By Afula Inah Ogar
Firstly, every lap of honor has to end, eventually. So it is an absurdity that more than eleven years after his tenure as Governor of Cross River state, the former Governor Donald Duke revels in being an antagonist, possibly motivated by a self preservatory fear of his era becoming nothing more than a footnote in our history.
Plausibly, his fixation with his protagonist, former mentor and political collaborator has driven him to undue criticism of his greatest benefactor and political ally. But he need not nurture that fear as already his era is the most preserved in the history of Nigeria, with covered up facts of mismanaged funds and acquisition of debt of, which the state can never be free of for the next ten generations, considering the number of megalomaniac projects with no direct benefit to the poor citizens of the state embarked upon.
UNBULDING THE TRUTH
Worryingly, while many argue that it was unclear if the accuser was trying to convince his critics or himself about his suitability for the presidency through the most recent of his ill-advised attacks on Senator Liyel Imoke, two weeks ago, what has become more damaging is Senator Imokes fact laden thunderbolt of a response, which hit home with a punctuating thud while helping and not hindering the perception that Duke is yesterday’s man. Annoyingly, Senator Imoke then stopped short of unmasking his protégées atrocities when at the helm of Government House Calabar, with his ‘civilized and gentlemanly’ responses.
Which suggest that the long held notion of a cover-up of misdemeanors and financial misappropriations based on a gentleman’s agreement is in place between the two, which should indeed leave a bitter taste in the mouth of the good people of the state. Who ab initio deserve to know the truth about how their resources were used by those whom they gave their mandate. Indeed, was Senator Imoke a co-beneficiary of Dukes the accusers ill-gotten largess, which we know about and will highlight but a few here?
ANGER, FRUSTRATION, BLAME? FOR DUKE AND IMOKE, THERE’S PLENTY OF IT TO GO AROUND. AND IT DOESN’T BEGIN OR END WITH IMOKE…
But, then, the focus of this narrative is not about who is wrong or right, even as many have termed this spat a spectators delight, drawing cheers and jeers yet incapable of drowning our current realities… failed leadership, poverty, indebtedness, insecurity and uncertainty, which daily plagues our beleaguered people. It is really about the injustice done to the state and her people.
In light of accusations and counter-accusations, should Cross Riverians not have been told how the relocation funds given to dislodged Bakassi indigenes were diverted? Or why the eighteen Local Governments were coerced into giving a monthly N1,000,000.00 Naira (one million Naira), totaling, N18m Naira, monthly, deducted at source, to an NGO belonging to the then powerful First Lady of whom Duke myself said ‘the fear of her was the beginning of wisdom.’
Additionally, do Cross Riverians not deserve to know about the huge variations running into billions of Naira on the already completed Tinapa studio project, variations that occurred once Dukes presidential ambition became a reality? And there are other issues requiring clarification including public assets that were sold and returns never made to the state.
In this context it necessitates our calling on the antagonist and protagonist to sheet their swords except in defense of the state, since excellent leadership should bequeath confidence in the people, is strategic, is purposeful, is deliberate yet steely when required.
And yet this call for ceasefire doesn’t overlook Ntufam Eyo-Nsa Ekongs warning that former governor Duke as a “tough-talker with a spitefully uncultured tongue, who is widely considered a notorious wind-up merchant.”
WE MUST MUSTER A SEMBLANCE OF PRIDE HAVING OBVIOUSLY LOST OUR CLOAK OF INVINCIBILITY
Secondly, while Senator Imokes response was forthright considering his longstanding rule not to engage in disreputable rancor to both protect and honor the seat and the office of Governor, our appeal is that he reverts to this time held convention of his and not fall into the trap of those urging him to always respond because his silence in the face of many provocations makes his ‘political friend’ bolder, with suggestions there was indeed a collusion between him and his predecessor to deceive Cross Riverians, considering that the skeletons adorning Dukes wardrobe could barely be held within even in the face of Imokes silence.
Which makes it all ironic with Duke stretching further to call the current Governor an “undertaker,” when the irony is that his family remains the chief beneficiary of the so called “undertaker,” government. With the ‘undertaker’s’ financial superintendent married to his second daughter, while his wife the former First Lady collects a monthly payout of 20 to 50m from the states FAC allocation being routed through UBA bank, a deal she facilitated as a Director, in addition to another 50 -70m annually paid to her for Christmas lights and decorations.
In reality there is so much more we could write about just so Cross Riverians understand the character of the man now accusing everyone of complicity, including why the states invested shares in a bank were converted for personal use yet quietly brushed aside, while properties belonging to the state were converted to private use including the one used for an NGO/hospital, with a certificate of occupancy signed by then Governor Duke and issued to the purported NGO belonging to his powerful wife, while lies were told the people of CRS that the property was on a long lease to the NGO? Which then makes Duke the antagonist an “undertaker?”
In addition, if a contractor handling projects when the accuser was Governor gratuitously builds a private residence in a choice part of Lagos, why claim it was built on the wings of a loan when indeed the property was only used as a collateral for a failed venture capital. Not forgetting also the fact that another contractor built a private property in the state capital on a piece of land forcefully collected from the NUJ, cutting through and shutting down a state thoroughfare. This audacity of these actions not only traumatized many but also exposed the extent of depravity in the accusers character.
Finally, as long as these questions remain answered, despite increasingly obvious facts, we therefore advice both parties to sheet their swords as they are both guilty of disservice to the good people of CRS. One in putting the economy of CRS into a major recession due to unnecessary borrowing, looting and fraud, the other by remaining silent in the face of the gravity of the situation CRS now finds itself.
God bless the good people of Cross River state and Nigeria
The views expressed are the author’s
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