By Luqman Openiyi
Former Governor of Cross River state, Mr. Donald Duke has said that governor Ayade is a young man who has left no one in doubt about the fact that he wants to transform the state, adding that by the time the incumbent governor is done with the state, “it will not remain the same again”.
Speaking yesterday while reeling out the various resumes of recipients of the Vangaurd Press Awards at the Eko Hotel in Lagos, Duke said Cross Riverians are yet to see the best of Ayade.
“Benedict Ayade left no one in doubt that when he is through with Cross River, Cross River will never be the same. So he defined an agenda that left each and every Cross Riverian breathless and confused. I had course for once to sit him down one evening and say listen, Your Excellency where are you taking us to? And by the time he was through with me, I was most breathless. But what I see here is that this is a gentle man who is clear headed, he is not satisfied with the lot of the state and he is determined to take the state to greater heights and make it an iconic state in the comity of states of the Federal Republic.” Duke said to a rousing applause from the audience.
In his remark, former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon also eulogized Ayade for regular payment of workers salaries “I say welldone to Governor Ayade as I want all other governors to follow his example by taking care of their civil servants because civil servants are the custodians of any good work any governor or even President is doing.
“It was because I paid attention to civil servants, and in return, they helped me implement my policies as Head of State. For Ayade, I say well done to him and I want others to follow his example not only by paying attention to the civil servants but the welfare and wellbeing of their people. Let the people be the ones to say thank you Mr. Governor. The gratitude of your people is the greatest thing you have.”
Former Secretary General of the CommonWealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, who was also amidst the dignitaries at the event described Governor Ayade as one of the best performing governors in Nigeria.
He said, “Governor Ayade is clearly one of the best performing governors in Nigeria today. He has kept faith by paying salaries regularly to workers. I’m glad to see that he was recognized by Vanguard newspapers for the award. I will want to encourage all the governors to emulate him and pay greater attention to the management of the resources in their states and to set the right priorities by developing infrastructure, welfare of their workforce and development of greater capacity for their internally generated revenues.”
A former National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who also received the Vanguard Lifetime Achievement Award said he is proud of Ayade for making the party proud.
According to Tukur, ”When Ayade wanted to run as governor, I told him that ‘you know I’m from Cross River, so I’m looking forward to seeing the best in you in the interest of those who elected you and there is no doubt that he is making me proud. I was in Calabar a week ago and from what I saw regarding the infrastructure and the report I got, I am satisfied. I’m the father of all of them. Ayade should continue the good work he is doing.”
The award was presented to the governor in company of his wife Dr. Linda Ayade by Senator Florence Ita-Giwa amidst a standing ovation from the full capacity convention center of the Eko hotel and suits.
In his reaction, Governor Ayade said: “Even though the award is a recognition of our effort at repositioning Cross River State, it does not make much meaning to me, especially when my people are still wallowing in lack and want. How can I receive an award when my people of Bakassi are homeless in their own country? How can I receive an award when my people of Bakassi are stateless in their own country? This is why I will know no rest until they are accorded the dignity they deserve as a people. However, I receive this award with the singular fact that it is a further call for me to sit up and do more.”
Governors of Kebbi and Lagos state also received the Vanguard Governor of the Year Award at the event. Lifetime Achievement Awards were also given to several other dignitaries who graced the event including Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie who was represented by Reverend Father Osu.
The long list of dignitaries at the event included Chief Edwin Clark, Joseph Evah, Pascal Dozie, Governor Obaseki of Edo State, among others.