Hon. Godswill Eki was a member of the Cross River State House of Assembly (CRSHA) representing Odukpani Local Government State Constituency. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Chieftain spoke on his bills that gave birth to the establishment of the Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) and the conversion of the abandoned Calabar Zoo to a Botanical and Ayade be allowed again in 2019 among others. Hon. Eki spoke with DAILY ASSET’s Cross River Correspondent, FRANCIS OGAR. Excerpts.
Lack of continuity of governance is responsible for many abandoned projects in the country. All the Steel Rolling Mills and Paper Mills are abandoned. There is no state in the country that has no abandoned project. This is sad indeed. These are projects that would have brought economic boom, job employment and improved the standard of living. There are lots of abandoned projects in the country
What would you consider to be challenge of your community?
Honestly, our challenge has been lack of access rural roads and this greatly has affected the development of my area. When I was in the State House of Assembly during Donald Duke’s Administration, I made every effort for the community to have access roads but to no avail because of the terrain of the area. We are surrounded by big water. Apart from the water, the area is largely covered by swamps. As a result it poses great difficulty for government to construct road in the area, due to the financial implication. During the administration of the immediate past Governor Sen. Liyel Imoke, we made several efforts to get the road started to be completed but it could not be done until he left office. So, road network has been a major challenge. However, for light, I took light to the area and life is beautiful. Because of access road, farmers cannot evacuate their farm produce to down, thereby causing their farm produce to be abandoned and cannot get the real value for their products.
Which were your notable bills sponsored while in the House of Assembly?
I sponsored many bills, but my special bill was the Child Right Bill. The Child Right Bill emanated from me but the government at that time did not implement it. When Imoke came in, that bill was amended and was passed into law. A bill to establish the Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) emanated from us and I sponsored the CRUTECH.
Apart from the bill, and many motions I sponsored, the most important bill that remained remarkable and brought me into limelight was the abandoned zoo project. When I travelled out of the country I went to Malaysia, Plalomba and saw how a zoo was turned to a botanical garden.
When I came home I presented a motion that the abandoned Calabar Zoo be converted into a Botanical garden. The bill was passed into law during Donald Duke’s Administration and it generated a lot of revenue to the State. But the project is now abandoned. The zoo was used as an event centre for both the public and private sectors, for all kinds of activities, such as reception parties, birthdays and wedding parties. The place became abandoned during Imoke’s administration. I don’t really know what is happening.
Do you think your dream for the establishment of CRUTECH has been fulfilled?
Yes, the University has taken off and by God’s Grace it has produced many graduates in different disciplines, occupying unique position in the society, doing well and contributing significantly to the economy of the nation. So many of them are useful to the society and the school is doing beautifully well and provided employment to many Nigerians. By God’s Grace and to a great extent the dream is fulfilled.
Would you subscribe that there should be continuity in governance?
Yes, I strongly believe there must be continuity in governance. A useful project that is initiated and started aught not be abandoned by any incoming government. Lack of continuity of governance is responsible for many abandoned projects in the country. All the Steel Rolling Mills and Paper Mills are abandoned. There is no state in the country that has no abandoned project. This is sad indeed. These are projects that would have brought economic boom, job employment and improved the standard of living. There are lots of abandoned projects in the country. Donald Duke came and started the Tinapa Resort Centre Project and it was expected that subsequent administration should continue with the project, but it was not so. Rather, it has been abandoned. The story of the State would have changed in terms of
internal generated revenue and job opportunity. Nigeria should cultivate the culture of continuity or governance in the interest of our society.
Do you think Governor Ayade is justified with the high number of the political appointees?
To be candid with you, before now I was not close to Governor Ben Ayade. Now I am and know that he has a good heart. He is sympathetic and compassionate. If you give that man opportunity he would even increase the number to 10000. Is it possible to give everybody opportunity but to show you that he has the love the number of his aides are many as compared to previous administration. But there is more to it than what he has done. There is one thing to give an appointment and there is another thing to give everything that is attached to it financially and office. If somebody is given an appointment in those days your life would change but Ayade is just doing it to put food on the table of people who are not doing anything.
To a large extent it is justifiable because many people have not come to that level have come. Before now it was difficult to get government appointment. The only thing is that he cannot meet the financial requirements of such offices. To be cordial with you, Governor Ayade has love for his people.
What is your advice on the forth Local Government Elections?
My advice is that the mistakes in the past of imposing candidates on the electorate should not repeat again. It was not good and that does not auger well with us because most candidates were not qualified. I want to appeal that any person who seeks for any political office should be qualified. He must be a person that the people want. When somebody is popular and you bring him in, he would listen and take advice from his people when in office and the people would rejoice. And if he is not popular he would not give a listening ear to his people rather he would be after making wealth for himself and for those that put him. In such a situation the people would suffer. My advice is that anybody that is popular and qualified should be given opportunity to serve. My advice is that the person should be qualified and acceptable by his people. This is the only way people at the grassroots would enjoy governance.
Are you satisfied with the level of infrastructure in your community?
Like as I earlier said, governance is continuity. I can’t categorically say that I am satisfied because it is continuing.
What is the most critical issue in your area?
Road network. Road network is very critical. When there is road network life would be sweet. When people have good road network, they would be able to take their farm products to markets, access to farm and access to everything. They would get things done easier. But in my area, Eburutu where I came from, in Odukpani, we really need road network so much. Once that is done right, things would change for better.
Would you subscribe that Ayade should come as Governor in 2019?
As a PDP member, I want to advice that Governor Ayade should be given a chance to complete his eight years tenure because we in the southern senatorial district should allow the northern senatorial district to complete their eight years term before coming back to the south.
Any attempt to put in another person in the southern senatorial area to replace Ayade would mean that we want to go in for another eight years. So we wish that Ayade should be given opportunity to complete the eight years term before the south takes their turn again. We in the south should sit down and begin to look for somebody that would take over from him. Everybody should stay calm and see how we can return Ayade for 2019.
Governor Ayade recently presented a budget proposal of N1.3 trillion 2018 to the State House of Assembly for Consideration. What is your comment on this estimate?
Well, as a former legislator, I have never seen such huge budget for a State like Cross River. However, coming from our dear Governor whom I know to be thinking big and also thinking very good for the state, we just have to support him to achieve the set goal which the budget is proposed for. For instance, the Bakassi Deep Sea Port would engulf a huge amount of money to execute, the Super highway project is another great signature project that would also consume huge sum of money for execution and other sundry projects mentioned in the budget.
When this budget is passed and implemented, would bring an economic boom to the state. Therefore, I wish to appeal passionately to the State House of Assembly to speedily pass this budget to enable the Governor start the implementation.