Governor Otu’s one year of transformational leadership

Governor Otu’s one year of transformational leadership


By Michael Jegede


When Senator (Prince) Bassey Edet Otu was inaugurated as the Governor of Cross River State on May 29, 2023, Cross Riverians were full of expectations as they looked forward to a better future for the state, seeing that a tested, trusted, reliable and compassionate politician had taken over the mantle of leadership.

The excellent track record of the governor as a federal parliamentarian for 12 years, earned him the trust of Cross Riverians, which obviously informed their decision to freely and willingly give him the mandate to steer the ship of the state, as was reflected in his overwhelming victory at the polls on March 18, 2023.

After a year in office, there is the widespread notion that the governor has lived up to the expectations of the people in the manner he has handled governance and the entire affairs of the state. He is seen to have carried out significant transformations aimed at reshaping Cross River’s economic fortunes and repositioning the state for greater heights in the interest of the people.

Governor Otu, a pragmatic, visionary and charismatic leader, has in the last one year, demonstrated transformational leadership with the various innovations, reforms and projects he has embarked on – road construction and repairs, renovation of government institutions, rehabilitation of schools, upgrade of health facilities, agricultural revolution and other notable steps taken to place the state on a higher pedestal. He is viewed as one of the performing governors in the country, wholly committed to the wellbeing of the people and determined to deliver democracy dividends to their doorsteps.

According to John Maxwell, an American author, pastor and leadership guru, in a piece, ‘Your Leadership Can Transform the World’, “Trained leaders have knowledge; transformational leaders have wisdom. Trained leaders know the right things to do; transformational leaders do the right things. Transformational leaders influence others to think, speak, and act in ways that make a positive difference in the world.” Joseph Samuel Nye, an American scholar, political scientist and emeritus professor at Harvard Kennedy School, once noted that “Transformational leaders are important because they make choices that most other leaders would not.”

In the words of Warren Gamaliel Bennis, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Just as Reverend Theodore Hesburgh averred that “The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”

Otu is believed to have shown great wisdom and sterling leadership qualities in pursuit of the actualization of his vision for the state to fulfil his People-First agenda and bring forth the season of sweetness. Great leaders, as opined by Myles Munroe, do not desire to lead but to serve. The former member of House of Reps (2003-2011) and Cross River South Senator (2011-2015), in the last one year has portrayed himself as one who came to serve the people. He has again proven that indeed he joined politics to provide service to humanity, as he had always claimed.

Addressing Cross Riverians on May 29, 2024, as part of activities to mark his first year anniversary as governor, Otu who appears to see and do things differently to achieve results, an attribute of a transformational leader, said: “In my attempt to achieve the programmes and projects of a People First agenda, I refused to follow the paths of our dark past, known for near total abandonment of policies, programmes and projects of previous administrations. I reasoned that every project, properly executed to its conclusion will in one way or the other impact positively on the people. I was therefore deliberate in adopting a path which promises to bring alive every investment of all past administrations for the benefit of the people.

“A clear example is my bold return to the Obudu Ranch Resort which has attracted unprecedented support by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in figures which surpass all previous administrations put together.

“The maximum utilization of the Teachers Retraining Institute in Biase and the upgrading of the State College of Education to a University of Education and Entrepreneurship, whose legal framework is ready for transmission to the State House of Assembly for passage into Law, and the establishment of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery in the University of Cross River State are eloquent expressions of that belief.

“In the same vein, government’s effort to complete the Obudu Cargo Airport as well as the ongoing efforts to strengthen the CallyAir fleet with 5 (Five) additional airplanes in order to reduce the air traffic problems of Cross Riverians are consistent with my administration’s policy of continuity in governance.

“The task of continuity of past projects and the necessity to open new areas of development opportunities in the State challenged us to embrace technology to strengthen our hitherto weak economic base and introduce efficiency in governance. This led us to restore fibre links to all the MDAs for internet connectivity, and presently undertaking repair of the Cross River State Metro fibre links to provide internet for domestic and institutional use.”

The governor disclosed that Cross River received the prestigious NG Award as the best State in Digital Innovation presented by the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), and equally got the Overall Best Award in the 2024 Science and Technology Expo by the Federal Ministry of Science, Innovation and Technology.

He said the immediate impact of the innovations made by his administration was an improvement in the state’s IGR, rising from N20.5 Billion in 2022 to N30.8 Billion in 2023, representing an increase of 50.24 %, and growing by 60.6% or N22.6 Billion from June 2023 to N36 Billion in May 2024. During the same period, the State, according to him, moved from its permanent 28th position to being among the first 10 States in accountability index, through its timely delivery of records to relevant authorities.

