By Iwara U.Iwara
A whitlow is an inflammation occurring near a finger or toe nail. Those who have experienced one, can readily agree that the pus filled blister that accompanies it, signposts the intense noticeable pain of this inflammation which if left untreated can result in permanent loss of a finger.
Last week I stood on Marian road and watched as Cross River State governor-elect, Ben Ayade, flanked by his wife, Linda, deputy, Ivara Esu and PDP state chairman, John Achort Okon, atop a bus, waved at
jubilant crowds during the PDP’s victory parade in Calabar. I hear the parade was to thank the electorate for ‘overwhelmingly’ voting in Ayade and other PDP candidates in the elections just gone by. Well, let me say that we cannot begrudge Ayade for floating in the sky and sipping the plangent wine of electoral victory, just like it will do us no good if our next seething entreprise becomes the search for and limitless application of upper and underhand tactics to undo the PDP’s ‘victory’. Indeed our resilient nature as a people must remain firmly focused on how to survive the days ahead with a $131.469 million whitlow, painfully afflicting all of CR’s five right hand fingers.
This figure represents exactly what Nigeria’s Debt Management Office says Cross River owes in foreign loans, pitching her at third spot in an inglorious list of Nigeria’s seven worst debtor states. Only Lagos State with $1.087 billion and Kaduna State ($234million), have done more financial ‘langa‘ than our state.
Clearly, while economists argue that a state facing scarcity of capital can acquire same from external debt, provided the capital required produces a rate of return that is higher than the cost of borrowing, it does appear that in the case of our state, return on investment has been inadequate to meet maturing financial obligations…it has hindered our economic growth. I think too that for all the money we have borrowed, where it has been invested remains a faceless but painful burden. I don’t expect ‘those in government’ to agree with me, but from where I stand, an N8 billion Calabar International Convention Centre, with a promise that it will create jobs and increase the state’s economic potentials is ‘mammy water‘ economics. I have sat in several fora where the flowery potentials of the CICC were/are forcefully projected.
Propelled by whatever vision, we are building in the CICC, conference halls to sit 5,000 delegates and HOPE we can attract conferences to the place. Please, for the very long periods that no conference holds at the place, how do we maintain the place financially? I ask this question because the last time a conference with a little above 5,000 delegates came to Calabar was during the Nigerian Bar Association conference, last year and since then, nothing close to that has come this way. Painfully, the reality is this; these people just cloned Tinapa and gave it another name with bigger worries. Funny enough, the bulk of explanations about the CICC, even the technical details are often offered by a historian not engineers, duely trained to handle issues of this nature and magnitude.
I am still looking for the Calabar Media City for which our government obtained a N2.4 billion facility in 2012 for. The place ideally should have been a communication/media marketing place, promoting several level professional interactions that can in turn promote capacity building among practitioners. In places like in the UK and Dubai where this idea has had rooftop success, indigenous and local practitioners get to pitch their professional competencies against the very best from outside. So, where are we? Yes, noise was made about the place, money was collected and the state is servicing the facility but we still cannot see the Calabar Media City.
It should begin to bore us that the oil wells collected from CR and given to neighbouring Akwa Ibom State remain our government’s handy excuse for constantly limping, even without an injury. Doesn’t Ghana earn lots of dollars from cocoa? In recent times, have deliberate government policies been targeted at helping the countless cocoa plantations in CRS make measurable contributions to state finances? Instead of commit funds to biscuit endeavours like trying to host the National Sports Festival, would it not be money well spent if the money was paid to CRUTECH lecturers so our kids can get back to school? The benefits of hosting a sports festival are downright negligible unlike the visible benefits of educating our kids, but it is rather unfortunate that those who should know better are sitting back and tapping their feet while the future of our brothers and sisters hang in the balance.
If you are close to Benedict Bengioushuye Ayade, please tell him that he walks into a booby trap from May 29, 2015. Let him be wary of the several men and women, displaced by the PDP’s Aso Rock holocaust and absolutely confined to packing and leaving Abuja for Calabar. Several of them who had assurances in Abuja when Jonathan was there, have been left out of the APC equation and will come flocking to CR and Ayade, so that several expensive habits can be maintained at the state’s expense. Let us begin to pray that the whitlows in CRS will not leave Ayade visionless and shadow chasing, it always begins like this.
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