Last week, the action Governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben Ayade performed some very important state assignments that would be critical to the successful implementation of the state policy direction and development blueprint as marked out under his pragmatic leadership.
As part of his strong commitment towards the realization of setting up a special force called the “Green Police” to checkmate the activities of illegal loggers who had in the past few years ravaged about 6,000 hectares of the state forests, the Chief Technical Adviser of the Nigeria Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, REDD+ Programme, Mr. Allen Turner, was formally announced to Cross Riverians as Technical Adviser who will develop a practicable, workable framework and strategy to ensure that Cross River is REDD+ ready and compliant.
This was on the occasion of Mr. Turner visit to Ayade in his office accompanied by the Permanent Secretary, Forestry Commission, Dr. Mrs. Perpetua Aji, on Thursday.
The Brig. Gen. Mannix Nyiam led 5-man Security Task Force code-named “Operation Skolombo”, saddled with the onerous task of getting rid of criminals and criminal activities in Cross River State was also formally inaugurated by the visionary governor.
Other members of the Special Security Task Force, include Commissioner of Police, Mr. Lawrence Alobi(Rtd), Col. Ekanem Ikpeme (Rtd), Commissioner of Police, Bassey Inyang (Rtd), and Mr. Inyang Yibala, a security consultant.
Ayade equally received top brass of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), led by its Board Chairman and Cross River Born Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw accompanied by the commission’s Managing Director (MD), Barrister Dan Abia and the Commissioner representing Cross River State in NDDC, Hon. Paul Adah, at the governor’s office, where he frankly told them that Cross Riverians feel strongly shortchanged as a result of the circumstances which had befallen the state and that it is well known that it was no fault of theirs.
“The people of Cross River State feel strongly shortchanged because of the circumstances that befell us for no fault of ours and I thought that we would have had a particularly different classification”. In this occasion, Ayade also stressed the imperative of NDDC to endeavour to shift its attention from almost 100 percent emphasis on infrastructural development to the most lucrative investment based model as practiced by China, asserting that if profitable investment, revenue generation driven model had been the focus of the commission with the amount that had came into its coffers, paucity of funds in the agency would have been a thing of the past.
The Governing Council of the University of Calabar (UNICAL), with the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Council, Chief Dr. Emmanuel C. Iwuanyanwu, OFR, KSC, the Ahaejiagamba Ndigbo, at the head of the team followed by the Vice Chancellor, Professor James Epoke were also received by Governor Ayade.
Poised to rid the state capital of the increasing but embarrassing heaps of refuse/garbage along the streets of Calabar and restore it to its acclaimed status of being the cleanest in Nigeria, the state governor, Senator Ayade made good his promise to restructure the method of refuse collection in the state capital from removing garbage to locations in the streets to providing refuse bins to each compound where the refuse collectors will pick them from while the landlord of each compound will pay a little amount every month.
Towards realizing that objective, officials to carry out enumeration of houses in Calabar Municipality, Calabar South and the environs were selected and training commenced for that purpose.
Represented by his Chief Press Secretary/ Special Assistant Media (CPS/SA), Mr. Christian Ita and his deputy, Mr. Linus Obogo, the governor, Senator Ayade presented a 18-seater Toyota Hiace bus to the members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Cross River State Council led by the Chairman, Comrade Pastor Ndoma Akpet, who was accompanied by the council Secretary, Nsa Gill, and the Chairman of the Correspondent Chapel, Judex Okoro, thereby fulfilling the promise he made barely two weeks ago.
At the occasion of announcing the soon to be established special force tagged “Green Police” and Mr. Allen Turner as the Technical Adviser in charge of developing a workable framework, strategy for the state to be REDD+ ready and compliant, Ayade lucidly explained that besides working to protect our forests against the nefarious activities of illegal loggers, the Green Police to be made up of energetic young men and women will also be responsible for the management of the state forests resources, protection of the biodiversity, watershed as well as give complete value of our forests.
This was to aid in the proper utilization of the over one million hectares of forests reserved of the state to benefit communities in the state; hence the state was at the threshold of making history. He also averred that the state is undoubtedly known to be in the front-line in the business of forests conservation and management and that it was based on this reality that though climate change being a global menace, the state is playing its own sincere and germane part in aggressively tackling the threat with the “Green Police” designed to ameliorate and checkmate climate change and provide at least 1000 jobs for the youths in consonance with his administration vision and mission.
Inspite of the wanton and mindless destruction and devastation of about 6,000 hectares of our forests by greedy illegal loggers made up predominantly of non-indigenes of the state with connivance from dubious indigenes and the anti-deforestation task force that was supposed to protect our forests heritage leading to its disbandment recently, Cross River no doubt remained a blessed state with enormous forests resources which represents one of the global vista of rain forests (flora and fauna) in their natural habitat as were created by God, and holds great potentials to not only provide the state with the much needed cash and cherished foreign exchange, employment generation but will equally ameliorate the adverse effect of the ravaging climate change with its dreadful global warming, excessive rains and flooding, landslides and erosion among others.