Some of the other key achievements mentioned by the governor include: the launch of the digitally managed N30B commercial agric development fund, called Project Grow, which seeks to create 100,000 direct jobs with over N50 billion in revenues; Commencement of planting of 3.5million oil palm seedlings; Extension of Smallholder Cocoa development scheme; Conduct of a comprehensive soil fertility survey of Cross River State, distribution of farm inputs to 1,080 beneficiaries and rehabilitation of 17 farm access roads; Establishment of 286 income-earning Agric enterprises; Initiation of the Cross River State-wide Irrigation Infrastructure Development Project (SWIID); Re-establishment of the Cross River State College of Agriculture and Forestry; payment of 2024 WAEC registration fee to the tune of N446,271,000 for 16,301 SS 3students of Cross River State origin; Securing of funding from AFREXIM Bank for the Deep Sea Port and other major projects in the State; Commencement of drilling in two oil blocs, which has prompted meetings/discussions with stakeholders that will lead the state to regain its oil producing status.

Pleased with Otu’s performance after a year in office, Cross Riverians poured encomiums on him for not disappointing them. A deluge of goodwill messages flowed from various groups and individuals to celebrate the man popularly referred to as Sweet Prince, appreciating his wonderful efforts towards changing the face of Cross River for the good of the residents.

Erstwhile Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, a renowned politician from Cross River State, believes Otu has justified the confidence reposed in him by Cross Riverians with his unique approach to governance that paved the way for him to record impressive achievements within one year in office.

In a statement he issued on the governor’s first year anniversary, Ndoma-Egba, the legal icon and ex-Board Chairman of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), said: “Bassey Otu has restored Governance to its known notions of systems and procedures. He is rebuilding our derelict social institutions and establishing predictable policies. Our cities especially Calabar are regaining their cleanliness and greenery for which they were famous and infrastructure being repaired and upgraded. He has terminated the impulsive governance of the recent past.”

The lawmaker representing Boki/Ikom Federal Constituency in the House of Reps, Hon. Victor Abang, in his goodwill message to the governor, stated: “Your tenure has been marked by remarkable achievements that have set a new standard for leadership in our beloved state.

“Your unwavering commitment to infrastructure development is evident in the numerous projects that have enhanced our state’s connectivity and growth. The strides made in human capital development have empowered our citizens, fostering an environment where talent and innovation thrive. Furthermore, your efforts in ensuring peace and stability have created a harmonious and conducive atmosphere for progress.

“Your leadership has also been instrumental in maintaining political stability and driving economic growth. These achievements have not only solidified the foundation for sustained development but have also attracted investment and boosted the overall prosperity of our state.

“This anniversary is a testament to your visionary leadership and dedication to the welfare of our people. I encourage you to sustain this impressive tempo, as your continued efforts will undoubtedly lead Cross River State to even greater heights. Congratulations once again, Your Excellency. May your leadership continue to inspire and bring prosperity to our state.”

In an interview published by Pillar Today, an online news medium, the Special Adviser on General Duties to the governor, Barrister Ekpenyong Akiba, described Otu as “a true representation of leadership with capacity, leadership with capabilities, leadership that has to do with the result. Leadership that rebuilds or rekindles hope, rebuild confidence and reawakens trust.”

Akiba was further quoted as saying: “Since our governor came on board, you will agree with me that all sectors of the economy have been tempered with. Many have seen him as a magician going by the fact that despite our low financial standing as a State, his strides are massive.

“If you want to count the number of achievements of this administration within one year comparatively nationwide, he stands above all others especially when you put them side by side our income.

“When he came on board and declared ‘operation no potholes in Cross River State capital to begin with, people thought he was joking, but we can all attest to the fact that there are no potholes in the State capital again.”

Otu, at the 5th State Executive Council Meeting of 2024 held on Friday, June 7, in Calabar, urged his cabinet members to brace up for greater records of successes in the second year of the administration, while applauding them for the role they played individually and collectively in the considerable number of achievements recorded within the first year.

A press release signed by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Nsa Gill, quoted Sweet Prince as saying that “Much more would have been recorded if not for some obvious challenges that are receiving attention currently. Results are what matter and very soon, we are getting to where results will count and every Commissioner must brace up.”


Michael Jegede, a journalist, writes from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja

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