Friday, 18 August 2017

See How Ayade is Developing C/river north

IN CROSS RIVER NORTH by Emmanuel Ulayi

That Senator Professor Ben Ayade, the governor of Cross River State is a trail blazer in all aspects is a fact by now accepted not only in Cross River state but also in Nigeria as a whole. What with the numerous positive changes and developmental innovations he brought into governance vis; prompt fulfillment of electoral promises as demonstrated by the establishment of the Calabar Garment Factory, the Green Police etc; utmost attention being paid to workers welfare in the state even in the face of dwindling revenue from the central government with some states with higher revenues and lesser obligations than Cross River owing workers months of salary in arrears, Ayade not only cleared the backlog of four months’ salary owed workers by the preceding administration, he has also ensured that workers receive salary before the end of each month; the super highway that traverses the length of the state from the south to the north and initiation of housing project for the Bakassi returnees who have been abandoned by successive governments among many other laudable projects too numerous to be listed here.

Cross Riverians, both home and abroad are commending the Professor-governor. Jao Uke, a civil servant in the State has this to say, “Governor Ayade has demonstrated his commitment to improving workers’ welfare by paying us our four months’ salary owed by the previous administration. He has also consistently paid our salary latest by 28th of each month. He remains the only governor in Nigeria that has achieved this and the first also to pay workers their salary on the 1st of a month”. To Ulli Bong, an IDP, “Professor Ayade is God’s gift. An angel that has come to give the Bakassi people hope in the hour of despondency” One of the employees of the Calabar Garment Factory, a widow with five young mouths to feed, who craved anonymity also has this to say, “Life was becoming too difficult for me since the death of my husband. I could barely get a meal per day for my five children not to talk of proper clothing and sending them to school. But things have changed for the better since I was employed at the Calabar Garment Factory. I and my children now have enough to eat. They are also in school now”.
Calabar Garment Factory
With all the local, national and international accolades and encomiums pouring on the erudite governor for his wonderful projects spread across the length and breadth of the state, it is perplexing to hear the faintest cry of foul play or marginalization from anywhere in the state, least of all from the North of the State where the governor hails from.

Marginalisation is as old as Nigeria. It is the fear of this that prompted the minority groups to clamour for the creation of their own states or regions before independence. The colonial government settled for creation of local governments instead, leaving the natives to sort out themselves after independence. The agitation for separate states for the minorities continued till after 1960. It yielded partial result with the creation of Midwestern Region in 1963. But the COR region--an acronym for Calabar-Ogoja-Rivers--leading the demand for state creation was left in the lurch. Of the three provinces in the proposed state, only Ogoja is yet to have a state of its own.

 Marginalisation could also be seen in political appointments favouring some parts over others. And also in distribution of infrastructure, amenities and other developmental projects. These are mostly manifested when the head of a government is from another side of the political divide. While some of these allegations may have some justifications, most accusations of marginalization are baseless and are most times handwork of political detractors, the uninformed hack writers. It is evident though that the old Ogoja Province had been sidelined politically as it is yet to have a state of its own even after many hitherto not so prominent places have been elevated.

In the distribution of political offices and patronage and general development, the area, which is now five local governments and forms the Cross River State Northern Senatorial district had also been left out. There is abundance of qualified and adequate human or material resources in the area but this is the first time the zone produced the governor of the state since creation in 1967.

Now that the zone produced a governor who is doing his utmost best to develop all parts of the state with special attention to the previously neglected areas, it is disheartening to hear some accusing the governor of marginalizing the very place of his birth. If these elements were talking in past tense it would be understandable. At this point, the numerous life changing developmental projects of governor Ayade in Cross River North will bear mentioning for the education of the uninformed and mischief makers.

Cotton Farm in Cross River North
Pursuant to his policy of backward integration, the administration of Senator Ben Ayade, in partnership with the Arewa Cotton is establishing a cotton farm at Woda in Yala local government area of the state. This is targeted at providing the needed raw material for a textile mill to be established by a Chinese firm, Ruyi Science and Technology Group. This in turn will provide the materials for the Calabar Garment Factory. Some of the direct beneficiaries of this project expected to generate 10,000 jobs are the local farmers who will be trained by the Arewa Cotton and provided with seedlings. In the words of Anibe Achimugu, Managing Dirctor of the Arewa Cotton, "we will start by allocating parcels of land to the community farmers, train them and hope that they can now pass the knowledge to others”.

Cotton farm
"Members of the community are already working with us in terms of the casual labour that we need. Also, we are collating the small holders farmers as out growers’. Former member of the National Assembly, Hon Christopher Inyila Eriba said, "If we have land to offer, that will be our little contribution towards the agricultural revolution. At a time like this, in order to cope with economic recession with a lot of young graduates who need skill acquisition, it is expected that going into this kind of venture will give them that leverage and training."
Eriba added that "the community leaders, women and youths are happy, ready and in support of this project that will tremendously touch our lives. We pray that government should accomplish this laudable programme.”

Wu Xingtao, the Nigeria project manager of the Chinese group said, "We have plans to build textile factory in Nigeria, that means we need plenty cotton. We want to get plenty cotton from Nigeria and not to import so we are partnering with Cross River State government to make our textile factory easy."
Facilitator/Director of the cotton farm project, High Chief Gabriel Umodem, disclosed that Woda is going to be on the world map in terms of expansion.

Another project in the same line is the fully automated Ogoja Rice Mill, the first of its kind Africa, which is expected to generate another 10,000 jobs when completed. To keep the mill busy at optimum capacity, the governor has directed all political appointees in the state must have rice farms. The governor himself has over 20,000 hectares of rice farm situated in the North of the state. The state government has also guaranteed local farmers loan under the Anchor Borrowers Initiative of the Central Bank.

Obudu ranch is located in Cross River North but is almost inaccessible by road. The result of this is the under utilization of this magnificent facility with the attendant loss of revenues both to the locals and the state government. The 31billionm naira road cutting through Mfon, Okuku, Yala, Bekwara to Obudu is Federal government owned but abandoned for ages. The cheering news is that the state government of governor Ayade has started constructing the road. The
Boki west-East Road is also being rehabilitated to improve the lives of the people of the zone.

From Calabar in the South to the North of the state takes nothing less than six hours, wasting a lot of man hour and human lives and property as the bad roads used to cause fatal accidents. But with the massive road networks and the 260 kilometre Super highway which will lessen the journey to a mere two hours, people of the northern Cross River state can now heave a sigh of relief. , a community leader in Woda is full of praises for the hardworking people’s governor, “we have been abandoned for long in the scheme of things but God is now smiling on us through the many developmental projects of Ayade. We can only pray that God keeps him”. To this agreed Nana Awawu, a trader in food stuff, “It was harrowing experience bringing goods from the north to Calabar. But things are changing for the better”.

With these and so many other projects embarked upon by the administration of Professor Ayade, one wonders the basis for the cry of maginalisation of the Cross River North by the present administration.

The plethora of developmental projects state wide has shown governor Ayade to be just, a lover of equity, detribalized, unbiased and focused. A leader like this is what is needed everywhere in Nigeria especially at the national level. For his own political base to accuse--though unjustly and baseless--him sidelining them is a pointer to the fact that the governor is everywhere in the state delivering the dividends of democracy to good Cross Riverians.