Simon Utsu|17 April 2017
For sometime now, I've been writing the histories of political villains from Cross River. Many of them after so many years of disservice to their people want to retire with a good name but we won't allow that happen. Some have started seeking repentance with God, I learnt the current house of reps guy representing Abi-Yakurr Federal constituency recently told reporters he has found Christ. This is someone who to me is one of the fortunate Cross Riverians given his background of abject poverty and rural rascalism.
BASSEY EWA turned out to be a one term speaker of the CRSHA and a three term member of the Federal House of Representatives but the political 'return on investment' for his constituents has been very abysmal to say the least.
We thank God he has found Christ and thus, is a new creation but that won't stop us from placing him where he belongs in the history books. After all, if a condemned armed robber repents at the gallows, it won't stop the law from taking its course and the robber being executed. That doesn't mean his soul won't be saved, his legacy might'nt but his soul would.
I'll move onto bigger fish, I'll get back to his ilk much later in my series(which is a continuous one) that's if the need arises.
1st Republic: Cross River state had two notable heroes in the 1st republic: Chief M.T. Mbu and Margaret Ekpo. M.T. Mbu was 'whisked' away by the colonialists from his native Boki due to his high intelligence. It was said that his handwriting was so good and impressive that he was made Nigeria's Federal minister of Labour at an early age of 23 in 1953, making him the youngest cabinet member at that time and even till date. He also held the portfolio of Nigeria's high commissioner to the UK between 1955 and 1959 making him the first to do so.
I don't need to say much about Margaret Ekpo who was the first Nigerian woman to mobilise women and inspire them to riot for equal rights. She led the now famous Aba women riots and many other struggles to liberate Nigerian women from the shackles of pre-colonial African tradition. Magaret Ekpo was Rosa Parks and Margaret Thatcher rolled up in one. In my opinion, her advocacy was more effective and legendary than that of Funmilayo Kuti but due to the fact that the Nigerian media is owned and controlled by the Yorubas, she has been featured less and Kuti more and this has given Funmilayo a slight edge over her.
Few years before her death, she was frequently featured on CRBC TV where she serenaded us about her political conquests during her heydays. She's a Cross River state treasure and a national icon. The Calabar International Airport is named after her.
2nd Republic: In the 2nd republic, the standout politician from Cross River state was Dr Joseph Wayas who was the Senate President then.
Wayas was a very charismatic politician and oozed leadership. He was an astute politician and brought lots of development to his home region. One thing I like about him is his political maturity and statesmanliness. Joseph Wayas retired from active politics when the ovation was loudest. He left the scene for the younger ones. A characteristic which is very rare in Nigerian politics today. Joseph Wayas remains the highest ranked politician out of Cross River state till date(Senate President).
3rd Republic: This was a short-lived republic. The only thing worth mentioning about it is, Liyel Imoke who later became a governor in the fourth republic was elected into the Senate at a young age of 29 making him the youngest ever Nigerian elected into the Senate till date.
4th Republic: Nigeria is still in the fourth republic, hopefully, it isn't truncated by a military coup. The most impressive Cross Riverian in this republic is Donald Duke who served as governor between 1999 and 2007.
His works are still fresh in our memories so I don't need to remind anyone why Duke is the greatest governor Cross River and probably Nigeria has had till date. He was inexperienced at the start but that trait was suppressed by his strong ambition and will power to make an impact.
In addition, he came prepared to do the job. All these qualities mixed together gave Cross River state(and Nigeria) the most urbane and dynamic governor. He took a lot of risks, most of which paid off. His successors have struggled to walk(work?) in the shoes which he left behind.
This write-up was meant to focus on the heroes, I've talked about the villains in different write-ups in the recent past. Florence Ita-Giwa, Okoi Arikpo and a couple of others.
Apparently, this fourth republic seems to be pregnant with villains who put selfish interests ahead of their call to serve their people. We are watching and we WILL write their histories accordingly.
Is a Social Commentator