If I were to generate what we refer to as impact assessment in process evaluation on the effect of Governor Ben Ayade’s actions and inaction’s in government house barely 96 hours, or 40 work hours, to be objective and without biase, I would definitely grade him excellent.
If I had graded him earlier before he announced payment of salaries, I may have graded him lower. As he rightly pointed out, a laborer deserves his pay. Cross River State is a civil service state, no amount of project initiatives will make meaning to the people if salaries are not paid.
Ayade’s order to pay May salaries immediately shows he is human and identifies with the sufferings of the poor. For every month salaries are delayed, children go to school hungry, some civil servants walk to work, some sick families cannot afford medication, and failure to pay salaries comes with a viral effect as it affects relatives in the villages who depend on their city relatives for support.
While we applaud his activities first 96 hours, we would respectfully remind him to include our retired parents and their pensions and gratuity plight in his line of public comments and public expectations next week.
His decision to dualize a new road through Oban-Ikom-Obudu, though difficult to comprehend within the time frame, is welcomed. The garment factory initiative, rice factories, training youths on construction programs in Abu-Dhabi, inspecting work at Convention center and finally, locking the gates to late comers on day one in office is a sign that it is no longer business as usual.
Ayades first few appointments are impressive too. Before now, I have wondered if he will be his own man from day one in office. So far, he is proving to be his own man. His decision to pull together some of his party youths who were also vocal voices on Facebook to form his media team is encouraging. It shows he appreciates the power of social media.
While Ben Ayade may be very enthusiastic about new projects and moving the state forward, we would implore him not to abandon the huge capital projects Imoke left behind. We would need to see a definite plan on how the Convention Center will be sustained upon completion.
We would like to see a definite plan for the Ranch, We would like to see a definite plan for the Carnival which is beginning to lose momentum if the last carnival is anything to go by, we would like to see a definite plan for job creation resulting from public private partnerships and private sector re-engineering as against more government hires.
A civil service state would require bureaucrats to make projects succeed. We would like to see a more informed bureaucracy and computer savvy public servants, effective and efficient in project delivery.
While training youths to learn construction is welcomed, training youths on how to build, repair and install solar panels on rooftops, installing solar boreholes, solar refrigerators, solar powered gadgets and phone chargers will be learned easier and make these youths financially independent within a shorter time in a country were power supply is a big market.
I would implore Governor Ayade to focus more on making the Ranch functional. If you consider that education tourism alone of Nigerians schooling in Ghana is a 70 billion naira industry yearly, and the growth of real estate on Ghanaian beaches and prime locations from Nigerian politicians is a multi-billion Naira industry, then we should reason, that Obudu Cattle Ranch can be a resort of choice where Nigeria’s stolen wealth can find a place of refuge and investment if we can get it right on the drawing board of development.
The Ranch Scenery is more beautiful than the best beaches were real estates are sited for attractions. More so, nothing stops us from creating an artificial beach within and around the Ranch. I can sign my signature on this project, that if properly executed will change the face of Cross River State.
Obudu Ranch has all the natural attractions to be one of the world’s best resorts with good planning and smart thinking. In the past, I have suggested the establishment of a snow city and artificial snow makers installed on the Ranch Mountains, comparable to the types in Atlanta Georgia’s Stone Mountain during winter. New snow makers for temperate weathers and regions has recently been designed in Japan. We can comfortably key into that market.
It will be an understatement to ascertain the high number of Nigerians from all walks of life who would visit the Ranch to feel, touch and play with snow. The massive investments we did with Tinapa and the Convention center with corresponding debts, if these investments were applied to the ranch, to develop it as a first class national resort, with transport accessibility, real estate, education and cultural tourism, anticipated income to the investment would have placed the states revenue on blue long time ago.
If the ranch can operate at full capacity, including real estate, conferencing, cultural tourism, higher education tourism, and much more, we can build one of the best city resorts in Africa of all times. The problem we have had is every Governor initiates new projects rather than investing on signature projects of their predecessors.
The dualization of the Oban-Ikom-Obudu highway if actualized, though it will create easy transportation to northern destinations, the most important project beneficiary of the dualized road if executed will be the proposed Ranch City.
So far we have not seen Ben Ayade’s economic plan, although he said his two signature projects within the next four years are the dualization of the roads and the Seaport, however, though I disagreed and faulted the seaport project based on my understanding of economic logistics on how services drive projects rather than projects driving services.
If I were to suggest three key signature projects for Ben Ayade I would rather suggest the dualization of the road, the Ranch City and finally human capacity development through private sector initiatives to spur job creation.
Government is a continuum, we cannot solve all the problems within 48 months, but we can give the state a definite development road-map that can stand the test of time within 48 months.
Once again, congrats to Governor Ayade for your first week in office, you have definitely created an impression, keep the touch burning.
Odidi Princewill is a Project Management Consultant residing in Atlanta USA.