We had the option of either taking the lift or the flight of stairs and somehow, even though lots were not cast, we settled for the flight of stairs. After a few meticulous steps with faint panting as an obvious backdrop, we arrived the third floor waiting lounge of the Cross River State Investment Promotions Bureau, Prof Eyo Ita House on the very busy Marian road, Calabar.
While we were expected, we had to first catch a breath, no thanks to the flight of stairs, before settling into seats, to wait for the Special Adviser to the CRS governor on Investment Promotions, Gerald Ada. Ada who has superintended over CR’s investment promotion drive since 2008, was billed to have an interactive session with www.calitown.com.
At exactly 1.35 p.m, Gerald Agim Ada, walks in, bespectacled, spotting a deep blue pink dotted tie with a perfect knot that exquisitely compliments his well ironed navy blue shirt. We exchange pleasantries and immediately settle down to business.
First and appropriately too, we ask him to educate our audience on what level of investment has been driven to CRS through his office. His response showed he was in familiar territory; hear him, “through our activities in the Bureau, we have been able to attract and manage the entry into CRS of $3billion worth of direct investment. Inside our collective effort here, let me inform you too that three Fortune 500 companies; General Electric, Wilmar International and Spar/Artee Retail chain are visible and can be counted among the effort to drive in the kind of investment that we are talking about”.(A Fortune 500 company is one listed in the annual compiled and published Fortune magazine list that ranks the top 500 U.S. closely held and public corporations by their gross revenue. The list includes publicly and privately held companies for which revenues are publicly available.) He doesn’t stop there as he goes on to tell www.calitown.com that this investment has created 4,000 direct jobs in the last four years while another 5,000 skilled jobs and 30,000 unskilled jobs in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, spread over five years are a direct benefit of his Bureau’s effort.
One phone call and another, come in; he turns away, takes them while we patiently wait, taking in the ambience of his efficiently furnished office. Even though the phone calls seem to distract him, he returns to us with a firm presence of mind informing us further that he has committed time and energy to developing the institutional framework of CR’s Micro Enterprise Development Agency, MEDA, for the support and development of the Micro Small and Medium Enterprise, MSME sector with N1billion collaborative funding put in place and another N2billion coming. This we hear has resulted in the creation of over 2,000 new businesses in the last 3 years, over 3,000 additional jobs and capacity building of over 10,300 persons across the State.
Gerald’s professional background we must say seems to have a positive overbearing influence on how he has vigorously pursued and driven his functions in the Bureau. It is no surprise when you consider that this 1988 University of Calabar Physics major who was the best graduating student in the Department and Faculty of Science for that year, also has eloquent testimonials trailing his more than 17 years top-level banking sector engagments.
Our concerns are genuine; it definitely will be wishful thinking to believe that all of the jobs his Bureau is helping to midwife will go to Cross Riverians. We are however of the opinion that Cross Riverians need to be educationally equipped to compete for this jobs and Ada agrees, adding too that “our education sector has to be fixed, we must articulate policies in this sector that will effectively tackle the very visible lapses that make our people come up short against the very best from outside CRS. Those policies must encourage a value system that embraces hard work and celebrates excellence, so that it becomes a way of life for our people to work hard and excel. It is the only way we can adequately compete and fill up spaces created by our investment drive”, it is spot on.
In creating support for 100 members of the National Association of Persons Living with Disability to be trained at the Calabar Entreprise Development Centre, EDC, with funding of their businesses made available for them seamlessly, GA, as he has come to be known lately, is not only thoughtful of him but it also has the added advantage of creating profoundness which is unconditional, positive and lifting to these category of persons often forgotten by society but now remembered and embraced by GA. One of the beneficiaries told www.calitown.com in faltering pidgin English that, “as e be big man come see we small people problem e come helep us, every time I see the man, I dey pray for am”, and it plainly was from the heart. GA maintains in this circumstance that, he is driven by the need to be selfless, ensuring that he is not just useful to others, but additionally strives to add value to the people and society he comes in contact with. “Everything I do must bring benefits and motivation to the people of CRS. I consider the whole idea of life as service to God and people. People like Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, etc, are for me a practical example of how one should dedicate himself to serving the people, without counting personal material benefits. I am inspired by them, by the way they lived for others, fought injustices, promoted peace and harmony and left us those legacies. I am working tirelessly at doing my positive best from the lessons these people have left us”.
The words are delivered pensively and even the mood in GA’s office changes, not even the human and vehicular noise on Marian drown the words but soon the squeak of his chair bring us back to reality…we have this feeling that Gerald Agim Ada, born on April 24th, 1965, has something CRS really NEEDS.
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