Cross River State governor, Professor Ben Ayade, was again at his oratorical best on this year's May Day when he mounted the rostrum to address thousands of workers at the U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar.
The governor, who knows how to psyche up the workers, lived up to expectations that day as he entertained them with high sounding words about his achievements and the stuff he is made of. He was effusive with praise for himself, saying sometimes he wonders if he is human because of the energy he has. He also admitted that he is a mart man.
“With the qualification I have, if I don't make a difference as governor, who will? I am a professor, I was a senator, a barrister. I am a smart man,” he said while speaking about his signature projects and the ingenuity he said he had brought into governance.
Responding to his endorsement for 2019 by the organized labour in the state, he said this was the first time workers would endorse a governor for another term on May Day and that he felt highly honoured by that act.
He assured the workers of regular payment of salaries, saying that was his priority. He said he would not pay any contractor unless he had paid workers, adding that he would honour whatever he said and that he did not mind closing his personal bank account to ensure salaries were paid.
The governor offered to pay June salary by the middle of May, since he had paid the salary of May at the end of April, but the workers objected and told him to pay it in June.
He said there was desperation on the part of government to industrialise the state and that 9,000 employees, 3,000 from each of the three senatorial zones, would be needed to work in the various factories being established by the state.
He said by 15th May, the formal construction of the super highway would start, adding that any leader who wants to make a difference would go beyond rural electrification and superficial projects.
Earlier, the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, John Ushie, in his address, praised the governor for paying workers' salaries promptly, describing him as a labour friendly governor.
He said labour leaders undertook a tour of some of the projects the government was executing and were satisfied with the progress made so far, hence the decision to endorse him for a second term in 2019.
Ushie, among other demands, called for the harmonization of the payroll system in the state to avoid the current conflicting salary figures and the issue of wrongful remittances of check-off dues should be addressed.
He called for the upgrading of facilities at the state owned media outfits to enable them perform their functions smoothly, adding that there was urgent need to recruit young people into the civil service as 95% of the existing workers would retire by 2023.
State chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Clarkson Otu, read the speech by president of TUC, Bobboi Bala Kaigama, in which he listed the challenges facing the country such as corruption, power, manufacturing, unemployment, insecurity and urged the government to tackle them decisively.