Overtime, the political space has been heated with several arguments for or against the re-election of Sen. Benedict Ayade. A lot of people believe there is hope for a better Cross River under his watch despite the present circumstance. Many others are green with despair, and in a desperate clamour for change, have decided to pitch tents with the opposition. More than every other Governor, Senator Benedict Ayade has come under terrible backlash from the lips of critics with claims of his underperformance rending the air.

 Before you hit the next stroke, pause and think again; has Ayade really done so badly to deserve a recontest? Has he truly lost the locus standi, the moral justification to bid for another term in office? Do you think those to whom you lend your voices to become governors, truly have a better capacity to deliver the dividends of governance than Ayade? Do they really love this state as we are enticed to believe? How many governors in the nation in this economically dilapidated era have done better than him?

Firstly, as a citizen and then as a northern Cross Riverian, where the diadem is pegged, Ayade like every other person within this region possesses the justification to be governor again, at least for another four years. As a matter of fact, he does not only deserve to re-contest, he also deserves to be allowed express walk to pellegrino house once again. Or do you think it is merely a fluke of fate that no one else is prominently contesting the gubernatorial elections from the north? Have we so abandoned our sense of equity because we are grim with hate? When Donald Etim Duke, from the Southern Senatorial District was Governor, he occupied the seat for two consecutive terms. The entire state united to accord him eight whole years in government, devoid of any form of interference. Liyel Imoke became Governor from the Central Senatorial District and enjoyed it for another eight years. Why should Ayade’s case be different? Why should he be ousted from power only after four years? Is what is good for the goose no longer good for the gander? What heinous felony has he so committed to deserve such abhorrence?

Some said he has performed badly, and so should not be allowed another term.

Oh really?

In case you burnt your history books, I still have mine. Truth is; no Cross River Governor since the inception of democracy has performed better than Ayade in his first term. The Donald Duke we all celebrate today started out as one of the most confused governor in his first term in office. He tried out so many projects without success. From castor seed planting, to pineapple planting, to pineapple juice manufacturing factory, to cashew planting to honey processing and the likes. He made no headway in one. He failed in them all, even with the oil boom at the time. Amidst ample resources, Donald Duke did very little in his first stint as governor. His educational policy was zero. Hundreds of civil servants lost their jobs. Salaries were owed for months. Pensioners were starved of their paltry stipends. But he had a clearer picture of things in his second term,  breaking global tourism frontiers among other significant achievements.

Liyel Imoke was so inactive and boring, so much that he was nicknamed the “Sleeping Governor”. In his second spell as governor, he woke up. He found his feet. Today, we call him the champion of rural transformation among a plethora of other striking feats.

Compared to the last two governors, Ayade has not performed so poorly. Amidst lean resources, amidst myriads of debts servicing, he has performed significantly above board. He stepped into office with a clear cut purpose, deliberate purpose to make Cross River State an industrial hub of the nation. A purpose to build a Cross River where the rift separating the poor and the rich can be bridged, where young people could also have a say in governance, where a Governor shall no longer be ‘god’ but a man like everyone. A Cross River where hunger shall become alien to it, where good health shall never again be the right of the affluent alone. An enterprising Cross River. And in just three years and eight months, he is keenly driving the purpose.

For almost four years already, civil servants cannot remember the last time a month ended without their salaries. It’s so astoundingly strange that most times they are paid ahead. In different sectors of the state, thousands of youths are being employed. Politically, he runs an enlarged government such that more than six thousand Cross Riverians are state appointees. The implication is that every polling unit in the state has an appointee of government. He is poise at sustaining this feat into the next administration. Despite his schedules as the number one citizen of the state, he still has time to attend to people on individual basis. His accessibility is second to none. His humility is winning. His generosity is boundless. He has the fierceness of a lion and the warmth of a lamb. He is a man full of fight and audacity. For Cross River State, he can give anything.   

Regrettably, for two years or more, he met about the stiffest impediment from fellow Cross Riverians to secure an EIA for his signature projects, a setback harnessed by the same opposers to discredit his government. For the betterment of the state, our state, his own denied him.

Nevertheless, everywhere in the state, his projects are ongoing. The rice seedling project which was commission sometime in September is about the biggest seedling factory in Africa, expected to employ over 500 workers and generate over seventy billion naira per annum. Less than one year into his administration, the Garment Factory was fully operational. It has employed over one thousand Cross Riverians, among who are widows. The cocoa processing factory is already at sixty percent completion stage. For the records, Cross River state is the second highest cocoa producing state in Nigeria. If all the cocoa produced finds a finishing hub, a lot of intermediary businesses, aside the usual factory employment will abound. People will get busier and richer subsequently. Farmers too will have reasons to smile. The Calabar Pharmaceutical Industry (Calapharm) too, is in a speedy finishing stage, likewise the Frozen Chicken Factory (calachika), the Banana Factory, and the twenty one megawatt plant meant to increase the megawatt of electricity available at the national grid for distribution, which will curb the persistent protest from consumers within the region of epileptic supply, is almost due for commissioning. The superhighway project is in progress. The piles and pylon factory meant to produce materials for the Bakassi deep seaport has been established. Projects of this magnitude cannot be accomplished just within four years. The good news is that, they’ve all been set rolling. Another four years in office would see to the completion of these projects, thereby setting our dear state on the path of plenty.

If these projects are completed, Cross Riverians will hit an economic revolution they will not recover from for a long time. Businesses, both locally and internationally will thrive. Our farm produces would be given a financial meaning. Cross River would stand among the top notch industrial states in Africa. Imagine a State where its citizen will no longer commit their survival to monthly earnings alone. A state where abundance becomes a norm, where our restive youths will deliberately lay down their arms because opportunities are everywhere. A state where peace stands unnegotiable. Where there is no need to fight because there so much to go round. A state where everyone would have equal access to life. A state for our children, born and unborn. The state of our dream. A second term for Ayade can guarantee all of these. 

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