Ayade and the ill fate of Cross River State... : Water Supply

By Barr Venatius Ikem

There is a strong inclination to give up the struggle and agitation for a better society. It is called despair. It sets in when you feel your efforts are not making any difference.  I have come close to that a couple of times, but then I realize that a lot of people expect us to not give up; Some even think we may have compromised. Sometimes it's that because the cacophony of voices have become many it does not add much value to continue to add yours when it is no longer stringent.  The truth, however, is neither of the above. It's just despair! Near despair!

How is it possible that development can be glaringly reversed in so short a time? Yet there are enough voices screaming that it has never been so good?

I take the issue of water supply in Calabar. How is it possible that after billions of Naira were spent and a lot of efforts invested rightly to standardize water supply in Calabar which is the most basic of the basic needs of man, and thankfully with  an almost perfect outcome achieved and widely celebrated, just less than ten years ago, that  today the residents of Calabar groan for months without water supply? To think that all the structures are still  in place: state of the art machinery in place, water not in short supply,  human beings trained, pipes laid, just everything is in place except top managerial capacity! And I define that as Governor Ayade.

It was expected that after successfully  completing Calabar water supply project the AfDB will continue to "assist" the state govt to expand the efforts to cover the entire state. Ugep scheme was added and then Ogoja and Obudu in the hope that appreciable coverage of the entire state would be achieved in the not too distant future. But here we are, stuck or on reverse gear.

I ask myself everyday, what could be the problem that would defy a solution for months in today's world? For the better part of this administration there has been no constant water supply in Calabar. No major machine has been reported broken down. Even if one had, it should not take more than a week or a few weeks to find a lasting  solution to a problem that is so sensitive to the wellbeing of the  citizenry,  by any govt worth that name.
The problem, simplistic as I may sound is the inability of the governor to focus on any single problem that arises anywhere in the administration while not giving his aides the enablement to act in the rare event that they have the capacity to. By enablement of course I mean authority. Access to resources and the power to deploy them to solve problems. Because the governor is not trustworthy, he trusts nobody and is constantly in fear of being "cheated"! He controls and micro manages state resources for  the wrong reasons and in the wrong  way just to be the only one or with his family with access to pilfer some, not for altruistic reasons. It's a no brainer to focus on water supply and have a quick response mentality that ensures that every problem in water should not take more than 24 hours to fix and put structures in place to ensure that. Leakages must occur but achieving the objective is more critical than saving a few coins from some hungry public servant or even a politician.

Governor Ayade should realize that answering the name " governor" comes with a heavy responsibility. The way he is going if he likes the future of his family and name, beyond the futile attempt to "empower " them by  illegally distributing  state resources to them,  he has to do a critical reappraisal of what he does in government urgently otherwise the odium that awaits his name and all those associated with it in Cross River State might be too difficult to bear in future. One of his aides once said to me that whether we like it or not Ayade will go down history as the first Gov from the north! Very true. But I would hate to also have that history and beside it the unflattering conclusion of being the most incompetent governor that the state ever produced!

 The verdict is no longer about Ayade, it's about our capacity as a  people from Cross River North. Yet, some people are already asking us to as a consequence of that sentiment, ensure that Ayade  is returned again as Governor so that "we complete our turn"! Our turn of what? I would not like to deviate into the discussion on the political permutations of the near future, but clearly we will do everything to mobilize our people on issues beyond "our turn" politics of yesterday. I was part of it but now I must admit publicly that I was wrong. While the principle is still good, the more fundamental issue will be the issue of capacity and track record . And arriving at that is also subjective. And there lies the new challenge.

On the whole We are tired of this Book of Lamentations. We want to sing the Songs of Solomon!
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