Gov Ayade; Tourism Is What We Have Left, Please Safe It From The Hands Of Kidnappers By Richard Romanus

Gov Ayade; Tourism Is What We Have Left, Please Safe It From The Hands Of Kidnappers By Richard Romanus

One ugly trend that has taken residents of Calabar and indeed Cross Riverians by storm is the rising spate of Kidnapping and other criminality. In its recent edition, a fast rising regional Newspaper in the South South, has as it’s banner headline, Calabar ; And things fall part. Sadly, things have indeed fallen apart for a state that was once reputed to be the safest and peaceful State in the federation.

Even though stories of Kidnapping are not peculiar to Cross River State alone like some people would quickly argue, the State had remained the only State in the Oil rich South South Geopolitical region with the least number of criminality of any form until the present administration came on board. Like a senior friend jokingly  opined some days back, The State was rather a converging ground for perpetrators of various Crimes from different states who prefer sharing and spending their ill gotten wealth here without hurting the people or tampering with their peaceful environment.

In less than one month, three high profile kidnaps involving a former Senator, Patrick Ani, Former Special Adviser to Ex Governor Liyel Imoke on Labour, Mr Ededem Ita as well as five expatriates and two Nigeria staff of Macmahon, a contracting firm with Lafarge holding have been recorded at different locations across the State. Surprisingly, no known arrest have been made by the Security agencies apparently leaving the people to the mercies of God.

Since the loss of the 76 oil wells by the State to Akwa Ibom in a Supreme Court judgement, one area that the government has since turned it focus on towards making it a revenue earner for the State, is the tourism industry. Though tourism was Cross River and Cross River was tourism before the loss, the sector only gained a renewed attention when it dawned on the the then administration on the need to look elsewhere since they was no more oil to depend on.

The sector has however undergone massive transformation over the years with the introduction of several components in the tourism Calender of the state and has no doubt end the State a reputation of one of the leading tourism destinations in Africa. It is on record that Cross River play host to thousands of visitors who visit the state annually from far and near just to be part of the famous Calabar Carnival  and to get a feel of how the Calabar Christmas festival seems like.

As I hear, the State is already preparing real big for this year’s edition of the festival with some State officials already paying several visit to different countries of the world in order to lure them to be part of the forthcoming event.

 There is therefore  an urgent need to stern the tide of Kidnapping and other Crimes that is at the verge of taking from us the only thing we now pride ourselves with as indigenes of the state.

The Operation Show Force declared by the Governor of the State, Senator Prof Ben Ayade in collaboration with Security Agencies has no doubt recorded some successes but the hard truth is that, the situation in the State only degenerated to its present state because little or no interest was devoted on it by the authorities concern.

In my last article, titled Cross River; The once peaceful State, I had made certain recommendations on how the government can make Calabar and the State safe again which included, provision of more Security vans and gadgets for Security Agencies, Convening of a Security Council Meeting and the deployment of Armed men to Flash points among others. I am glad that some of the said recommendations where taken into cognisance and are now yielding results.

 But I like to add that, Government must urgently  mount a closer watch on Calabar South as it has been observed that, interior parts of the area like Jebs, Marina and Afokang serve as the exit route for Criminals.

Agreed that the Governor as a politician is required to compensate certain people who worked for his emergence but the Governor must realise that desperate times, require desperate measures. Now is the time for the Governor to appoint a State Security Adviser that will command the respect of the various Security Agencies. While I am not calling for the outright sack of the present SSA, he can possibly be reassigned to different position while a seasoned retired Security expert is brought on board.

To win the present war on Kidnapping and insecurity, indigenes and leaders of crime prone areas must be carried along. They are the people who interact, eat and walk with them on a daily basis and can be useful in information gathering.

Finally and most importantly,the enforcement of Anti Kidnapping law. Government must ensure that, anybody who contravenes any part of the law is sanctioned as prescribed, as that will serve as a deterrent to intending persons.

Governor Ben Ayade who also doubles as the Commissioner of tourism must realise that his Memorandum of understanding with several multinational companies can only be realise if the state is safe and peaceful for business as no investor will make a mistake of investing in a state where his live and and that of his business is not guaranteed.

Richard Romanus is from Oderegha, Obubra LGA

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