By Chief Philemon Ugbeche
Why me? I am a 79yr old farmer, a retired journalist, and a former schoolteacher in the glorious days of Mary Knoll, Okuku. I have lived a good life as a Catholic and my Knighthood was the crowning glory from a God I have served with dedication and fear; there is nothing more I want, until the good Lord calls. Many of our political leaders, especially from our side of the State, are well known to me, many I taught English and Literature at Okuku, some might even remember me as their fiery games master. Hopefully, all will remember me as a stickler for cleanliness and the truth.
Recently, a steady stream of visitors have been pouring daily into my farm, with their complaints about what our State has turned into, while blaming one of my students, the previous governor. I have often asked myself, how can everyone just mumble so quietly while confusion and ignominy reigns supreme? Or, does no one notice that every sector in the State has failed and “2 little terrors” reign supreme, and it is time for people with principles and conscience to stand up.
Yes, we can blame Senator Liyel Imoke, till kingdom come, but considering the leaders we have produced, from Joe Wayas, Mbu and Linus Okom to J.I.C Igbe, Walter Eneji, Eddy Agbe to Ofoboche to Okoi Arikpo, Adoga, Ebri, Timothy Omang, I.I. Morphy and co…. from which stock did the 2 Ayade’s emerge?
We must, in sincerity and honesty, not be blinded to the fact that Benedict Ayade’s leadership has failed Cross River state. Truth be told, at this twilight of my life, I had hoped we had raised leaders, to at least move the State forward. And if indeed all else failed, I expected credible men of honor to form a band and speak up for the sake of the State. But here we are, when all else has failed, unable to stand for the truth. After the struggle for COR State, I am moved to sound the trumpet of war to save our State, in spite of the frequent swaggering reminder that cheats can still prosper should their legal team find the right angle to work.
A wise man once said that, “…history is written by the victors. But our future will be shaped by the losers.” These words particularly read true to type barely 3yrs into Benedict Ayade’s tainted tenure as Executive Governor of Cross River state. A situation worsened by the increasing insularity of his arrogantly flawed “Chinese” leadership model, added to the domineering pre-eminence of his apology of a human being for a brother, who now reigns as co-governor?
Gloss over his tenure with induced or paid for and meaningless achievement awards and media coverage, unending foreign trips to ensnare a retinue of sometimes unsuspecting but wholly dubious fraudsters camouflaged as investors, you will arrive at the age old conclusions that politics has far less time for scripted dramas than happy endings; that time catches up with any politician who has made it his business to reinvent the wheel that brought him popularity and fortune; and that even the best of intentions can be become regrettable if you let the wrong characters in.
So, did we let the wrong characters in? Perhaps Abraham Lincolns prescient words that “…nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power,” best encapsulates my point, so it comes as no surprise that Cross Riverian’s now want an end to Senator Benedict Ayade’s failure laden and terror tainted tenure, come May 2019; and don’t expect history to be kind.
Lacking any obvious remorse and with little humility left, giving life to corruption and nepotism, soothsayers like myself have gone back to consult oracles across the 3 Senatorial zones, together with the majestic deities that bestride the creeks and inland waterways of the Cross River; seeking clarification and direction before speaking out for the fear of being tainted by association, branded failures or cowards because of our roots in the old Ogoja province.
Failure upon failure; nothing comes from nothing
From the health to the educational to the security and business sectors? Can someone please tell me what sector in the state is not in disarray?
What is Calapharm? Rice city? Cali Air? Cali rail? Calieven go half way with a deep-sea port or super highway and how do these projects benefit or complement existing ones on ground inquired a leading Commissioner and man of God in his cabinet tasked with infrastructure rather absentmindedly?
Were they thoroughly analyzed he further asked? Were business projections made for these projects? Were the business models properly analyzed? I mean are Ayade and Ayade normal?
And since wisely scraping the PPP business model that made Cross River state tick for 17 glorious years, are his collection of half-nitwit-half-thug and half-idiots appointed as Special Assistants’ and Commissioners expected to deliver on these projects, when half of them are seeing the 4 walls of a project office for the 1st time in their lives?
Now not all rancour has makes logical sense, but when men were men in Cross River state, men of timber of old, would have wrestled and defeated both Ayade’s, on any given afternoon, in markets squares from Okpoma to Abakpa to Utugwan to Igoli, to Obudu urban or Akpet central, with one hand tied behind the back. After all, who the hell are they? Merchants of lies, fraud and confusion; and Internet and media sensations of deceit?
