Ahead of the 2019 governorship elections, Igbos resident in Cross River State under the aegis of Ohanaeze Ndigbo have declared their total support for the state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade.
The socio-cultural organization also conferred a prestigious award on Ayade. Presenting the award at the Abraham Ordia Stadium, University of Calabar, venue of the 28th anniversary of Nna Ndigbo of Cross River, President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the state, Ugorji Nwabueze, said that the honour was in recognition of Ayade's landmark achievements in the area of industrialization.
"This award from the five eastern states is in recognition of your achievement and contributions to the growth of Cross River especially in areas of industrialization. It is also in appreciation of your good performance while exhibiting good strength to the Igbos."
Receiving the award, Ayade thanked them for the honour done him, saying he respects the dexterity, value, capacity, integrity, honour, intelligence as well as the philosophy of hard work which the people have continuously portrayed.
The governor, decked in full Igbo regalia, a red cap and walking stick, said: "If we have given land to have Nasarrawa and Bogobiri areas, it is also important for us to have an Igbo city. The Igbos are indeed the real blood that drives our economy, so, not to make a special provision for them is to neglect the realities of the times, the governor said," in response to a request from the association for land.
He consequently directed the state commissioner for lands to make land available to the socio-cultural organisation. "I will want Ohaneze Ndigbo Cross River branch to liaise with my commissioner for land; he will take you to three locations, make a choice of one, we will allocate it as Igbo city," he added.
Extolling the spirit of enterprise among the Igbo, the governor who described them as "the great Israelites of Africa," maintained that "the security and social calmness that we enjoy today in Cross River is because the Igbo people have continuously supported us with mercantile activities, creating jobs and so many opportunities that have allowed us to have peace."
On the opportunities available at the newly created Industrial park in Calabar, Ayade disclosed that "the industrial park that we have set up has over 42 industrial plots with water, electricity and road provided, whether you come by the instrumentality of a collective whole or as an individual, once you are Igbo with the capacity to set up a factory, we shall give you a piece of land to commence the construction of your factory at no cost to you at all."
Continuing, the governor pointed out that "in Ayade industrial park, I assure that the Igbos will have five major plots, free of charge to commence construction of factories provided each of the factories can employ at least 20 people of which at least 10 will be Cross Riverians," adding that "once you make that provision for me, please come over, take your piece of land, start construction, we will issue you a certificate of occupancy but you must start construction within three months."
On the issue of over taxation of petty traders raised by the leadership of the Igbo, Ayade described it as illegal, unacceptable and do not have his approval, urging the people to resist the extortionists as his administration has a tax control law that regulates tax and exempt people who do low income businesses.
"No government that is responsible can tax its people to prosperity, prosperity comes from intellectualism, it comes from hard work, it comes from agility of the muscles and therefore the mechanical taxation of your people is negativity to the economy," the governor reasoned.