-Yakurr 2 Constituency: A Chat with Right Hon. Eteng Jones Williams (Part 2)-
Yesterday (20th September), we brought you part one of our interview with Right Honourable Eteng Jones Williams, member representing Yakurr 2 constituency in the Cross River State House of Assembly. He spoke about his background and how that background has served him in politics. In this concluding part of that interview, he speaks more on his achievements in the Cross River State House of Assembly and on his vision for Cross River State.
Please read on:
As sponsor of the bill on Homeland Security, what is your response to people who feel that the duties of that security outfit conflicts with the duties of the Nigeria Police?
Hon Eteng: It does not conflict with the Police. I have explained that to the Commissioner of Police and to people in several fora that I attended. It is an intelligence gathering unit and if you watch, it has been very effective. You must have seen the sheriffs around most parts of Calabar. What this is about is that in every location that we are, the people there know the area or location because they are from there. We should know our criminals.
What we do is that we send the reports to the right agencies to carry out their duties. The constitution is clear. As a citizen of this country, you have a right also to arrest. But that is not what we are looking at. It is an intelligence gathering outfit and it is effective in Calabar where it currently operates. We hope that it would soon be extended to other parts of Cross River State.
Talking about security, what is your reaction to cult-related conflicts in some parts of Cross River State and in Yakurr in particular?
Hon Eteng: I condemn it in totality. It is regrettable. For me, it is not something we should even debate and think of. Every right thinking Cross Riverian should reject it. If you are a cultist, why are you hiding? If you are a member of Vikings, Black Axe or any of those groups, put it in your curriculum vitae and lets see. And why would you kill? When we were in school in those days, we heard that they protect the vulnerable in society. But nowadays, what we hear is a different ball game. Why do they kill? I condemn such acts. We all saw what happened in Ugep. I commend the approach of the Police and the security agents who have arrested a lot of them. They are all on the run. Yakurr is peaceful.
What’s your relationship with statesmen like Clement Ebri, the former Governor of Cross River State who is from your constituency?
Hon Eteng: He is my boss, I call him my boss. He is not just from my constituency, but also from my village. He is the first citizen of my village, Mkpani. I accord him all the respect. He is in another party. I am in a different party. I aspire to be like him. He is the former governor of this state. You cannot come to Mkpani without talking of Clement Ebri. So, I give him that respect.
My constituency is blessed with a lot of personalities that have contributed a lot. We have the late Okoi Obuli, the Minister of Niger Delta, Usani Usani is from my constituency, the present Chief of Naval Staff is from my constituency and a host of others. I am tapping from their wealth of experience and I thank God that they all are from my constituency. We should tap from them positively. I don’t sit down and say, ‘Oh, because they are not PDP, I must not have a relationship with them.’ No! They are my constituents.
When you come to my constituency, I am the boss. They are under me in the constituency. Although, when you go to the individuals, they are my ogas, senior uncles and the rest, but I represent the constituency. When you go to the national, we have a minister. I will now say, ‘My son is a Minister of the Niger Delta’, because I am their father, because I represent that constituency. And the Chief of Naval Staff, you can imagine such position, is my son, when you talk of my constituency. So, I give credit to all of them.
How would you compare Governor Ben Ayade with his predecessors, especially Senator Liyel Imoke whom you worked with?
Hon Eteng: You know why it is difficult to do the comparison at this point? Ben Ayade has done two years. Our boss, our father, Imoke did eight years. Donald Duke did eight years. I think it is too early for you to compare. Except you are saying, the first two years of Donald, the first two years of Imoke, which is also very difficult. One, the finances of the state differ. How are our finances? What comes to Cross River? Two, they have different concepts. Donald came to change Cross River from a civil service economy/state to a state that looks at tourism as its cardinal point, and other infrastructure too. And you saw his projects.
When Imoke came, he said, ‘Oh, there has been a lot of concentration on the capital. Let me go to the rural areas’. Ben has come. From day one he told you, ‘We are industrializing Cross River. We are departing from the usual stuff’. That’s why he came up with the Garment Factory. He is looking at the Super Highway, he is looking at the deep-sea port. Look at what has just come up, the Cocoa Industry. He is looking at a situation where in the next five years, we would not be going to Abuja for funds. He is looking at Cross River from a business case scenario.
Ayade is looking at Cross River as his own empire for us to look at from that point of view. Industrializing everything. People might not understand today but tomorrow they will, when they see that all the industries are working , money is coming to Cross River state and people are getting jobs. This is a departure from his predecessors. It is his style and we must appreciate him for this. It is always tough at the beginning. But there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Some people claim that the Governor interferes with your duties as an independent arm of government. How true is this claim?
Hon Eteng: People always look at legislators as being human right activists. That is wrong. When you say government, you are looking at the three arms of government. We must collaborate to form a government. We don’t need to fight on the streets so that people would know that we are working. I don’t fight on the streets or on the internet so that people would know that I am working. If you see anything wrong, bring it to the notice of your Governor.
You are working for Cross Riverians, not for people to read and say ‘oh, you are now working because you are criticizing’. If you are criticizing without providing the required service, have you done anything? You have not done anything. But if you work by providing solutions by whatever form, it would be good. We have created more laws that have taken Cross River to what it used to be. People must appreciate that. If you look at areas that people were not tapping from before, we are now tapping.
There was a lot of money lying in the water fronts, inland water ways and so many other areas that before now, Cross River was not benefiting anything. But today we are. You talk of Scrap Agency and the rest. A lot of agencies have been created where people are working and feeding their families. We must add value to what we are doing.
We must add value to this government. We don’t need to fight this government for people to say that we are doing a good job by fighting the government. Who are you? You are a government. When anybody is criticizing this government, he won’t single out the executive. He would say the government of Cross River State. What is the government of Cross River State? It is the three arms of government and the people of Cross River State. That is what people must understand.
What would you vote for, when the House of Assembly votes on issues of proposed constitutional amendment?
Hon Eteng: For me as a person, I haven’t seen the document. But for Cross River State, we need to ask questions on issues such as local government autonomy. Is it good for us? Can some Local governments survive if we go for it? We must consider all those things. We must do Town Hall meetings. I must go back to my people and ask them what they want. I must talk to Cross Riverians. What do we want? We cannot follow the euphoria of others that know what they would benefit. What would be our benefits? I can’t say more on it now, because I have not seen the document. When I see the document, I would know what to say and what to do. Yakurr people must tell me the stance they would take, because we are talking of Yakurr Local Government at this point.
What is your message to your constituents and to other Cross Riverians?
Hon Eteng: Be patient with the government of Cross River State. It is just two years. No matter how it is now, our interest is to better the well-being of this state. Our future would definitely be better than our present.
- Cornelius Ellah
Please See Related Posts:
Yakurr: A Chat with Right Hon. Eteng Jones Williams (Part 1)