Thursday, 31 March 2022

C'River After The Exit Of Ben Ayade: Ben Akak To Cut The Gordian Knot

Globally, hardship is on the increase as the world keeps being negatively impacted by economic crunch, man-made misfortunes and natural disaster. The aforementioned have led to the increase of poverty above the baseline in the developing nations today. That said, it's an established statistics that about 40 percent of the population in subsahara Africa live below the US$1.90 a-day poverty ratio. Sadly, Nigeria has the largest  population of poor people in Subsaharan African (79 million); and contributes about 20 percent of those living in extreme poor in the world according to worldbank.

 As seen above, nations and its electorates are making genuine efforts in electing people with pragmatic, technocratic, utilitarian and earth-bound  managerial dexterity to possibly eradicate or alleviate poverty to its minimum level and at the same time, create wealth for its citizens.

This is the spirit of industry or the soul of an enterprise the governor of Cross River State, Sir Benedict Ayade  often glowly philosophises about, that naysayers for the umpteenth time misjudged as deceitful silver-tonguing.

As 2023 general elections draw close, political parties, non-party members, opinion makers, king-makers and the electorates are without being told, are interested in the search of capable hands to succeed the incumbent elective officers. 

In our dear state, Cross River, not a few aspirants have expressed their political aspirations in the open and some via proxy to succeed His Excellency, Prof. Ben Ayade after 29th May 2023. Amongst all the declarants, only a fistful of them have  that rare gubernatorial know-how to govern our economically fragile state. Top on the list, if I may mention names, is certainly Engr. Ben Akak 

Cross River State is internally indebted and our internally generated revenue (IGR) is low. According to the Debt Management Office of Nigeria's data for December 31, 2021, the domestic debt of Cross River State was standing tall at N159, 817, 911, 703.63 (One Hundred and Fifty-Nine Billion, Eight Hundred and Seventeen Million, Nine Hundred and Eleven Thousand, Seven Hundred and Three Naira and Sixty-Three Kobo). This is quite staggering and intimidating.

The state as of March 2022, has an external debt of US$279.7 million (Two Hundred and Seventy-nine Million and Seven Hundred Thousand). With this skyrocketing debt and other sundry challenges buffeting the state, it's expedient and natural that the governor must do all of his might in line with the people's choice to elect a down-to-earth prudent southerner, experienced in commerce and industry, politically determined, resilient and business minded person to judiciously mitigate this negative economy factor if the state must strive after the exit of Sir Ben Ayade-led administration.

It's no news that Ayade would leave industries and factories sprawling across the state. These projects might not survive the storm of mismanagement and maladministration as in the case of the old Imo state that comprised of the current Imo, Abia and part of Ebonyi state where the late Dr. Sam Mbakwa left standard factories/industries that were mismanaged by successive governments.

The Ayade legacies which are these industries and establishment would be given high premium management by the Ben Akak team of administrators when by God's grace, he emerges as governor of the state. The facts are not in contention that Ben Akak hasn't failed in business or in leadership venture before. There's a grace of a sort of Midas touch embedded in him.

In the running of his private businesses, he has demonstrated time and again a deep understanding of our problems, and by a fair and just opportunity at the helm of our state's affairs, he'll make us proud by solving every problems — however difficult through bold and drastic measures.

Comr.(Hon) Ogar Emmanuel Oko 
Is a public affairs analyst. He writes from Calabar.

The above article does not in anyway represent the thoughts, stands or opinion of TDN as they are purely that of the author 

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

13 Predictions about Gov Ayade in 2019, see how many have come to pass


As Governor Ben Ayade's tenure  gradually winds down, a Cross River State blogger and public affairs analyst, Ukorebi Esien takes a retrospective look into 13 Predictions he made sometime 2019 few months after the governor was sworn into office to begin the second lap of his 8 years gubernatorial bid. 

Ukorebi had rolled out a 13 point prediction as it relates to the governor's second term and political future, the blogger who also penned down some suggestions to the Governor amongst other things predicted the return of almost all of the Governor's appointees and that before 2023, governor Ben Ayade will make a political blunder that will cost him the blessing of planting a successor except he retraces his steps. 

