For Cross River, a New Era Beckons

Even before throwing his hat into the ring to vie for the office of the governor, Professor Ben Ayade had long cast a long gaze into the horizon trying to envision the new Cross River State of his dream.
That is to create a socially stable, economically rewarding, business friendly environment that will galvanize both locals and foreigners to seek wealth creating opportunities in the state.
To be part of that dream and vision, he has stridently been calling for a concerted effort of his fellow citizens of Cross River State- to lift their eyes beyond the skyline of the present challenges and visualize a state where there is a place and hope for everyone; a state where there will be jobs for the youths and prosperity for the working class.
From the inception of his administration also, Governor Ayade had set his mind on staying focused on ensuring that not only the middle class was resurrected but also given the needed oxygen to find anchor for their roots; just as he was determined to guarantee that every Cross Riverian found independence and pride for his work.
For a man whose growing up had a rich narrative in lack and poverty, a man, who as a child, wore poverty like a garment, Governor Ayade was poised from the outset to guaranteeing that the wages of honest labour shall not only liberate families from the jaws of hardship, but that no child goes to bed in an empty stomach.
As part of catalyzing and crystalizing this manifest destiny, Governor Ayade has had his leg firmly stamped on the pedal with a view to harnessing new ideas and technology geared towards reconstructing and repositioning the state to its rightful place as the fastest growing in the country.
But in arriving at his goals destination, he was equally desirous of striking a delicate balance, or harmony, if you like between proving infrastructure and building capacity.
While it is imperative to chart a new course into the oasis of creativity and navigate a fresh path to greatness, Governor Ayade is not unmindful of the fact that in doing so, the human resource also constitutes the fulcrum or building block to sustainable development. He needed to reenergize the workforce in order to restore confidence in the civil service which has remained largely the brainbox of administration.
It was this creative thinking that actuated his declaration to promptly pay salaries of civil servants, insisting that a labourer deserves his wages.
Barely five months captaining the ship of the state, he has not only hit the ground running, but has progressively been steering the ship in the right course with howling mileage gained so far in this voyage.
As a leader known for walking his talk and matching his words with action, Governor Ayade did not just stop at lamenting the plight of the state civil servants but making sure that the wintry of despondency that almost held them captive owing to delayed salaries quickly gave way to renewed dignity of labour they were hitherto accustomed to.
It is no longer news that while most states in the country are literally asphyxiating under the pangs of unpaid salaries, Governor Ayade has not only ensured that salaries are paid promptly, but as early as between 25th and 26th of every month. Specifically, in making sure that civil servants celebrated the last Salah with their Moslem brothers and sisters in the state, September salary was indeed paid on the 23rd.
Today, the challenge in the state is not whether salaries are being paid promptly, but rather, it is the complaint from civil servants themselves that it is coming too early in the month. Indeed, the practice has endeared him to civil servants with him being seen as a portrait of a responsive and responsible leader.
In absolute fidelity to his words that the wages of honest labour shall liberate families from the clutches of hardship and hunger, Governor Ayade, barely two months in office passed into law tax exemptions for state workers earning below N30,000 a month as well as the exemption of levies for artisans, petty traders operating in the state.
While this gesture has roundly been applauded and commended as governance with a human face, the real import of the concession is that it has allowed this category of workers in the state with more disposable income to play with and by implication, leading to more empowerment for the people.
In a bid to expand opportunities, energize the already shrinking state’s civil service workforce, as well as chase the wolves out of the doors of many of the citizenry, the governor, after a careful consultation and deliberation with the various stakeholders in the state, took what could be described as an uncommon initiative to lift the 23-year-old embargo on employment into the state civil service.
With the gulf between the haves and the have-not ever widening, and determined to narrow this socio-economic divide, Ayade, upon his assumption of office, promised to weigh in by creating more opportunities, especially for the women folk in the state. It was this compassion for the poor that informed his need for the establishment of a garment factory in Calabar.
Though recruitment into the factory has since been completed, with the equipment already shipped into the state, the actual deadline for the completion of the plant itself has, however, been hampered by a chain of logistics and inclement weather. It is nonetheless expected to come into full operation sometime this year. Upon completion, about 1000 women, mostly widows would be actively engaged in the clothing plant.
Similarly, as an environmentalist himself, the governor has embarked on a number of measures aimed at protecting and preserving the state’s biodiversity. In this regard, a special marshal code named the Green Police, comprising 1500 young men and women has been set up. Besides protecting the rich rain forest, the effort is an added stimulus geared towards addressing the army of unemployed youths in the state.
In the administration’s quest to create a just and equitable society, and to provide for the very poor and indigent in the state, Governor Ayade recently signed into law a housing bill, under the state’s social housing programme, which seeks to make housing in the state a right.
And following his preliminary discussions with Irish property investors, Affordable Modular Homes Limited, sometime in August, for a 5000 modular housing units, the effort has so far culminated in the signing of a four million US., dollars memorandum of understanding for the construction of affordable houses to be spread across the three senatorial zones of the state.
Apart from drastically reducing the housing need in the state, the scheme, when completed, will exponentially increase the number of house owners and consequently drive down the cost of accommodation across the state.
All of these initiatives, Governor Ayade reasoned, are geared towards recalibrating the social inequality that has for long plagued the citizenry.
What more can the people ask for! Following immediately on the heels of this historic housing law, was the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Cavenco of Spain for the establishment of an automated poultry and dairy plant with capacity for 100,000 birds per day.
In the same vein, the administration equally wrapped up a deal for a three megawatt power plant with Skipper of India to expand the power infrastructure in the state.
To effectively ramp up development, Governor Ayade has created 27 Special Purpose Vehicle (SPVs) among which are Cross River Tourism Limited, Cross River State Diaspora Trust Funross River State Forestry Trust, Cross River State Petroleum Company Limited (PETROCROSS), Cross River State ICT Company Ltd., Cross River State Marine Company Ltd., Cross River State cocoa Company Ltd., Cross River State Rice Company Ltd., Cross River State Banana Company Ltd., and Cross River State Maize Company Ltd.
And despite the pall of cynicism regarding his two signature projects, the 260 kilometer dual carriage superhighway and Calabar deep seaport, the governor has remained passionate and unrelenting, vowing to give his arm and his leg, if that becomes necessary to actualize the project.
As part of oxygenated plan of action to catalyze the projects, a 500 million Euros funding has since been secured from his European counterparts for the two projects, just as core investors from Abu Dhabi on the superhighway has also been sourced.
With President Muhammed Buhari expected to visit to formally perform the groundbreaking ceremony, Governor Ayade has demonstrated an uncanny resolve, the I-can-do-it spirit and the zest never to give up on what he believes holds the future for his people. Obviously, there is no turning back on his dream project, a project that is bound to redefine the socio-economic landscape of Cross River in a few years from now.
Given the fecundity of his ideas, the intensity of his vision and the bullishness of his thought, there is no gainsaying that in this young ebullient and dynamic governor, the future indeed, beckons for the people of Cross River State.
.Offiong wrote in from Calabar

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By 9jatravel / Administrator, bbp_keymaster

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on Oct 20, 2015

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