Dear Prince Otu, Don’t Start From Where We Are Leaving…

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We are leaving somewhere. Like, departing from a place of discomfort to another destination. That should happen in exactly 291 days. It is important for all of us to make sure we remind whoever will take over the reins of power from Governor Ayade, whether it is the ruling or the opposition party, that we are reading their lips and preparing their marking scheme.

Prince Otu, the APC guber candidate was on a thank-you tour of Cross River North recently. I think they had a good time going round without any major incident of violence or chaos. That is very commendable. Two things however have been sticking out like the sore toes of an elephantiasis infected feet. Among the events that took place in the North, Otu’s supporters have been particular about two. The spraying of money from an open roof car in Bekwarra for people to pick from the ground and Otu’s promise to revamp Okuku Market in Yala LGA, if he becomes our next governor.

While Otu supporters called what happened in Abuochiche junction the triumphal arrival of Prince Otu, to a tumultuous welcome, what I saw was people throwing Naira notes from the open roof of a speeding vehicle and luring poor villagers to scramble for a pick among bikes that could have hit anyone. Let me be very clear that in Nigerian politics and during campaign seasons, it is not only Prince Otu or his supporters that will be caught in this. Having said that, that cannot be a standard we will accept or tolerate in our State.

First, Prince Otu was a member of the National Assembly that passed the CBN Act which criminalizes the denigration of Naira notes in the manner we saw in Bekwarra. In a place where laws work, all those caught on video spraying or trampling on those notes should be facing a magistrate by now. Secondly, it smacks of taking our people for granted because of their poverty, anytime someone who says they want to go and lead us and alleviate our poverty, come around and begin to throw Naira notes to the ground for peoples’ fathers, mothers, aunties and youths to trample on themselves and pick and fight over after the convoys are far gone.

The toe, knee and elbow injuries they sustain in the running and falling, the risk of being knocked down by a rushing vehicle, are all part of the wickedness infested by such despicable show of shame. These are not sights that should be celebrated. Our people are not dogs and food should not be thrown to them on the ground. Dogs too don’t eat from the ground any longer. Even Ayade is putting the food on the table. He is not throwing it on the ground.

Prince Otu was also quoted as saying: “I spent most of my school days in the North, and during that time, people come from all over the country to buy at the Okuku market. I will revive that market and make sure that happens again in my time.” Now, this is where I want to caution that we cannot continue from where we are leaving. Stop the bogus promises and stop them now please. We are tired of these bogus gargantuan and olympotic promises. Do what the laws says.

We need to tell Prince Otu early enough that, if by any chance he becomes our governor, rather than bother about fixing Okuku market, he should promise Cross Riverians that, he will not touch or pilfer LGA funds like all his predecessors have been doing and will allow the LGAs to work and function as enshrined in our Constitution. If he does that, Okuku market will function as he desires without his intervention. Historically, markets have always been out of the purview of governors even from colonial administration. Communities and local chiefs have always had a way to manage their market places peacefully until big government began to unfairly interfere.

Let us also remind Prince Otu again that, sub(e) of the Fourth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, clearly vests the establishment, maintenance and regulation of slaughter houses, slaughter slabs, markets, motor parks and public conveniences on LGAs and not on Governors. It is the refusal of the governors to do what the law says that is killing markets like the one in Okuku and several others across the State. I am very sure that even that time Otu spent in the North like he said, the Okuku market he says was doing well and bringing people from across the country was developed and run by the LGA not the State government.

We shall continue to standby and gather together what those who want to lead us are promising us on their way to power and keep the promises as their marking scheme. This will serve as a good reminder and a wealthy library for the social contract.

 

Yours sincerely,

Citizen Agba Jalingo.