Read the predictions in full: 


As the Oracle let me look into the future of this present administration and tell you some of the things that might likely happen based on the body languages of the governor and some persons very close to him.

1. Expect the return of the Spirit of Enterprise. It might not be in the form of logo replacement but anyhow, that slogan, color or logo will be returned.

2. I see a Chris Agara posturing or attempting to contest that is if he doesn't actually contest for the highest political sit in the state.

3. Despite the hands-on the plow declaration of the governor as the policy thrust of his second administration, I hardly see anything different from his first term, because he will surely repeat well over 80% of his previous commissioners. There maybe no food on the table and certainly hands on no plough . 

4. Should the Same set of commissioners be returned in the same ministries, then expect mass looting? Because that will definitely be their take-home pay. 

5. The appointment of Mr. John Ada who is likely from Obudu as the state surveyor General and the posting of  Surveyor Eyo Oku to state border commission is a deliberate plot to amass state land for personal use while the brotherly surveyor-general Is there to legalize it. 

6. I see more formidable and united south for the actualization of the southern agenda. And this unity may likely cut across party lines.

7. Ayade will likely make a serious political blunder, a mistake or miscalculation that may deny him a successor. But will only finally succumb to stronger forces lying in wait for him. 

8. This blunder may lead to his probe after office. 

9. His return to the Senate will be strongly opposed especially by his own people. 

10. In the process of choosing his successor, the governor will be betrayed. Especially by his trusted allays from the South. 

11. Superhighway and deep seaport have ended. You will never hear the governor talk about it neither will they see the light of the day.

12. Frustration and strong opposition will make the governor want to behave like a tyrant. But he will fail.

13. Except the governor stays far away from certain influences, and attitudes I see no difference between his first and second term. 

Somebody rightly puts it this way, " by 2023, There will be no State for the next governor to govern". 


The governor should return executive council meetings and make it regular. Allow his commissioners to input ideas and suggestions. 

He should separate family from governance.

He should forbid praise singing. And do away with all butt leakers.

Monthly Security Council Meetings should be returned, with accurate intelligence gathering and sharing. The security chiefs in the state should be allowed freedom to do their work, without politics interferences. They should mobilised too.

All known strong men should not be appointed into offices. They should go and do farm work with their strength. Zero tolerance should be maintained in practice not in words.

Seek and accept professional advice. Play politics with politics when politics comes. And take governance serious. He should learn to separate, politic from governance.

Make good use of his new religious office by seeking the good of the people at all time not his personal or family good.

The governor should also allow free press, shouldn't gag the press. They are not enemies but partners in progress to always bring him back on track when he seems to derail. 

#IamORACLE voice of the common man

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Wednesday, 18 August 2021

C'River 2023: The governor we need by Michael Bassey

Michael Bassey |19th August 2021 

"Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend." – Winston Churchill

A couple of months ago, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that the 2023 general elections will hold in February 2023, about 17 months away.

Expectedly, the spate of political activities has increased. Political aspirants have commenced preparations to push through their ambitions. While some are doing so subtly, yet others are brazen and deliberate. Our dear Cross River State has not been left behind in this respect.
About 3 months ago, the State Governor Senator Ben Ayade and most of his appointees and political associates defected from the PDP to the APC, signaling a breakthrough moment in the political history of Cross River State.

That singular act by the Governor has set the stage for an even contest between the two parties jostling for political supremacy in the State. In fact, the political landscape in the State has never been leveler. The stage is set for the coming political battles.
Several names, and in some cases, campaign paraphernalia have started cropping up for the governorship of the State. In the PDP, names like Senator Gershom Bassey, Senator Sandy Onor, Rt. Hon. Daniel Asuquo, Sir Arthur Jarvis Archibong, etc are in the front burner. For the APC, Engr. Ben Akak has been the only visible gubernatorial aspirant so far. There is no gainsaying the fact that 2023 represents an important milestone in the political history of the State as it will enthrone a new political leadership that will emerge from what promises to be the most keenly contested elections since 1999.

