Congrats to the latest collection of 252 political appointees announced by Christian Ita, Special Adviser – Media and Publicity to the Governor. More importantly, my deepest sympathies to those appointed to the PRESERVATION OF STATE’S HERITAGE BOARD. This is the first I am hearing of the existence of such a Board and I am intrigued by its high-sounding name.
By the way, the Speaker of the Department of the House of Assembly, Office of the Governor, has a lot of work cut out for him and his 24 fellow Civil Servants in the House of Assembly. They need to pass laws establishing ALL these agencies, boards and commissions well before 29th May 2023; otherwise, the State Auditor-General appointed by the next Governor will have no choice but to recommend that the current Governor, the SSG and each appointee refund all the monies collected by the said appointees throughout the period of their (otherwise illegal) appointments. This is free advice for which the beneficiaries may wish to thank me later.
Now, back to what I was saying about this wonderful body called the Preservation of State’s Heritage Board. I believe very strongly that this group of people have the toughest jobs in Cross River State. Why? Because if their name is to have real meaning to anyone that truly loves this State, their mandate must be to resist practically everything that Governor Ben Ayade has done, is doing and will almost certainly do in future.
If you are a Cross Riverian over the age of 40/41, pause and reflect on this by asking yourself a simple question: assuming that the totality of achievements inherited and built upon by the administrations of Governors Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke constitute the State’s “heritage” , what is left today of this heritage? Personally, my answer is: “There is hardly anything left, apart from the State Song, which is the only thing of the legacy handed over in 2015 that is still unspoilt”.
The past 5 years have seen the debasement of ethical values, from rich and poor to old to young. Many of us who were previously greatly respected by all and sundry are now compromised. We have witnessed the abandonment of edifices, monuments and tourist attractions, the lack of maintenance of physical infrastructure, the misuse and abuse of time-honoured administrative and governance practices. We have looked on defenceless at the breakdown of State institutions and arms of Government, the elevation of cultists and cultism above all else and the creation of a personality cult around the Governor himself. What does one say about the abandonment of consultation and collaboration as essential preludes to policy-making and Government action, to be replaced by whimsical, impulsive, egoistic decisions on one hand and kidnapping and the use of violence to intimidate and subdue any and every form of criticism and protest on the order … along with a continuous shower of meaningless political appointments that make a mockery of the phrase “public service”.
Over the past 5 years, the essential qualities of Cross River State that made all citizens proud to claim their indigeneity, have evaporated and become a distant memory. Increasingly, for a good number of our population, most of whom were born after 1999, “those days” are only nostalgic stories told by their parents and elder siblings. They have no real connection with that era. A big pity, the more so as the story of that era will not be found in any books of history or civic studies. What was once a very good work in progress that could have grown into a magnificent edifice has been reduced by the worst kind of philistinism to something even less than its foundations.
Most definitely, this Heritage Preservation Board has plenty of work ahead of it. Plenty of work indeed. I do not envy them at all.
Eyo Ekpo writes from Calabar and he was a gubernatorial candidate at the just concluded general election under the Social Democratic Party (SDP).