One of the cardinal objectives of an organized government at whichever level is not only to maintain law and order in such a society but to also provide for the social welfare of the people as well as protect their overall interests when it becomes lucid that it is being covertly or overtly trampled upon at any point in time.
The Governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben Ayade is one leader who has shown both in action and words that he is a man who completely understands the import of occupying a leadership position especially that which has to do with governance, and the fact that government exist because the people exist and as such the primary focus of the government is the people’s interest and their protection.
Undeniably, as the Obudu born number one citizen of Cross River State who had garnered more than 48 people-oriented bills to his credit while in the Senate, and an erudite Professor of Environmental Science of soaring repute, Governor Ayade returned from foreign investment drive recently and wasted no time as he went ahead hitting the ground running to realize his main policy thrust for 2017 in particular and beyond.
Playing the role of protecting the interests of the people as a government recently, Governor Ben Ayade made it clear that he was not comfortable with the inflated and estimated bills which the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) gives to electricity consumers in Cross River State, and as such he will be embarking on a legal battle with the company to address the situation.
As a leader who has passionate love for his people and would not only give his right eye to keep the promise he has made to them but also to protect them, Ayade is outraged that despite the fact that
electricity consumers in Cross River state are more than 90 percent compliant when it comes to payment of the monthly electricity bills, the Port Harcourt based company has maintained a track record of being notorious in giving outrageous bills to consumers in the state as well as treating the people very shabbily while the complaint mechanism is almost not there.
Giving a clearer insight to the governor’s determination to seek legal redress on the already stated issue, and other electricity related matters, the Director-General, State Electrification Agency (SEA), Rt. Hon. Jake Otu Enyia, revealed that apart from giving the people of the state estimated bills based on post-paid meters that are mostly defective, rather than pre-paid meters, PHEDC, a company which the four states of Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers each have 10 percent equity share (40 percent collectively) is yet to give the state one kobo of its own share of the profit after tax since the inception of the company.
Rt. Hon. Enyia succinctly stated that it is not so much the issue of money which PHEDC has refused to pay, rather “The most annoying part of it is the extent of their inefficiency, because ordinarily if you
put out yourself, you have the expertise, technical competence and all of these to manage this type of company, why must you fail in your bid, why must you not provide the necessary things required to make that outfit excel? This they have failed to do.
“Our relationship is not symbiotic but parasitic against us as almost everything is coming from our side while not getting anything from them, the PHEDC. You can imagine, even the transformers, we are intervening sending transformers to their networks to a point that when we provide them with new transformers and we are not allow access to the old ones claiming that they are not our property again”.
The DG of SEA further explained that the major reason the governor source for investors is to turn around the fortunes of the state irrespective of the near depression state of the nation’s economy,
expressing joy that funds for the execution for the blanket coverage of all the communities of the state with electricity between now and end of the first tenure has been sourced by the pragmatic Governor Ben Ayade, hence the need for all political and community leaders to provide the necessary information about their communities to avoid blaming the government at the end of the day if their communities are left out of the exercise.
According to the DG of SEA, Dr. Enyia, the target is to ensure that the entire state is linked to the national grid by the end of the first tenure of his administration, not minding the various challenges
which include the inaccessible nature of some communities in the state. To this end, various stakeholders including Commissioners, other political appointees, and heads of councils, Paramount rulers, Clan Heads, Community Relations Officers and directors in SEA have been drafted into the process to ensure success at the end of the day.
Adding his voice to that of the DG, the Director, Projects, State Electrification Agency, Hon. Elesi Ibor Mbang, said that Cross Riverians should be grateful to God for giving them a leader as pragmatic as Senator Ayade, and stated the need for all to give their maximum support to the governor’s zero tolerance to darkness policy.
Again, Cross River has spent N12 Billion on electricity infrastructure between 20007 and 2015, while the current administration of Senator Ayade has so far procured 187 transformers and out of this number, 70 were distributed to serve Calabar Municipality and Calabar South, but the consistent and embarrassing epileptic power supply by PHEDC in the state capital, the near absence of complaint mechanism, shabby treatment of customers, collection of illegal monies from electricity consumers has never ceased to amaze any sane person in the state.
In Another pragmatic and people –oriented policy, modalities are currently on top gear by Governor Ayade to ensure that data on communities without electricity and those who need extension of the
facility are being gathered and compiled including reputable contractors who are to handle the various projects when they commence following due process between now and 3rd of June, 2017, while the
policy of zero tolerance to darkness is expected to be formally pronounced on May 29, 2017.
Recently the Internally Displaced People (IDP) of Bakassi had a feel of Governor Ben Ayade down-to-earth nature, love for the people and commitment to keep his promise and stand by the people. He laid the foundation for 5000 Housing of two bedroom flats, New Cities in remote places by Africa Nations Development Programme (ANDP), a subsidiary of World Nations Development Initiative, at Ikpa Nkanya Village, Akpabuyo on Saturday February 25, 2017.