So the question on everyone's lips should be: what kind of Governor do we need in Cross River State? My answer is that we need a Governor who is:

1. Courageous and willing to take calculated risks to achieve necessary goals;

2. Visionary, having a clear, inspiring and exciting idea of where our State should be and how to take us there through excellent strategic planning, thus becoming our transformational leader;

3. Inspirational, being able to get us excited about the vision and keeping us motivated and engaged to constantly "keep our eyes on the ball' till the realization of the vision, by his/her positive and realistic personality;

4. Strategic and a critical thinker, being able to explore, exploit and manage the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in our State such that the net result is positive towards overcoming our developmental challenges;

5. Accessible, able and willing to interact genuinely with other critical stakeholders in an inclusive manner to optimally utilize the collective strengths and opportunities in the State;

6. Focused on what needs to be done to lift the State higher the development ladder, while also ensuring that everyone in the governance team is fully focused and concentrated on the most valuable use of available resources for the general good of Cross Riverians;

7. Someone with integrity, ensuring that truth and honesty drive the governance processes;

8. Humble and able to contain his/her ego, learn to listen and admit that he/she does not know everything and can learn from anyone at any time;

9. Open-minded and creative in order to be receptive to new ideas, possibilities and perspectives while understanding that there is no hard and fast rule about most governance situations;

10. Responsible and dependable to inspire and elicit strong confidence from other governance team members;

11. Patient and tenacious as the task of governing Cross River State is no mean feat and the road will be bumpy with obstacles. We do not need a leader who will get frustrated and defeatist at the first sign of difficulty.

The above list of qualities required in the next Governor of Cross River State is by no means exhaustive. Taking a critical and an analytical look at the earlier mentioned governorship contenders (even allowing for new entrants in the coming days), Engr. Ben Akak not only possesses but also exudes these qualities in all of his dealings. 

It is not enough for anyone to insist that public service experience is a sine qua non for successful governance, which is what some narrow-minded persons have against Ben Akak. In fact, our political history is replete with the failures of some who have had extensive experience in the public service but have fallen short when trusted into governance positions. 

The truth is that Ben Akak is a young 21st century self-made leader who has built a thriving business group – the Bengies Group – from scratch to the success story we admire today. He has not been tainted with any public or political scandal. He brings a whole new dimension with him in his quest to be our next Governor.

Ben Akak represents a clean break from the way things used to be. He comes to the table with tremendous socio-economic capital. He is a breath of fresh air for Cross River State politics. He presents an opportunity for a fresh beginning. Let us come together to insist on a new kind of leader we need in our next Governor. Ben Akak can be that leader we crave for.

Michael Bassey is a Calabar-based public affairs commentator

Friday, 13 August 2021

Obiano @66: Why Anambra will Remember him

 James Eze |10th August 2021 

At 66 today, Governor Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano is a fulfilled man. He has made success of nearly every challenge he has taken on. He graduated from the University of Lagos with a Second Class Upper Division honours in Accountancy. He had a remarkable career in banking which ended as an Executive Director. And finally, in seven months time, he will bow out as the most outstanding governor in the history of Anambra State, so far! 

Folks who are familiar with Obiano would remember that he had always had a keen sense of community. Wherever he went; Willie Obiano moved with a firm belief in the intrinsic goodness of man. He does not waste time to make himself comfortable in any environment; reaching out to people with respect and honour and earning same in equal measure. Long before he made a name in banking, Obiano had established himself as a very illustrious son of Aguleri who had a deep concern for the welfare and progress of his community. Back then, he was an embodiment of the essence of Aguleri; gregarious, friendly, caring, but firm. Among his banking colleagues and well-heeled friends in Lagos, Willie Obiano never left anyone in doubt about his love of his rich culture and proud heritage. In fact, folks with good memory would recall that it wasn't out of character to see him at major occasions with a flutist. Yes, the flutes sang his name and gave his arrival at events a flourish! What a man!

