The dark days of the immediate past governor of Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade are still a talking point across the state. About two months after taking over as governor, Senator Bassey Otu is battling to fix the mess he inherited from his predecessor.
Under the Ayade government, the state suffered in various ways, including infrastructure decay. The state library that used to be a very busy centre for public events, for example, became too messy and abandoned. For close to eight years, people could no longer make use of the library facilities.
The state museum suffered a similar fate. Whereas tourists to Calabar used to visit the museum to enrich their knowledge base and also unwind at the nearby restaurants, Ayade had shut out tourists when he barricaded the place, making it difficult for people to get close to the place.
The worst was the seat of power-the governor’s office- which was allowed to decay. Most times, there was no electricity supply, especially when Ayade was out of the place. There was a time his deputy, Prof Ivara Esu would be using hand fan to help himself, with his office windows wide open.
Once, when members of the House of Representatives visited Ayade, they were shocked to observe that the roof was leaking and the map of Cross River State drawn on the walls of the governor’s office by constant rain drops.
Virtually all his projects turned out to be a mirage. His opponents called them scam. For example, he claimed to have built a new city called Calas Vegas, while a chicken rearing and slaughter house which he called Calachika was also non-existent, except in the media.
The ones he called super highway and the spaghetti flyover project turned out to be conduits of a sort. He claimed to have finished and commissioned the first phase of the projects a few hours to his exit date.
Only recently, Mr Emmanuel Ogbechie chief press secretary to the current governor said Ayade was not in the habit of treating memos but would give approvals through whatsapp. More often than not, however, Ayade was outside the state, either abroad in search of investors, or in Abuja.
But Otu seems ready to clean up the mess he inherited. He has already probed many of the activities of Ayade and annulled some of the decisions he made.
Last week, Otu was in the northern part of the state and visited the Obudu Ranch Resort as well as the Ukelle road, two projects that did not get the attention of the government of Ayade. He promised to give attention to them.
While at Ukelle, Yala Local Government, Otu was quoted as saying that “I have been informed that successive administrations have carried out same inspections and never fulfilled the promises made, but be rest assured that this will be the final inspection by state government officials and we are definitely going to complete the construction of this road project,”
At the Ranch Resort, which was hitherto described as one of Nigeria’s seven wonders, the governor had promised to revamp it and make it a major tourism destination in the country once again.
He said “what I have come to meet here is a bit devastating. We have to get the Ranch back to the level it was with additional aesthetics as soon as possible. I am fully aware of the plight of the former staff as well as the union disagreement due to non-payment of their salaries. We will sort that out once the personnel audit is completed.
“Whether we like it or not, the people who are working here must be accommodated and be carried along in the scheme of things if we must get it back to life again.”
During an interaction with the publisher of TNN over the telephone, Otu promised to return the state to its known status of paradise and sanitize all parts of the state.