By Umezulike Desmond-Cruz
I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel”-Maya Angelou.
There comes a time when speaking the truth becomes the only unavoidable option. In such moments, there’s always a raging war between the spirit of truth and fallacy, where the mind becomes the battle field and the conscience becomes the spoil to be silenced or set free. In speaking the truth, we set our mind and conscience free but in suppressing the truth, we suppress our mind and silence our conscience. I have intentionally and carefully chosen this scintillating apothegm from the legendary American poet and civil right activist, Maya Angelou, as a kick start to this article wholly directed to the industrialization drive of His Excellency, Prof. Ben Ayade, governor of Cross River State, with the aim of setting the records straight.
As an individual, I have tremendous respect and great regards for His Excellency, Prof. Ben Ayade, the offices, rank and file he has risen to within the shortest period of time in his political odyssey. It is a known fact that His Excellency is one of the most successful and luckiest persons in Cross River State. Bejewelled with high intellectual capability and business oriented prowess, His Excellency is seasoned, intelligent, brave, fine and refine. For the sake of posterity and keeping tabs with happenings, I have chosen to speak the truth just like the popular aphorism, “tell the truth, even if it is against yourself”.
Today just like many other Cross Riverians, I remember with a strong feeling of nostalgia, the joy, hope and serenity that greeted the U.J.Esuene Stadium on 29th May 2015 during the Swearing in of His Excellency, an occasion that gave many Cross Riverians some glimmer of hope. Our joy knew no bounds when His Excellency announced that he was coming with a new economic blueprint anchored on industrialization and decoupling of the state from federal government’s allocation. We were exhilarated; we enjoyed the sound and flow of his serenading grammar. Moreover, we trusted his competence for two obvious reasons, he is an egghead and his laudable achievements as a senator spoke volumes of him.
With the dwindling IGR (Internally Generated Revenue) and poor federal allocation to the state, coupled with the state’s proliferating debt profile, we saw the need to subscribe to his industrialization agenda. We envisaged his industrialization drive as a messianic intervention. We were all ready for a new and better Cross River State anchored on the budding visions of Prof. Ben Ayade.
As at June 2019, Cross River State had a foreign debt profile of $192.73million and a domestic debt profile of N168.82billion, a debt profile that has continued to proliferate. As a state where civil service is the mainstream hub, Cross River State with its meagre allocation and poor revenue manageably service both debts and pay salaries of civil servants every month, leaving the state with a comatose bank account. With the aforesaid appalling situation in mind, one would readily appreciate the wisdom that comes with his industrialization drive.
But then just as Harold Geneen would say, “it is an immutable law in business that words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises but only good performance is reality”. I have always maintained that Cross River State would have been the cynosure of all eyes and the beautiful maiden every suitor would hurriedly strive to take down the aisle, should His Excellency, the Governor make good his many enticing and mouth-watering promises both on industrialization drive and infrastructural revolution.
But quite regrettable it is that we are still in a state of delusion and economic somnambulism. The true reality of Cross River State today is that the future is apparently blur if we don’t take proactive measures. As much as I hate to say this, the fact remain that the industrialization drive of His Excellency is way too big for him to handle. The Industrialization drive that ought to serve as a fuse box towards decoupling the state from the perpetual dependence on Federal Allocation is apparently turning into a ruse.
Six years after Governor Ben Ayade’s soul-inspiring promise of Industrialization, we are yet to see its manifest impact and its equivalent economic implications in Cross River State. Today, our beloved state is poorer than it was yesteryears. Governor Ben Ayade seems to be too excited about becoming governor, yet abandoning his promises. He has only succeeded in plunging us into more impoverishment and giving us “half-baked” industries and factories across selected local government areas in Cross River State. Even the once celebrated garment factory has become epileptic with little or nothing productively going on in the Factory. Our Ekori Toothpick Factory has gone moribund. The Noodles Factory is productive only on social media with its signature noodles christened “KISIME” used only for photo-ops. Our cocoa factory, Rice factory, groundnut factory are all soliciting. Nothing seems to be working positively in Cross River State in view of the industrialization drive. Yet the governor has continued to invest heavily on the media, trying to push the misleading narrative of industrialization drive.
Six years after the governor’s razzmatazz, our hope remains dampened. Six years after, Governor Ben Ayade seems to have ingloriously abandoned his most cherished dream of a Super Highway and a Spaghetti Flyover. Six Years after, while other states including our sister state of Akwa Ibom, have got approval for a deep seaport, ours can only be said to have been completed and commissioned on social media and billboards. As the days go by, we are forever confronted with the reality that this whole industrialization drive is only but a ruse. This is certainly not how to industrialise a state.