By Our Editorial Team
Friday May 29, 2015 will mark the beginning of a tough and rigorous path of shepherding and attending to the destinies of over three million Cross Riverians for Senator Ben Ayade as he officially takes over the political leadership of the state.
The final road to this day was achieved on Saturday, April 11, 2015 when the people of the state overwhelmingly voted to give him their mandate and to place their destinies in his hands for the next four years.
The euphoria of election victory and the joy of going down in history as being listed among those who once presided over the leadership of Cross River state, to us in CrossRiverWatch will end with the formal inauguration of Ayade as the third elected governor of the state since the beginning of the fourth republic.
The new governor, Senator Ben Ayade and his Deputy, Professor Ivara Esu should fold their red carpet, pack back the remaining Champagne bottles and the glasses to settle down immediately for the real business of leading and giving direction to people who are in a hurry to develop because they are yet to get maximum benefits from the resources which God placed on their lands.
Sixteen years journey for the state presided over by two former governors, Duke and Imoke, eight years each from May 29, 1999 – May 29, 2015, experienced some level of change, but that change was a far cry from what is expected as that change or development imparted very little on the lives of the people; rather left them with a huge debt burden.
It is based on this reality that in as much as we in CrossRiverWatch felicitate with Ayade and his deputy for taking over the mantle of leadership of the state, we warn and insist that the privilege to lead a people is not also an opportunity to embark on the path of frivolities and other activities that tickles the vanities and the animal passion of the leaders, and their families only, to the detriment of the society.
The people of the state had experienced this aimless path in the past, and have had enough of this ruinous corridor. We therefore venture to propose a development agenda for the new leadership of the state for consideration:
1. AGRICULTURE: We are a people blessed with enormous agricultural resources, but which unfortunately are not fully harnessed to benefit the people. The government of Ayade should deliberately go into wholesome, sustainable and environmentally friendly mechanized farming; creating small holders farm cooperatives to be managed by Cross Riverians. No efforts should be spared in sending Cross Riverians to be trained in all the modern skills in every aspect of agriculture (fishery, poultry, horticulture among others). Cottage industries should be located according to the natural endowment of particular areas.
2. EDUCATION: The growth and development of any society can only be measured by the strength of its educational system. It is based on this premise that we recommend that adequate attention should be paid to the development of our educational system from the cradle to the university and post university levels, encouraging all relevant educational subjects and courses. We also strongly emphasized that deliberate and concerted efforts should be made to fish out Cross Riverians and send them to the Central Bank Enterpreneurial Development Center in Calabar and other relevant places for courses and skills acquisition in diverse artisanship like carpentry/furniture making, plumbing work, home/industrial air conditioner fitting and repairs, electronics and electrical works, automobile mechanics, vulcanizing work, aluminums and panel doors fitting, all aspects of ICT, etc. this will help to ensure that the middle class economy of the state is managed and controlled by the people of the state.
3. FORESTS CONSERVATION: Cross River is blessed with rich forest potentials and harbors the world’s second largest rain forest. It is however sad that 90 percent of timber logged from our forests is carried out by non-indigenes in connivance with some unpatriotic indigenes and very little goes to the government or the owners of the forests in terms of revenue. Greater attention must be paid to our vast forests. The new government itself should manage the forests in such a sustainable manner that every one tree fell, several others should be planted for the good of our environment and the people.
4. TOURISM: The much touted tourism industry in the state is still been sustained from the lean resources of the state government regardless of the fact that the sector can by itself potentially bail the state out of its financial strait if properly positioned. Experts say tourism in the state has the capacity to generate billions of dollars in revenue for the state and the state must evolve a private sector led strategy that will revamp our toursim drive and generate revenue for the state and not the state spending money to preserve our tourism business. Efforts should be made to revive the flight route to the Obudu ranch resort early into this administration, to make the tourist hub accessible to both local and international revellers.
5. HEALTH AND MEDICAL TOURISM: A people who are healthy are great wealth to any nation, just the way medical tourism has become a very dependable source of foreign exchange earner for countries like India, China, Israel and other advanced western countries. Developing our health institution/facilities to a standard that will earn the trust and respect of people within the state and other states of the federation and the rest of Africa will attract traffic of persons seeking medical attention to our shores thereby boosting our medical tourism revenue. Because of the vast expanse of rural Cross River, the new government should also improve on the Primary Health Care policy of the outgoing administration and improve facilities in the health centers across the state. The welfare of the community health workers and their training as well as supervision should also be a priority as they serve as the first point of call for most poor persons in the state who are far flung from the city centers where the big hospitals are located.
6. FILLING CROSS RIVER QUOTA AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL: It is an established fact that positions meant for Cross River state have in the past been taken over by people from other states of the federation, Ayade must not allow this to continue. An aggressive effort should be made to move people from the state civil service to the federal level while making sure that the state gets her fair share of every fresh recruitment/employment by any federal establishment/outfit.
7. A FULL STOP TO RECYCLING: Ayade’s administration should as a matter of policy direction inject a completely new set of Cross Riverians who are capable and qualified into the State Executive Council. Cross Riverians desire that fresh persons should be given the opportunity to serve the state, because there is nobody that is indispensable. The tradition where several individuals continue to be recycled as if the state lacks other competent persons has not only become embarrasing, it has also stalled development and denied the state of new initiative.
8. RECRUITMENT INTO THE STATE CIVIL SERVICE: Our findings reveal that if nothing is urgently done to address the dearth of personnel currently in the state civil service, then in the next five to seven years, the service will be completely empty. The civil service remains the engine room for the implementation of government policy. For the Ayade government to achieve its set goals, they must be deliberate efforts to reform the state civil service and position them for the challenges of modern governance.
9. MAKE PUBLIC THE DEBT PROFILE OF THE STATE AS INHERITED: We and the people of the state and Nigerians who love Cross River state demand that the administration of Ayade should as a matter of urgency and policy make public the amount of debt inherited from the immediate past administration. Our people reserve the right to know how their collective wealth has been spent and the burden of debt placed on their heads and those of their children by those they had trusted with their votes. This will not be doing the citizens a favor but doing what is right and proper.
10. MEDIA FRIENDLY AND TRANSPARENT/ACCOUNTABLE ADMINISTRATION: Any administration that wants to succeed and have the confidence of the people must not only run a transparent, accountable and God fearing administration, treating all equally with respect based on facts and truth, but must also work very closely with the Press, especially the online media in this ICT controlled age. Cross River State over the years has been media disadvantaged and hardly do you see our state in the media unless occasionally and usually for the wrong reasons. Because of this, Ayade’s Government must also deliberately make efforts to encourage the growth of home grown media outfits that will be able to tell the Cross River story by ourselves. State owned media organizations in particular must be reorganized to meet the challenges of modern journalism and projecting the state to the world. Cross State government officials are notoriously media shy and are always unwilling to talk to the media about government policies. Ayade must put a stop to this and make it clear to his executives that the media has a constitutional role to hold government accountable to the people and a responsibility to bridge the gap between government and the people.
We wish Ayade and his team the best of 4 years in the hot seat, while warning him to beware of the very savvy cancerous political scavengers and opportunists constantly fueled by feckless ego to make others demons, themselves saints in the eyes of those in power only to turn around to destroy those they had tricked.
May God bless Cross River and guide and direct you, Governor Ayade.
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