Workers of the Cross River Basin Development Authority (CRBDA) recently took to the streets to protest the poor running of the federal agency.
The workers protested round the agency’s host community, Ikot Eneobong, Cross River State, according to a report by Vanguard newspaper.
They accused the federal government of continually foisting inept management on the agency.
The tenure of the last management expired a few days ago.
Cross River Basin Development Authority, one of the 12 River basin development authorities in Nigeria, was established in 1976 to, among other things, help develop water resources and control flood and erosion in the areas within its jurisdiction which today has been reduced to only Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.
The agency’s fortune and impact has continued to dwindle, for some years now, and the workers are now demanding the appointment of a technocrat, instead of a politician, to run it.
“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,” Joseph Etim, the leader of the workers’ union in CRBDA, said.
“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,” Mr Etim said.
He said the irrigation projects in Obubra/Wakande, Ogoja, Ijegwu/Yala, Obudu and the Cross River Songhai Farm the agency took over at Itigidi are now overgrown with weeds after they were abandoned.
“We certainly cannot continue like this except we want the place to die completely,” Mr Etim said.
“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,” he added.
The CRBDA is supervised by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
A recent failed attempt to sanction the agency’s outgone managing director, Bassey Nkposong, over corruption allegations and the controversial removal of the board chairman, Eseme Eyiboh, speaks volumes of the politics in the management of the CRBDA.
Mr Eyiboh’s sack came about two months after the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, overruled the board on the suspension of Mr Nkposong who was accused of irregularities in the award of N250 million worth of contracts and other “breaches.”
Mr Nkposong refused to respond, twice, to the corruption allegations, including a query from the board before he was suspended.
Mr Eyiboh was not queried by the ministry. The allegation of corruption was also not investigated by the ministry.
“The Board under my chairmanship did not reckon with the organised corruption ring that had the active connivance and protection of the power grid at the supervising Federal Ministry of Water Resources,” Mr Eyiboh said in the statement, after his removal.
“The trajectory of the board’s running battles to ensure transparency and probity by the management of the CRBDA shows clearly that the agency’s Managing Director could not have been acting independently of a powerful protective cocoon located in the supervising ministry.
“Six months after the composition and inauguration of the Governing Board of the Cross River Basin Development Authority by the President, the management of the CRBDA engaged in the most scandalous public auction of the commonwealth of the people occasioning the carting away and conversations of public assets under spurious circumstances and continued to run the Authority as if there was no board, with the Managing Director acting as a sole administrator, as it were before the board was constituted.
“The Governing Board had to invoke its oversight powers by setting up an ad-hoc committee to look into the activities, programmes and projects of the Basin Authority,” Mr Eyiboh said.
Mr Eyiboh said his removal “should not end the quest for accountability” at the agency.
“I want to restate that Hon Eseme Eyiboh may be the target, but he is not the issue at stake at the Cross River Basin Development Authority. The main issue is corruption, which I believe is actively being covered up from high places. If the supervising ministry dares, let the minister institute an independent panel to confirm or rebut the findings of the board,” he said.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...