By Akpan Umoren
It is no longer news that the emergence of Senator (Prince) Bassey Edet Otu as Governor of Cross River State has rekindled hope of survival in residents and confidence in investors and donors. The various decisions so far taken by the Governor since taking over the helm of leadership has boosted confidence in governance.
Governor Otu, it is agreed, may have taken great steps to return Cross River state to glory days. For instance, having a renowned academic like Prof. Owan-Enoh as the Secretary to the State Government is one key step that has announced the Governor’s intention to deflate the lukewarmness of the past and set the stage for reforms in government’s business. Other positions like that of the Chief of Staff, Chief Press Secretary etc, have also renewed the hope of a better governance structure for the state.
Another morale booster is the plan by Otu to repair the state library which has been an eyesore for years now. This has been hailed by progressive minded residents who believe that what used to be an edifice was deliberately abandoned to rot away.
The Governor during a visit to the library had voiced out his surprise at the dilapidated state of the library. “Libraries are important and we will ensure that we have an e-library that is functional, digital, and would serve the needs of students and researchers,” he had explained to both students and researchers.
He added: “I am not unaware of the financial constraints we face as a state, but we will look at what is feasible as quickly as possible and work to get the library up and running as libraries as centres of knowledge are pivotal to growth and development,”
The Governor also posited, and rightly so, that a functional library will help in bringing back the reading culture amongst students as the library will be IT and digital compliant.
Prince Otu’s magnanimity also came into play when he, on hearing that part of Bogobiri, the Hausa community was gutted by fire, wasted no time in visiting there with his deputy, Hon. Peter Odey where he donated N10m to cushion the effect of loses.
“As a government, we are indeed very sad with what has happened here given the level of losses recorded.
“For people who have never been here before, they will not know the extent of this damage. This is very serious considering that this is the centre of trade for the Hausa community in the capital,” he had explained.
By doing this, the governor brought governance right down to those he leads. The pain brought about by the fire outback receded at the arrival of the governor, giving way to some excitement and hope. His empathy for the people clearly registered on his face as he spoke and victims of the fire could not help but appreciate his presence.
In continuation of his morale-boosting activities, the governor met with civil servants working in the governor’s office to feel their pulse on what their reaction would be as he disclosed to them his plan to remodel the seat of state power.
Civil servants in the state had long forgotten when last they had Imprest to buy stationeries. This accounted for many official, including but not limited to, classified documents being taken to business centers for typing or photocopying. But Otu has promised to restore Imprest to aid and facilitate official activities and duties.
It needs be said that the negative impact of typing or photocopying highly classified documents in business centers cannot be over-emphasized. The implication is that internal memo and discreet government transactions often find their way to the public domain while machines bought with tax payers’ money rot away in the various offices
With the restoration of Imprest, these machines would be recalibrated and put to use and once again, government documents will have safe places away from the prying eyes of the public.
Another early action of the governor was his meeting with organized Labour, both the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). This meeting, coming at a time there is so much hullabaloo over subsidy withdrawal, pacified Labour because of assurances by the governor to find a way in cushioning the effect of the impact of the withdrawal.
But most importantly, for him to pay retired and retiring staff their pension and gratuity as well as regular salaries to yet-to-be retired Staff, he has opted to work with the security agencies in order to make sure of the exact number of workers in the state service.
This idea is certainly not out of place because in the previous government, this same job was contracted out to a “Consultant” who ended up complicating things. With a highly professional and disciplined security agency, a thorough assessment and accurate computation of records will emerge.
Otu, within the last few weeks has visited all the deadly spots and collapsed intra-city roadsin the metropolis including a dead trap at the Yellow-Duke Road, and has taken steps to make them accessible. Reports say he is already demonstrating his resolve to tackle infrastructural decay with stone-based concrete road at the Nyong Edem Street, Calabar South.
Residents interviewed all agree that Governor (Prince) Bassey Otu has started well and people are beginning to see clean environment. Piles of rubbish are disappearing and the stench, which was so nauseating has started receding.
The Governor is returning the State to the pre-2015 era in which Cross River state was the bride of the country. Then, the leaders initiated programs like tourism and other related activities which attracted traffic to the State with incredible results.
Then, governance was real and the excitement was infectious. The cleanliness of the city of Calabar, in particular and the general ambience of the state gave investors confidence. No wonder Calabar, the State capital became attractive to international donor agencies as well as conference organizers.
However, the last eight years, regrettably, regressed to a point where investors and donors moved out in droves and the economy plummeted. The last eight years also saw public buildings losing their attraction for want of maintenance but Otu has taken steps which, if sustained and enhanced, would usher Cross River State back to glory days.
However, the people are waiting with bated breath and eager to know who the next set of Commissioners would be and what quality they would bring to assist the Governor to achieve his vision of “People First.”