I Am Not Against Ogoja State – Imoke

Source: OUR REPORTER. - thewillnigeria.com

San Francisco, August 23, (THEWILL) - Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State has said that he is not against the creation of Ogoja State out of the present Cross River.

Speaking at a Town Hall meeting for the people of Northern Senatorial District at Senator Liyel Imoke Pavalion, Ogoja Local Government Council Secretariat, Imoke noted that though people have the right to clamour for an additional state, it is not his place as a serving Governor to call for the creation of another State, adding that there is need for some sense of equity to be inculcated in the state.

Imoke disclosed that after his tenure as Governor of Cross River, "The next Governor must come from the Northern Senatorial District with or without the creation of Ogoja State to create some sense of equity and belonging which can happen".

The Governor said though Government’s presence in Ogoja is not adequate, the Governor’s lodge which is in a bad shape will be renovated and upgraded while modalities have been completed to extend the Ogoja stadium to a 5,000 seater facility, assuring that facilities at Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH), Okuku Campus, will be developed not only to serve the people but meet international standards.

On the deplorable conditions of Federal roads in the state, the Governor said the State will rehabilitate the critical areas rather than wait for the federal government as it intends to mobilize contractors during the dry season. He further stated that the Rural Development Agency (RUDA) must first interact with the people and know their priorities and desires before embarking on any project as Government has tried to reach those that need it most by identifying critical programmes that will make life meaningful to them.

Imoke disclosed that additional 480 Kilometres of road will be handled by RUDA in the next phase to bring the total to over one thousand which it has constructed for the benefit of the rural populace while additional 50 new health centres will be constructed and 42 renovated across the State in the next phase, and advised that pregnant women and children under five years should receive medical services free of charge.

He called on Mr. Fidelis Ugbo, Secretary to the State Government to issue a circular to that effect because the responsibility of paying their medical bills is borne by the State Government.

The Governor attributed the slow pace of success recorded in the health and education sectors to lack of adequate trained manpower and infrastructure "because renovation will be useless if teachers and nurses are not renovated as well", saying that 100 communities have been earmarked to benefit from the next phase of the State rural electrification project. This he said was to ensure that the rural areas were opened up to check urban migration, and also to create opportunities for the private sector to open industries.

Imoke restated his fight against cultism in the state and enjoined those in attendance to join the crusade because it has overtaken the society and metamorphosed into gangster groups to intimidate the people which makes it criminal rather than politics, suggesting that there should be a stringent pre-requisite for political office seekers because the cult groups are transforming as they get more enlightened with huge sums of money in bank account.

On politics, he said people should be allowed to express themselves as civil societies and non-governmental organizations have been invited to Cross River to witness the August 28 Local Government elections. He implored that the process should be open and transparent, warning that people should not be intimidated, but allowed to support the party of their choice because the State is doing well and would want the world to see that true democracy is practiced here.

The Governor advised that seizure of election materials will not be tolerated as anyone caught will be prosecuted. He called for a peaceful and transparent election, based on "one man, one vote" and that the people should accept what ever result that comes out of it.

Contributors at the Town Hall meeting touched varied issues affecting the Northern Senatorial District which include State of the Federal Roads, creation of Ogoja State, education, health, politics, security, marginalization, and issuance of certificate of recognition to clan heads.

Others are water, young men in politics, problems of the physically challenged, NYSC, Bansara Rice farm, Forest, Agriculture and women in politics.

It was attended by members and past members of the national, state and local assemblies from the district, members of the state executive council, chairmen of local government areas from the district, paramount rulers, political stalwarts, business community as well as foreigners doing business in the State.

Mr. John Odey, Minister of Environment in a Goodwill address, said the occasion was important and timely because the people had been angling to express their minds and he congratulated the Governor for his good work so far, adding that the Town Hall meeting afforded them the opportunity to express their loyalty and feelings through a collective presentation.

Odey said the district was fully represented and would support Imoke’s administration because his leadership style has inspired them as they will continue to do so.

Ntufam Edet Okon Asim, Commissioner for Information and Orientation in an opening remarks, said the occasion afforded the people opportunity to interact with the Governor on issues affecting not only them but the entire State and he called for meaningful suggestions for good governance.

According to Asim, Imoke thinks big for the whole State despite its poor revenue base and the meeting would create an environment for them to understand government the more and vice versa.

The Ogoja Town Hall meeting was the last in the series of three, the first being for the people of Central Senatorial District at Ikom followed by that of the Southern Senatorial District in Calabar.