The enormous forests potential of the state equally holds a large collection of leaves, barks, seeds, juices and fruits of trees and flowers that are medicinally beneficial to mankind, and that from time immemorial have been sustainably explored and exploited by our ancestors to better themselves, which saw them live long and even useful lives than we presently do in many aspects.
It can therefore be right to deduce that if well managed and protected as Ayade is committed to do, and with an effective collaboration with relevant stakeholders, organizations and industries, Cross River will sooner than later emerge as one of best global centres with reputable pharmaceutical companies where many of the drugs that would be more efficacious against our present day ravaging diseases/ailments, virus and destructive bacteria etc. will be manufactured.
As a leader with vast global experience who is consciously determined to totally change the story of Cross River and Cross Riverians for good through a deliberate provision of enabling environment for the public and private sectors to operate and establishment of sound investments in key areas which the state has comparative advantage in terms of complementary resources, Ayade is equally not unaware of the fact that no investment thrives successfully in the absence of a comprehensive security plan to safeguard lives and property.
Ayade equally realized the fact that the security situation in the state caused by the activities of armed robbers, kidnappers, oil bunkers, the menace called “Skolombo boys and Lacasera girls”, house burglars, pick pockets and others as he came to meet them will inhibit his development plan for the state, hence the need to come up with policy that will help to address these challenges.
It is based on these anti-social, anti-harmonious and unacceptable activities of this class of individuals in our midst that governor Ayade recently sent a Bill to the Cross River House of Assembly (CRHA) seeking for an enactment of a law which will make kidnapping a punishable offence by death and the property of convicted kidnappers seized by the state government.
It is equally based on this premise that the governor recently promised to set up a Security Committee code-named, “Operation Skolombo” headed by Brig. Gen. Mannix Nyiam (Rtd) and was formally inaugurated last week with a mandate to rid the state of criminals and all forms of criminal activities, bearing in mind that other states have taken tough position against criminal elements in their areas and that if Cross River remain indifferent, then the state will definitely become a haven for the retreating criminals from other states to congregate and carry on their evil activities unimpeded.
This therefore makes the setting up of the security committee a sine qua non, imperative now that the state is up with a new agenda to transform and change the concept of governance from the hitherto policy of government having nothing to do with business initiative to where government will equally be a business concerned.
“You are aware that we have great ideas in key signature projects. The intention is that those projects will create a new economy that can sustain our people and give us independence. All of these things in our plan, political and economical, they would amount to nothing if we don’t have the right security in place…because Cross River State is leading that new thinking where government must do business in order that we keep our people in business, we must build the fulcrum of our security to sustain that which we will build”.
The coming into being of the special force called the Green Police, the commissioning of Mr. Allen Turner as technical adviser to develop a workable framework and strategy to firmly establish the state as REDD+ ready and compliant, the inauguration of the state committee on security code-named “Operation Skolombo” to completely root out criminal and criminal activities from our state as well as to prevent such criminal elements to come from other states to have a safe haven here, with the Bill sent by Governor Ayade to the CRHA to make kidnapping a punishable offence by death with the confiscation of convicted kidnappers property clearly reveals Ayade as a man who is daily accomplishing the good programmes and projects he had verbally promised.
It equally indicates that he is a man in the threshold of history, striding on steadily and confidently, carrying along his people, Cross Riverians to the glory in which the all knowing creator fore-ordained the state as an entity and the people as individuals to become.
Ayade’s great passion that government should be fully involved in doing business for the overall good of the ordinary person is certainly not unconnected with his nature and his background, as he once stated, “I know my root”. This goes to confirm the Latin statement, “Lupus non mordet lupum”, meaning that “a wolf does not bite a wolf”, yet he is not afraid of a barking dog (criminals) hence he is ready to confront them headlong through Operation Skolombo and the Green Police for the well being of his brothers and sisters.
Frankly, Governor Ayade carries with him light in the mind to light the world (Lux mentis lux orbit) which will equally light the life of man (the people of Cross River Sate), (Lux hominum vita). The summum bonum of the matter is that Ayade came into politics not as an opportunist to milk the people dry but to serve and nourish them with all the nutrients within his disposal, that we and our forests which are the base of our lives support on mother earth may breath a new lease of life and be free from suffocating criminal activities and illegal loggers; he bears “Libertas, justitias and veritas” (Liberty, justice and truth) to all and for all.
This man is certainly keeping the momentum and moving Cross River State in the right direction!
Solomon Asha is a Special Assistant on Media to Governor Ayade and writes from Calabar
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