In line with several of his campaign pronouncements in the run up to the 2015 governorship
election, Governor Ben Ayade has spared no effort in crystallizing his dreams, turning his industrialization vision into reality.
From the creeks of Bakassi, through the rainforest of Akamkpa and down to the hills and mountains of Obudu, Ayade has redefined governance through his tsunami of industrial revolution.
Addressing a gathering of elders, council of traditional rulers, farmers and youths of Ikom back in 2015, while on a campaign train, Ayade had in an impassioned tone provoked tears from his attentive audience when he swore before them to alter their fortunes positively, as a cocoa producing zone, if only they could entrust him with their votes.
Barely three years after extracting that trust, and with the attendant promise of establishing a cocoa processing plant to create a value chain for cocoa production, it could be said with all boldness and certitude that Governor Ben Ayade has indeed delivered on his promise.
Using the Intellectual capital model or better still, what the governor himself has rechristened 'intellectual money', which is based on an OPM (Other People's Money), Ayade has been on windfall of industrialization across the state.
At a recent inspection visit to the cocoa processing plant nearing completion at Ikom, Central Senatorial District, a multi-billionaire naira plant, stands a howling justification of what is now native to the people as Governor Ayade's theory of intellectual money.
The establishment of a coca processing mill by Ayade is no doubt a jinx breaker as well as the achievement of what hitherto was thought to be improbable in this part of the world.
With Cross River Cocoa adjudged as one of the finest in terms of quality in Nigeria, there was no other way to bring value addition to cocoa production in the state than Governor Ayade's effort to establish a multi-billion naira cocoa processing in Ikom.
The Ikom cocoa project, when commissioned, will launch Cross River into the global cocoa hub in the world.
Ayade says his intention is to revive cocoa as the main stay of the economy of the people of the senatorial district in particular and Cross River in general.
Essentially, cocoa farming has been money a spinner to the people of the senatorial district in the past.
Having again put a marker down, Ayade has clearly demonstrated that intellect can be used to fill the gap where physical money is unavailable. This principle is tailor made for Cross River considering the rapid economic and infrastructural development of the state under him in the last three years.
For a cash strapped economy like Cross River State, coupled with a near zero allocations from the federation account, without intellectual money, building the calibre of industries and infrastructural projects the governor has accomplished in the last three years would have been a near impossibility or a mere wishful thinking.
However, through the application of intellect, that which would have been impossible to achieve in Cross River has been achieved effortlessly by Professor Ayade.
Impressed by the level of work at the cocoa processing plant, Ayade praised contractors handling the project and expressed optimism that the plant would be ready soon for production.
“I am very impressed; knowing the enormity of work done, I'm really impressed. From what I have seen, the contractors deserve excellent pats on the back. This is what we call commitment and consistency.
I just want to tell a very short story, this is a story of a very great ambition ruling by motion without logic, no money but intellectual money, that is what I applied here”
The Ikom cocoa processing plant will process 30,000 tonnes of cocoa per annum. With the plant, Ayade has scored another first after establishing Africa's first automated rice Seeds and seedling factory.
The plant is the first of its kind in Africa that will process cocoa beans to chocolate.
For a governor who is focused on industrializing his state, the plant holds a lot of economic and employment future for the people of the state in line with Professor Ayade's determination to decouple the state's economy from over dependence on federal allocations.
“This is the spirit of intellectual money and Cross River ultimately will be proud that I knew where I was going from the beginning. I am following an agenda that at the end of my eight years in office, when every single citizen of the state remembers my days, he or she will say this young man had a great vision.
"For all the years gone by Cross River has been producing cocoa for other states to bear the name because we did not have an off-take mechanism, we did not have a programme by government to buy off the cocoa at good rates. So, outsiders used to come in and buy the cocoa from us and grade it as cocoa from their own state.”
The plant, which will soon be operational, offers cocoa farmers in the state the opportunity, platform and industry to process their own cocoa, giving a premium value for money.
“A cocoa house is going to be built so that once anyone owns a cocoa farm, all they need to do is just go to the cocoa house, collect money during harvest and the government will take their cocoa.With this arrangement, cocoa farmers in the state will have money for their product and don't have to go to bank to get a loan.”
In his quest to bequeath an ultra modern Ikom cocoa processing plant to Cross River, Ayade's government has had to turn to Germany and Switzerland for the latest technology in cocoa processing.