In Cross River State, the African Action Congress (AAC), a budding opposition party, appears to be bent on literally making the absentee Governor Ben Ayade dance naked in the market square.
Piqued by the festering communal crises in the state under the very nose of Governor Ayade, AAC which is fast emerging as the tormentor-in-chief of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration, is wondering what the governor has been doing with his beefy N7.00 billion security vote.
The rage of the party is coming on the heels of a gory report of how a mother, Aliza, was forced to watch as her husband, Ati Ato and son from Ebom community in Abi Local Government Area of the state were beheaded by men from neighbouring Usumutong also in the local government area.
Though their headless bodies have been recovered, there are also reports of ongoing war between the people of Obudu and the Tiv of Benue State. Local reports say six persons have been killed including two Youth Corps members who were allegedly hacked to death while on a journey.
As the state bleeds, AAC State Chairman, Agba Jalingo , says Governor Ayade is away in Europe on a journey he did not tell Cross Riverians when he was leaving and what he went for.
According to him, ‘’we are fully aware that the 2019 budget of Qabalistic Densification earmarks N7.00 billion for Governor Ayade’s security vote, yet out of the 18 local government areas in the state, 14 are having active communal crises that have festered and spread under his government.’’
But Governor Ayade has however, warmed warring communities in the state to sheath their swords or face the wrath of the government. He has accordingly described as unacceptable, the renewed hostilities in the Abi area of the state.
Christian Ita, Ayade’s Chief Press Secretary, quoted his principal as lamenting the renewed hostilities between Usumutong and Ebom communities in Abi, adding, ‘’it is heart-rending to note that at a time government is working on consolidating the prevailing peace in Cross River, some communities have chosen to go back to the trenches.’’
Continuing, the governor said, ‘’while security personnel have been mobilised to the troubled communities to de-escalate the crisis, I hereby call on the warring sides to halt every act of aggression. Government will not view with kindness further loss of lives and properties occasioned by avoidable communal crisis anywhere in the state.’’
Meanwhile, the smoking opposition party says records from the state House of Assembly Peace and Security sub-committee reveal that, active communal crises in the state have increased from 30 in 2015 when Governor Ayade took over to over 40.
For AAC, the trend is unacceptable since as a party, ‘’we are concerned about the continued loss of lives and disruption of community life among our people. We are calling on Governor Ayade to explain to the people of Cross River how the N7.00 billion security vote in the 2019 appropriation is being spent and why the incessant crises are not abated.
‘’Governor Ayade has no clear cut conflict resolution strategy for the communal crises in the state other than just sending security forces each time one erupts and withdrawing them after a while to wait until another eruption. Apart from just explaining how such outrageous budgetary provision is been expended, Governor Ayade must also promptly unveil a robust alternative conflict resolution strategy that will involve seasoned experts, security agencies and warring communities, with a view to healing wounds and restoring confidence and peace.’’