Reading recent media reports that Cross River got minus N824 million from the federation account for the month of April sent me into depression. That means Cross River is indebted to the tune of 82 million naira which apparently will be deducted from the next allocation. I wept for governor Ayade, I wept for my state and the uncertainty of hope seemingly enveloping its chances for survival in this trying times. I thought of the next generation and the gloomy future that lies ahead, coupled with the grave challenges before the state with little or no money accruing from the centre as it were.
Where do we go from here? I had asked myself with no hint or clue. I sympathized with myself and antagonized fate for bequeathing such a precarious era on us as a people; I empathized with the inclement situation His Excellency governor Ben Ayade has found himself, then the tears flowed freely because in my soberness I could not fathom the way out of the present quagmire starring us in the face. Given the present circumstance, I concluded that Ayade is the most unfortunate governor in the history of the state. I had given up in the hopelessness of the asceticism that sank me deeper into depression.
But my agony was short-lived. It was jolted by a sudden rumination. My thoughts took me to May 29, 2016 and I began to reflect on the Democracy Day speech rendition by His Excellency, Governor Ben Ayade; and then I began to ponder on the many achievements of his administration in one year. I saw that his words matched his actions. There are concrete evidences to justify his claims. My mood quickly began to brighten and I saw hope wiping the bleakness that hitherto occupied my mind;the last scale of hopelessness fell off my misty eyes. I must have been swimming in the ocean of fear which momentarily drowned my sense of reasoning. Then I thought of many Cross Riverians who have been caught by same fear and have remained helplessly fixated under its grips; cajoled by inane ignorance which has left some hanging dangerously at the mercy of fate, manipulation and subjugation by forces of retrogression. I pitied their lot.
In very few intense minutes, it dawned on me that Ayade was being criticised and underrated out of ignorance or sheer jealousy of doing the unimaginable. I concluded that Ayade is performing ‘magic’ in Cross River state. The aphorism: ‘’what you don’t know won’t kill you’’ was personally rephrased to: ‘’what you don’t know will kill you’’. For me, I was happy a burden had just been lifted and the relief was a refreshing experience.
Progressively, I thought about the completion of the garment factory that will provide employment for thousands and its economic implications for the people and the state. I remembered the Green Police that has employed thousands of restive youths and the way the governor has been able to divert youthful energies for positive productivity. What about the completion of the Calabar Mono-rail and the Calabar International Conference Centre, second of its kind Sub Saharan Africa which will add value to our fledgling tourism; the aggressive renovation and equipping of health facilities and schools across the state; the Deep sea-port, the 260km super highway that will serve as evacuation corridor for the seaport and will also serve as direct linkage between the south-south and the north, the Rice City, Pharmaceutical Company, Calas-Vegas,the Cross River replica of Hollywood, and many other landmark projects of the present administration some of which are still in the pipeline and what benefits these projects hold for the state, its people and the future; what about the up to date and prompt payment of workers’ salaries when many states are owing backlog of salaries even up to six months;the Tax Exemption Policy for low income earners in the state and the avowed commitment to ensure 24 hours electricity through building an independent power source for the state; the 5000 housing units, and the many crucial bills which were signed into law to enhance good governance and economic recovery in the state, etc.
Suddenly, my confidence in Ayade tripled. My belief in him became reinforced and grew firmer. Then like Nostradamus, I looked into the future of the state taking into account the prospects of the many awesome initiatives of the Ayade government and I saw a new Cross River that is self-sufficient and self-reliant. I saw a future totally rid of poverty; a place where unemployment is a thing of the past, a state where even the rural communities are transformed into business hubs and rural-urban migration ceases to be lucrative. A state where petty traders, small and medium entrepreneurs will blossom and artisans will reap the full value of their skills. More money will be left in the hands of the people after meeting their basic needs; a state where the educational, health and the socio-economic needs of the people will be graciously met. Yes I saw a Cross River that will become a regional economic Power House with surplus of investments; in all I saw a global destination where both human capital and physical infrastructures compete with the best in the world…a better and prosperous Cross River lying in wait.
Although his magic is limited by paucity of funds which has seen some aspects like environmental sanitation and political staff welfare etc. suffer marginal neglect but this is only a fraction compared to what the man has been able to put on grand since he assumed office a year ago. Prof. Senator Ben Ayadein the course of the year may have made pardonable mistakes, after all, he is still a human despite his magic wands but these mistakes are infinitesimal when juxtaposed with what he has done in one year.
It is very glaring that Ayade himself has undergone some ‘metabolic’ change within the period as the exuberance that greeted his early days in office has since fizzled away. He is modestly now facing the real challenges of governance in the state partly as a result of the constant criticism he was met with at the time; and these were temperate and constructive. In fairness to Ayade, he listens to advise and very amenable to criticisms although his reaction may not be spontaneous. Yet, he still needs time and patience to get some things right.
Even though it is crystal clear that most criticisms against Ayade have political undertone particularly those coming from members of the opposition party in the state, the governor in his wisdom had always deciphered the good ones from the pack. But when the content of criticism is predominantly abusive, derogatory and personal attack on the governor and his exalted office (which has become the pastime of some persons) than advise on how to do things right, then it calls to question the patriotism of these fellows.
He has been wildly criticised for his style of governance which was described as ‘strange and bizarre’. They forget that the man has found himself in power in the most strange and bizarre times. Therefore, acting otherwise will spell more doom for the state. Drastic situation they say demands drastic measures, Ayade must operate outside the normal and unconventionally if he must manage the state for any meaningful gain. Granted, criticism is healthy for change and development but only when it is constructive and not destructive like many of his critics have resorted to.
In light of the achievements of the Ayade administration in one year and given the stark reality of today which is occasioned by a near non-existence of funds, I began to wonder if those who still negatively criticise the governor with disdain came from another planet and not conversant with the harsh economic realities and hard times the state is going through. I wondered if these persons are moral beings or demons in human forms on a mission to compound the woes of the state because every discerning free moral being not living in Mars and operates within the geographical space called Nigeria should commend Ayade’s ingenuity and doggedness rather than condemn in perpetuity.
By providence, governor Ayade is blessed with a House of Assembly that appreciates the predicaments of the state and has demonstrated enormous verve in partnering with the Executive towards finding solutions to the prevalent problems of the state through timely laws to back the Ayade’s administration’s economic agenda and social recovery plans. The Assembly, ably led by Rt. Hon John Gaul Lebo had, given the reality of present time, re-invented itself and has equally shown laudable understanding and support which have been misconstrued by some persons as a weakness.
The Judiciary, government appointees and politicians, Organised Private Sector, the Civil Society Organisations, Labour and even the masses have equally adjusted for the common good, progress and development of the state. Such is the spirit needed to conquer the present and build the future.This is what Cross River needs at this dejecting time.
The situation of the country at the moment is indeed precarious and odd and only a man like Ayade can be able to navigate the state from the stormy sea that is viciously threatening to drown its common heritage, wealth and existence.
Despite the travails of Ayade, he is a man of deep vision who has redefined governance in the state with the art of consummate thinking, raw show of commitment to salvaging a deteriorating state; and has made practical efforts to reposition it as a leading state in the Africa sub region in the nearest future. He needs more kudos than knocks.
The unedited views expressed in this article are the author’s and not the views of www.calitown.com
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