Why Donald Duke Remains Our Best Option

By Tajin Olusegun Taire

No, we reject PDP at the next polls, we reject APC at the next polls, and we embrace SDP and his standard flag bearer, Donald Duke based on his unmatched performance of putting down the highest Public Commonwealth Value of any administration in this country since Independence, when he was a PDP Governor between 1999-2007.

We further embrace him for having, after that, resisting the ridiculous call to stay relevant and enjoying government perks as a Senator or Executive Office holder of the party, and further still for resigning from the Party in 2009. He refused to join the Goodluck Jonathan’s Cabinet in 2011, and for refusing to serve Buhari’s Cabinet in 2015. he shows self respect to follow his own path, and the courage to stand by his belief despite the zoning disease afflicting most Nigerians.

He was only a governor for 8 years and his strategy was as impeccable as his execution was successful. He left behind a far superior public commonwealth value, with public parks and spaces anybody including the Queen of England can be proud of. He impeccably refurbished and maintained public facilities, the vision to know that two Julius Berger macro drainage projects would not only last 500 years but would reduce the real-economic comparative implementation and maintenance costs of all physical planning related (roads, healthcare, pavements, agriculture, property, hospitality, etc) projects in the State to less than 10%  compared to other States.

Donald Duke improved the State’s revenue with the 26th largest income (of N90b in 8-years) out of 36 States. He pioneered what still remains today the only Cable Car ride in the country, ( the longest single-chain version in the world built by Julius Berger and Trevi Foundation).

To his credits, he built the only two Water Parks in the country allowing ordinary Nigerians who can’t afford to travel to other places, the public value to enjoy an activity they only watch on TV at N1000 and N500 for kids for a day.

Furthermore, he constructed the only monorail in the country, the only resort of its kind in the country by adding 200 more cabins to the Obudu Ranch. He introduced the internationally recognized Obudu Marathon the only proper festival in the country which once attracted N2.2b in corporate sponsorship in one edition, thus attracted 1.1m visitors in another edition, giving local traders and retailers up to 7-months’ income in December alone.

He turned Calabar into a mecca of conferences a revolving door whereby in one Nigerian Bar Association Conference accommodating, for the first-time in its history, 18,000 delegates in single sittings at Emporium B in Tinapa. Tinapa is the only non-religious indoor venue in the country with 25,000 capacity. According to an EU study, it estimated that the NBA delegates spent €12m in Calabar during the conference.

He built the only one of its kind Presidential Retreat a la Camp David for Presidential vacations and conferences on a plateau above the ranch plateau with a full-fledged Air Force Base next-door.

He implemented the most superior natural history and conservation projects bringing unprecedented tourism revenues to Afi Reserve, with the Cercopan Drill Sanctuary, forest canopy, forest cabins, as well as the crucial 300 Sq km Reserve enacted to protect the 30m European Barn Swallow that migrate to the area every year to mate, and the largest variety of Butterflies species in any one place on Earth, which made us discover that the webbed, flying, monkey has not gone into extinction.

Duke had the vision to ensure that as many graduates as possible could contest for LG Councillorship and Chairmanship elections in 1999. In rural electrification projects, he nearly had a success rate of 99% coverage.

Cross River becomes the only place in Nigeria drinking tap water is not a luxury, due to the implementation of World Bank projects by the Cross River State CRS Water Board. The state has the most advanced Ministry of Environment that enacted and enforced laws against damaging fauna and noise pollution.

The State’s Public Works Department PWD enacted and enforced laws that supervised and standardized the execution of projects like drainage, pavements, or the ramp into private property.

He implemented a superb waste management system that enacted all organic waste down effluent drain due to superior drainage, and then the enactment of prohibition of organic waste within 100 yards of public food preparation and consumption areas which enabled citizens to eat in the open in broad day light without flies.

To protect the rights of the less privileged, the state enacted and empowered the Office of the Public Defender and Citizens Advice Bureau in the Ministry of Justice, to ensure the arrest and prosecution of injustice against minors, wards, and the weak.

