The Mortgage of Cross River’s tomorrow —by Ugbesghe Andre

Reading Time: 3 minutes
15 September 2018 
Since the Ayade administration has failed to engage youths of the state productively, social vices like drug abuse, truancy, cultism, armed robbery, rape, extortion, kidnapping, fraudulent scams and political thuggery have gained an unwholesome appeal to them. 
Bishop Josef Bassey, state president of the Christian Leaders’ Forum lamented that: “in the education sector, we used to be second in WAEC, bit now we rank under 20. In scholarship, especially the ones abroad, the people that were benefitting from the previous government are now suffering without answers.”
With the youths of the state conveniently forgotten by the administration’s bland approach to education and human capital development, they have found a noxious pastime in vices and criminality. 
Moral decadence, unemployment and an educational system moribund by neglect have dragged the Cross River youth from the path of destiny, metamorphosing the leaders of tomorrow into the concerns of tomorrow. 
Speaking on the renewed drug pandemic and crime wave in the state, Deputy Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Joseph Bassey said: “The number of young people now indulging in hard drugs is alarming, it is very dangerous. They no longer smoke indian hemp or cocaine, they now go for much stronger drugs, which are easily available in Calabar at a cheap rate of N700 or less.”
He continued: “These young people spend as much as N3,000 or more daily on such hard drugs. Of course, once they do these drugs they must maintain it. They therefore go all out to get money to get them. They can kill for as little as N500 to enable them purchase these drugs and maintain the habit.”
The administration’s neglect of the youth doesn’t appear to be the only element gnawing away at their destiny and future, as sexual immorality/promiscuity and prostitution are critically damaging the human capital base of the state through the HIV/AIDS scourge. 
Being a popular tourist destination, the youths of Cross River State are at higher risk of infection, and indeed the State has a higher prevalence rate on record. Dr. Rose Nyambi, the director general of the State Action Committee Against AIDS (SACA) said that the state had 164,267 persons (108,000 female, 61,827 males) living with the HIV virus. A government that chooses to invest in the demise of its youth instead of their lives and well-being (proper education, public/society healthcare and youth opportunities) will lose them and whatever it invested. 
It would appear the government is comfortable issuing new promises and erecting billboards for phantom projects while the future capital of the state suffers irredeemably; eroded from relevance while the menace of drug-abusing robbers and hustling prostitutes is littered across the streets. 
And, with the electioneering of 2019 around the corner, the governor’s absurd “Conditional Cash Transfer” (CCT) program – a scheme to enrich 9,000 unemployed youths with cash – isn’t bamboozling anyone; it is not youth empowerment but youth enslavement and a cruel election ruse. 
In a cry of frustration, Miss Elizabeth Usani, convener of the Pragmatic Leadership Initiative, led a protest through the streets of Calabar, upset that bad governance had created too many problems leading to a devastated economy, unemployment and falling standards of education. Her group, comprising of thousands of youths insisted on the need for good government in 2019 to ensure the proper development of the youth and the future of generations yet unborn.  
“We are not satisfied with the type of leadership we have. It is bad leadership that prompted the formation of this group to challenge the status quo. You can see today that there are many vices and youths are at the receiving end and unless a new course is charted, we the youths and generations yet unborn will continue to suffer,” she cried. 
Cross Riverians will have a chance to chart a new course in 2019. It is up to the youth to decide whether they want to keep a man who is neglecting them in office, or if they want to identify and support a new candidate with their interest at heart, who can recover and restore their destiny. The choice is theirs.

Ugbesghe Andre writes from Nigeria