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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Merry Christmas, Agba Jalingo, Ayade won't win

Merry Christmas, Agba Jalingo, Ayade won't win
Journalist Agba Jalingo has been in detention for months for his views (Premium Times)

Jalingo shouldn't be silenced by an oppressive, directionless government. His fight is our fight.

As a Cross Riverian and journalist, I can relate with Agba Jalingo and the travails he’s currently passing through.

I have a fair idea why Jalingo has remained in jail since August 22, 2019 and it has nothing to do with attempting to overthrow the democratically elected government of Governor Ben Ayade.

As publisher of CrossRiverWatch, Jalingo and his team were very critical of Ayade and his rudderless administration. They were fearless, pulled no punches and they churned out one exclusive after another that indicted Ayade and his administration.

After Jalingo accused the governor of diverting N500 million, his fate was sealed and he was picked up from Lagos, his hands in chains.

Jalingo has always been a man targeted by Ayade and his people. You see, Ayade hates to be criticized even though he’s one of the worst governors in the country today. He talks big and delivers little or nothing. He deceives his audience and Cross Riverians with bombastic language that means basically nothing. He has tagged his budgets with language no one has understood since 2015 and his budgets have delivered very little to the people of Cross River since he assumed the reins.

Ayade has been erecting castles in the air since 2015.

I know this because I just returned from Cross River to bury my dad. Cross River is rotting on Ayade's watch and it's so sad to see.

Interestingly, at about the time Jalingo was arrested, I also wrote a piece critical of the governor which you can find here. It was about how Calabar has lost its glory and how Ayade has allowed infrastructure to decay on his watch. It was about how Ayade has destroyed the vision for Cross River which Donald Duke had carefully crafted and implemented from 1999 to 2007. These days, I just can't recognize my Calabar anymore whenever I visit.

Days later, the governor replied through his spokesperson and called me and this medium all kinds of unprintable names. They just can't stand criticism on Diamond Hill, Calabar.

As Jalingo groans in detention at Christmas, I am consoled that his spirit hasn’t been broken and that he remains defiant and confident that he will get justice; especially after Justice Simon Amobeda who has been trying him, recused himself from the trial for alleged bias. Amobeda allegedly made some “biased” remarks against Jalingo which was leaked to the press.

“I spoke with him this afternoon and I also sent my cousin there to give him some foodstuff. He is in very high spirits,” said News Editor of CrossRiverWatch, Jonathan Ugbal of Jalingo, on Christmas eve.

“As a matter of fact, he was even asking if there was a way we could buy cow head for him (to eat).”

Ayade won’t win because there’s no way you can get away with accusing a journalist who has got nothing but information and a laptop, of trying to overthrow you. It’s a laughable charge, come to think of it.

“Dictatorship has never defeated goodwill and a determined people. Even if I end up not standing with you in the summit, remain strong and rest assured that the arc of life is on our side and we will win,” Jalingo recently wrote from behind prison walls.

“When this wind has finished blowing yonder, and it shall soon; we will look back and be glad we stuck our necks on the guillotine and history will only be fair to us, our people shall be free, the will of God would have been done and God’s name will be glorified,” he added.

This is the Jalingo I’ve always known--bruised, beaten but unbowed and unbroken. The man has always been a fighter and he’ll emerge from this like he’s done since he took the war to a directionless Ayade administration.

Those of us who hail from Cross River and who have seen our state fall apart on Ayade’s watch, stand with Jalingo and we trust that Ayade won’t win. Jalingo's fight is ours as well.

Stay strong, Jalingo and Merry Christmas.

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