Ayade’s Supreme Court victory and challenge of governance
• To appoint additional 6,000 political aides next month
• Labour, opposition cry foul
December 19 was definitely a memorably day for the people of Cross Rivers, as they converged to welcome and celebrate the victory of Governor Ben Ayade at the Supreme Court.
But while they reveled in the joy of the moment, it was an opportunity for critics to set agenda and remind the governor of the countless challenges bedeviling the people.
“We hope and pray these lavish dancing steps should be the beginning of new Ayade attending to the numerous and demanding issues of governance in our state,” Bassey Ojong a keen observer stated.
Anxious and organised enthusiasts from about 100 different groups drawn from the 18 local Government Area of the state had thronged the Margaret Ekpo International Aiport, Calabar to receive Ayade after the apex court affirmed his mandate as governor of the state.
Of course the gathering at the airport and at the U.J. Esuene Stadium climaxed the final leg of the nearly two year’s legal tussle, Mr. Joe Agi (SAN) had instituted against the governor for allegedly parading three different age declarations contrary to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) electoral guidelines.
The drummers and dancers of different masquerades groups drummed to effervescent as the dancers danced with dexterity as onlookers were gripped with the spirit and frenzy of the dance. Senator Ayade who was beaming from jaw to jaw could not help but to join in the dance fever displaying some ‘shukpe’ dance steps.
Earlier, the governor was received by a large crowd of Women groups, youths, religious groups, traditional rulers, members of his cabinet and the State House of Assembly adorned with different uniforms and T-shirts with Ayade’s picture chanting praises of him.
Banners and billboards bearing different solidarity messages sponsored by his supporters were everywhere along the airport routes and the stadium.
After the airport formalities, major streets like IBB, Calabar road literally came to a standstill as supporters and government convoy caused gridlocks on their way to the stadium where a thanksgiving service jointly organized by the Cross River State government and the state chapter of the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), was held to thank God for the victory of the governor and for the prosperity of the state.
At last Senator Ben Ayade can now hive a sigh of relief as he declared, “before now I was standing with one leg but now I can stand two legs … the distraction was minimal because God was on my side, I feel very relieved. I feel the spirit, the movement, the energy and everything that God represents in my life. It is a reflection of when you live and leave everything in the hands of God, He definitely takes control.”
Furthermore, he said: “I am appreciative of all the support given to me by the women of the state and the youths and in this light I will ever remain grateful. To ensure that nobody goes to sleep with an empty stomach, I shall appoint 6,000 more aides, create 3,000 jobs for the youths and in January 2017, create 50, 000 more jobs to make sure nobody in the state is unemployed.
“Expanding government to bring more people is sensitive to the yearnings of youths. Little that comes to the state, let us share among ourselves.”
Critics of the administration as well as the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and labour leaders are quick to point out that the governor had before now effected over 2000 appointments as political aides, a situation which they described as “abnormal for a cabinet that is too congested with repeated portfolios.”
The Chairman of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JPSNC) Comrade Thomas Igbang contended that increasing the political appointees by 6, 000 is rather ridiculous, wondering whether it was meant to impact on the people of the state or to enhance the governor’s political agenda.
“We have a big problem in the civil service and that is where I think he should focus. There are lots of areas that need manpower … if he takes even 1000 persons into the civil service it will make more impact on service delivery. In Cross River State, we have less number of health workers; we have less than 50 doctors because if they come they will go because they say the condition is not encouraging.”
Their criticisms seem to have little or no impact as the governor often argued that the objective was to create job opportunities for everyone in the state.
Besides, to appreciate the people for their prayers and support, He granted N80m to the State CAN and Muslim groups in the State. He explained that N30m came from the Ayade family while the N50m is from the State Government coffers.
While addressing journalists, the governor appealed to Agi to join him in ensuring that the state was built to a position that all would be proud to identify with, stressing that what they both went through was not personal but a normal test of democracy and the strengthening of our judicial process.
He said it was the duty of the governor as the administrative head to bring the desired change, a change that will put the State on the path of prosperity, assuring: “Come here in 2019, you will not recognize that this is Cross River State you used to know because I shall carry out a complete transformation of the state.
“No one else, not even the Supreme Court but God alone made it possible for my victory. God has given us success in the election; God will give us success in government. We have put the political tension occasioned by the litigation behind us because we are now done with the courts.”
Ayade whose 20 minutes speech was punctuated with cheers from the audience in the stadium, noted that it was high time Cross Riverians came together as a people “and as one big family, united by the challenges of our circumstance to march forward with verve and vitality to reconstruct a new Cross River State that will protect and take care of the younger generations.”
The leader of the Ikom Women Movement for Ayade, Mrs. Lucy Ojong contended that the victory of Ayade at the apex court implied that there would be continuity of political and economic growth in the state. She however called on the governor to build bridges with those who petitioned him and mend fences with a view to moving the state forward.
On his part, the Coordinator of Calabar South Elders Forum for Ayade, Mr. Etim Duke appealed to him to settle down and rule the state with the fear of God. “He should limit some of his trips abroad; he needs to sit down in the state and look inward with a view of providing the dividends of democracy to the people,” he added.
A former Special Adviser to the Governor on Strategy and Mobilization, Rev. Ray Ugba Morphy who resigned his appointment, advised him to change his system of governance.
“We expect that going forward, the governor will face governance and ensure he delivers dividend of democracy to our people. The issues that I have raised about poor governance, he should address it and once he addresses it, I have no personal issues with him but if he does not address it, of course I have a legitimate right to oppose as opposition is part of democracy.
Rev. Father Malachi Ephraim who officiated at the Thanksgiving cum reception ceremony ascribed all that travails of the governor to the workings of God and the manifestation of His glory.
“This matter has caused us to be careful in our documentations. Afflictions, sufferings and tribulations enable the person suffering to see God in action. This case is a demonstration of God’s glory for the people of Cross River,” he stated.
In addition, he said: “The purpose of our gathering here is that, we do not have to look for the cause of the problem but rather we should see the manifestations of God’s purpose to the people of Cross River State.”
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