The Marina Resort offers ordinary Calabarians the opportunity to embrace nature’s serenity, civility, and the culture of thinking and visioning.

In cutting wastes in public expenditures, the revolutionary tactics of removing carpeting, fridges, and TVs from all offices through the enactment of the 1999 Budget of Maintenance, along with their colossal recurrent waste costs, and replaced with a culture of canteens and strict lunch hours even for Commissioners.

The former Governor was on top of his job and had a way of monitoring activities of his government. He spent every night in Calabar in his first year in office by visiting all ongoing projects in the dead of night without notices and calling the supervisory Commissioner or contractor to meet him on project sites if necessary, He reportedly sacked two Commissioners for falling short of expectations thus sending strong signals for others to sit up.

Donald Duke’s legacy project is the Tinapa Business & Leisure Park, aimed at securing 10-15% of Nigerian wholesale and retail trade imports from the Middle and Far East in a federal tax free zone which had the signatures of Walmart, Marks & Spencer, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s, as well as scores of other well known names.

Some of these retail companies had already moved in to the complex completed in 2007. Unfortunately his successors did not share the same dream summarily ending the lofty dreams.

Simple technical issues that can be managed led the Customs to raid the complex, manhandled, evicted and destroyed staff’s property and management on the pretext of resolving technical error in the use of Forex critical to the agreement with the foreign traders.

This misadventure sounded the death knell of the project that was simply and unequivocally destined to catapult the State into the 2ND largest income generating after Lagos within 5 years of Tinapa’s operations.

Sadly in a related development, his successor cancelled the special arrangement with Aero Contractors (an indigenous airline) for 3 flights a week each from Abuja and Lagos to Bebi airstrip at Obudu, which would have ensured more patronage that will have positive effect on the ranch that has 259 cabins.

His successor realized his folly after 4-5 years and appealed to the corporations to return to the festival, begging Aero to lease the State propeller planes to do one flight a week from Lagos and Abuja, after the facilities had run down. He had ruined, the stellar chances of the citizens who had embraced the magnificent work and vision of his predecessor.

No wonder the successor (Liyel Imoke) is still in the PDP …

Next to the word “Nigerian”, the meaning should ‘to be mean, and wicked, even to ones self’, in the dictionary, a picture of Liyel Imoke should be there.

Especially when I heard that he turned around and told someone in confidence that he never intended to wreck those projects but his wife had advised him that if they didn’t he would never get the credit for them and only Donald would …

All in all, we know he is a typical Nigerian, their Parties, politicians, supporters and electorate, and after we do our best with this effort, setting up an alternative platform for national consideration by the sane few, we still have the mission to go back and complete the paradise of commonsense public commonwealth value and development-economic progress that began in 1999 in Cross River state.

WE WILL ACHIEVE IT AND BE PROUD OF THE HIGHEST PUBLIC-PRIVATE VALUE RATIOS IN THIS COUNTRY … WITH EASE!

Go to the villages, LGAs, Senatorial Districts, etc of all the presidential candidates and aspirants of the PDP and APC who had been in politics and govt for 40-50 years and you would not be comfortable to permit your dog to walk around freely in public for fear of devastating disease.

In Donald Duke’s era, my cook and driver will come home and tell me they watched a performance sitting on the grass in the park in one evening, next to Tony Elumelu, the Austrian Ambassador, the head of the EU, World Bank, and UNICEF, and be off to play their volleyball league in a park in their N80K per year rent area, which is the same as the park in my N1.2m per year area.

We know how difficult it is for this Nigerian to understand the sanctity of Public Value and see his wretchedness and ask why he rushes off to spend his peanuts in enjoyment of European, American, and Asian public value …

We wish them the best of luck as they continue to huff and puff, proud that they wallow in their own faeces … just because they wear Rolex, drive G-wagon, and drink Crystal, ON TOP OF THE PILE OF DECOMPOSING poo!

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