OPINION : OBUDU : A Governor's Home With No Government

The expressway in Obudu,  Governor Ayade Local Government 
By Inyali Peter

Obudu local government area was agog like any other would have been when it became the first local government from the northern senatorial district to produce Governor Ben Ayade as the first civilian Governor from the zone. The euphoria was so high that it was almost like a taboo for anybody from Obudu to openly identify with another political party or camp other than Ayade's own. The memory of how some people mobilized traditional rulers to banish members of the opposition from Obudu is still very fresh.

For those who for any reason were in Obudu during the first few months of the Governor Ayade's administration, they will agree that the excitement was like the joy of the South South region when former President Jonathan won the 2011 Presidential election.

In 2011, the entire South South saw in Jonathan a Moses sent by God to deliver them from the hands of Pharaoh and the wickedness of Egyptians. The joy was unspeakable and immeasurable. To them,  there was a Messiah in Jonathan who was divinely sent not to only transform the political instability in the region to a near perfection stage but to also address the longstanding issue of marginalization.

But, sooner than expected, this euphoria faded away into the thin air as it dawn on everybody that the man lacked the political will to address the issues of marginalization and underdevelopment facing the region. He was uncharacteristically too weak and ended up causing the region more problems than he met them.

However, while the Jonathan scenario cannot be completely likened to the Ayade brouhaha because there was no agitation of marginalization by the Obudu people, the excitement that greeted their victory in the polls was the same. The expectation of starting charity which they say begins at home was the same.

But unfortunately,  just like Jonathan's own faded away with pains, Ayade's own has disappeared into the land of no return and oblivion with great regret and lugubriousness.

This regret born out of the fact that Obudu,  though a Governor's home, has no sign that there's government in place. The people have been subjected to a rather strange, pathetic and unpopular standard of living where basic social amenities have been denied.

Since Ayade came on board, there have been no light in Obudu. He disconnected the entire local government from the national grid and promised to provide at least 15 hours steady light at his own expense for the people. He brought some refurbished generator plants and powered the place for a few weeks then issued bill that they people had no choice other than to take to the streets to protest against.

Each compound in Obudu was expected to pay at least N10,000 as light rate. He phrased it that it was to procure diesel to power the plant.  How can you promise people free light only to turn back and charge them more than the previous system you claimed you were helping them out of?

Ayade said he sees Cross River State as an enterprise with him as the Chief Executive Officer. But must you do business with even your people that you know struggle from hand to mouth? Yes, every CEO strive to maximize profits but any profit that is built around fraud, falsehood, deceits and cheats is a paralytic profit.

When the people were using light from national grid, most compounds according to available records were paying between N500 to N2,000. And now that they have a governor that want to help them, they can only enjoy light when they muscle out N10,000 monthly.  The monthly income of some entire families in Obudu is not up to this amount; this, the Governor is aware but decided to do business with the suffering of his people. What an irony!

As if the issue of light was not enough, the Governor has ensured that there's no motorable road in Obudu again. In the last six months, to drive from one end of Obudu to another,  it takes a good driver that is familiar with the terrain not less than two hours; a journey of less than 30 minutes when he took over.

Around December last year,  the Governor layed the ground for the dualization of Mbog-Obudu road.  He promised during the groundbreaking ceremony that the project will be completed on or before 30th of December 2016. But seven months later, it is gradually becoming a scam like everything associated with his administration.

To make matter worst, Ayade ordered the excavation of the major road that connects Obudu with other local governments and have abandoned it. They government is now giving reason that it can't continue work because of the rainy reason.  The question is, did the raining season appear as a surprise to them? Where NDDC and Federal Ministry of works are doing intervention work in Calabar/Ikom highway, they are partitioning the road and are working it bit by bit.

But in Obudu, everything has been removed without recourse to the season which they are using as an excuse. Today,  the road that leads to Otuoke,  former President Jonathan's country home is an express way when compared to the major road that links Obudu with other local governments. Yet, the Governor is from there.

Obudu expressway 
Street lights in Obudu was almost the first project Ayade embarked on but since it was fixed,  it has remained like that because the Governor handed over the project to one his brothers who has diverted the money while the engineers that executed the contract have remained unpaid. Instead of finding solution to that, the Governor has according to rumour mills rewarded the contract to that his brother to remove and reinstall the street lights to give way for the road dualization. While this may sound funny but it tells how Ayade has merchandised and commercialised the deceitful development of his home town.

The questions that have continuously popped up is; why would the government complete street lights, although not functional but only to come back in less than a year to remove it for road construction? At what stage in Ayade's administration did he realize that Obudu needed good road? Why waste public funds unnecessarily on a particular project?

What is the assurance that the next Governor that will come after him will sustain the generator lighting system in Obudu? Was there any consultation with the people before they were disconnected from the national grid? Has the move improved power supply by whatever margin in Obudu? Answers to all these questions are all on the negative!

During Donald Duke's administration, Obudu was one of the tourist destinations in the State. Duke established the Obudu Dam resort which attracted tourists from all part of the world. The project created jobs for the teeming youths as well as improve economic activities in the state. People were coming from all part of the state to spend holidays and summer in Obudu Dam while others were coming to buy fish in large quantity.

Under the immediate past administration of Liyel Imoke, the state government built and equipped health centres in all the ten political wards in Obudu. At least, one primary and secondary schools were renovated across the wards in the local government.

There was massive rural road construction. This, the government executed in partnership with the NDDC.

But regrettably, today that Obudu son is the Governor instead of him to revive the forgotten comatose Obudu Dam to create jobs and enhance economic activities, he has resorted to extorting from his people. Instead of people to hear about development and how tourists visit Dam in droves, the only news coming out of Obudu now is crime.  Armed robbery,  kidnapping and cultism have become the new order in Obudu.  Indigenes now sleep with their one eye open.

Instead of Ayade to improve on the roads Imoke built, he has decided to include roads already executed by NDDC or State government in the 2017 budget. For instance,  the Bebuagbong road which was constructed by NDDC is today captured in the 2017 budget. Who is fooling who?

The best thing Ayade has done for his people is to make a once peaceful place a den and safe haven for criminals. If this is how people enjoy having a Governor, then Obudu and indeed other local government will prefer having a Cameroonian as a governor.

It is only in Obudu that Ayade will demolish a six bedroom flat and issue N1.5m as compensation. It's only in Obudu that Ayade will destroy economic trees and issue N23,000 cross cheque as compensation to people who have no current account or any means of having one.

It is only in Obudu that Ayade will acquire land from a community with the promise of setting up a standard rice meals to create jobs only to convert it to his personal property where he's currently building a family estate. All those who farm around the place mostly widows had their farms destroyed without any hope of any compensation.

These are the agonies of producing a wrong Governor. These are the few of the many untold sufferings of the Obudu people. The mayhem, the pains and the hardship unleashed on a people by their own very son.

Next time you hear someone generalizing Ayade's failure to be Obudu thing, remind the person what they are going through; hell!

The views expressed here are exclusively the opinion of the writer and does not represent the views of Fearless Reports 
Rt. Hon. Paul Adah 1862985986170811258

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