Again, they came in their thousands to endorse Governor Ben Ayade for 2019. Various support groups from the Southern Senatorial District of Cross River State trooped to the governor's office at Diamond Hill, Calabar last Tuesday to express their solidarity with the governor, ahead of the 2019 election. And during the event organized by Generation Foundation, Ayade gave them his word that he will stand by them to ensure that a governor
from that zone emerges in 2023 when it will be their turn to produce his successor.
“What is fair is fair. The turn of the south is 2023. And as governor, just the way they stood with me in 2015, just the way they are standing with me in 2019, I will stand with the people of the south in 2023. What is fair is fair. And I want to assure you that by 2023, we are going to have a new governor who will be harvesting from all these industries and your salaries will come easily. Prosperity will come and you will have a better state,” the governor said.
Speaking about his achievements even with the lean resources at his disposal, Ayade said: “Gone are those days when we used to rely on allocation from Abuja. Because you don't have enough allocation, you cannot pay salaries. Because you don't have enough allocation, you cannot do projects. But today, Ayade has brought a new theory. It is called intellectual money. When money is not available, intellect will take the place of money. That is what is called intellectual money. For us in Cross River and for the people of the Southern Senatorial District, I would like to thank you so much. The people of the south have shown me so much love. It is even rare for you to praise a governor while on seat. Today I see people send me text that 'I have not even been to work, my alert has come.'
”Are you aware that if you go to Odukpani roundabout, there is a Turkish construction company that has gone to site? They are constructing the first spaghetti flyover in the whole of Africa. Are you aware? Just stop there and see what is going on. Cross River doesn't have money but we have the intellect. We have young people. We have already introduced young people in government and the young people are doing the magic. Time has gone when you only rely on experience. Experience is a bad teacher. Energy, vitality, character, integrity, candour, capacity, buoyancy, those are the real things that you need. And so I have come to see that young people in this state have great opportunity to bring us to prosperity. So I don't rely on experience. I am relying on practical exposure. And that is why I bring young people into government.”
He delved into his projects, saying “the first Rice City is here in Calabar South. Are you aware that the Bakassi Deep Seaport, all the white people are there? And they are dredging the port? Are you aware that we have completed the design of the super highway and completed the survey and the contractors have moved to site? As I speak to you today, the banana plantation in Odukpani will be ready for harvesting in September. I can go on and on. The 21mw power plant, the first to be constructed by a state, is ready for the president's commissioning. I can go on. I don't want to mention garment factory, Calapharm, you know all those ones. In Bakassi, on the 30th of next month, we are commissioning a social housing, the first social housing, world class housing that we are going to be donating to people for free. They won't pay a dime. We will put beds, we will put chairs and donate to people because we care.
“For you to come to me and say, 'we have come to say thank you', this is the most special visit so far. Because you are not here to say 'Ayade tutu mkpong' (Ayade till tomorrow), I agree completely.”
He said his desire and all his efforts have been geared toward making life better for the people. “What is the point building a super highway when your son, when your brother, when your sister is hungry? And that is why I have placed emphasis on salary. Next week we are going to pay June salary. I actually wanted to pay this week but workers said 'don't pay this week. Pay next week.' Does Cross River have the money? No. But what we have is intellectual money. Intellectual money never runs dry. It is even in the south that I hear that they are telling everybody from the south 'stay away. We don't want to hear anybody from the south. Your time is 2023.'
“What is fair is fair. The turn of the south is 2023. And as governor, just the way they stood with me in 2015, just the way they are standing with me in 2019, I will stand with the people of the south in 2023. What is fair is fair. And I want to assure you that by 2023, we are going to have a new governor who will be harvesting from all these industries and your salaries will come easily. Prosperity will come and you will have a better state. Don't stand here and support me and go home hungry. My government is open. We are together. In 2023, we will still gather together as a family.”
Before the governor spoke, representatives of the local governments that comprise the Southern Senatorial District were called by chairman of the state's sports commission, Orok Duke, to speak. And they took turns to endorse the governor for 2019. First to speak was a member of the state house of assembly representing Akamkpa 1 Constituency, Hon Matthew Olory.
Olory said “Akamkpa has come to tell you well done, that in 2019, there is no vacancy. We pledge to give you support. As far as Akamkpa is concerned, there is no shaking.”
Effiom Etim who spoke on behalf of Akpabuyo, said “your Excellency, we are here to register our support for your governorship ambition come 2019. We are all living witnesses to the projects you are executing in the state. We are saying by God's grace, you will complete them. Your Excellency, we the Akpabuyo Solidarity Front and the entire family are here to register our support and to invite you to Akpabuyo during your campaign. We are waiting for you with our arms wide open to receive you and to work for your overall success come 2019.”
Unoh Ilem spoke for Biase, the local government of the Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Ejemot Esu. “My digital governor, we want to assure you that what Biase did in 2015 by beating the other local governments in appreciation of our son, who is your deputy, we shall repeat it in 2019. We want to assure you that His Excellency the Deputy Governor working closely with others will mobilise the entire Biase to make sure that we give you the maximum votes in Biase,” Ilem said.
Hon. Efa Esua who represents Calabar Municipality in the state House of Assembly, remarked: “Your Excellency, I want to assure you of the participation of the people of Calabar Municipality in the 2019 elections. We have mobilized people with PVC and we assure you of victory in 2019. We congratulate you in advance.”
Another speaker, Eric Anderson, the Commissioner for Tourism, said “Your Excellency, I am a testimony of what you have done in three years. We are aware as people of Calabar Municipality that most of the projects you are doing in Cross River State are sited in Calabar Municipality. So, we say thank you for that. All the youths in Calabar Municipality will support you till the end. Your Excellency, if you look at the cap I am wearing, it says 'Ayade tutu mkpong', which means Ayade till tomorrow.”
Secretary of the PDP in Odukpani, Aniefiok Inyang, said “We have brought a lion here as part of our logo. That is to show you that Odukpani people are ready to devour any party, anybody that comes there to challenge Ayade in 2019. As far as Odukpani Local Government is concerned, there is no vacancy in Government House. Talking about your projects, they are all visible everywhere, the banana project in Odukpani, the Rice City in the south. Odukpani is for our governor.”
Okon Ephraim spoke for Calabar South, saying “within the short time the governor has been in the saddle, he has been able to do many things in the Southern Senatorial District, up to the point that our brothers and sisters in the North and Central are jealous of us. The Rice City is here, the garment factory is here, the Calapharm is here, the banana plantation is here. There are so many things here. I want to assure the governor that as far as he is running for a second term, the southern senatorial district will return him 100 percent.”
Mr Etim Inyang, DG, Generation Foundation, organisers of the rally told the governor that “we are here to reaffirm our support for you. For the past three years, you have done well for Cross River State. Today they are signing the law, 'Not Too Young To Run'. But that law has been implemented in Cross River State. The youths have been employed. We just want to assure you that the people of Calabar South are with you.”