Obiano began early to show that people are important to him in a dramatic way. He built the prestigious Gech Auditorium in his hometown and threw its doors open as a veritable venue for weddings, fundraisers and other cultural events at little or no cost. He always donated relief materials and palliatives whenever ravaging floods wrecked havoc on his riverine kinfolks. In appreciation, he was inducted into the royal cabinet of Aguleri kingdom and given the title of 'Akpokuedike.' A name reserved for warriors. This recognition gave him the encouragement to contribute more of his time and resources to the service of his people. 

As a banking executive, Obiano exuded an irresistible aura. He was affable, debonair and brilliant. A magnetic field, he drew quality people to himself. His friendship cut across banking, the armed forces, the clergy, the academia and the traditional institution. He is a nice bloke; humorous, fun to be with, the dude everyone wants in their team. The only difference is that even in the midst of fun and games, Willie Obiano always carries himself with a sense of mission. He never loses sight of the importance of meaningful friendship. He has a special gift of knowing what each friend could offer him at any given time. If Obiano took interest in you, chances are that he has seen something remarkable which in some cases may not be easily understandable to you. There's always a silent purpose to his friendship. 

Incidentally, his eclectic approach to friendship often comes handy in the fullness of time; his friends become trusted allies, aides and close buddies. They form a ribbon of excellence around him. They create pools of exceptionality around him. They put a seal of greatness on his simple acts. This is leadership in simpler terms…the ability to influence and guide people to a given destination or purpose. Obiano has excelled in this. 

He has also excelled in his interpretation of his place in history; his response to the dominant issues of his time. When he was barely a year in office, a pack of hardened Boko Haram terrorists were sent to the prison at Ekwulobia. Panic ripped through Anambra like a shockwave. Everyone wondered why the authorities should choose to export terrorists to Anambra State. But Obiano worked in silence and before long the genie was out the bottle. The terror convicts drifted away at night like smoke; just the same way they had come. 

Ozoemezina, the Biafran memorial, which he organized in his tenth month in office has become a watershed in Igbo memory. Ndigbo have a long memory. Ozoemezina is eternal. But that's not all. Obiano also touched his people in other silent regions that count. He restored the Anambra pride. He aroused the quest for exploits among them. And they responded in a manner that is memorable. Students and teachers won historic laurels. Industrialists and entrepreneurs suddenly felt proud in their roots enough to invest at home. The Anambra landscape bears testimony to this. He donated his salaries to charity and set up a home for people with mental illnesses. Obiano's touch is soft on people. He will be remembered.

Yes. Obiano will be remembered on the strength of his legacies and his efforts to bend history in his favour. They will remember Obiano when they see and feel his impact. When they sit in the monstrous auditorium of the Awka International Conference Center, they will remember him. When they watch the ball roll gloriously into the net at the Awka City Stadium, they will remember him. When the flowers flush with green life on the spectacular flyovers, they will remember him. And when their private jets touchdown at the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport, they will clink glasses to his name.

In truth, Governor Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano has been a huge blessing to Anambra State!    

Happy birthday, Akpokuedike Aguleri!

IYD 2021: "I am Nigeria, I'm Ready to run" Young Nigerian pens Touching words to celebrate Youths
Bassey Bassey, a recipient of the prestigious presidential award for Corp members 

I am the sign of hope for our nation.
I am the positive change she yearns to have, in fact I'm the best thing that has happened to her because I am to improve on the achievements of her heroes past and to ensure their labour does not go in vain. I think I deserve to be called Nigeria, yes you should call me Nigeria for I have the highest population size.

I am the strength of her systems, the driver of innovations, creativity and achievements. The Creator Himself calls me the light of Nigeria and I have shun my light time and times over.

Don't be mistaken by all the things am going through to thinking I don't have what it takes to lead. I may not look like a leader at the moment but be rest assured I am. For even gold does not look precious in it's raw state but when refined some kill to have it. To be a successful leader is not easy you can attest to that because you have your own story, so give me a chance.

