In the last couple of years, the world has experienced a downturn in several economies. Western economies have seen the recession wipe out jobs in their millions and iconic financial institutions built decades ago like, Freddie Marc, Fannie May, Lehman Brothers, Northern Rock etc have all bitten the dust. We have witnessed panic on Wall Street as shares of blue chip companies tumbled, hedge funds shrunk and pension values dwindled. It cost many great leaders and political parties in the West elections and electoral offices; the Republicans in the USA, the Labour government and charismatic leaders like Sarkozi in France.
New strategies were sought to revamp the economies; Europe began adopting austerity measures and America began to bail out its institutions to restart the growth of their economies, create jobs and improve the fortunes of their countries,
In Cross River state, several kilometres away from the West, our recession has been as a result of successive governments not recognising that we have been in economic recession or not being proactive enough and as such doing only very little about our dwindling economic fortunes. Like they say ” to solve a problem, you have to first identify the problem.” in other words , not knowing there is a problem, means you can’t even begin to contemplate the solution.
A few decades ago, CRS was a huge contributor to the economy of Nigeria and had abundance of agro-based products before crude oil became the lazy mainstay of the Nigerian economy. In the 60’s and 70’s, we were a net exporter of palm oil, with huge investments in oil palms in Ibiahe, Calaro, Qua falls/Oban, etc, extensive rice farming in Bansara, Yakurr, Biase, among others. Most graduates of Cross River origin’ from that time, went to school with money earned from proceeds of parents or relatives’ agricultural activities. I even can recollect that some local council authorities made investments in agriculture to help provide her people with the necessary employment platforms. We were a net exporter of rubber with investments in rubber at Akamkpa( for those of us who lived in Akamkpa environs or were working in CREL) Pamol in Odukpani, Nko/agoi among others.
We were also a net exporter of timber especially from the forests of Akamkpa, Obubra, Boki, Ikom to mention a few. There was gmelina planted in Awi for pulp production, food crops like yams in Yakurr which were transportesd and sold up North. What o plantain in Biase and Ikom, cocoa in Boki, Etung, honey in Obudu and Obanliku, etc. Because of the volume of food and cash crops produced from all over the state Government saw it necessary to regulate their management and sale, setting up in the process, the Cross River Marketing Board, Cocoa Board, the Palm Produce Board amongst others. Our youths then were employed, engaged while generating revenue for our dear state, then our recession came. There was unplanned population growth and control among other things (while this is a Nigerian issue, we made our contributions). Whatever caused our recession is in itself is a topic for yet another essay, but few questions may be asked.
Could it have been the coming of the first Republic, the change in our attitude , self love instead instead of societal good, self enrichment instead of preservation for future generations? Were our human development efforts poor or did we lack an educational policy that sought to address employment ? Why did bribery and corruption become the order of the day instead of instilling proper societal values that will maintain the moral and economic mainstay of our society ? How do we stem the decay of this recession that has been here for decades?
The taking away of oil wells and the resultant dwindling of our financial allocated resources from the federal government should cause us to think. How come CRS has not generated finances from elsewhere, like in agriculture and selling produce to neighbouring states. Tourism is a good earner, however it does not stop us from looking for other sources of income, is it not time to diversify?
*Ubi, an international business consultant wrote in from the UK where he lives.
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