Speaking at the occasion and in his usual characteristic, Governor Ben Ayade told the people that “Today is a special day to me. Today is the beginning of a new dawn when the people of the south, people of Bakassi, our own people, our sons and daughters, our fathers who have been displaced by no circumstances orchestrated by themselves, but are completely dislocated from their ancestral home, denied the pleasure of worship, denied the pleasure of decent accommodation, reduced to want in body and in spirit, just because they are from Cross River, just because they are from Bakassi, just because perhaps we are not strong enough to fight back. This level injustice we have opportunity by God’s own strength to reverse the trend. I come as a child from that humble beginning to say that we must all come together to make a difference, that difference must start now”.
Let’s get to the subject of today, what are we here for? Africa Nations Development Programme is a product of African Nations coming together to say Africans can only solve their problems within the
corridors and boundaries of Africa, and that is why we have a team here led by Amb. Samson who is here to say we want to do something, and the choice of Bakassi and how this programme came about; just seating back and watching me on the TV when I came to visit our brothers in the displaced location and saw me in tears and thought that oh they need to do something, and I’m happy that those tears and
groaning of mine and the budget provisions I made, God has brought somebody.
In my normal nature, when I make a commitment I will give my right eye to honor it, my team knows me that when I pronounced I must do it; If I pronounced it I must do it. Even as ANDP is here prepared to start,Cross River State will start before they start because I don’t want a groundbreaking ceremony that will take a long time before action will start.
It is natural, scientific agglutination that we must all come together and prove that indeed we have all to support them not just by doing the groundbreaking but also getting to the ground and starting the construction. The 2nd of March will be my birthday. On that birthday day which is Thursday next week, I want you all to return to this site, when you come to this site you will know that Ayade was here”.
True to his words, on March 2, 2017, Governor Ben Ayade was back at Ikpa Nkanya village of Akpabuyo, site of the 5000 Housing units of two bedroom flats to celebrate his 49th birthday with the displaced people of Bakassi. He not only kept his words by going back to celebrate and cut cake with them but went with assorted bags of food items, rice beans, noodles, toiletries among other items for the people.
Besides celebrating, dancing and cutting cake with the Bakassi returnees, Governor Ayade surprised all those who attended the occasion and also those who watched him in the television, as he cheerfully and ably assisted by his wife served the people as they queue to receive assorted and delicious meals from the governor and his wife.
As an individual, I must confess that I was amazed and humbled by Governor Ayade’s displayed of humility, down-to-earth attitude and show of charity. It is true that while some may dismiss this simple act of kindness and humility by Governor Ayade as mere pretense and political gimmick in preparation for 2019, nobody will sincerely deny the fact that Governor Ayade had fought aggressively at the floor of
the Senate on the side of the Bakassi people when he had no idea that he was going to become a governor, just as he had did many people-oriented programmes/projects when he was not a governor.
Undeniably, Governor Ben Ayade’s proactive steps to reverse the fortunes of the people of Bakassi is instrumental to the recent laying of foundation for the 5000 housing units of two bedroom flats by ANDP, an initiative of World Nations Development Initiative at Ikpa Nkanya that will provide a permanent home for the Bakassi people.
Again his show of kindness, humility to the Bakassi people at his birthday indicating that we are all involve in mankind and an injury to one is an injury to all stand him out as a man with the heart of gold, irrespective of what anybody may feel, say or the motive, Ayade has gone down the history as that leader of Cross River who came and took the problem of the Bakassi people as his personal problem as he talked and went ahead to fulfil his promise.
The determination of the young and energetic governor from Obudu to take legal action against Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) over the company’s poor services, cut throat bills which the people of the state are made to pay among other sundry issues is equally commendable and clearly show the governor as a leader with the interest of his people at heart and will be willing to go extra mile fighting to ensure they get their rights and privileges.
In the same vein, Governor Ayade’s policy aimed at linking all the communities of Cross River State between now and at the end of his first tenure in office is an initiative that will make the people of
Cross River remember him, besides his signature projects as the man who brought light to them,, just as they remember Donald Duke for Tinapa and the Obudu Ranch Resort and Senator Imoke for giving them
rural access roads.
This writer has once been accused by one of his lecturer friend that he was no longer the no nonsense and frank Solomon Asha he knew to be totally avert to sycophancy, as according to him I was now churning out mesmerizing write-ups on things which Ayade has done, when in the true sense he has done nothing.
I want to state that I have never been a sycophant and I don’t intend to be one now or in the future, but it is true that as a person my weak point is that (If actually is a weak point) when a man does what is right and embarks on an action so rare for some cocky men to do, such a man wins my heart.
It is also true that I’m one of those who stand by the governor when it comes to the issues of the super highway and Bakassi deep seaport. These are two projects I personally believe in and are projects when completed will turn around 360 degrees, the economic fortunes of the state, besides removing the cumbersomeness which travelers presently go through the Calabar-Ugep-Ikom-Ogoja Federal highway.
God Bless Cross River people.
Solomon Asha is a Special Assistant to Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River on Media and Publicity