By Mike Udam, Calabar
I was 10 months old in April, 1974 when a team from Lagos arrived Ogoja via Abakaliki to survey the land for the proposed University of Nigeria Nsukka, Ogoja Campus. After spending two weeks in surveying and consulting the chiefs of Okuku and Ugaga and the Ishibori chiefs and elders, they decided to look for an artist to write the name of the project and fix the signpost. An argument broke out as to what name will be written on the signpost. Ogoja or Okuku or Ugaga. University of Ogoja was what they came from Lagos with, but were shocked that they were told to write University of Okuku or University of Ugaga.
Research finding has it that there was an Efik man in the team from Lagos. He quickly played a fast one on the team. He told them Calabar was ready to donate land free of rancor. The team then visited Calabar and in their report, suggested Calabar as an alternative to Ogoja/Ugaga/Okuku that valued their land for Agriculture above a university. That was what gave birth to University of Calabar in 1975.
As a replacement, an army barracks was brought to the same location with Ogoja name on it and nobody argued with the army. The name desiring warriors kept quiet when the army survey team arrived.
Development experts argue that, that single event is what has kept Ogoja this backward till today.
Arguing about names and location has been in our blood stream. Some time ago, the Cross River broadcasting Corporation CRBC brought a Radio station to Ogoja and sited it at Ugaga. After three years of operation, one afternoon, a fresh agitation arose that the name of the station be changed from Ogoja to CRBC Ugaga. Mary Knoll College Ogoja was known all over the world but soon after the creation of Yala LGA from Ogoja, agitation mounted that it be changed from Ogoja to Okuku. It is the same way Obanliku people are still struggling to change the Obudu Ranch Resort known all over the world to Obanliku Ranch Resort. Even the Ogoja International Rice factory has a signpost with OGOJA/YALA on it. I wished it was University of IgoliOkukuUgaga, Ogoja.
Today, a year ago, the entire country, by the elected representatives in the National Assembly gave us another opportunity to correct our mistakes by voting in favour of the establishment of a Federal University of Technology to be located at Ogoja to which a bill was passed and sent to Mr President for assent.
The Obanliku man is not bothered that the bill is not signed. The Yala man is not bothered that the bill is not signed.
The Bekwarra man is not bothered that the bill is not signed.The Obudu man is not bothered that the bill is not signed.
The Ogoja man is not even bothered that the bill is not signed. Like 1974, the new argument is who will take the glory.
Argument 1; this bill is sponsored by Rt Hon Jarigbe Agom. A young upcoming politician. If we support this bill and visit Mr President to make him sign it, we will be building political capital for Jarigbe and tomorrow, people will love him more than us. Therefore let us kill the idea by pretending not to see that the bill exists.
Argument 2: Jarigbe, the sponsor of the Bill is PDP, how can we help him make his party popular. Yes the president is our party man, but back at home, people will not see us those who made it to work.
Argument 3: Leave that thing, no state is having two Federal Universities. Let us not waste our time pursuing shadows. It will not work. All these arguments are done for selfish reasons. Nigeria is our country and we have a right to demand a share of the pie. As at today, Bornu, Katsina, Kano, Bauchi, Delta and Benue states are having two federal Universities each. So our demand as a people is not out of place.
Argument 1 and 2 are purely selfish and should be disregarded. It will not take us anywhere. Such argument is exactly what is keeping us where we are today.
The university is too important to be made to wear a political look. Development is bigger than politics.
Let us all join hands to persuade Mr President to assent his signature on the bill on his table.
We are blessed with a governor from Obudu – Senator Professor Ben Ayade.
We are blessed with a minister from Obudu – Prince J D Agba. We are blessed with two members of the house of Reps from this zone. Rt Hon Jarigbe Agom and Rt Hon Legor Idagbor
We are blessed with the leader of the state house of assembly from Ogoja – Rt Hon Peter Odey. If these 5 men meet and move to the villa, the signature of Mr President will appear on that bill.
If you are close any of the five, kindly let them know that we the ordinary people want them to work together to bring about the signing of the university bill on the table of Mr President.
It is possible and doable. How can our zone, with powerful men, be seen as an ineffective majority? The pain of 1974 is still fresh in my memory even though I was just 10 months old. Let us not allow another pain again 46 years after.
Jamess 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
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