CROSS RIVER STATE: BEYOND THE LOST OIL WELLS!   4 comments

“#RejoiceNotinOilWellsandWeepNotforOilWells: What does it PROFIT a PEOPLE to have ALL the OIL WELLS in the world and have so much POOR in the LAND?” –Dr Oby Ezekwesili, former Nigerian Minister of Education and former World Bank Vice President for Africa

On July 10, 2012, Nigeria’s Supreme Court ruled that Cross River State lost its littoral status following the 2002 handover of the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon – in effect, ceding the disputed 76 oil wells to neighbouring Akwa Ibom State.

Though many consider this a sad development for Cross River, I actually think it is a very positive one. That is because the loss of the oil wells will prompt the state to creatively explore other avenues for means of development. In a statement reacting to the court ruling, Cross River Governor, Liyel Imoke, sued for peace, and rightly so, saying “We shall not abandon our peace-loving nature simply because of this temporary setback…” Imoke added: “While we seek the face of God and the counsel of wise men on the best way forward on this matter, I urge you to look inwards and bring out your talent and time for the continued good of Cross River State.”

Fair enough, my present reflection wholly concurs with that compelling thought. It is abundantly clear that seeming setbacks like these have always caused affected societies to look inwards and see how to get the best value from their other extant resources. In Cross River today, the resource that holds the greatest promise for her sustainable development is her people! Indeed, that a 19-year old Cross Riverian, Wukeh Egem-Odey, on June 29, emerged the 2012 best graduating student of one of Nigeria’s leading private universities, Covenant University, with a 4.89GPA on 5.0, is testimony to this. It must be in that same context that the Chancellor of Covenant University and General Overseer of the Living Faith Church aka Winners Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, visited Cross River in May 2012 to inspect the site for the smooth take-off of Covenant University’s Calabar campus. The proposed university is to offer courses in Engineering and Computer Science, amongst others.

Also in May, Cross River’s Commissioner for Education, Prof. Offiong Offiong disclosed that the state is making efforts to scale up school enrolment by upping access to school and training of qualitative teachers. Offiong also announced the commencement of construction work for three world-class state-of-the-art model secondary schools in each of the state’s three senatorial districts as well as phase two of a comprehensive renovation and reconstruction programme adopted as part of measures to revitalize public schools.

Equally important, in a bid to position Cross River State to derive the utmost best from China’s status as an emerging world power, especially as demonstrated by an OECD report stating that “by the end of this decade, 2 out of every 10 of the world’s young graduates are going to come from China” with 2020 “forecasts for the shape of the “global talent pool” showing “China as rapidly expanding its graduate numbers – set to account for 29% of the world’s graduates aged between 25 and 34,” the Cross River State Government has unveiled plans to introduce the teaching of Chinese language in public schools in the state. Offiong said the proactive move is borne out of the desire to reposition Cross River to key into China’s phenomenal socio-economic revolution, and given the leading role China will play globally in ICTs and other critical fields of human endeavour. Indeed, Offiong has commendably sought the Chinese Embassy’s collaboration to carry out a ‘train-the-trainers programme’ with the establishment of a Chinese Language Centre in Calabar to fast-track the exercise.

Whilst the above government interventions and programs are commendable and should be sustained accordingly, it is not only the state government that should be depended on for important initiatives to boost Cross River’s human resource drive. Thankfully, Cross River has very active education-centred civil society personnel whose expertise can readily contribute to yielding positive policy and other beneficial dividends for the state. A good case in point is Dr. Raphael Oko, whose organisation, the Global Educators for All Initiative, is pragmatically involved in pertinent issues of educational planning and reform.

Also, recently, a team at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute produced a set of maps showing the “geography of the world’s knowledge” and measuring how populations are consuming and producing information in the online world. The maps reveal that Africa and South America are lagging behind in this new scramble for digital power – a development begging for investments in ICTs and human capital development.

In Nigeria’s case, Cross River is getting poised to lead the way in filling that void. In November 2011, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson, announced that in a bid to accelerate technological evolution in the country, the Federal Government will, in August 2012, set up Nigeria’s first-ever Information and Communication Technology (ICT) incubation centre in Calabar to be known as “The TINAPA Knowledge Centre”.

Indeed, it is the development of ICTs that led to the growth of the renowned Silicon Valley in America’s California State – with great benefits accruing to the latter – a feat which Cross River can, with vision, hope to repeat. The lead academic in that Oxford internet study, Prof. Mayer-Schonberger rightly notes that “[The] information age [is] dependent on bases of knowledge.”

Cross River should therefore construe the loss of the oil wells as a blessing to further entrench her special standing as a working experiment for Nigeria’s eventual post-oil period. Already, the state is the undisputed preferred tourist destination in the country with many attractive facilities and features, and plans to construct an International Convention Centre in Calabar, will certainly bolster that potential even more.

Ultimately, as Cross River gains more human ‘wells’ than the 76 lost oil wells, she must ensure that the dynamic and skilful human resources that will be churned out of the ICT and other innovative schemes she is privileged to have and to host, are gainfully employed. It is instructive that the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology boasted in December 2011 that its cluster concept is capable of generating 2,000,000 jobs in many sectors of the economy using its incubation programme, technology licensing and technology franchising. Therefore, as the ICT incubation centre, the specialised technology-inclined Covenant University Calabar campus and other similar projects and initiatives take-off, Cross River State must evolve policies and strategies that derive maximum benefit from them in order to further grow her economy away from dependence on either monthly allocation from the federal purse or from her now, essentially, extinct oil reservoir.

Advertisements

4 responses to “CROSS RIVER STATE: BEYOND THE LOST OIL WELLS!

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Nice article. I like the content.

  2. My God! When you talk about human resources (wells), C/River state has it for long. It is just that the govt refused to utilize them maybe because of the fear of competition or normal political threats!

  3. You’re right, Genesis. The onus is therefore on us, the citizenry, to demand of them to do so.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: