Each passing day in the life of a Nigerian lends credence to why Nigerians need to reclaim their nation from the desperate grip of their oppressors who have manipulated their destinies for approximately six decades and might continue to do so ad infinitum except the people rise now to salvage the vestiges of what is left.
On the 18th day of August, 2015, after the election that ushered Governor Ben Ayade to Cross River’s most revered throne, I published a treatise on this medium, under the title: An Open Plea to Governor Ben Ayade. A Google search anywhere in the world will exhume this forgotten piece without hassles. In the treatise under reference, I appealed to the victorious governor to restore the people’s confidence in their government after his predecessors literally left the state in ruin and under the firm grip of a state cabal which is determined to keep the people under the humiliating mud of privation. As the sun gradually sets on the governor’s first term, what is clear is that the governor has, like his colleagues at the federal level, abandoned education, which is one of the most important sectors in any serious country.
It has not been forgotten so soon that in November of 2017, Governor Ben Ayade presented a mammoth budget of N1.3 trillion to the Cross River State House of Assembly, which he tagged: ‘Budget of Kinetic Crystallisation’. The governor made it very clear at the time that the priority of his budget was to develop the state’s deep sea port and the super highway which he confirmed were his two marked projects. Obviously, education was certainly not one of his ‘marked projects’. The heart-rending result is that education in the state is in perpetual decay.
During my recent visit home, there was an indefinable urge to visit my former secondary school: Community Secondary School, Ofambe, after many years of leaving it behind. I had imagined prior to my visit that the school must have undergone a major transformation, with new structures and a well-equipped library gleaming and welcoming any visitor who steps into its premises. Alas, to this day, I have not completely recovered from the repugnant images that stung my eyes.
The school appeared worse than we left it. Quite obviously, it has not experienced a single renovation since leaving it behind, more than ten years ago. The junior section is yet to be plastered and has no windows, exactly how we left it in those distant times. In fact, the senior section of the school building is a major eyesore, which to this day still parades mud blocks in the 21st century with floors that have never had an embrace with cement, let alone a handshake. I remember, quite sadly though, that it was these floors which are replete with sand and dust that compelled us to wash our all-white uniforms almost on a daily basis.
As I sauntered to the library and then to the staff room, there were padlocks dangling on each of the doors. The doors looked as though they were doorways to a shrine. But the main embarrassment begins from the entrance, where an old, tired and faded signpost was positioned, bearing the words: ‘Community Secondary School, Ubang, Obudu’. The school motto, which is: ‘Excellence in Education’ has completely faded from a tired signpost which now earnestly begs for a replacement. Nothing in the entire structure of the school portrays excellence at the moment, except tears and the agony of abandonment.
Community Secondary School, Ofambe; Alege Community Secondary School, Amukwong; Comprehensive Secondary School, Ukpe, etc. are all testimonies to the open fact that the Nigerian government, state or federal, has an alienated relationship with education. How a country or state can so callously disregard education and still expect sustainable economic development is to me an inscrutable mystery.
Like most secondary schools in Obudu, Community Secondary School, Ofambe-Ubang was built through the sweat and labour of community people, during which the community imposed all sorts of levies on a people who largely rely on subsistent farming. Then suddenly, the state government which is vested with the responsibility of building good schools emanated from nowhere, took charge of the school, and abandoned it afterwards even though it continues to generate revenue from it.
As Governor Ben Ayade solicits a second term in office in 2019, it is left for Cross Riverians to decide whether or not he deserves to lead them for another four years, or they take back their state. The choice is entirely ours!