The unique qualities that differentiate him from others aspiring to lead Cross River State:
“When you look at my life, you see very clearly that I have seen it all. I have passed through poverty, I have been in the middle class and though I will not say that I am rich now, but I can create wealth whenever I choose to. I think I can make a difference. I have the formula that will make the engine of prosperity to begin to move in Cross River State. My wealth of experience, my wide contacts and above all my faith in God.”
On how he can move Cross River State forward if elected especially now that oil resources have dwindled in Cross River State:
“There is hope for Cross River State beyond oil, because apart from oil, our state is still blessed with enormous solid and mineral resources which are yet largely untapped. Nevertheless, it should be noted that our best resources can be found in our human resources, our geography and our culture. It is this realization that set the previous administrations to focus on tourism and agriculture. We have not yet been able to tap even 5% of our resources. Part of the problems lie in the undeveloped infrastructure. For instance, our soil can produce enough food to feed Nigeria, but without rural roads, agriculture cannot develop. Senator Imoke understood this and invested in rural roads. That man has developed infrastructure more than any previous government but the unique thing is that his infrastructural development is not just for the sake of infrastructure. I refer to it as strategic Infrastructure. Right now, we have many rural roads, projects like ITM Ugep, CICC, Summit Hills, etc. We also have the Calabar carnival, Tinapa and the ranch resort. We have the Stadia, the water and electricity schemes, the monorail project, and so forth.
The only thing missing is how to put all of these things together – a good road linking all the local government areas and also linking other states. This is the missing backbone. The Calabar – Ikom Highway is in a horrible state. The Odukpani-Akwa Ibom road is in a sorry state. The Ogoja-Katsina-Ala road and the Ikom-Obudu roads are equally in a poor state. These are strategic roads that will make Cross River State easily accessible from within and from without. Without these roads, Cross River remains unattractive to visitors. This will be among the top priority projects if given the mandate. We will negotiate with the Federal Government and the private sector to buy the Federal roads. This will be a strategic step. Through these same negotiation we can ensure that the North-East Railway line runs through the entire length of Cross River State. Furthermore, we will do a structural engineering in our rural communities to create development consciousness among our people. We shall encourage the formation of cooperative societies and help them to access funds for development both from the federal government and the international community. I have already put certain things on ground. Once I am sworn in as governor, I shall train 10,000 Volunteers for capacity Empowerment and Financial Intelligence with access to Associate Memberships in Networks and cooperatives. I shall also create 1,000 online and offline cooperatives. Our narrative will change. Everybody will begin to talk the language of development”
“The Cross River State of 2019 will be the home of young entrepreneurs, it will be an investor’s paradise; it will be a land of disciplined work force. Cottage industries will be opened everywhere and mega corporations will depend on their services. Wilmar, MEDA, General Electric, Schools of Nursing, Hospitality Institute, ITM, Crutech, College of education, the Knowledge city, etc All of these wiil be involved in training our young people. If our economy is growing and our young men and women have entrepreneurship and technical training, we will help them create new businesses. I shall partner with world class NGOs and cooperatives to create 1,000 online and offline cooperatives.
With this, we can create a happier society”
The Moral Infrastructure
“Going through the Core Values and Exact Principles of Imoke I was captivated by the profound depths of the Imoke mindset. The Department of Orientation will be empowered to take these values into all primary and secondary schools. And the wards and local communities will not be left out. We shall emphasize youth Leadership and Moral Empowerment camps.”
Education is the bedrock of all development. We shall make education compulsory for all children. We shall ensure that nobody passes through the primary school without excellent knowledge of English and Mathematics. We shall not tolerate illiterates in our schools. Teachers will be retrained and their conditions of service boosted.
We shall take drastic steps to monitor teaching and learning. Our children will no longer roam the streets.
The easiest way to get people to key into development projects is the formation of cooperatives.
* We shall create Ward Development Centres across 196 wards. These will be registered cooperatives with CRS/CAC, charged with the responsibility of providing purposeful leadership and delivery services at the smallest political unit, that is the ward level.
* Our partnerships with Helping Hands International and other cooperatives will build 18 Care Centres – one in each local government area – for the orphaned, aged and counseling staff for single-parents in Soft-Skills acquisitions training.
