By Emmanuel Unah
WORKERS of Cross River Basin Development Authority, CRBDA, have revealed that nothing was planted in a farm belonging to the Authority flagged off, last year, by Minister of Water Resources while weeds have overrun the farm.
There are also several irrigation projects of the agency located in Cross River and Akwa Ibom states that have practically been abandoned.
Workers of CRBDA, who recently took to the streets of the company’s host community, Ikot Eneobong, in protest over the anomalies, blamed the shoddy state of things on inept leadership foisted on the federal agency by government.
The protesting workers demanded that a technocrat should administer the organisation just few months after CRBDA’s battle with the host community over water channelisation.
Armed with posters which bore such inscriptions as CRBDA needs a career civil servant, not a politician; Politicians do not understand the vision of CRBDA and Hon. Minister, please do not allow CRBDA to die, the workers under the aegis of Nigerian Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers marched round the premises and adjoining streets of Ikot Eneobong to press home their demand.
Why we protested — Etim, workers’ union chair
Chairman of the union, Joseph Etim, who spoke to NDV, said the protest march was not targeted at anybody or to dictate to the Federal Government what to do, but in the interest of CRBDA.
His words: “We are not against anybody but we are for the better management of CRBDA which has for some years now been reduced to a squalid environment where the vision and mission of what the place was set up to be has been misplaced or at best destroyed.
“We are making a passionate appeal to the Minister of Water Resources, who personally flagged off a farm at the Basin Authority, last year, to come and see the state of the farm. No crop was planted in that farm and the place is completely covered with weeds.
“We know that if it was a civil servant that is at the helm of affairs in this place, he will strive to do well because he would have the fear of losing his job or messing up his career.
Capacity to feed South-South
“There are irrigation projects in Obubra/Wakande, Ogoja, Ijegwu/Yala, Obudu and the CRBDA took over the Cross River Songhai Farm at Itigidi and thousands of cassava stems were heaped there, but none was planted and the place is now grassland. We certainly cannot continue like this except we want the place to die completely,” Etim further stated
He added: “If properly managed, CRBDA has the capacity to produce food to feed the entire South-South states and also export, but there should be proper appraisal of the state of affairs in the authority before a new management is appointed.”
Secretary of the union, Mr. Kingsley Essien also said: “Having witnessed the management of CRBDA over the years, we have observed that career civil servants are better placed to handle the affairs of this authority than outsiders who hardly understand the vision this place was established to achieve.”
Public Relations Officer, CRBDA, Mr Jackson Udo, said: “The tenure of the Management Board of the Authority elapsed penultimate Wednesday and we are waiting for the Federal Government to make a pronouncement. The junior workers are just expressing their wish.”