Monday, 24 September 2018

2019: Ayade and the day of reckoning by Joseph Omini

| 24 September 2018| Joseph Omini

The 2019 Governorship election in Cross River State is essentially a referendum on the performance of Governor Benedict Ayade in office. 

In spite of vast resources being expended to shore up his abysmal performance in office by political operatives, hirelings and paid hacks procured to embellish and influence public opinion, the prognosis to state the least in not encouraging. 

Ayade came into office in 2015 with a litany of promises. The governor who is notorious for bombast swore to transform the state into an economic Eldorado. He said, "We are fully loaded to make the state the construction hub of Africa. With sincere commitment, with the love and fear of God, with all your support, Cross River State indeed shall move from 3rd world to first under my watch. "And to convince those who doubted his sincerity that he meant business, he invoked the wrath of God, warning that God would throw him into the pit of hell if he failed to deliver on his numerous promises to the people.

With his first term in office drawing to an uneventful end and with elections looming in 2019, the day of reckoning beckons on Ayade. If the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) puts him forward as its governorship candidate in spite of disastrous performance in office, then Ayade will first of all, face the judgment of the people who are the repositories of power before keeping a date with his creator to find out whether he will occupy the lowest part of the pit of hell for his mindless and serial betrayal of his people.

At the onset of his administration, Ayade made a lot of promises to the people. His promises include but not limited to the construction of a 260km superhighway stretching from calabar - Ugep- Obubra –Ikom-Ogoja to Katsina ala, a deep-sea port and a garment factory. Ayade also promised to build three new cities across the three senatorial districts in the state.  He also promised a 1billion dollar Cross River virgin city. 

However, after a groundbreaking ceremony, the project has stymied. Just as citizens were yet to come to terms with him and his plethora of promises, he reeled out even more promises. Ayade is arguably the most travelled governor in this dispensation. While the affairs of the state has suffered due to lack of sufficient attention and  the  instability spewed  by his numerous trips abroad under the guise of  wooing foreign investors, Ayade has continued to regale the state with more empty promises in the name  MOUs to justify the waste of taxpayers money on needless trips abroad. For instance, under his watch, the state entered into partnership with equipment maker, Liebherr on superhighway, seaport, signed MOU with an American firm for the development of a new city, an MOU with partners in Canada to set up an International school and Canadian building and construction academy.

 Within his first term in office, Ayade also promised to ensure 24-hour power supply in Calabar and its environs, the installation of internet enabled street lights in the new industrial layout in Calabar, and to make the state a net exporter of banana. 

Indeed his litany of promises is endless and has remained a pipedream. Given the paucity of funds in the state and the rapidity in which these promises came down in torrents, it is now evidently clear that, these promises were made without any intention of keeping them. In the visual dimension, it evokes the picture of a cruel hoax contrived by a visionless administration to dupe the masses. 

Basking in the euphoria of his supreme court victory in 2016, Ayade promised to create 50,000 jobs in 2017 to alleviate the employment problem in the state. He told his supporters who had converged at U .J  Esuene stadium to welcome him "Today, I have  known the benefit of being a child of God. I enjoin detractors to sheathe their swords. From January, you well see a different Ayade as I will be wearing T-shirts and jeans to work for the state. From January 2017, I will  create 50,00 Jobs".

The jobs Ayade promised have since joined the long list of unfulfilled promises which reads like  a parchment of corruption and scroll of iniquities. Leadership is a public trust which Ayade has betrayed with impunity. 

Today, the state is in dire straits as a result of his misrule and failure of governance. All the critical state institutions hitherto maintained by his predecessors are in varying   degrees of neglect and decay.
The Obudu cattle ranch, once the pride of the nation and the preferred tourist destination which attracted tourists from all over the world is today a shadow of itself.

The neglect of the Ayade administration has left this once pristine tourist haven in smoldering ruins. The state library once the melting pot of learning and knowledge under the administration of Ayade is a monument of neglect and decay. 

The once well maintained road networks within the Calabar metropolis is today punctuated by craters as the city has lost its enviable position as the cleanest state capital in Nigeria. Under Ayade, the performance of the state in education is abysmal. As a  matter of fact, with the living conditions of the people plummeting and state infrastructure in decay as result of the poor management of the state resources, the state has lost much of the its allure and the frontline position it had occupied before Ayade mounted the saddle. 

Across the state, the failure of the Ayade administration is evident and cries for redemption.  The strength of true leadership lies in the constant engagement between the government and the people. This essential ingredient which oils the rubrics of democracy is totally lacking in the state as Ayade spends most of his time travelling the world. He lacks the common touch and therefore incapable of feeling the pulse of the masses. The result of his aloofness is the existing disconnect between him and the people. In his first term in power, all he has delivered to the people is more and more of empty promises without any commitment at fulfilling them. While the people wallow in abject neglect and deprivation, the governor travels the world immune to the demands of his high office. 

As the 2019 governorship  election draws nearer, his spin doctors, political operatives and influential agents  of the  state who now erroneously see themselves as the new agents  of history have launched blistering  propaganda campaigns to shore up  the battered image of the governor.  

That this insulting attempt to hoodwink the masses is doomed to failure is as clear as daylight.  For the avoidance of doubt, the 2019 governorship election in the state will be a referendum on Ayade's performance in office, an opportunity for the people to pay him back in his own coin.
No amount of propaganda will obliterate the colossal failure of the governor. His spin doctors will soon find out that governor Ayade's second  term gambit is  dead on arrival, a hard sell precisely because they will  be campaigning on a non existent track record of projects and service.

From the hills of Obudu to the Cocoa belt of the state; from the marshlands of the agricultural trough of the state to  Calabar, the commercial and administrative  capital, Ayade's  failure sticks out like a sore toe. In spite of his bombast and his fictional make believe world where he is cast in the mould of a stellar performer, in reality, he cannot boast of completing a single project in the state. Where ever he and his motley of supporters go, they will be confronted by his abysmal performance in office.

 Given this stark reality, it is safe to conclude that those who still support his second term bid in spite of his disastrous performance in office are not being fair to the state. Their clarion call is therefore misplaced and self serving. Already, the people are resolved to reclaim the state from Ayade and his coterie of supporters and no amount of propaganda will change this reality.

 Those who have not seen the handwriting on the wall are indulging in exercise in futility and self delusion. In a recent explosive interview he granted to, an online publication which captures the mood of the people, Donald Duke, the former governor of the state said, "Ayade was served a bad hand and he was ill prepared for the job. I don't think Ayade really understands Cross River State but at the point, he is the undertaker to close down everything. When he was sworn in, he said he was going to build an international airport in Ogoja. That was when I knew he had a problem. When he said he was going to build a superhighway and a deep sea port, I wondered how that was going to be feasible".

Duke's damning verdict on Ayade's performance reflects the overwhelming feeling of the people. He has failed woefully and the state cannot survive another four years of his inept and disastrous rule.
Joseph Omini, a public affairs commentator contributed this piece from Calabar, Cross River State.