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Ogoja Local Government Area

Ogoja Local Government Area has a chequered history of development. Despite her frontline Position in Nigeria’s political history, this capital of the old Ogoja Province has nothing to show for in terms of physical development or an industrial estate.

But things are changing under the current political dispensation. The local government is undergoing a re-discovery, re-generation at the dawn of a new Millennium. The difference between democracy and other forms of government lies in the former being responsive, responsible and accountable.

Democracy has not only restored hope, but it has also given voice to the people and renewed their independence with distinct flavour. Like a growing child, Ogoja has her teething problems. However, under the chairmanship of Chief Christopher Monkom, the council has fully acclimatized and adjusted to the reality of the situation. Here is a vivid account of his stewardship so far.

Ogoja Local Government Area in the Northern Senatorial District of Cross River State.

Its neighbours are Yala to the west, Bekwarra in the Southwest, Obudu in the East, and Boki in the South East. The Headquarter is at Ogoja Town.

The ten wards in the Local Government Area are:-

  1. EKAJUK I
  2. EKAJUK II
  3. MBUBE EAST I
  4. MBUBE EAST II
  5. MBUBE WEST I
  6. MBUBE WEST II
  7. NKUM IBOR
  8. NKUM IREDE
  9. URBAN I
  10. URBAN II

WORKS
Since the inception of the present administration, serious attention has been paid to road construction and rehabilitation. The council has constructed the central drainage channel at Igoli for N16.2m. It also constructed two bridges at Ishibori road and another at Idung-Eji and Ukamusha Street.

The administration has constructed 50 kilometers of roads throughout the council. It also supplied laterite to the various roads totaling 706 trips at the cost of N2.118 million. Council rehabilitated the High Court complex in the area: Offices in the council secretariat were rehabilitated as they were met in a deplorable state. The legislative chambers was furnished at the cost of N1.4 million.

HEALTH
Health is wealth, says a popular adage. That is why the administration gave priority attention to health care services. In the last twenty months, council offered health care services including delivery in all its Primary Health centers.

The Monkom administration has completed the primary health Centre at Ukpe and renovated the following health centers, Ikumtak, Idung, Aragban, Bansara, MCH, Igoli, Ishaya etc. the council is currently building a new health post at Mfanju. The project will gulp N650,000.00.

To ensure regular supply of drugs to the respective health institutions, the local government has opened a-drug revolving account with the sum of N168,000.00. Through this account, the out-of-stock syndrome in Public hospitals in the area is now a thing of the Past.

EDUCATION
Education is the acquisition of knowledge that is necessary for the development of the human mind and liberates it from the bondage of ignorance. This definition behaves that certain facilities necessary for conducive learning are put in place.

It is note worthy that the Monkom administration has accorded education prime position in his developmental programmes. The administration is not unmindful of the qualitative education places on parents and guardians. And in order to provide some relief, the council gave bursary award of N1,000 each to 670 students in higher institutions of learning.

Also, N5,000 each was given to ten medical students from the area even as 150 teaching and non-teaching staff were employed to fill vacancies in primary schools in the area. The Chairman’s wife donated 50 first aid boxes to primary schools in Ogoja at the cost of N650,000.00. This amount includes drugs that were supplied alongside.

The council renovated some primary schools while plans are at advanced stage to procure more desks and tables for pupils and teachers respectively. More adult education centers are to be opened in the rural areas to check illiteracy.

AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
The desire to maintain the food basket status of Ogoja has prompted the council to do all within the limits of its resources to promote agriculture.

Consequently, to boost farming, the council Purchased 2,000 machetes and distributed to farmers in the ten wards. The government of Monkom is considering purchasing fertilizer for farmers at subsidized farming in the near future. 10,000 oil palm tress have so far been planted.

SPORTS AND YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Without any doubt, sports plays an important role in modern world. Apart from cementing relations among nations, sports engage the youths and divert their attention from crime and other social ills.

It is in the light of this that council revived the Ogoja Black Cats Football Club which is playing in amateur Division three. The club is leading on the league table. The council intends to promote sporting activities this year by sponsoring school sports while it shall organize a-sport festival to discover talents at the grassroots.

WOMEN AND SOCIAL WELFARE
The women development unit of the council has been living up to its responsibilities. Led by Mrs. Monkom, the unit donated 100 school desks to the ten wards of the council at the cost of N400,000.00 hair dressing equipment were donated to the home of orphans etc.

MARKET DEVELOPMENT
The council has completed construction of 42 corner shops at the central motor park at Igoli. Also completed the commercial building at the central Motor Park to serve as a shopping center at a cost of N1.8million.

This year, council intends to develop rural markets to boost revenue for the government. It shall build more stalls in some selected markets in the respective communities.

REVENUE GENERATION
There is no gain-saying the importance of funds in the execution of lofty programmes in Ogoja local government area. With revenue from the federation account insufficient, the council overhauled its internal revenue collection machinery. This has fetched it a little increment in internally generated income.

The council has plugged loopholes in the revenue department, leading to the discovery of N4 million going annually into the Private Pockets of the collectors. But the council has not completely eliminated the defrauding of its revenue because corruption has been entrenched in the system.

The Chairman of the council, Chief Monkom in an interview with GRASSROOTS NEW, called on the Federal government to increase the allocation of local governments to 30 percent to enable councils to pay salary and comfortably executive development projects.

EXECUTIVE-LEGISLATURE RELATIONSHIP
According to Chief Monkom, Council bought a bus for the councilors and furnished their chambers.

He said before now, the relationship between the two arms of government was cordial. But recently, the chairman alleged that councilors want to perform the functions of the executive. When this was resisted, the councilors threatened him with impeachment, making frivolous allegations.

The chairman alleged that his councilors wants him to always put on table revenue accruing to the council to share to the detriment of development projects. However, he has always resisted this, as it is he who would be held responsible for every action or inaction.

OUTSTANDING LIABILITIES
The administration inherited a debt of over N11 million, out of this, N2.35 million has been serviced.

PROBLEMS
The major problem confronting Ogoja local government council is insufficient funds. Revenue accruing to the council cannot pay staff salaries and execute Capital Projects. Another is tax evasion by some adults, especially those in the rural areas. The people of the area are impatient, as they want government to do everything overnight. They want to see the dividends of democracy.

The chairman also alleged that Practitioners of the local government system, especially under democracy, do not know their Powers and limitations. That is why the legislative arm cannot separate itself from the executive, thus causing friction.

CONCLUSION
Ogoja Local Government Council believe sincerely that it is not yet time to roll out the drums, wine and dine in celebration of landmark achievements.

Like the adages says, “Victory is not for the quitter but for the enduring athlete who completes the race". However, chief Monkom intend to keep faith with his vow to leave Ogoja Local Government Area better than he met it.