OGOJA area is one of the last provinces in Nigeria that has not become a state. Whatever the reasons no one is sure. Most under-developed areas of the country that have become states have seen fast and significant infrastructure, economic, and political development overnight.
For example, Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states of Nigeria. This must be remedied to bring psychological, educational, economic and political development to this part of the country that hasn’t seen any significant development since the colonial rule.
The creation of then South Eastern State or current Cross River State has left this region still largely untouched by any meaningful economic or political progress. The vast human and natural resources of Ogoja are not being harnessed to benefit the people of the area or Nigeria for that matter. The human and natural resources are wasting away.
For years, this area was neglected by the Federal Government because the area is occupied by mostly minority tribes. The area continues to suffer from huge economic disparity, health, educational, and poverty problems. No part of the country should be left to suffer such deprivation, especially when the country has the economic resources and the political wherewithal to address the issue.
The economic, educational, and political gains made by the sons and daughters of this area are not significant enough to benefit the citizens, so they continue to suffer in silence and without a voice in their own country. This imbalance must change so that Ogoja people can engage and participate fully in our new democratic process. With the on-going constitutional review, the National Assembly and the Federal Government should embark on the immediate task of creating an Ogoja state during this legislative session.
This bold step will remove the pains the Ogoja people have suffered in educationally, socially, emotionally, politically and economically over time.
Any visible development in the area is credited to the early Roman Catholic missionaries that came to the area to serve the spiritual needs of the people.
They built schools, churches, orphanages, and hospitals, most of all they gave the people some hope for a better future. The current Cross River State is too large to undertake any meaningful economic development to benefit the Ogoja people.For Ogoja people, progress is standing still.
Ogoja State should be created in this administration because of the political and economic benefits it will bring to the region as well as the nation as a whole. Ogoja state would become the agricultural home of the nation. The region is noted for fertile soil and agricultural produce such as yams, rice, cassava and cocoa grown in the area.State creation will bring immediate wealth, education, health, economic, and political resources to this neglected region.
The area will see steady flow of goods, people and capital for economic development and growth. Better roads for commerce will be developed and maintained by the Federal Government and Ogoja State. Ultimately, this will alleviate poverty and the suffering of the Ogoja people.
Educationally, the new state will create more primary, secondary and higher education opportunities to benefit the citizens of this area.
The area lacks health care facilities to serve the people. This will change because Ogoja State will be able to build more healthcare facilities and increase access to healthcare resources for families and children. For small scale industries to develop there must be electricity.
Ogoja State will embark on rural electrification project to allow businesses and entrepreneurs to invest in small scale industries and to create jobs in the area. Most importantly, it will focus attention on the areas of human development that has been neglected for generations.
Participatory democracy requires that all citizens must be allowed to participate and contribute to the economic and political affairs of the nation, share in the benefits and burdens of the country. The creation of Ogoja State would give its citizens some participation and voice in the political process of the country.
It would also promote the regional development of the economic activities of the region, promote interstate commerce, as well as cooperation and sharing of natural and human resources. In addition, it would create favourable business environment and spur economic development.
The voice of the people would be fully represented. The current political landscape leaves most of this area under-represented and unappreciated.If the nation is to keep its promise to the minority people of the country and to live up to the true spirit and aspirations of the Constitution, then Ogoja State must be created now.
The ruling party in Cross River State should welcome the creation of Ogoja State because the regional economy will benefit all. Finally, this would encourage sound economic and political development in the region and ultimately give the people of Ogoja a voice they never had because equity, fairness, and justice demand this change.
Mr .THOMAS OGAR, a lawyer , wrote from CT, USA.