Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Why I created Ministries of robotic and artificial intelligence, foreign affairs- Ayade

 

Recently, Cross River State Governor, Sir Ben Ayade spoke live on a private radio station in Calabar during which he shared his thoughts on a number of issues, including the creation of new ministries amongst which is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
We bring you excerpts of that interview.


Your Excellency , what does Christmas mean to you and how are you celebrating?

Ayade: Christmas is a time for family reunion, it is a time for peace and enjoyment and I use this opportunity to send a strong clear message to the entire residents and citizens of Cross River State that I love you all and I ask that in the spirit and merriment of Christmas, you show the same warmness to your neighbour by providing a shoulder for your weaker neighbour to lean on and that our state be blessed as we enter the year 2020.

Does this mean that 2020 is going to be a year of bumpy package for the state?

Yes. In Cross River, 2020 will mark a classical departure from our history where Cross River State will be fully industrialized and a proper and real economy will start to exist. Cross River State will be the torchlight for Nigeria and indeed Africa starting from the second quarter of that year. So indeed bumper package awaits the people of Cross River State.

You have just Inaugurated your Cabinet with about ten  new ministries created, what informed this?

AYADE: Let me  begin with a good example of one of the ministries, the Ministry of Aviation. This has never been conceived by any state in Nigeria. Why would a passenger pay over N70,000 to fly to Calabar? The route to Calabar either from Lagos or Abuja is the most expensive in Nigeria. This is occasioned by the fact that there is no corresponding surplus of airlines coming into Calabar. So it is a responsibility of government to respond to the challenge of our people, recognizing that they are being extorted as a result of monopoly. I need to create the ministry of aviation that can bring into realisation Cally Airline, we need to create an airport in Obudu to support the patronage of international tourists coming to Obudu cattle ranch, we need to take advantage of the massive climatic condition suitable for the growth of ornamental plants for export in Obudu cattle ranch. So, if you don't create an independent ministry specifically focused on delivery of proper air traffic and cargo movement, there will be a big problem in your hands.
Take Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for instance. The whole world is moving to Africa. Africa is the last frontier. So we need to have a Ministry that is focused on the globalization perspective, taking a look at each continent, each nation and its direct relationship with Nigeria with a view to taking advantage of it to advance our economy. The Americans have huge resources and they are coming to Africa. China has set aside billions of dollars for Africa. We need an aggressive person who can catch on all of those international resources, we need a ministry focused on all of these international connectivity to distill all of that for the benefit of Cross River State. If you leave it in a big umbrella, it will get scuttled, but once you put a specific specialized ministry, taking it with a direct instruction you are going to get value. If every of the 39 ministries achieve only one thing, I would have at the close of 2020 achieved 39 different projects that I would have delivered. It is a systematic division of labour to allow for specialization. That way you get indicators that you can use for budget monitoring and full evaluation of commissioners. Don't forget that the appointment of commissioners is for an initial period of one year. 

What are your thoughts about the new ministries and what are your expectations from them?

AYADE: The Ministry of Infrastructure has a responsibility to deal with my signature projects. Remember that seaport is infrastructure, superhighway is infrastructure, the dualization of Odukpani to Calabar is infrastructure. So that ministry has the sole problem of doing the connectivity between local governments and also creating a modern evacuation architecture that can support industrialization.
When it comes to issues of patching potholes, doing streets within Calabar, it is the job of the Ministry of Urban Renewal because infrastructure is for the bigger projects but the ministry that deals with urban renewal has the responsibility of keeping the town clean and neat with landscaping and planting of trees and grasses, keeping the lawns clean and putting the irrigation lines and all that.
For new cities, local governments that are not urban centres yet, we have the ministry of new cities development to deal with these. Anyhow you see, I took my time here to explain the difference between each ministry to ensure that there is no point of conflict as each ministry has a distinct role and responsibility as provided by my construction. So, I think that states should watch out because by the close of April next year, the Odukpani- Calabar dualization would have been completed. If you get close to the right hand side of Odukpani roundabout, you will see that there is a massive construction of the spaghetti flyover by a Turkish company, that is ongoing. All of that comes under the ministry of infrastructure. I think that is the one that will give us the kinetics that will allow for the evacuation of all our agro produce from the hinterland to the export zone which is the Ayade industrial park and ultimately into the deep seaport for export. I have a great dream with big ideas of what Cross River should be. Unfortunately, I came in at a time that we were financially challenged as a state with the economy at its lowest with the income from the federal allocations at its lowest ebb. If our people know what we get as a state they will be amazed as to how we are able to even pay salaries of primary schools teachers, civil servants and yet still embark on projects. You never know it  all, it is not easy. That is why when I see people criticise which is normal, I sympathize with their innocence because if they had an idea of what we inherited, they will be amazed and call me a super magician which is what my colleagues call me.

You have increased the number of youths and Women as Commissioners in your Cabinet, How would you assess the Performance of the earlier once you appointed?

