Long before his inauguration as governor on May 29, 2015, Professor Benedict Ayade, had already developed an impressive developmental blueprint on how Cross River State under his stewardship would evolve.
As a state that had for decades worn the badge of a civil service like a second skin, Governor Ayade was determined to bring about a quick and urgent change in the nomenclature.
One of the several changes he was desperate to alter was governance dynamics with the introduction of the Japanese model. Simply put, he was poise to run the government strictly as a business.
When in his inauguration speech, he told his audience that he was inheriting "a rich state", not many people knew exactly what he meant. For Ayade, Cross River may have been unjustly stripped of her opinion wells, and with no direct control over its abundant solid mineral resources, what was, however, aplenty was the human and intellectual resource. He was ready to fully tap into this asset. He was later to nickname it as "intellectual money".
It is on record that as of the time the governor assumed office 2015, the state reached its borrowing threshold, with huge debt overhang in millions of dollars and billions of naira respectively owed to local and foreign creditors.
Applying Ayade's principles intellectual money in getting the state out of the woods, therefore meant the utilization of of Other People's Money (OPM) model to drive development and industrialization.
Instructively, three years down the line, with nowhere to obtain facilities, coupled with the measly and often times, zero allocations from the federation account, Governor Ben Ayade has ceaselessly continued to astound everyone, including cynics and critics alike with amazing feats, breathtaking breakthroughs in industrialization as well as infrastructural offerings.
He has no doubt been blazing the trail with transformational initiatives to recalibrate the economy of the state in particular and the nation in general.
As a visionary, he had earlier enunciated two lofty projects, the 274 kilometer superhighway stretching from the creeks of Bakassi to the hills of Obanliku and the Bakassi Deep Seaport, that on completion, will surely signpost the state among the developed economies of the world.
Christened the Signature Projects, they are no doubt revolutionary. While preliminary work is ongoing at the deep seaport, the debushing work on the superhighway had since been done, even as the state still awaits the final nod from the federal government for the full commencement of the work proper.
There is no doubt that the administration of Governor Ayade has been punching above its weight.
With regular and prompt payment of salaries without fail, the governor equally has his hands on several Industrialization projects with cost implications running into billions of naira.
Projects such as the cocoa processing factory in Ikom, with 30,000 metric tons capacity,o the rice seedling and seedling plant in Calabar and the automated rice mill in Ogoja, the garment factory in Calabar and Calabar Pharmaceutical Company, have incredible potential to turn the economy around.
Others industries also being set up across the 18 Local Government Areas include the Piles, Pylons and Poles factory in Akamkpa Local Government Area, Toothpick Factory in Yakur Local Government Area, the Poultry and Feedmill Industry in Obubra Local Government Area and among others.
Besides his revolutionary strides in the cocoa value chain, Ayade also has his in hands in the plough to create value addition in rice production. This is in keeping to President Mohammadu Buhari's zero oil roadmap he espoused very early in the life of his administration, with emphasis on agriculture.
The Governor's revolutionary investment in the development of rice value chain in the state with the establishment of rice farm, rice seed and seedling plant and rice mill will definitely gladden the heart of the President as the initiative is aimed at ensuring food security and sufficiency in Nigeria.
Designed to mass produce seeds, nurture seedlings with disease resistance and high yielding vitamimised rice, the seedling plant is truly revolutionary in rice production.
As the state welcomes the President to town today, for the historic commissioning of the first rice seedling factory in Africa, it is doing so with the satisfaction and realization that this is a governor that has painstakingly not only keyed into his rice revolution policy but also gone a notch higher to translate the President's vision into reality.
And it is expected that after the pomp and glitterati of the commissioning today, the federal government and indeed, the president will offer, by way of acknowledging the governor, incentives to ensure that the plant does not suffer the casualty of lack of patronage. This is the only way to point the way forward for others to emulate the Ayade's I can do it spirit.