Unlawful Relocation of the Siting of the Federal Polytechnic at Ikom to Ugep: Matters Arising

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First I must say thank you Federal Government and congratulations to Cross River State for the Polytechnic to be sited at Ugep. The siting is reasonable given the existence of ITM infrastructure that can be converted.

Nevertheless, it is puerile, insulting and indecent to take a swipe on an entire people for a genuine grievance.

Do you live in this country? And are you for real? May be it is deliberate amnesia on your part not to have known that the bill sponsored by Sen. Owan Enoh and passed at NASS for Mr. President’s assent specifically named Ikom as the site of the Polytechnic. And if by some administrative maneuver on the executive side the site is now unlawfully relocated to Ugep then you expect Ikom people not to bite the bullet and pour out their disappointment and grievance?

Yes Sen. Wayas as Senate President was able to change Federal College of Education Abudu (then Bendette State) to Obudu (Cross River State). But that was before it was passed to law and not after.

Ikom had equally suffered a similar experience with the NYSC permanent orientation Camp that has uncompleted and abandoned infrastructure since the early 1980s. The temporary NYSC site at Obubra has rather become permanent up until now.

In fact and in reality Ikom LGA is the most central of all LGAs in CRS and the only LGA that touches both the northern and southern senatorial districts (It has a boundary with Akpamkpa in the South and Yala + Ogoja in the north.

Ikom is as well the most populated, most urban, most commercial and most developed town and LGA outside Calabar in CRS. The Eastern regional government had since their era designated Ikom a ‘town’ while Ugep was called the largest indigenous ‘village’ in Nigeria. It is that description that some mistake in thinking Ugep is now the second largest town after Calabar.

Again, from time immemorial Ikom has accommodated large numbers of people and plantation workers from from all the LGAs in the Central and northern CRS, Akwa Abomites, Ibos, Hausas, other tribes and foreigners.

Ikom itself has been self built and self-developed with no serious government presence in recent history. And you think it shouldn’t matter to them?

See enh Ikom people are highly exposed, well educated and sophisticated. We know plenty history and follow get bad mouth join but we always choose to be civil until provoked, then we take the war to you and never never lose.

*Senator, utum-okala what is wrong is wrong there is no need brow-beating. You cannot lumber a people with an injustice and expect them to be happy and sleep on their rights.

Sen. Ndoma Egba you referenced only made a request and did not follow the proper procedure of sending in a Bill. You can discern from the letter sent to him that it was just a courteous reply from the State House with no commitment.

Sen. Owan Enoh specifically introduced the Bill for the Polytechnic at Ikom and it was passed into law as such in 2018 among similar other Bills.

We run a constitutional democracy that is situated on the rule of law and the principle of checks and balances. The Legislature make laws, the Executive executes and the Judiciary interprets. It follows therefrom that something cannot be built on nothing because this is not a military dictatorship where administrative pronouncements can be made arbitrarily.

Even our proposed State Polytechnic to be sited at Ogoja had to pass through legislative Bill process at the State House of Assembly.

The bitter truth is that it remains unlawful and an administrative brigandage for the Executive to site the Polytechnic in a place other that named in the law.

You live in America and should know that this could constitute an impeachable offense on Mr. President for not implementing the law, and a cause for the immediate resignation or removal of the Minister for grievous infraction, administrative lawlessness and manifest bias against a group of Nigerians in implementing government policy.

In any case Mr. President had signed the Bills as passed. It is only that this administrative obscenity is being committed in his name by the implementing Federal Agency. Like a Poet of yore aptly chimed: ‘O Rome. Poor Rome. What obscenities are committed in thy name’.

Did you not notice that all the letters to and conversations with the Minister of Education as to unlawfully relocate the site to Ugep happened well after the Act had been passed since 2018 and signed by Mr. President?

It clearly that an ambush was contrived through the memo at the Federal Ministry of Education that deliberately and mischievously torpedoed the name of Ikom in the case of Cross River State and allow similar others named in the memo as was passed by law.

So, naming Ugep as the site remains unlawful until the law is repealed and re-enacted through NASS.

The appealing argument is that ITM infrastructure could be used to start-off. But ITM is owned by the State Government and has laws establishing it. It is serving its own purposes. So, what is the wisdom submerging an existing State tertiary education institution and robbing Cross Riverians of its existence just because a Federal Polytechnic must be high-jacked and site where the law did not pronounce?

By the way, I have nothing against Ugep. I only speak what is true and just.

In fact, Ugep (and Yakurr LGA generally) and Ikom Town/Olulumo (Okuni) in Ikom LGA have the same distant ethnic and linguistic identity as a people.

So, all of them speak a mutually intelligible language albeit with individual variations and intonations. They all commonly say many words with same meaning such as: ‘Onee’ (person), ‘obor'(hand), ‘retu’ (head), ‘etor’ (house) and ‘rakana’ in Ikom Town/Okuni language and ‘orkana’ in Yakurr language for ‘affang or okazi’ and so many other common words.

It is also a fact that the Olulumo language is what is used for the esoteric incantations and chanting of the Yakurr ‘Obam Traditional Cult’.

At a personal level, I have an intricate connection, history and deep brotherhood relationships with Ugep people.

First, I have too many friends that are like brothers to me including the authors of the solicitation letters.

Then, my dad late Ntufam Dr. Matthew Ojong taught at Ugep Community in 1969 and briefly again in 1972.

Ugep voted massively for him and he won there in 1991 as the SDP Governorship Aspirant in the Primaries and Candidate in the General Elections, even when there was Chief Clement from Mkpani in the same then Ugep LGA contesting that General Election.

My mom schooled at Community Ugep in about the mid-1970s. A father figure to me from same village with my mom and later my Principal at Mary Knoll College the late Mr. Lawrence was Principal there between the very late 1970s and early 1980s after having been Commissioner of Education in then CRS.

Similarly, my late Uncle later MHR Hon. Dr. Alobi Nyambi was in-charge of the General Hospital at Ugep in the early 1990s. I use to visit and stay over while in the University then.

So you see, I have too much history and relationships nested in Ugep particularly and Yakurr LGA generally not to leap for joy if any good thing comes to the place.

But even at the risk of this deep affection, whatever is done wrongly and unjustly has to be called out by its name without fear or favour. Peace!

Ceejah Ojong
This is my response to Simon Utsu’s insulting and uncharitable insinuations against Ikom people on their imagined grievances; it is also in response to the comments on my earlier post on the subject matter by a friend and brother from Ugep, Peter Offem Ubi.

This opinion piece is merger of two articles, namely, Federal Polytechnic to be Sited at Ugep, and Unlawful Relocation of the Siting of the Federal Polytechnic at Ikom to Ugep: Matters Arising, written by the same author in response to the position held by Simon Utsu and Peter Offem Ubi.