Cross River’s Bakassi Coun­cil builds novel smart of­fice in oil re­gion

Business a.m. - - NIGERIA FRONTIER MARKETS - Ben Eguzozie, in Port Har­court

CROSS RIVER STATE’S LIT TORAL bor­der coun­cil, the Bakassi Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Coun­cil, has made his­tory in the en­tire oil re­gion of Niger Delta as it built and equipped the first lo­cal gov­ern­ment coun­cil smart of­fice. This Bakassi coun­cil is new. The old Bakassi which is awash with hy­dro­car­bon de­posits was handed over by erst­while Nige­rian pres­i­dent, Oluse­gun Obasanjo, to Cameroon Repub­lic, Nige­ria’s eastern neigh­bour.

By far, Bakassi Coun­cil, which was recre­ated from Ak­pabuyo Coun­cil by for­mer pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo, shortly after his ad­min­is­tra­tion handed over old Bakassi to Cameroon in 2007, suf­fers great pri­va­tions with its peo­ple, mainly fish­er­men and sub­sis­tence farm­ers left with­out the most ba­sic so­cio-eco­nomic fa­cil­i­ties.

To­day, the coun­cil sec­re­tariat at Ikang on the edges of the Great Cal­abar River, where it emp­ties into the At­lantic Ocean, has risen from the ashes. It is fully dig­i­tized with a web­site, a ded­i­cated email ad­dress, Face­book han­dle, Twit­ter han­dle, In­sta­gram, YouTube chan­nel, WiFi, CCTV cam­eras, a Post Of­fice Pri­vate Mail Bag, ded­i­cated cell phone lines for com­plaints and feed­backs from the peo­ple, in ad­di­tion to es­tab­lish­ment of a mar­riage reg­istry.

The smart of­fice was un­veiled by Iyadim Am­boni Iyadim, the chair­man of the lo­cal gov­ern­ment area dur­ing ac­tiv­i­ties to mark his first 100 days in of­fice as coun­cil boss. For this, he or­gan­ised a thanks­giv­ing cel­e­bra­tion.

Iyadim also in­formed that his coun­cil ad­min­is­tra­tion was able to in­stall close cir­cuit cam­era units at strate­gic lo­ca­tions in the coun­cil sec­re­tariat, in­ter­net fa­cil­i­ties in­stalled to en­hance a good work­ing en­vi­ron­ment for the coun­cil staff, to boost their pro­duc­tiv­ity, and en­sure com­mit­ment to ser­vice de­liv­ery to the peo­ple.

He took dig­ni­taries and me­dia men round his of­fice which was com­mis­sioned by Florence Ita-Giwa, for­mer pres­i­den­tial ad­viser on Na­tional Assem­bly mat­ters to for­mer pres­i­dent, Oluse­gun Obasanjo. Ita-Giwa, pop­u­larly known as Mama Bakassi, was taken round the of­fice, in­stalled with mod­ern com­mu­ni­ca­tion equip­ment, which the coun­cil boss, Iyadim said, can af­ford him the op­por­tu­nity of know­ing all that hap­pens within and around his of­fice and its ad­join­ing sur­round­ings, as well as events hap­pen­ing across the world.

“By this sin­gu­lar at­tain­ment, which is the first to be recorded by any lo­cal gov­ern­ment coun­cil in the Niger Delta re­gion, the story of Bakassi and its peo­ple will be heard glob­ally be­cause the coun­cil now has a web­site that peo­ple can ac­cess and make con­tri­bu­tions to its growth and devel­op­ment,” the chair­man said.

Ac­cord­ing to him, Bakassi is an in­ter­na­tional bor­der town (coun­cil area) and an area which has been so ne­glected, since it was recre­ated from the ashes of the parted old Bakassi. He said the hour has come for Bakassi to be pro­jected across the world for the de­sired at­ten­tion to drum for sup­port from in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties.

“With my new of­fice, it is pos­si­ble for me to communicat­e with my staff ef­fec­tively wherever I am; as well as con­duct our weekly ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil meet­ings vir­tu­ally, a feat yet to be recorded any­where in Nige­ria by a lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fice. This makes us the first dig­i­tal lo­cal coun­cil in the coun­try, Iyadim boasted.

Com­mis­sion­ing the chair­man’s smart of­fice, Florence Ita-Giwa, her­self an in­di­gene of Bakassi, de­scribed it as a land­mark and his­toric achieve­ment, be­cause as the sev­enth lo­cal gov­ern­ment chair­man of Bakassi, Iyadim has performed im­pres­sively within his first 100 days in of­fice. She called on the peo­ple of the lo­cal coun­cil to join hands with the chair­man in his ef­forts to turn around the for­tunes of the peo­ple, with the view to en­sur­ing that they were prop­erly re­set­tled.

Per­haps the coun­cil chair­man, Iyadim would need to en­hance his dig­i­tized Bakassi to pull tourist-vis­i­tor traf­fic to the area, be­ing an in­ter­na­tional boundary, with vast man­grove and trop­i­cal rain­forests. Fa­cil­i­ties like a ho­tel by-the-ocean-shore, na­ture re­serve, good in­ter­nal road trans­porta­tion, cot­tage in­dus­tries would at­tract vis­i­tors to the lit­toral coun­cil, which is in-between two oil­rich coun­tries (Nige­ria and Cameroon) in the Gulf of Guinea fron­tier. These he can achieve by open­ing agree­ments with pri­vate sec­tor de­vel­op­ers to es­tab­lish these fa­cil­i­ties.

Etim Oko Edet, an Etinyin the monarch of Bakassi, and cur­rent chair­man of Cross River State tra­di­tional rulers’ coun­cil, who be­came widely ac­claimed when he led protests around Nige­ria over the state and ne­glect of Bakassi peo­ple by the Nige­rian fed­eral gov­ern­ment, said the new coun­cil chair­man, Iyadim has pos­i­tive change for the area. He com­mended him for re­vis­it­ing the Bakassi story, say­ing; “if those be­fore him (that is, ear­lier coun­cil chair­men) had pro­jected the course of Bakassi, our nar­ra­tive would have changed for good by now.”

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