Friday, 4 August 2017

THE ONLY SIN AYADE COMMITTED By Edward Ntebri Egbelo


I was in Abuja when I heard that Sen. Ben Ayade had been primarily elected to be the flag bearer of the PDP in the 2015 gubernatorial elections in Cross River State. I received this breaking information with an open heart because I was heavily engaged in Legacy House Abuja following up activities of the PDP presidential campaign. But one thing was certain on my mind, Ayade is exceptionally qualified for the job.

During the gubernatorial campaigns in the state, I had no choice but to follow these activities closely. It was clear that Ayade was not coming in as any other governor, he had this unique opinion about governance. From his campaign messages, it was clear that he wants an industrialized Cross River State. Ayade toured the 18 Local Government Areas in the state with promises of hope and restoration. He was endeared in the hearts of many Cross Riverians, who saw his visions as what was needed to occupy the hot seat of Peregrino House. Ayade finally won the election with a wide margin that clearly showed Cross Riverians wanted him more than he needed the seat.

On May 29 2015, Sen. Ben Ayade was sworn in as the 6th democratically elected Governor of Cross River State. They were lots of cheers in the Calabar International Conference Centre. Finally there is a leader, elected by the people to reshape the economic focus of the State. His inaugural speech thrilled the listening crowd of veterans from Cross River State. Ayade knew there was so much work to be done. He knew Cross River State is not like other states in the South, he knew Cross River State is the only non-oil producing state in the South-South zone of Nigeria. Ayade knew that no state has suffered injustice like Cross River State. Of course we all remember how the state was stripped off her black diamond (Bakassi) by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Lest we forget, Akwa Ibom State also succeeded in this outrageous benevolence of Injustice.

The only sin Ayade committed was to “Think Big”. Unlike many other governors in the South-South, Ayade didn’t meet a honeycomb, but he knew what he had to do to make Cross River State a sustainable honey comb. No Governor in the history of Cross River State have been able to achieve what Ayade achieved in his first two years in a Cross River State that once depended on Federal Allocations to pay salaries and finance projects, until Ayade changed the dynamics. Ayade has created an economic-independent Cross River from the shackles of Economic Slavery and helplessness. It is therefore no magic that many media houses rate him as the best governor in Nigeria. 

Who said Tourism alone can survive a Cross River State that is growing rapidly in population? Ayade has invested in an idea that will support tourism in the state. The idea is international commerce! Some have accused him of embarking on business travels that produce written MOUs and trade agreements. But how do you attract investors without commitment? These MOUs are clear indications that Ayade has a deep vision for Cross River State. These MOUs have attracted many from outside Nigeria to build companies in the much talked about Cross River State. MOUs have manifested into a cotton farm, a rice city, a pharmaceutical company, a cocoa processing plant, a haulage city, a banana plant, a tractor fabrication firm, a Canadian high school, and many more. We must also remember that Nigeria is currently challenged with economic recession. Then how come Ayade pays salaries and execute revolutionary projects? That is the deep thinking some might see as “a sin”.

The 260km Superhighway was initiated out of his passion to harmonize the economic prosperity of Cross River State. Many have argued on the need for the Superhighway, but the ultimate bargain shouldn’t be the “need for the superhighway”. But I think, Cross Riverians should rather be looking at the “benefits of the Superhighway”. The deep seaport is another project that will ensure that our nature-given deep territorial waters are fully utilized. These projects will place Cross River State above any other state in Nigeria. Business and Tourism work together! For Cross River State to work, these two economic potentials must be interjectory in the State. Cross Riverians must note that playing politics with the economic endowments of the state caused us Bakassi and the 76 oil wells that still threatens our inclusion in the NDDC.

Now, when you see the likes of Inyang Asibong, Asu Okang, Asuquo Ekpenyong (Jnr) handling key positions in a state cabinet, what does that tell you? It tells you that Cross River State is a working project engineered by young energetic hands. When you see the driving force of his key appointees, it tells you that there is a new face of leadership in Cross River State.

As a Cross Riverians, I believe that “the benefits of the prosperous seeds Ayade has planted and still planting might not be immediate, but the future holds a new Cross River State with a greater economic focus”.
There is an illuminating light at the end of the dark tunnel.
God bless Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade
God bless Cross River State
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


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