The future is bright.
So, what went wrong with this gift from Senator Liyel to the northern Senatorial zone? Can Senator Liyels argument on why he opted for Ayade, from the chosen 5 hold grounds? Did he sow the seeds of Ayade’s downfall? Or did his good intentions blind him and others to dangerous failings in Ayade’s character? Did we, collectively, think that northernisation of power was a price worth paying? And have we downplayed failures we would have denounced from a Governor from the central or south? Despite my best efforts, I suspect that we all did, and Senator Liyel shouldn’t take the blame alone.
I am told, that Senator Liyel, in his own defense, has rightly argued that as a sitting Senator, Benedict was the highest political office holder from the northern Senatorial zone. Correct.
Secondly, he felt the incumbent, had performed creditably while meeting the various political caucuses and appeared well received and endorsed, besides, his “landing” seemed to endear him to everyone, then? Correct.
Thirdly, and perhaps deceptively, the incumbent’s initiatives, including the Obudu food bank and urban transport scheme, as a sitting Senator appeared well thought out and well received?
Fourthly, someone confided to me that initially, the incumbent, appeared to be independently and well-funded, which meant that he was unlikely to burden the states lean purse? Absolutely incorrect. Finally, even my consultations with the incumbent, at that point in time, he deceitfully presented himself as generous, humble and approachable; truthfully, all of the obvious indicators moved in the right direction in our perception, but that was in 2015, when he won a pyrrhic victory and we the people a defeat, but one that we inwardly treated like a triumph.
How did we get here?
For us politicians, broadly supportive of the PDP in Cross River state, Senator Ben Ayade’s object failure has been a cause for much heartache and soul-searching.
Under Governor Duke and Senator Liyels watch, Cross River state undoubtedly transitioned from afterthought to major stakeholders nationally, a development broadly reflected in our standing during the GEJ yrs., where we had excellent and respected representation, and our opinion and sagacity widely respected and courted in Abuja.
Backed by robust policies and investment in security and infrastructure development, progress and prosperity by virtue of a well-planned and managed economy and with emphasis on primary health-care, education, manpower development, urban renewal and social welfare, from Akampka, to Akpabuyo, to Ikom, to Ogoja to Obudu, Obanlikwu and Yakkur, where the newly established IMT in Ugep, offered to break new grounds in manpower development, to Calabar where the yearly carnival had become a huge standalone industry, generating substantial income for our business owners and ensuring a crime free period, starting in early November. We thought we had arrived.
That these leaps may have taken place with or without Duke and Imoke, and were foregone conclusions is a matter of conjecture. In the end, their body of work, while riddled with minute errors in personal judgment, is hardly reproachable. Their biggest failings, it would seem, was to stand by their agreement to ensure that all geopolitical zone in the state eventually produced a Governor; even if the rank outsider has now upturned the applecart.
Two years down the line; Ayade’s government has lost both its legitimacy and the support of many who once backed him. The complete collapse of all sectors of the economy, intensified by a resounding incompetence and lack of know how means governance has been catastrophically mishandled, and in ways that are well understood.
In reality, Ayade’s methods and rhetoric have run directly opposite to the once brave new Cross River vision championed by his predecessors. I have also heard of the 3-family rulership theory? Constituted of the Ayade’s, Agbos and Ishamale’s; but these side facts and perhaps even the case of the curious “Dr. Frank” are too minute to be considered in the larger context of the rudderless administration of our beloved state.
Truthfully, these are remarkably desperate moves for a man elected purely on the back of Imoke’s legacy.
For his rapacious greed, Benedict will no doubt pay the ultimate price come 2019, and he will definitely not have the luxury of transitioning into the sort of elder statesman role that was planned for him; his inability to read the signs means he will depart in disgrace.
Whichever side of the divide you line up on, there is much to look forward to in the coming dispensation. Whoever comes at the end of the trade-offs that will rid us of the 2 little terrors as Governors, will, crucially, have the backing of the voting people who want him far gone from Government House Calabar.
The call to oust Governor Ayade is now a rallying point in Cross River State, and the past political family’s robust structures and political experience means there will be no teething problems to stop us, despite the fact that Benedict is an incumbent.
Hosea 8:7 – For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swall
The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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