Not many people expected to see Prof Ben Ayade in casual wears and hat on May 29, as he emerged from his luxury car with his wife, to take a fresh oath of office to mark the start of a fresh term of four years as governor of Cross River State.
Maybe nobody even thought he could be that casual on a day like that. But Ayade obviously had a shocker for the people. All eyes were on his attire as he walked into the U.J.Esuene Stadium, venue of the swearing-in. He was all smiles, responding to cheers from the crowd. His friends and fans waved at him. His fiends wore long faces, wondering why a governor would dress in a cowboy fashion for his swearing –in.
Ayade was to later explain to the crowd, that he chose to dress that way because from that day, he would become the projects manager, going from one project site to another, to ensure that contractors delivered and on time.
According to him, his deputy, Prof Ivara Esu, will wear the toga of acting governor. He will always be in the office enjoying air conditioners, taking his coffee or whatever, treating files and all that.
Nobody should be surprised if they get to the governor's office to meet the governor and he is not there. Those foreigners should take note of this: whether from China or India, whether from Dubai or the United States, whether from Asia or Canada, they should be told, that the governor will no longer be in the office to receive them. If they are not ready to meet him at any of the projects sites-the Super Highway, the Deep seaport, the Odukpani spaghetti flyover, the abandoned health centres across the three senatorial districts-then they should forget it. If they are not ready to cope with the red dusts of Obudu or the slippery and muddy portions of some portions of the superhighway road, they should try some other states, where their governor is still an office executive, decked in suit and tie. Ayade is not like that anymore. His remarks at the swearing-in event was enough signals on what the people should expect.
Hear him: "I will ensure that Cross River will become an industrialized state under my watch in spite of the ceding of oil wells, which was illegal. Cross River will grow into a self actualization state in my second term.
"I will make sure that my entire signature projects and others will be completed, so that Cross River becomes fully industrialised as every local government will have at least one industry.
“Be committed and remain steadfast as Cross River will be an industrialised state under my watch. In my second tenure, I will no longer be the governor, my deputy will be the acting governor while I will become the project manager of Cross River state as I will relocate to Ikom LGA.
“My second term will be defined by the policy of food on the table, hands on the plight. As I have always insisted, no amount of investment in infrastructure will be equivalent to taking care of the well being of the people like paying salaries and employing them. We must understand that anytime our problems can only be solved by money, then our intellect has failed us.”
What this means is that things will move with the speed of light. One of his critics, Agba Jalingo is already hopeful that things would get better.
In a post he made on his social media handle, Jalingo drew the attention of the governor to some abandoned projects in the state and expressed the hope that the governor would ensure that the contractors returned to site and do the needful.
He said : “Our governor promised during his second term swearing in that he is set to take up the role of a “Project Manager”, supervising the completion of all projects ongoing in the State. He didn't tell Cross Riverians that he will start new ones.
“This is one of the projects that the governor needs to complete. The Obudu Referral Hospital, strategically located at the Ranch road. This place used to be the Obudu Local Government Guest House. It was still in use when it was demolished for this noble public interest project, two years ago.
“Work has stopped here since last year 2018. Maybe His Excellency is not aware. I need to bring it to his notice. There are supposed to be three of these hospitals in Cross River state. One in each senatorial district. The immediate past Minister for Health came and laid a foundation stone for the hospital in Calabar at the Goodluck Jonathan bypass. Since then, no construction work has commenced there.
“Sir, hundreds of millions have been purportedly spent in the construction of these hospitals; yes, hundreds of millions. (It's not an error), and there are yet, no hospitals.
“As you begin the project inspection Your Excellency, kindly find out why the construction of these hospitals is yet to go anywhere after so much has been spent. Peradventure you already know why, sir, kindly multiply effort to see to the completion of these ones before embarking on new projects.
“Within the first 100 days in your second term, Your Excellency, I shall continue to bring to your notice and the notice of the generality of Cross Riverians within my reach, these litany of uncompleted projects initiated by your administration, across the state.
“I shall be part of your project inspection team in my spirit. I will from the other side, continually draw your attention to the sites your sirens will not allow you get to. But I will bring them in bits and pieces. My only goal, 'lahira da duniya' is that we must all help you achieve the much you can in office by telling you the truth. I won't join the choristers.
“I feel compelled to tow this path using the analogy of Aisha Buhari, who told the husband in the media recently, that his social intervention program in the north has failed. She questioned the amount being expended compared to results. And that wasn't the first time. Yet both of them wake from the same bed. It's because she wants her husband to succeed.