When Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade assumed office about twenty three months ago, most Cross Riverians had expected that his 2015 elections mantra, “Politics with Ethics” would translate to his administrative mantra positively. A lot was said about his pattern of politics which he promised would be built around solid political ethics.
Although, Ayade didn’t really define his political ethics, a mention of ethics in Nigeria largely depicts principle, objectivity, fairness and a classical departure from doing things wrongly. Anything that’s right and pleasing to the people is seemly taken to be ethical in Nigeria.
However, ethics realistically is not just about what is good. It means rules of behavior based on what is morally good or bad. This means that what may be morally good for one person might be bad to another. This explains why scholars believe that ethics is not universal.
The current situation in Cross River State can clearly tell the kind of ethics Ayade has brought to the state. Things that usually were strange to Cross Riverians have today formed part of Ayade’s ethical politics code named “Ayadeism”.
The concept, promoted by the Secretary to the State Government, Barrister Tina Agbor is celebrated almost like a religion by Ayade’s supporters. Every major street in Calabar has a boldly decorated billboard promoting the “Ayadeism” which pundits have interpreted to mean the governor’s brand of politics.
The ethics has however taken Cross River state to over 16 years backward. Ayadeism is a brand that every patriotic Cross Riverian should publicly speak against. It may not necessarily need the masses to wait till 2019 to revolt against it, current happenings indicate that revolt is the only option left to guide us against the eminent calamity pulse by this inglorious brand.
Although there are several instances and situations to be cited on why this infant and juvenile concept should be fought head on, the deteriorating security situation in the state and the low standard of living generally should motivate well meaning Cross Riverians to demand a review of Ayade’s ethics or better still sue him to simply lead the state without ethics.
Before people come with the narrative that the country is in recession that is why the standard of living is below poverty level, it is pertinent to note that most creative governors have come out to disassociate their states from recession. A few of them are neighboring Ebonyi, Anambra, Lagos etc.
Citizens in these states are obviously enjoying the dividends of democracy compared to the mirage in Cross River.
In Cross River, things have reached an all time low. In fact, top government officials including Commissioners are even the prime victims of this brand which can also contextually mean the “Ethics of Mama Put and insecurity”. Many appointees can no longer eat in places that befit their status or feed their family like they should.
For instance, the background surrounding the abduction of the State Water Resources Commissioner, Mr. Gabriel Odu-Oji is so sad that it would have been avoided. How can a Commissioner, married with kids be forced by poor remuneration to “regularly” patronize “Mama Put” as reported in the media?
It is reported that the Commissioner traveled many kilometers all the way from Ekpo Iso, Ikot Ansa in Calabar Municipality where he stays to Calabar South to buy “Mama Put”. Almost everybody within and outside Calabar know that Calabar South is a dead zone and haven for criminals, so only condition can make him take this risk.
Perhaps, it could be that Ayade, despite all the influx of funds from the federal government into the state has refused to pay Commissioners and other appointees their due thereby denying them the chance of eating in a secured environment or even cooking good food in their houses. They now patronize local road side “Mama Put” restaurants in far away Calabar South.
For a Commissioner to go that far despite all the good restaurants and eateries around his residence shows how terrible their situation is. Oji is just one of many.
It won’t be out of place if this government is described as a government of “Mama Put”. The popular mama put joint in Mobil filling station by MCC has almost become an official restaurant for Ayade’s appointees. Go there between 8-10Am, 98% of people you see there struggling to N200 food are all Ayade’s appointees.
Surprisingly, many of them don’t patronize these places because they want to interact with the common people but because that’s what they can afford. In fact, many have opened credit book across all the mama puts joints in Calabar. A situation many have suspected that lured Oji to Calabar South where he was kidnapped.
For the sake of clarity, this piece is not in any way condemning the decision of government officials to patronize local restaurants but attempting to look into the intentions rather than the act. Is it wrong for even a governor to eat in roadside restaurant? No! The stomach infrastructure propounder, Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State does it regularly.
If it is not wrong, then what is the big deal about it? This is the question that is more interesting to the writer. To answer this, questions like; Are they patronizing the mama put because of the size of their pockets? Is Ayade properly taking care of the welfare of his appointees? Is their intention to come down to grassroots?, etc.
When you consider that many of them buy on credit even though they eat in mama put which is relatively cheaper than food in eateries or good restaurants, you would understand that there’s more to their sudden addiction to mama put than meet the eyes.
As government officials, especially in a state where kidnapping, armed robbery, gangstarism have taken over the day, no reasonable government person would put his life on the line by “regularly” patronizing a local food vendor like the current situation in the state. The masses can freely do anything because they may not have kidnap value as compared to government officials.
Ayade’s lackluster attitude to the welfare of his appointees should be addressed. If the government can no longer take care of the battalion of appointees which is very obvious, the self-styled ‘digital’ governor should reduce his cabinet to a level that the state can properly carter for.
The abduction of a commissioner who has all the access to security in a broad day light is a bad omen to the reputation of the state. It is a complete ridicule of the tourism and industrialization drive of the State.
No foreign or local investor would risk investing in a state where even government officials are kidnapped and robbed like ordinary citizens without security cover.
Last year, it was the deputy governor who suffered the highest security assault. Apart from the report that he was reportedly held hostage by militants, his convoy was attacked which allegedly left one of his security details dead.
Now, it’s no more the deputy, it’s Commissioner. If all mama put commissioners or government official are kidnapped, one day Cross River state may have no single appointee.
Of course, there may be political inclination to what is happening. Already, members of the opposition All Progressive Congress are beginning to raise alarm that the ruling People’s Democratic Party may be behind this.
There are insinuations that the real target may not be government officials as they are planning a mass kidnap of APC Chieftains during the Local Government elections. So, this may be happening so that nobody would suspect government or PDP when APC is kidnapped.
Howbeit, whether this is a ploy or not, the welfare of Government officials must be given priority. This would help them reduce the risk of going all the way to Calabar south to source for cheap mama put.
Government should show more commitment in fighting crime. If government officials who enjoy all manner of security coverage and immunity are no longer safe in their own state, then I wonder the fate and hopes of the poor and armless masses.