AYADE: When you look at the new ministry I created, ministry of youths and skill acquisition, it focuses on the youths as well. The whole idea is that 65% of the Cross River population is below the age of 35. The implication is that they have the  larger population besides being the leaders of tomorrow. So, expanding and even bringing them into power is another opportunity for them to grow and take over. 
While the older people have experience, the younger ones have passion and passion is the most important aspect than intelligent and capacity. Once you have passion, other things will follow. The only place you find real passion is among very young people. When young people who have never had appointments in government are given assignments, the kind of resource they throw upon me, I begin to wonder why they were not given the opportunity earlier. 
Look at Finland, young women are ministers, President. They are all below the ages of 40. You see somebody at 32 is a President, so why would Africa abuse such huge energy, confining governance to the old? So indeed, my government is for the youth. I have a youthful mind, I am an old head on a very young shoulders.

Your Excellency why did  Create Ministry of Robotic and Artificial Intelligence?

AYADE:  The future starts today. Look at the whole world, before now it used to be heavy industries. Perhaps, let me take a little opportunity to educate the audience a little. The first step of industrialization was agro industrialization. The British started agro industrialization in 1876, beginning with agricultural produce and its ultimate beneficiation across the value chain which means you take cocoa and process it into chocolate, you take a product and drive it to the final value chain under agriculture.
The next step was heavy industries, manufacturing, construction, refineries, airports, construction of aircraft. That was the second industrial revolution. The third one is ICT. It is the latest and trending where you have someone like Jackman, just having a platform where a consumer and a producer meet on an artificial platform and make all the billions. You can imagine somebody has a Facebook for social meeting and he does a small advert there and he becomes a rich guy. The world today has moved to the first generation which is artificial intelligence and robotics. In this you are dealing with very sophisticated technology, the future where people will just sit down and take a robot to become a farmer. Difficult things that man cannot produce, robots will take over. You take artificial intelligence, people will begin to produce things that otherwise would have been found too cumbersome. So if you don't go into robotic and artificial intelligence by the time the world is moved, you see a car drive through a tollgate without stopping and yet pays the toll. Those days there was a manual barrier, today artificial intelligence knows the details, so the world has moved.
Young generstions of Cross River who are into software that will partner with Microsoft and work with ministry of Robotic and Artificial intelligence to create a new intellectual platform that will drive the future of Cross River, that is the way to go. Vehicles today drive themselves without any driver, so how is Cross River State preparing herself for that future? That is why Calas Vegas will be driven by artificial intelligence because all the movements will be by robotic technology. That's why I put an engineer in charge, who will work with me and the Microsoft team to actualise our dream.

What are we expecting from you  and Your team at this year's Carnival?*

AYADE: Trust me, I will do well and will like to thank your station. You have always been with us. You have been a very strong organ for us. You have helped us to also bring our projects to the fore. Let me also use the platform to educate Cross River that never in the history of the state have we suffered the level of economic challenge that we are going through. Our allocation has never been this low, we are not part of the 13% derivation, we are not part of the stabilization funds, we don't have anything out of NDDC, our land taken, our oil wells taken. There is a massive deduction from federation allocation occasioned by the debt we have actually accumulated. In three months, I don't pay less than N7 billion servicing debts. That kind of pressure on a state can lead us to nothing. God sees my heart. I want you to take example from states who are in the same bar of allocation with us. Primary schools teachers are owed in the last 10 months. People never know until you look at the other side. It always look greener. Just take a look at any other state. If Cross River is number 35 in revenue allocation, that gives you the idea of what I go through. You will wonder why the street lights still work, wonder why refuse is being picked, wonder why all those factories are springing up and it is only when I leave office that the society, Cross River State will appreciate the value that I brought.

What is your Assessment of Security Situation in Cross River State Today especially at the City Center?

AYADE: Take your time and look at statistics from the federal Bureau of statistics, look at the crime dairy of the Nigeria Police, crime rate in Cross River and indeed Calabar is very low. We are not there yet because we still have these occasional issues of kidnapping occurring. The painful thing is that people say why are you not demolishing houses? 100% of kidnappers in Cross River are not from Cross River, they don't live here, they are outside of this state, so you can't track them because they just come in from outside, commit a crime and leave. That is why we are starting massive racking and stop and search. Next year, which is almost from next week, traditional rulers and traditional institutions will be part of our security structure, where if there is an incident in your locality, we take your certificate and take you out of salary. Security is a responsibility of every citizen, the security in a tourist destination should be perfect and absolutely number one.
Today, nobody remembers that when I came into office you couldn't be in Calabar by 6pm. You won't be on the streets because skolombo boys. All that have been taken away until when kidnapping took over Nigeria and when there was too much military presence in the Niger Delta, all of them moved into Cross River State because operation Delta Safe provided security all over Niger Delta except Cross River State because they were after protecting oil lines. That massive movement of people into Cross River led to increase i  rate of kidnapping which I focused on and set up 'Operation Skolombo,' alongside different operating forces to focus on homeland security and deal with it squarely. Now, there is progress report.
Once an incident occurs in Cross River, everybody hears it instantly, but I tell you I cannot compare Cross River with any other state in terms of crime rate. We are miles and miles better. We are very open as we speak. I want to assure Cross Riverians that we are on top of our toes. I will know no sleep, I have to know no sleep for you to be able to sleep. Our security men, the commissioner of police, commander, 13 Brigade, other service commanders have just risen from a meeting. All areas and waterways are blocked. There is only one exit out of Calabar and nobody can take anything out. Walk safe and feel free to walk across the entire length and breadth of Calabar and enjoy your Christmas and enjoy Carnival Calabar.

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