Prof Ben Ayade; The Governor that is on a mission to end poverty by Richard Romanus

ayade-cOn assumption of office as Governor of Cross River State, One of the problems Governor Ben Ayade promised to tackle headlong was poverty. According to him, as a son of a poor man, he knows how it feels to be poor and what it feels like to go to bed with an empty stomach.

Almost two years down the line as Governor, many including yours sincerely believe the Governor has not reneged on that promise. In spite of coming into office at a period when Nigeria Economy was struggling between life and dead, and at a time when so many states of the federation are finding it very hard to pay their workers’ salaries, in Cross River, the story is not the same as the state remains one of the few States in the federation that is up to date in terms of payment of salaries. Agreed that, they were or are still issues of non-payment of salaries to Local Government Staff and pensioners for about two months or thereabouts but it will be morally wrong for anybody to accuse the Government of voluntarily holding back Local Government workers salaries. If I may asked, to gain what or are the state workers more Cross Riverian that their counterparts in the LGA’s?

On employment, shortly after he resumed office as Governor, he lifted the embargo on employment. Today, hundreds of Cross Riverians are being employed on a daily basis while some who have put in a good number of years in some Government agencies and parastatal as artiste and casual workers, are currently undergoing the process of being regularised. Some of such agencies include, Cross River Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC), Cross River State Water Board (CRSWB) and the State Cultural Centre. All this, are geared towards, ensuring a better life for each and every Cross Riverian.

Even though, the about one thousand five hundred Cross Riverians that were inaugurated into the Green Police are yet to kick-start their operations, the establishment of such an organisation to protect our forest reserves is never a bad idea especially when you consider the fact that, it is going to take a whooping one thousand five hundred young men and women of the street. I have heard a lot of people calling it a Scam but they have deliberately refused to see the positives in the setting up of the organisation.

Today, against the expectations of the naysayers, the Cross River State Garment and Textile Factory is coming on stream and is gradually taking off. Imagine if, our leaders irrespective of political differences, come together and decide on making that factory work. Imagine if, the minister of Niger Delta capitalizes on his privilege position as a minister of the federal Republic of Nigeria in making a case for the Garment factory in their Federal Executive Council Meetings, imagine if, the Chief of Naval Staff who is a Cross Riverian contracts the Factory to produce a good number of uniforms for the Nigeria Navy and imagine if Chief Okoi Obono Obla leverages on his relationship with President Mohamadu Buhari in also making a case for the garment factory if not for any other thing,but for the growth and development Cross River State and Cross Riverians especially the youths and widow who seek to work there but hell NO. The politics of who is in APC or PDP reigns supreme and has been allowed to go as far as slowing down our development in virtually all sectors.

Just recently, the Governor, through his Chief Press Secretary, Christian Ita, announced more than one thousand new appointments. For many, it is absurd considering the State lean resources and the dire economic situation the state find itself but for me, there was no better way of ensuring a participatory democracy/Governance other than bringing as many people as possible to be part and parcel of Government. This is because, like John Adams rightly opined “Government is nothing more than the combined force of society or the United power of the multitude for the peace, order, safety, good and happiness of the people.” By the recent appointments, the Governor has demonstrated clearly that, the era where a certain few run the affairs of Government as though it was their private business is over while it has also created a platform where the men, women and youths possess an equal stake in Government.

Secondly, A critical assessment of the Governor’s aides and appointees shows that 80% of his appointees are youths. In Nigeria, the youths have hitherto been given an impression that, how far you climb in the ladder of politics and governance is only depended on the number of years, you have answered ‘Yes Sir’ to a certain Godfather. Therefore, Governor Ayade appointments is more or less  decoupling our young men and women from the grip of Godfathers after all, who wants to be a ‘BOY’ forever!

Assuming, the State Governor now has a total of two thousand appointees, it invariably  means, the administration has succeeded in providing food on the tables of two thousand families. My only worry about the appointments is the time and period they were made for obvious reasons but then, the Governor as the Chief Executive Officer of the State is at liberty to hirer as many people as he wishes, in his Government so long as such appointments do not slow down the wheels of development in the State. Or could they have been a better time where, the appointments could have been made without raising the kind of dust it is currently raising now? The answer, is ‘NO.’

‎It was Ex President Goodluck Jonathan who said ” No people oriented Government can afford to ignore the protection and promotion of the welfare of her most valuable resources, the people.” therefore, It is only in recognition of the place of the people in any Government that, The Governor has considered their political and Economic well-being a necessity hence his people oriented policies and programmes.

To end this contribution, it is important to conclude that, one of the factors that endears a Government to its people is the happiness and wealth it creates through deliberate measures. Fortunately,the Governor cannot be found wanting in this regard.

“The best advertisement for good governance is its positive expressions of happiness in the lives of the Governed” Goodluck Jonathan.

Richard Romanus is a public Affairs Commentator from Oderegha, Obubra LGA of Cross River State.

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