Ecstatic Ululation In Obanliku Ahead Of Senator Prof Sandy Onor’s Visit BY DAVE IMBUA


It is simply difficult, nay impossible to use words to capture the ecstatic mood in Obanliku as the people prepare to receive the Distinguished Senator Professor Sandy Ojang Onor, the Original Caterpillar and Orator of Nigeria’s Ninth Senate. Known for many good things, including his arresting oratory verve, uncompromising honesty and penchant for performance, Senator Professor Sandy Onor is expected to bring an electrifying current of hope, liberation and restoration to the currently despised, alienated and neglected people of Obanliku who have come to understand better than a thousand theoretical examples how the progress and development of a people can be retarded under an unjust and insensitive leadership.

The Obanliku experience in the last couple of years underscores King Solomon’s unequivocal statement that “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2). It is no longer news that what constitutes the dividends of democracy in Obanliku are more or less projects that were executed by the administrations of Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke. A few examples may suffice. As the governor of Cross River State (May 1999 – May 2007), Donald Duke constructed the Sankwala Ring Road in his first 100 days in office. In the course of his eventful tenure, he completed and commissioned several other projects including the Obanliku General Hospital, the Bebi Airstrip and Utanga Safari Lodge. He also upgraded the Ranch Resort to international standard, making it the flagship of Nigeria’s tourism. He electrified Bendi, Bisu, and Bebi among other communities. It is to his credit that he initiated and sustained the defunct annual Obudu Mountain Race which brought to Obanliku a great company of men and women from across ethnic, national, religious, linguistic and gender divides for the purpose of winning laurels and leisure. The Obudu International Mountain Race was endorsed by both the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) and the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) in 2005 shortly before Duke left office.

Senator Liyel Imoke who succeeded Duke as governor of Cross River State (May 2007 – May 2015) consolidated and expanded the dividends of democracy in Obanliku. Painstaking efforts were deployed to ensure that the dream that informed the huge investment in the Ranch Resort was not allowed to wither and ease in to oblivion. The Imoke-led administration opened new vistas in a bid to sustain the influx of both local and international tourists to the Resort. Under Imoke’s administration, the road to the resort was fortified and driving through the 22 breath-taking U-bends became pleasurable. In the same committed manner, Senator Liyel Imoke opened up several rural communities with asphalted roads like the Basang East Road, Busi Road, and Utuhu-Kakwe-Lishiche-Shikpeche Road. This was in addition to the rehabilitation and upgrading of numerous health centres and schools in the LGA. The exploits of Duke and Imoke left the good people of Obanliku in no doubt that democracy was the best form of government for any people in search of development.

And, then, the era of Senator Prof. Ben Ayade came in 2015! Like many other communities in the Northern Cross River Senatorial District, Obanliku people were profoundly confident that the swearing-in of a brother and kinsman as the governor of Cross River State was going to take the local government area to a new level of development. The optimism of such people arose from several justifiable considerations including the painful sacrifices that some people in Obanliku had to make to ensure that Ayade became the governor.

Unfortunately, no sooner had Ayade took off that it became clear that he was more interested in the underdevelopment of Obanliku than in its progress. Tragically, the people suddenly realised that there are leaders who can castrate democracy and make it impotent in grassroots development.
After six years of Ayade’s administration, he is yet to commission a single project in the entire Obanliku LGA. Worse still, deliberate efforts have been made to undermine the legacies of Duke and Imoke in Obanliku through the abandonment of well-conceived projects and other infrastructure. In this process of calculated under development, the Ranch has become a mere footnote in the world tourism map, with ongoing plans to turn it into a prayer mountain for politicians and their supporters. The Bebi Airstrip has also been abandoned to pave way for an international cargo airport in Obudu LGA. The Mountain Race with its huge impact on local economy has become history. Public schools in Obanliku have become shadows of what they were when Ayade took over in 2015. The level of neglect and marginalisation visited on Obanliku by the Ayade administration is unprecedented since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999. In fact, Apart from land grapping, there seems to be nothing else to immortalise the uneventful Ayade’s administration in Obanliku.

With a high sense of regret and frustration, many people in Obanliku have long stopped expecting anything to come from the Ayade debacle. The people are only waiting for time to pass to what would go into records as a dark age in the history of Obanliku. Indeed, many have been looking up to a deliverer who can redress the tragic drift in Obanliku from 2023. Because of his past and present records of performance, majority of the people see Senator Professor Sandy Onor as one person that can restore Obanliku in particular and Cross River State in general on the path of prosperity and development. Because of this, across party and gender lines, several people have been itching to join the Caterpillar Movement. Such people see Senator Onor’s positive responses to the prayers and wishes to run for the office of the governor of Cross River State as a sign of restoration and redemption. As one who had once directly overseen the affairs of a local government and had the opportunity of understanding the system nationally, many people are convinced that he will reposition local governments as sentinels of development and instruments of security at the grassroots. For the Obanliku man, this means that his monthly allocation that has either been appropriated for personal use or committed to develop other parts of the state will be available for the development of the LGA. As a co-visionary with both Duke and Imoke, expectations are high that Senator Onor will restore the good old days in Nigeria’s Switzerland. The vast majority of Obanliku people are excited! They are ecstatic! Focus you satellite dish on Obanliku tomorrow and you will understand the meaning of the lingo that action speaks louder than words.

Dave Imbua writes from the Hills of Bendi in Obanliku.

Disclaimer: The Opinions expressed in this article are strictly that of the author, Dave Imbua and does not represent TheLumineNews or the organization that author works for.


Development Consultant, Writer, Editor-In-Chief/Publisher, Public/ Motivational Speaker, Public Affairs Analyst/Commentator, Social Mobilizer of high repute.

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