By Judex Okoro, Calabar
In this interview, Dr. Emil Inyang, the chairman, Governing Council of the University of Cross River State (UNICROSS) and All Progressives Congress (APC) House of Representatives candidate for Akamkpa/Biase federal constituency has stated that within six months his people will feel my impact in the National Assembly. Inyang, a former chairman of Biase local government area, said the ruling APC has done so well in Cross River that it deserves to be re-elected into office in 2023. According to him, if elected into the National Assembly, he would pursue policies and programmes that would drive rural development to better the lives of rural dwellers.
A few months away from the general elections and from your campaigns around your federal constituency, can you say the ruling APC have done enough to merit the choice of voters?
Honestly, APC has done very well in Cross River in terms of manpower and industrialisation programmes. APC administration led by Governor Ben Ayade has taken the state to next level by citing over 20 industries across the 18 local government areas of the state. In my federal constituency for instance, we have piles and pylon factory at Akamkpa and International Teachers’ Institute at Biase. Besides, virtually every community has one or two persons that have given political appointment at least to reduce the level of poverty in the state and takeaway so many unemployed from the streets. Knowing that Cross River is an agrarian state, the present administration has embarked on an agricultural revolution by building an ultra-modern rice mill at Ogoja and cocoa factory at Ikom just as he created opportunities for farmers to secure soft loans to increase yields and become economically empowered. So, as we campaign around our constituency, people are happy with the projects executed so far by the APC government and they have promised to give us their votes in 2023 general election. All we ask of them to try and come out and fulfill their own side of the bargain so they can continue to reap the dividends of democracy. Besides, APC is on ground because most people in the party were all in PDP before they defected with the governor. In other words, we are old horses in this business and so we are optimistic of coasting to victory because we are in a familiar terrain.
Cross Riverians are worried at the recent spate of kidnappings on Calabar-Ikom highway. Have you, as a community leader, been able to initiate any form of community engagement that can complement the security efforts of government?
The security situation right from Okom-Ita to Adim of Calabar-Ikom federal highway is worrisome. The recent one is the ugly situation at Uyanga axis of the road. Well, in all sincerity, I have interfaced with the chiefs and traditional institutions in Uyanga, Okom-Ita, Ojoh and other neighbouring communities. It is my opinion that what is happening there is driven by local people, who may have injected into their ranks, a few unscrupulous persons, hardened by constant exposure to criminality and unleashing mayhem at will. However, if the real owners of the land team up with security agents and forcefully insist that these elements cannot have bases in their local communities, a lot I believe will change. Besides, the state government has deployed a crack team of security personnel to track the criminals down and clear the road of hoodlums.
What are those programmes you would want to initiate differently for your federal constituency if elected especially going there as a first time legislator?
I have wealth of experiences in politics and in private sector. I was the chairman of Biase local government area for two terms and it is on record that I did well because hardly can you visit any community in Biase that you won’t find my administrative footprints there. If you go to the field and dig deeper, you will understand and appreciate the contributions I made during my eventful six-year period as council chairman in Biase. Therefore, the needs of the people of Akamkpa/Biase federal constituency are very clear for all to see. But specifically, my people need rural infrastructure, especially accessibility to farms, markets and then interconnectivity to other parts of the state and country. If you visit several places in this federal constituency, you will understand the living conditions of my people and see that they are suffering.
It is so bad that even the massive agricultural produce rot in our hands because we are unable to evacuate them out to needy markets. I am going to pursue legislation that can bring back rural development drivers like the rested Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) of the Babangida’s administration. DFRRI opened up some rural roads and created access to urban areas. So, I would pay attention to legislations that give priority to rural development policies and programmes to alleviate the sufferings of our rural communities. I am not going to make excuses as a first time legislator because within the first six months, my people should begin to see my impact.
Please comment on the issues around the indiscriminate mining of precious stones currently tearing some communities in Akamkpa and Biase.
The indiscriminate as well as unregulated mining going on in those communities is very unfortunate. Indeed mining on the land in our local communities is something that should have been a blessing to our communities but as I speak now, the case is reversed. I say so because this activity has come with negative implications for local security, the local environment and several other very strong negative implications. I am pained that there’s a complete exploitation of the people, on a massive scale, by miners who in most cases are just interested in the money that can be made, without embracing any form of corporate social responsibility to our people. Even our children in those communities are dropping out of school in pursuit of deceptive wealth. What is happening there and the negative consequences, completely stand at variance with the time tested values that have long stood our people out. Government we pray must come in and regulate this activities. Yes, mining is on the Exclusive List in our constitution but the consequences that have become negatively exclusive to my people must be deliberately challenged for positive outcomes. We are happy that investors have come to our communities but very unhappy that their coming has gravely unsettled us. So if elected, I would liaise with relevant authorities to see how the impact of this mining can be mitigated in terms of environmental pollution, security implications and alternative means of livelihood for the locals whose land are being explored. In short, that would be one of my top priorities at the NASS.