By Emmanuel Una
THOUGH events in Cross River State seemingly are being overshadowed in the past one week by the defection of Governor Ben Ayade who was elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, the state has always been in the news for project initiation by the governor.
In the past six years, there has been a new direction in governance with focus on industrialisation, away from the previous administrations in the state which focused on infrastructural development like road construction, school facilities , hospital upgrading and rural development.
The Ayade government came with what it termed ‘Signature Projects” which focuses on business and revenue generation. These projects include the construction of 675 kilometres Super Highway, Bakassi Deep Sea Port, Garment Factory, Rice Mill Factory and Cocoa Processing Factory. Significantly, these are all megabuck guzzling projects intended to generate huge income for the state on completion.
In addition to these projects, tonnes of other projects have been initiated across the state. Among them are the Cally Air for which two aircraft have been acquired, the Calachika chicken factory, the Advanced Teachers Institute, the roofing tiles factory, groundnut Oil Mill, Tooth Pick Factory and Long Piles Factory.
Essentially, work has reached advanced stages in most of these Signature Projects and their ancillaries but going by the magnitude of work required and the cost involved with the finances of the state, which we are often told are in a poor state, only two have been completed and put to use. These are the Garment Factory which employs about three hundred women most of them widows and the Calachika chicken project which has started churning out chicken during festivals like Christmas, Easter, Sallah and the like.
Speaking recently during a rally by council chairmen and councillors in the state tagged Industrialisation March, the governor, Senator Ayade assured that the projects will all be completed in due time before he exits government “ to provide employment for young people in the state and boost the revenue base of the state and wean it from over-dependence on federal allocation”.
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He assured that the Superhighway would be completed along with the Deep Sea Port before he leaves office even as monumental work is still required to be done and billions of naira to be injected to bring them to completion.
Ayade has a welfare scheme for the people called “Food on the Table’, and this works through the appointment of thousands of people in the state to his government. They get a salary, though not commensurate with the nomenclature of their porfolio given to them, the underlying thing is that they receive an alert at the end of each month to meet their feeding and accommodation needs while prudent ones can make a saving to invest in businesses and other revenue yielding ventures.
“If I have my way, every Cross Riverian would be included into the state payroll and from what I have done there is no family in the state that has not been accommodated one way or the other and I think this goes a long way in alleviating poverty and its pain”.
The governor told the crowd during the Industrialisation Rally some weeks back.
But to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, which has become the opposition in the state following the governor’s defection, Food on the Table is a misnomer and an insult to people of the state. “God forbid that the governor of Cross River State in 2023 should be ‘Food on the Table’ governor. Food has never been scarce to our people and saying you are giving them crumps in the name of food is an insult”
Senator Liyel Imoke who handed over to Ayade told PDP members during a stakeholders meeting on Sunday, 23rd May.
Regular salary payment to both civil servants and political office holders is one of those things which Ayade has excelled in the past six years. Even as the allocation from the federal government has dwindled, salaries have never been owed beyond one week into the new month. For this singular performance he is known as “Salary Master”.
With the heightened political temperature in the state, the people are hoping that the governor will remain focused and complete the plethora of projects and programmes he has initiated before his tenure expires in two years.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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