I made my presentation very politely and you agreed with me that I am not too young to run, just before I was done celebrating that you truly had my interest at heart. You increased the cost of purchasing tickets without considering my financial capacity. 

You are bent on ensuring I don't have legs so I don't have to run to anywhere. This is your strategy to keep me down and out. I have unraveled your plans and now your are itching to know who I am.
Let me save you the stress by introducing myself. I am the Youths of Nigeria and I have risen.
Risen? Yes, you heard me right 
Risen from my sleep and slumber to creative thinking hard work and determination. 

Risen from ignorance to acquiring knowledge and 21st Century skills that will strategically position me for productivity.
Risen to challenge negative stereotype and corrupt practices in my community.
Risen from obscurity and all forms of backwardness which you had systematically placed on me because you are threatened by my existence to becoming captain of industries and employer of labour.

I have risen, it is a new day for me to take my rightful place at the table in all sectors in Nigeria, to bring the desired positive development to my communities. I have made up my mind to join the race. I am not too young to run. I have a mandate tied to my DNA and it is to rebuild the places you destroyed by your actions and inactions. I am a Nehemiah. I am ready to rebuild Nigeria.

Happy International Youth Day.


Wednesday, 14 July 2021

C'River State can be an Entrepreneurship Hub in Nigeria - Ben Akak

Emeka Onyebuchi | 14th July 2021 

ENUGU - Cross River State is greatly endowed by nature and possesses all the basic requirements to drive entrepreneurial activities that will catalyze the economic growth of the State and Nigeria at large. This is the view expressed by Engr. Ben Akak, a businessman and politician from the State. He posits that all that is remaining is to fine tune other relevant aspects like basic utilities,  infrastructure and access to finance to support the natural endowments and opportunities for entrepreneurial growth and development.

Engr. Akak made this known during a courtesy visit on him by a group of aspiring entrepreneurs from the Southern Senatorial District of Cross River State in his office in Calabar. He highlighted that entrepreneurship is important for a number of reasons, from promoting social change to driving innovation. He further revealed that research has shown that entrepreneurs are frequently thought of as national assets to be cultivated, motivated, and remunerated to the greatest possible extent. In fact, some of the most developed nations such as the United States are world leaders due to their forward-thinking innovation, research, and entrepreneurial individuals.

Engr. Akak, himself a successful entrepreneur with his Bengies Group of companies, added that great entrepreneurs are change agents as their innovations tend to transform the way we live and work, improving the standards of living, while creating wealth with job opportunities for the teeming unemployed population thus contributing to growing the economy. According to him, the importance of entrepreneurship should not be understated.

For Ben Akak, the rich natural endowments of Cross River State ranging from the rich and vast landscape fertile for commercial agriculture to the mineral deposits that still remain largely untapped, even up to the regular tourism and ecotourism potential present huge opportunities for entrepreneurs to latch on to. He, however, noted the challenges that have so far discouraged the growth of entrepreneurship in Cross River State to include the significant infrastructure deficit (which include the poor state of our roads and highways plus insufficient and unstable power supply), difficulty in accessing capital, low level of technical know-how, social factors etc.

He acknowledged the industrialization drive of the current administration of Gov. Ben Ayade in the State and opined that a follow-up process of awakening and encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit of Cross Riverians will be necessary to achieve the desired results. This, according to him, can be done through a deliberate policy that seeks to improve on the state of infrastructure and access to finance. As an entrepreneur himself, Ben Akak is convinced that he knows just the right things to do to turn Cross River State into and entrepreneurship hub not just in Nigeria but the West African subregion.

Ben Akak aspires to be the next Governor of Cross River State come 2023. He comes across as a breathe of fresh air, brimming with ideas that bring far reaching solutions to contemporary challenges facing the State. From what I have seen and heard, it is clear to me that Cross River will certainly be in safe hands with Ben Akak as Governor.  

Emeka Onyebuchi is a freelance media practitioner based in Enugu.