“This is where we are perhaps best known, but this is where we may be facing our greatest challenges. Tourism is pleasure, but tourism is also business. It must be driven by the private sector and it must yield profits. We have world class tourism facilities but the Federal roads running across the state are a sorry sight. We therefore have the problem of access. Imoke has had to deal with this problem and I will continue from where he stopped. Today, the Bebi Airstrip has been transformed with world class equipment (DVOR, ILS, DBN & GLIDE SLOPE). Presently, there are 61 private chattered flights, up from 3 in 2007. All we need to do is come up with strategies to direct traffic there. We also need to develop all three tourism clusters of the North, South and Central. Imoke’s magic has also brought Tinapa close to city center, through the Construction of the Access road to the Convention Center. The next government must look into further development of tourism sites. It is said that in 2014 attendance to the Calabar carnival was 825, 306. We should push it to close to 2 million in the next 4 years. We must begin to dream to make the Calabar carnival even bigger. We have no choice but to attract private investors. Hospitality training must be boosted. We need travel agents in Calabar. We need tour companies with tour guides. We need our hotels to operate along world class standards. Thank God Imoke has come out with a Tourism policy for the state. Our duty is to strengthen it and ensure strict implementation and compliance.”
Zoning to the North
“I am filled with mixed emotions. On the one hand a sense of gratitude – gratitude to no one else but the Almighty God who is using Governor Imoke to bring Northern Cross River back to the center of Cross River politics. On the other hand, I stand here with a deep sense of worry – worry about our unity; worry about our commitment to the collective good of our people. We have never been as disunited as we are today. We have never been as selfish as we are today. Therefore I am worried to the depths of my soul.
Many are right now spending sleepless nights developing strategies to become the next governor. That is however the least of my worries. The challenge facing us today is not who should be the next governor but how we can produce a strong governor for the entire Cross River State. Government house, Calabar is not only looking for a home boy, it is also looking for a national and international figure.”
The Third Foundation: Taking Cross River State to the Next Level
For those who are perceptive about the dialectics of governance, it is easy to discern three stages of movement in the development of Cross River State. Duke and Imoke represent two stages of the dialectics. In this period, bold projects were situated within careful programmes, huge infrastructural projects were conceived, and particularly in the Imoke era, rural Cross River began to taste the presence of government. For any discerning eye, it is clear that Cross River State is about to reach its developmental synthesis in 2015.
So far two foundations have been laid. The First Foundation was laid in the years 1999 – 2007. It was a foundation that was meant to carry out a drastic change in the psyche of the Cross Riverian. It was a foundation that drew the attention of Nigerians to the state. It declared Cross River a tourist’s haven and opened up our urban areas and developed important tourism sites.
The Second Foundation was laid in the years 2007 – 2015. This Foundation which is about to conclude developed internally generated revenue, attracted foreign investors, computerized governance, established great institutions and opened up rural areas. This second foundation introduced discipline and strategic planning. These first two Foundations are remarkable –the ranch resort, Tinapa, the Carnival, the Mountain race, Leboku, Summit Hills, CICC, ITM, the technical schools, Bebi, Schools of Nursing, Rural Roads, MEDA, General Electric, Wilmar, TKC, etc.
The Third Foundation will be laid in 2015. That is where I come in. It is going to be slightly different from the first two. It is going to be a massive leap into people’s empowerment. It will give power to the people. It will make Cross Riverians to participate in the economy.
We will depend on experts to partner with us
We will insist on indigene training and technology transfer
We will insist on technical education
We will develop cooperative societies in our rural communities
We will insist on Attitudinal change
It is almost impossible to make a brief catalogue of Imoke’s infrastructural development. From housing to electricity, to water, to rural and urban roads, to stadia, health centers, and so forth. We cannot but mention the Margaret Ekpo Airport By-pass, Channels 1 and 2 drains, several urban renewal projects in Calabar and elsewhere, asphalting of several rural and urban roads, Calabar urban Lots 1 and 2, Ugep urban, Ikom urban and Obudu urban roads. Over 475km Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) roads with Cross River State bearing 67% of the cost of the roads while the African Development Bank (ADB) is footing the remaining 33%. 245 residential houses, at Akpabuyo, 220 residential houses, at Odukpani, 130 residential houses planned for Ikom, and 166 at Ogoja. The list is endless. But the beauty of these projects is that they fit into a strategic program. Any future government must learn to anchor all of these projects on the rural communities. People should be made to participate in the management of these projects. People will have to learn to take ownership of these projects.”
