Political institutions and people, the world over, often define for themselves a set of rules and conventions that govern not just their political engagements but the entire political process which should ideally culminate in the election of candidates for a specified term in office. In the engagements that belie this process, where people are not vigilant or become too exposed to negative sophistry, what outcomes that turn out the strongest are those of the very few, tailored for the very few but needing the blind commitment of the majority to sit pretty.
As part of the political engagement process in Cross River state, those privileged to negotiate on every other Cross Riverians’ behalf, seem to see sense in letting the North of the state pour forth a pool of candidates from where the state’s next governor will hopefully be picked from by participating Cross Riverians. While the North’s agitation for this position has tended to swallow up Cross River’s real gubernatorial need, we are duty bound to help suggest what governor may be best suited for the state in 2015.
There are approximately 3.5 million people living in Cross River State’s 21,636.6 square kilometres of land. With a population density of 137 people per square kilometre, accounting for 2.1 percent of Nigeria’s total population, more than anything, government has consistently faced the daunting task of providing infrastructure for this population. The situation attains a tricky dimension when one considers that a greater percentage of this population is domiciled in villages, far removed from conventional city life and government. Those who have set their sights on governing this state must articulately outline before us all what policies will be designed to cater to the needs of these people. What policies they put before us should be ones that can comfortably leave their paper work confines and find demonstrable implementation and outcomes among the people.
In an era where leaders no longer only expect change but embrace and ginger it, it becomes pertinent to insist that anyone who aspires to lead CRS must be an agent of true change, with the ability to do away with the kind of stereotypes that have long held the state down. The state can ill afford to be led by someone who, lacking initiative, pretends to be continuing the legacies of his predecessors. This inexcusable approach which has been employed over and above our collective aspirations must be discouraged. Where for instance, like it is being bandied, aspirants work on the very transient argument that they intend to consolidate on the gains of the Imoke era, we must be wary of such candidates. The reason to be wary is simple; the dynamics of the Imoke era will be different from the ones upon us. Market situations will change, economic aspirations will differ, and the demands of leadership cannot be stagnant, how then can those who aspire to lead CRS lay claim to constant variables? We risk becoming stagnant if whoever becomes governor in 2015 is afraid of change; we will be doomed to failure, part ways with the effectiveness our state has become known for and lack the capacity to compete in a fast changing world.
It is also important that as a state, we must insist on leadership that is both knowledgeable and skilful; these are ingredients necessary for purposeful leadership. Indeed where a leader is knowledgeable and skillful he will not only demonstrate the capacity to initiate laudable people oriented programmes, he will implement them, just like he will be able to give the people around him the necessary balance in shared responsibility that will in turn drive a functional process in place to benefit CRS.
The governor CRS deserves at this stage of our development must be one who is presently able to see through the mass of individuals and political interest groups that are mushrooming the whole length of the state. Beyond the selfish interests pursued by the greatest percentage of these groups, interested more in personal gains than the forward thrust of our state, he must deploy himself to identifying and without sentiments, a select crop of highly skilled and committed Cross Riverians who will help him drive through the not too easy role of providing leadership in a state like ours. In the past and up until now, the religious recycling of intellectually dead individuals thrust into positions in government has yielded negative outcomes.
While “consolidating on the gains” in sectors long identified by successive administrations, CR’s next governor must have the capacity to identify other sectors in the state, begging for attention and having too the capacity to generate employment. It will not be enough to excessively continue to plough funds into sectors like Tourism when in other climes, policies are crafted and implemented that make Tourism a stand alone money earner. Clearly, while the Calabar Carnival may be putting the state on the world’s mental map, the not too commensurate earnings from it means that the those who aspire to be governor must show us what options with better fiscal benefits they can offer; it is not too much to ask of them.
Experts agree that behaviours are the result of social influences at different levels of analysis. Changing such behaviour will require using social influences—family, social networks, organizations, public policy—as strategies for change. The many individuals angling to be governor of CRS will do well to show us all how they intend to equip families, social networks, organizations and public policy. Will their interventions be based on any analysis focusing on behavioral change, strengthening units of solution, or building the CR society? Answers must be provided in the run-in to 2015.
No longer must any Cross Riverian sit back and allow second best pilot our affairs; we are where we are because we have let too many people come in through our political back door. This is our position.
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