By Inyali Peter
Since Cross River state Governor, Senator Ben Ayade returned from Abuja where he spent over one month consulting and seeking soft landing over the perjury suit which borders on age falsification filed against him by PDP Governorship aspirant, Mr. Joe Agi, SAN, there have been no dull moment.
He has been awarding contracts, visiting some institutions he never cared about and doing some groundbreaking for some important projects he didn’t consider before. Seriously, if this is happening as a result of the widely anticipated December 9 Supreme Court judgement which many have described as distraction, I think this distraction is a good one.
Personally, I doubt the sincerity, seriousness and authenticity of some of these projects as many were not captured in the 2016 appropriation bill. Knowing Ayade to be a Governor who will always prefer to use the window even when the door is widely open, I have my reservations about the possibility of the projects seeing the light of the day.
Besides, this administration may find it more difficult to convince Cross Riverians to take their promises seriously than the possibility of winning the supreme court case. This is so because the awareness is now so strong that Cross Riverians may just want to see the manifestation of the over fifty one MOUs and thirty one promises before trusting Ayade’s promises again. Another reason is that, the regime has created impression within the public that their intentions of embarking on any project is either to loot or to wage a personal vendetta on their perceived political enemies.
For instance, the dualization of the of the Yala, Ogoja, Bekwerra, Obudu and Obanliku local government (which constitute the northern senatorial district of state) highways which the governor has reportedly awarded has been rumoured to have political undertone. If the news making the round is anything to go by, the intention of the governor is not to provide the badly needed accessible roads in this areas but to use the project to take vendetta on properties of his political enemies especially from Obudu his local government area.
This rumour wouldn’t have been taken seriously unless that the actions and inactions of this government portray Ayade to have zero tolerance for criticism and opposition. Let me take us down memory lane with particular reference to Obudu.
Immediately the former Chairman, Board of Internally Generated Revenue, Dr. Peter Oti resigned his appointment as a result of alleged disrespect by the governor, he was subjected to intimidation and harassment by a team of hired EFCC detectives led my the sacked EFCC officer, Peter Akpanke.
After Oti and his younger brothers were manhandled in Calabar that led to them spending days in the hospital, the anti-graft headquarter in Port Harcourt realized that the petition that led to the stage-played arrest was not against his tenure and therefore he was released unconditionally.
Few months after that, it was Barr. Vena Ikem. Immediately Bar.Ikem dumped Ayade’s People’s Democratic Party, PDP for the All Progressive Congress, APC, and took to the social media to criticise Ayade’s policy trust, the case between him and Ayade’s boy (Boniface) which Vena paid compensation and was closed by the court was reopened. As if that was not enough, the government compelled the magistrate court to issue arrest warrant against him (Vena). When a higher court quashed the arrest warrant, Vena was declared wanted for nothing. And even if he committed any crime, the question is at what point did the government noticed it? Vendetta!
Shortly after the Vena’s ordeal, came the Rt. Hon. Paul Adah alleged assassination attempts. It was widely covered by the media. Hon. Adah has reportedly escaped three assassination attempts since he defected to the APC.
The Jedy Agba’s issue is still very fresh. While the governor is junketing from one country to another in the name of wooing investors, he has stopped Jedy from investing in the state through his radio station. Barely two weeks ago, the governor’s appointees from Obudu reportedly staged a rally demanding traditional rulers to excommunicate all the top political leaders from Obudu who have left PDP for APC including Oti, Vena, Jedy and Paul.
With this antecedents, the rumour that Ayade’s dualization of northern senatorial district roads is to target the properties of his political enemies is gradually gathering momentum. But come to think of it, at what stage did the governor realized the roads were bad? Why was a project worth N31.5 billion (As reported) not captured in the 2016 budget yet it has been awarded? Where would a state that cannot pay teachers and local government salaries raise 40% of the total worth of the contract to mobilize contractors to site? When did the government carried out thorough Environmental Impact Assessment of the project? Has compensations been paid? This and many more unanswered questions has left the credibility of the project in doubt.
The rumour of targeting political enemies with the project took different twist yesterday when Spokesman Agogo posted a short piece on his Facebook wall questioning what would happen to the houses of Hon. Paul and Jerry Adah. The post generated a lot of traffic as comments from mostly Ayade’s appointees showed clearly that the intention of the governor for wanting to embark on the project is to destroy the Adahs properties.
If that is not the case, one would wonder why only the properties of Paul and the younger brother were mentioned as possible properties to be affected by the project.
From Opkoma in Yala, Tony Ukpo and Alpha Ogbeche houses are closer to the road than the Adahs properties. In Okuku, the whole of the roundabout would be affected. The house and Hotel of Tom Agi and all the houses around there would be affected. In Ogoja many properties worth billions of naira would also be affected.
In Bekwerra, Linus Nkom houses either left or right around Abouchiche junction would also be affected. In Utugwang, the house of Dr. Paul Ada (former speaker) and many others will be affected. All these properties are located in different communities before getting to Hon Paul and Jerry’s houses. After the Adah’s village, Paddy Ayine’s storey building, Justice Agim house, UNICAL microfinance bank built by Prof. Zana Akpago would all be affected.
When you get to Obudu, the houses of late Denisco Akwaji, Kannis Asu, Godwin Ayine, Emmanuel Akwaji , Linus Adie, Paul Adaliku, Joe Ushie would all be affected. So the question is, why was Paul and Jerry Adah properties singled out for public discussion by Ayade’s aides? The two houses may even be smaller than other properties I have mentioned. Ideally, when government embark on projects like this, due compensations are paid. Would Adahs case be different?
Seneca opined that ‘A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer”. Ashish Patel on the other hand asserted that “You can’t get what you want, if the intentions are solely directed for self-benefits”.
While I agree that we need the roads, the governor should embark on the project with clear intentions. There’s so much tension and division among political leaders from the zone already that more witch hunting may provoke the breakdown of law and order.
The administration’s proposed dual carriage superhighway is being threatened by the inability of the government to conduct proper EIA to pay due compensation. Ayade must not allow this happen again because repeating a particular mistake twice and expecting different result is not wisdom. Let he who has an ear to hear, hear this. A project with bad intention of looting or waging vendetta would die on arrival.
May God bless Cross River!