On the Annual Calabar Festival and Calabar as a global destination:
“The Annual Calabar Festival which has become synonymous with the Christmas festivities is growing every year. We shall continue to strive to create a conducive environment for private sector participation and eventual ownership. In 2007 we had 200,000 people attending the carnival. The Imoke administration has pushed it up to 825, 306 visitors. In my administration, we will aim at 2,000,000 visitors. But this is not going to be easy. We will have to prepare for this. We will develop the infrastructure to cope with this and encourage the private sector to establish tourism villages across the state.”
Eworo speaks on the Governor Cross River Needs in 2015
“What kind of governor does Cross River State need at this point?
Let me outline, the kind of governor we must offer to the good people of Cross River State.
First, we need a Cross River Governor, not a Northern Governor. We need a detribalized leader like Imoke. It is a fact that Imoke has been governor for 7 years and his projects are spread all over the state. The man is already a legend of our time. Nothing could have stopped him, for instance, from siting the billion Naira project of ITM Ugep in Itigidi his home town. His father was a well-known statesman of independent Nigeria, yet Imoke has not named any public building or institution after his father. All you see about Imoke is an overwhelming passion for Cross River State. That is the governor we must produce – a true Cross Riverian from head to foot. The question I keep asking myself is this, Am I that kind of person?
Second, we need a God-fearing man or woman. The privileges of being a governor are gargantuan. If we are not careful, if we are not disciplined, if we do not have the fear of God, the moment we are sworn in we may be tempted to think we are God. A man who is not God fearing, will destroy not only himself but his society along with him. Such a person will bring curses into our state.
Third, we need a governor who will have zero tolerance for corruption. If we must build a secure society for our children and the future generations, then we must be very willing to make sacrifices. We must follow due process and transparency in governance. The reason that most of our people are poor is that most of our money finds its way into private pockets. Among Governor Imoke’s greatest achievements are strict budgeting, strategic planning, fiduciary discipline and adherence to due process. We need a governor who is well schooled under the tenets and praxis of due process. Will I be such a governor?
Fourth, we need a grassroots mobilizer. We need a man who has been around and lived in the rural areas. Some people wonder if I am “on ground”, using a well beaten political cliché. Well, anybody who knows, Francis Agantem Eworo, will tell you that story. I have slept in the rice farms and I have slept in the mountains. I saw poverty and deprivation as a child. I saw hunger and thirst. Yet I saw love and the grace of God. I know the pains and tears of our people. I have been their son, their brother and now, by the special grace of God, I am their father. Day and night I lament and reflect over the challenges facing Cross River State.
Fifth, we need a creative fund raiser. We need a governor who understands the economic variables of Cross River State. Our IGR must be creatively boosted. Donor support must also be nurtured. And we must go all out to seek major investors – people who will key into our economy and help us develop a coherent programme of investments and initiatives aimed at establishing Cross River State as the main private sector driven economy in Nigeria. I have been privileged to spearhead mega projects in my lifetime, from scratch to bottom without any personal funds of my own. Today, I want to offer my experience, contacts and expertise to serve Cross River State.
Finally, we need a man who can build on the foundation already laid by Imoke and Duke. To do this, the future governor must be very clear about the 7-Point agenda of Imoke. It will be impossible to take the state to the next level without doing a careful appraisal of the 7-Point Agenda. The State Planning Commission along with other key MDAs will do this appraisal.
It is not a party that awaits us in 2015. It is hard work and more hard work. It is toil and tears. It is transparency and discipline. It is extreme sacrifice. We should ask God to choose a governor for us. If God does not choose me then let me not venture to force myself into office. The issue therefore is not who will be the next governor. The issue is about how strong that governor will be for Cross River State. The issue is not who wears the crown, but how well the crown sits on his head.
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