As Gov Ben Ayade of the PDP, Sen John Owan Enoh of APC and Barr Eyo Ekpo of SDP continue to oil their battle arsenals for the big fight on February 28, 2019, verbal missiles have continued to fly randomly between the top contenders for the plum job.
Recall that APC guber running mate, Ekpo Okon, had in a WhatsApp interactive post, questioned why Advanced Teachers Training College should be contemplated by the Ayade’s administration, saying the government has failed in all ramifications. But, Christian Ita, the Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the Governor had fired back, saying Donald Duke, in whose government Ekpo Okon played outstanding roles, did not achieved much in its first term in office.
Christian Ita’s response may have also drawn the ire of the governorship candidate of the SDP, Barr Eyo Ekpo who found fault with Ita’s postulation. Recall that Ekpo was Attorney General during the Duke’s years.
Ekpo told Ita: “no one proves how good a thing is by showing how bad another is. Assuming it is true, as you imply, that the first terms of Donald Duke and your Principal are the same in terms of performance/achievements, this in no way excuses the Administration you serve, that came into office promising so much.
I have noticed, and I’m sure this house too, your implicit, almost Freudian, admission in your post that this current first term has little, if anything at all, to write home about. The problem with your admission is that you have dragged the illustrious name of Donald Duke into the matter avoidably and needlessly. That is wrong and it cannot stand.
Your implicit claim that Donald Duke did nothing during his 1999-2003 tenure is an untruth of a deep and fearful kind, coming from someone who is the official spokesperson of the incumbent State Governor. I will take it as a policy statement by this Administration and therefore one that I am so glad people on this platform, who love this State and know better, have stood up too.
So, let me recall a few of the “nothings” that Donald Duke achieved in his first term and situate them in what I am convinced is their true context.
- Public sector ethical and institutional reforms to bring Government business in line with democratic tenets and restore due process in governance. These reforms continued into his 2nd term and I participated in executing some of them.
- Governance physical enhancement. All govt-owned offices and accommodations were stripped bare and refurbished to provide a good working environment for staff at all levels.
- Urbanisation: LGA HQs beginning with Ugep, Itigidi, Ikom, Ogoja and Obudu. Also developed Uyanga Model Town via donor support.
- Agribusiness: Re-cultivation of our aged agricultural estates from Biase through Obubra to Boki.
- Calabar Capital regeneration: Elevating Calabar into a true State capital, including re-establishing/dualising major township arteries like Ndidem Iso, IBB Way, Eta Agbo, Mary Slessor Ave; apart from infrastructure upgrades across town that changed the economic status of practically every homeowner in Calabar.
- Modernised the Watt Market and upgraded Etim Edem Park.
- Upgraded the Governor’s Lodge through a managed demolition of erstwhile prefab structures and the complete and masterful restoration and extension of the original 19th century Governor’s Lodge.
- Environmental sanitation and beautification. “Clean and Green” simply became part of our heritage and DNA.
- Rural rebirth: the Rural Access Mobility Programme (RAMP) and rural electrification programmes kicked off in his first term. These saw rural roads being built in all LGAs to link our villages to the major State and Federal trunk roads. In his 2nd term, those roads started being ashphalted. It also saw our rural electrification status start moving from 15% of villages to over 70% by 2007. It is for you to tell us whether we have got to 100% electrification and explain why RAMP has barely moved since 2015. To me, these two are his second greatest achievements.
- Donald Duke’s greatest achievement, in my respectful opinion, however, and the true context of his work in this State, was to TOTALLY change the way typical Cross Riverians saw themselves, raise our collective and individual self-esteem to stratospheric levels, and inculcate in us the pride and can-do spirit of genuine achievers. Can you honestly say that this spirit still subsists in us?
In the past three years of your Principal, that spirit has been massively eroded, if not gone completely in most of us…and this, above everything else, is our greatest loss as a State. It is something that we must #RecoverAndRestore.
There will probably be others facts that others will tell you. What is remarkable here is that these things were done on a shoestring budget and, importantly, they laid the groundwork of real, sustainable achievements for the political revolution in CRS that saw his previously implacable foes in the APP move en masse and of their own volition, without financial inducement, into his former Party, the PDP, which bestowed massive popular support on that Party. This genuine support of our people from Bekwarra to Bakassi ought to have been a platform for launching Cross River into true greatness. We are all living witnesses to how that legacy has been abused and misused.
So, Chief Press Secretary, whatever good you may do, I must advise you that it should never include telling Cross Riverians that Donald Duke achieved nothing in his first term and therefore, by that absolutely untenable logic, Cross Riverians should award your principal a 2nd term.
Donald Duke is the epitome and standard-bearer of what is good about political leadership in Cross River State. Please be very well-advised accordingly and never again dare to question his legacy. Thank you.”