Cross River State: A Scavengers Paradise —by Princewill Odidi

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30 September 2018 
1. CRS has been under the control of a political Cabal since 1999. At various elections they emerge in different guises but their interest has always been the same, to share the states resources amongst themselves. Some of our leaders in the past have openly converted a lot of state assets to their private use, some have converted our states estates, hotels, shares, farms, priced lands and diverted huge cash to pseudo companies which today they use privately. 
2. Our people to a large extent are ignorant to these organized schemes and entrenched state corruption, our youths know very little about the history of the state so I really don’t blame them, our elders that know some of these hard truths are more concerned on how to join in the sharing than confronting these political class. 
3. The state has a lot of resources, but instead of our leaders using skilled indigenes to harness these resources for sustainable growth, they prefer to take the easy path which is accessing hard money through loans. Duke raked in 126 billion in debt, Imoke 64 billion and AYADE so far 19 billion in three years. For Dukes debts, between 750 Million and about a billion Naira is deducted monthly from our federal allocations, as at today, Donald Duke s debts is still valued at 106b, more worrisome, Union bank took up a liquidation proceedings against Tinapa and got a valuation of 3b in 2011. Imoke on his path, secured a 40 billion bond for the debts he secured after paying back about 23 billion while Ayades debt has a repayment of about 3 billion Naira beginning December this year and subsequent years going forward.  Moreso, for Ayade none of his MoUs has raked in a dime since inception. 
4. I really pity cross river state going forward. It appears every team that comes on board, make their own money and move on while the people continue to suffer. I sometimes wonder what lies ahead. Both Paris club refunds and the bail out funds played a major role in stabilizing the state in the past three years. For Ayade we know he can only get short term commercial bank borrowing to pay in 12 months at a time due to our high debt profile. So how will he complete most of his ongoing projects? And going forward, how will the state fare? 
5. The garment factory, rice City, cocoa processing how will they become profit making companies? At what point will they continue to be a liability to the state? From which income source will we service our debts going forward? As our leaders continue on these loans spree, do they have any thought of how the future generations will pay it back? What really do we have to show for these huge loans? Can we say we have really been fair to our people? 
6. The last trench of Paris club refunds we are due to receive 12 billion, after that, that’s it. Once we finish spending this last trench what is our fate going forward? Most of the uncompleted projects, roads and industries how will they fare? How many commercial banks will continue to provide us loans given our unnecessary high debt profile? As we start the new conversation of cross river state going forward, we are saddled with so many new questions. 
7. Has Ayade provided the much needed leadership to warrant a second term? Very soon I will make that pronouncement answering yes or no. For most of those angling to take over from Ayade, one reason I have been silent on their aspirations is because they spend all their time calling the current regime a failure without providing an alternative path to sustainable development. 
8. None of the aspirants has a clear blueprint on how to manage our huge debt profile and how to improve on internally generated income, how to engage our huge unemployed population, how to restructure the current bureaucracy to enhance productivity, rather they all come up with new ideas and projects they will initiate. Sometimes I just wonder if they know what they are talking about. We all need to pray for Cross River State, our future is uncertain and tough times lies ahead. What we need Today is a leadership that can pull together an experienced management to bail the state out. 
9. We need a leadership that understands real management of scares resources. We need a leadership that will take an inventory of our resources in the state and Come up with a Development template with timelines and plans on sustainability. Can Ayade continue to play this role or do we look for another? I will answer this question another day. 
10. What about our youthful populations? Have they been prepared for leadership or are they preparing grounds for themselves to join and continue on the scavenging? Going forward, if I have to support any candidate, it has to be a candidate that will commit to not getting the state into more indebtedness. History will not forgive us, if we finally drag the state to a financial indebtedness of no return. Meanwhile, Things appears to fall apart, the center cannot hold. 
Princewill Odidi is a social commentator writing from Atlanta.