100 Days In Office: Otu moves to give Cross River a facelift

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By Asare Asare

In his first 100 days in office, Governor Bassey Otu of Cross River State moved to tackle several problems at the same time.

This is not surprising given the enormous challenges he was confronted with when he assumed office on May 29.

The Governor has implemented urgent measures to restore Cross River to its previous status as the cleanest state in the country.

The Governor has also embarked on a massive facelift of the Government House. He is refurbishing the Governor’s Office which was in a complete state of disrepair before he took over. The ongoing renovation is the reason the governor and other government officials are operating from different locations at the moment.

The popular Millennium Park, called Eleven-Eleven, where the largest flag in West Africa was hoisted, is also being renovated.

Other dilapidated public facilities undergoing renovation include the state library, which had become an eyesore.

Six months before Otu was sworn in, there were mountains of refuse in most towns in the State, particularly in the capital, Calabar.

The stench from the heaps of refuse exposed residents to health hazards while also disfiguring the outlook of the State.

To address the problem, Otu has introduced new refuse disposal guidelines and called on the people of the state to adhere to them.

Introducing the new guidelines, the Governor said, “The new regulated waste disposal routine, if strictly adhered to, will allow for effective and efficient monitoring of indiscriminate refuse disposal by some residents as well as ensure robust evacuation by relevant government agencies.”

Otu has also moved to tackle the high level of crime in the State.

Before he assumed office, the security situation in the State had degenerated to a point where kidnappers, cult gangs and armed robbers held sway, and even dared the erstwhile administration.

Residents feared for their safety. Business owners were unsure of the next minute. Some prominent individuals had to move from one residence to another in a bid to escape from kidnappers.

But Otu, on assumption of office, read the Riot Act to criminals, vowing to put an end to insecurity in the State.

According to media reports, hundreds of Cross River State residents have been abducted in the last few years while millions of naira was paid as ransom to kidnappers.

The Governor has issued ‘Shoot at sight’ orders to enforcement agencies in a bid to clampdown on criminal activities. He has also directed law enforcement agents to arrest and prosecute all criminal elements in line with extant laws of the state government.

Otu has also vowed to invoke state laws which prescribe capital punishment for kidnappers.

He said, “We must take responsibility for the security of our dear state because these people are not foreigners but those around us. We have put a fee on whistleblowing. Anybody you suspect in your neighborhood, please pass on the information and you will be protected.”

The Governor has taken steps to address the menace posed by kidnapping in the state.

Otu directed all security formations in the state to employ all resources at their disposal to put an end to the activities of kidnappers. He also charged them to ensure that all hostages are freed and reunited with their families.

Giving the security agencies a marching order to deal with kidnappers, Otu said, “In their quest for illicit wealth, they have resorted to kidnapping and crimes that are alien to our culture and people. I must say that the said negative actions show no love, sympathy or respect for human lives.

“They have suddenly made our once peaceful state become a pariah for tourists, investors and even the ordinary people. We must put an end to this inhuman treatment by criminal elements.”

It has been observed that since the governor issued the directives, the security agencies have stepped up their game in the campaign against criminals.

Currently, normalcy has been restored to most parts of the state, including Calabar.

The noticeable reduction in crime has endeared the Governor to many.

However, analysts believe that Otu is still under pressure to satisfy critical stakeholders, particularly political godfathers.

There are indications that he is compensating the godfathers with appointments for enabling his emergence as governor.

Speaking with DAILY POST, Otei Andrew, an analyst, said he is not surprised at the governor’s actions because Otu has always been a peoples’ person and as a result, will continue to please those who supported him.

Andrew noted that the governor is not ready to hurt the people by implementing stringent policies that would aid the recovery of the state’s economy and reposition his government for better results.

He said the governor’s disposition must have informed the adoption of ‘People First’ as the catch phrase of his government, and ‘Season of Sweetness’ as the theme.

The governor has also attracted criticism from some members of his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.

A stalwart of the ruling party in the State, Dr Peter Iyali, blamed Otu for the state’s failure to retain the position of National Women Leader of the APC, which was held by Dr Betta Edu before her appointment as minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

Iyali, while arguing that somebody from Cross River State should have replaced Edu as APC national women leader, blamed the governor for not being proactive enough to ensure that the state retained the position.

Perhaps the criticism from party members over the failure to retain the APC women leader position spurred the governor to kick against the appointment of Asu Okang as the commissioner representing Cross River State on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

Otu rejected the appointment, noting that Okang is not a member of the APC.

Otu’s pressure on President Bola Tinubu ensured that the appointment was rescinded two days after.

However, Iyali told DAILY POST that Otu needs to reconsider his choice of advisers.

“Otu needs to reconsider those he listens to. He needs to expand his team and consult more,” the APC chieftain said.

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