By BennettÂ Â Oghifo
Two key assets in Cross River State, the Obudu Cattle Ranch and the Tinapa Business Resort could spring back to live to meet the aspirations of the stateâ€™s immediate past two governors, Mr. Donald Duke and Senator Lyel Imoke, if former national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Hon. Emmanuel Ibeshi is elected governor of the state in the next election.Â
Ibeshi who is set to declare his intention to run for governor in Cross River State presently has said that these two projects, which had been lying comatose in the last three years since Imoke left government,were at the core of a 12-prong economic, social and entrepreneurial transformation and rescue mission which are the pillars of his action plan as governor of Cross River State.
Interestingly, it was learnt that Duke and Imoke, along with Ibeshi, together fashioned the new Cross River State vision with Duke picked to begin the stateâ€™s revival mission in May, 1999, an assignment he discharged and handed over to Imoke in 2007.
â€œTruth be told, Donald Duke used eight years to put Cross River in the face of the world as the destination of choice for commercial travelers and a haven for tourism seeking foreigners asÂ Â well as Nigerians,â€ Ibeshi was quoted as saying.
He further said: â€œDuke revamped the Obudu Cattle Ranch and created the Tinapa project, a N200 billion annual economy aimed at creating thousands of jobs. These giant strides had set the pace for the economic and socio-political development of Cross River State as a destination of choice for investors,â€ Ibeshi was reported to have added.
He regretted however that the pace of activities in the state in the last three years had reduced these enviable projects to mere historical monuments with nothing to show, a situation that has turned the state into a sleepy environment compared to the vibrancy with which it was known from 1999 to 2015.
â€œSenator Imoke succeeded Duke and added value to the foundation laid by Duke. Imoke made access to rural communities his first target to enable rural dwellers commute through asphalted roads instead of earth roads that collapsed during heaven rains.
â€œHe partnered with the African Development Bank in the Rural Access Mobilisation Project (RAMP) and reached almost all rural neighbourhoods in Cross River State with RAMP Phase 1.
â€œImoke created the Rural Development Agency (RUDA) that became the main fulcrum of his administration tending towards rural development and infrastructure.
â€œImoke established the Institute of Technology and Management Ugep and the Shonghai Farms.
These two key projects of Imokeâ€™s were aimed at tapping into the agricultural potentials of Cross RiverÂ Â Â StateÂ Â Â usingÂ Â Â theÂ Â Â ShonghaiÂ Â Â model.Â Â Â TheÂ Â Â InstituteÂ Â Â ofÂ Â Â ManagementÂ Â Â andÂ Â Â TechnologyÂ Â Â was established to build capacity for the value chains realised from the Shonghai model.
â€œImoke established Micro Finance and Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA) to encourage young entrepreneurs by giving them soft loans in their various fields of endeavour in line with identified value chains
â€œThese are but a few amongst many other agencies Imokeâ€™s administration created to give verve toÂ Â Â makingÂ Â Â CrossÂ Â RiverÂ Â Â StateÂ Â Â sustainÂ Â Â herÂ Â Â enviableÂ Â Â statusÂ Â Â thatÂ Â Â DonaldÂ Â Â DukeÂ Â Â hadÂ Â Â placedÂ Â Â her nationally and globally,â€ Ibeshi reminisced.
He however regretted that all these projects had become comatose, thereby taking Cross River State almost back to pre-1999 era, a situation he promised to address as a matter of urgency, toÂ Â resuscitate and re-launch the state back to its position of glory, and position it immediately to reclaim its once leading place as the destination of choice for tourism and commerce.
Ibeshiâ€™s records hold him out as perhaps the most promising candidate that can take Cross River
State from its current lacklustre and sleepy situation back to national and global reckoning.
He launched into national space in 1992 when he was elected to serve in the Federal House of
Representatives. Ibeshi served as the House Committee Chairman of Banking and Currency until
the military coup of 1993 that scuttled the 3rd Republic.
InÂ Â Â 1994Â Â Â heÂ Â Â wasÂ Â Â electedÂ Â Â firstÂ Â Â NationalÂ Â Â PublicityÂ Â Â SecretaryÂ Â ofÂ Â Â thenÂ Â Â rulingÂ Â Â Party,Â Â Â theÂ Â Â Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP). In 2000Â Â Hon.Â Â Ibeshi astounded the NigerianÂ Â publicÂ Â byÂ Â refusingÂ Â to
support an amendment in the PDP constitution by the National Working Committee (NWC) to
extend their tenure from two to four years without going through constitutional referendum even
though he was to be a beneficiary.
Based on his strong belief in the rule of law and tenacity to democratic ideals, he opposed it even
though alone. He ended up taking his party to court insisting on the right thing to be done. The
court ruled in his favour and the ruling party was forced to comply with constitutional provisions
of the party and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
This became the first record in the annals of the Nigerian political discourse that a high standing
politicalÂ Â Â officialÂ Â Â couldÂ Â Â denyÂ Â Â theÂ Â Â perquisitesÂ Â Â ofÂ Â Â officeÂ Â Â andÂ Â Â holdÂ Â Â tenaciouslyÂ Â Â toÂ Â Â hisÂ Â Â idealsÂ Â Â to
enthrone democratic principles to his detriment. This action earned him an expulsion from the
party which he challenged in court. He was eventually restored to his office when the court
determined the case in his favour and he served out his tenure in 2001.
He was the Governorship Candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2007. The
result of the 2007 election is only too well known in Nigerian history as the precursor of the fall
of the PDP that eventually led to its eventual defeat in 2015 due to lessons that are now being
learnt the hard way.