|Professor Benedict Ayade, Governor of Cross River State|
By Bisi Adeola
In the face of obvious distractions, Governor Ben Ayade continues to stay focused in his resolve to transform Cross River State economically and socio-politically.
Over the the past couple of months, he has set about laying the necessary legal frameworks for a more egalitarian society with the passage into law bills that are meant to ensure inclusiveness in the enjoyment of good governance.
His passion and commitment to make a difference in the lives of his people is being appreciated both within and outside the country.
This has been demonstrated in various ways including awards and recognitions.
One of such recognitions was from the organised labour which acknowledged Governor Ayade as the best labour friendly governor in the country.
Lauding the governor then, Chairman of the state chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade John Ushie, had disclosed: “The Organised Labour has resolved to single you out as the Best-Labour Friendly Governor. We have resolved that on May Day, we shall formally honour you with an award.’’
He explained that Ayade was chosen for the award for a number of reasons including prompt payment of workers’ salaries and the courage to embark on economy changing projects like the 260km superhighway, the Bakassi Deep Seaport, the Calabar Garment and Textile Factory and the establishment of Green Police.
According to him, “Since your assumption of office, every 20th to 25th day of each month, workers smile home with their salaries. We have gone through the records and across all other states, we have also found that you have surpassed your colleagues in Nigeria and have gone far to surpass the Federal Government, especially in the area of prompt payment of salaries.
“We will not deceive you as we will speak out on anything we feel strongly about. As you know, Labour leaders cannot be coerced, and nobody will instigate us against your government. We also believe that nobody will instigate you against us,” he added
Responding, Governor Ayade applauded the organized labour in the state for the honour and promised to do more for workers, despite the downturn in the nation’s economy.
“I thank you for all your kind words. For labour to find me worthy of an award is indeed humbling because you are a union that cannot be bought.”
In the same vein, Ayade was honoured as the best governor in the whole of south-south by the South/South Pen pusher Forum for his positive approach to governance. This was besides several other awards.
Often when leaders are honoured with awards of excellence, it is so much about the motivation to do more than a reward or recognition for exemplary performance.
As a mark of distinguished leadership, only recently he became the first governor in Africa to be honoured with the 2016 Image Award by the Hollywood Magazine in Los Angeles.
The award was for his immense contribution toward the development of the entertainment Industry in Africa amongst others.
Ayade was specifically recognized for establishing ‘CALLYWOOD’, a film industry aimed at identifying young and talented Cross Riverians and nurturing them to stardom.
Speaking on the award and why the Governor was deserving of the diadem, Prather Jackson, Editor of Hollywood Weekly Magazines had this to say: “We are impressed by other great works of Governor Ayade that we have been carefully intimated about which include the 260km Superhighway, Bakassi Deep Seaport, Cross River State Green Police, and most overwhelmingly, the Calabar Garment factory.”
One of the sponsors of the award, Azamosa Esohe James, said it was commendable especially as it was being given to a sitting Nigerian governor for supporting the entertainment industry.
“I can tell you that Cross Riverians and the entire Nigerians, particularly those in the entertainment industry will embrace this award.”
Apart from projects like the garment factory for which he has earned plaudits, the governor has laid the foundation for rapid industralisation of the state.
For instance, his administration has advertised for bids for the building of a rice mill in Bansara, Ogoja Local Government Area, a cocoa processing plant in Ikom and Banana Plantation in Odukpani for export.
Additionally, the governor is set to perform the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of Canadian School in Obudu, even as construction work on the Calabar Rice City is to take full swing.
It also expected that Calabar will become the first Nigerian city to enjoy 24-hour power supply by December when a 20 megawatt power plant is completely installed.
The equipment was received recently by the governor in Calabar.
In spite of the curve balls seeming being thrown his way, Governor Ayade’s purposefulness of mind has continued to steer him in the direction of bringing about a positive change in the economic fortunes of his people.
It is his refusal to be distracted that has enabled him to initiate policies and programmes aimed at reconstructing the socio-economic architecture of the state.
In the end, society will not judge him by how many times he was frustrated by adversaries but rather by his lofty accomplishments in the face of sundry human strictures. It is this obvious awareness that has made him stay the course. And he will, by all means reach the finish line. And he will do so in grand style, with his unassailable achievements speaking loudly for him.
Adeola wrote in from Ikoyi, Lagos