Ben Ayade: We The People Will Understand BY PRINCEWILL ODIDI

In Breaking News, Columnists, National News, Opinion, Politics
Princewill Odidi
Princewill Odidi

The primary elections may have been bungled, the general elections may have been unfair in its conduct, the PDP may have shown undue arrogance and outright intimidation on the voting population, but at the end of the day, a Governor emerged, he may not have been the best of the twenty two, but I think he is best enough to move the state forward.

Ayade within days of assuming office instructed that salaries should be paid 25th of every month. While some may not see this as great feat, I respectfully disagree, because he would have chosen to be greedy and hold back salaries as his predecessors did, on the assumption that the state is broke.

I am not an apologist for the Peoples Democratic Party, but I threw my support on the emergence of Ben Ayade as Governor, not because he is my brother, friend or enemy, but because I felt his welfare programs as Senator which expressed what I will term “Compassion Politicking” deserved an applause and a reward for a higher office.

On assuming office, Ben has made several promises and programs with timelines. While some promises have been kept like paying salaries timely, others appear to be too assuming.

From the garment factory to the superhighway and to the seaport, these are laudable, but the premises to achieve these projects are built on very weak platforms. They are built on economic variables beyond the governor’s control.

Lesson number one for Ben Ayade: Do not make economic assumptions on variables that are beyond your control, like massive infrastructural development in the face of the economic realities in the state, for while the intentions maybe genuine, inability to meet these expectations can make or mar your development blueprints.

I would call on the Governor to immediately form his government. This is very important because the State Executive Council’s consent is required for Capital Projects to be funded.

Lesson number two: Don’t give room for political and legal challenges to your economic projects by non-compliance with due process. It is important that the State Executive Council is carried along and the signature projects are considered collective effort of the new government, rather than a personal vision. The second reason the governor needs to carry along his cabinet is because in the event of projects failure, he would not take the blame alone as an individual but as a group.

On the Seaport, while it is a laudable project, I would advise the governor to take a careful look on a second opinion. The governor should conduct a new feasibility study based on new emerging realities that happened a few weeks now that may impact the functionality and profitability of our seaport.

Please, Governor Ayade, consider the following: If the basis for the new Seaport was built on the assumed congestion in Lagos Port or the need to create a South South corridor with Northern states and countries that are land locked, then please, take a second review of new developments.

If the need for the Seaport is South South and South East, please consider road infrastructure and cargo evacuation from Calabar, and the fact that the current rail system in Nigeria ends at Aba. Ibaka may serve Aba better or Onitsha through their proposed highway via Umuahia.

The Port Harcourt – Kano Rail line became operative this week. The Lagos Kano rail line is operative. Lagos is building a new deep seaport, and Ibaka deep seaport is underway. It is easier and more efficient for Northern states and land locked countries to freight their cargo via rail either from Port Hacourt or Lagos to Kano, rather than Calabar to Kano even with the best super highways.

I would strongly suggest a rethink and re-evaluation and if possible, a new feasibility studies on the pending deep seaport in Calabar. This thinking is purely based on economic sustainability in the long term.

Please, Governor Ayade, if you decide to make a change of plan on this project, we the people will not hold it against you, we understand promises are made, but we also understand amendments can be made to accommodate new and unforeseen realities.

Lesson Number three: A good leader listens to intellectual advice and treats with respect opposing view rather than shutting them out.

On the Superhighway, I would support this project over and over again even if it will double the states’ debts. This project is necessary to open development prospects in Northern Cross River especially the Ranch. I would suggest the governor puts in place a plan “B” in the event plan “A” fails.

Cross river State Ministry of Works with her local engineers, surveyors and technicians have been in operations for over four decades. It can rightly be deduced that after four decades, they should be able to construct a super highway locally even if they have to increase technical capacity. The superhighway must not be completed in four months, it can still be completed gradually in four years using internally generated income and still receive the requisite popular applause.

On the garment factory, it is a great project. But in business development, successful businesses are those that grow gradually. Please, there should be no hurry in completing the factory, follow smart business practices, study the market, study the demand, review the proposed challenges, and allow the market demands determine the number of hires.

The focus on the garment factory should be sustainability and not the making of a political point. Please, the garment factory should not be considered a first 100 days delivery, too many mistakes would be made and the goal defeated. We the people will understand with you and work with you if you cannot achieve this goal within 100 days as promised. Please, take your time and do it the right way.

Lesson number four: You are not under any obligation to complete any capital projects within your first hundred days. Paying salaries timely is enough achievement for your first 100 days.

Finally, as I have advised earlier, human capacity development and job creation should be given preference in your administration. However, rushing to create employments without a plan on how these jobs can be sustained is both political and economic suicide.

Constitute your government immediately, bring on board the right team, also bring on board those that disagree with you on policy, for the true value of a coin is only when you look at it on both sides.

I will not over labor this matter, you are barely 60 days in office. You did not inherit a state that is broke, but you inherited a state with great capacity, potentials and possibilities. Make use of these possibilities and in a transparent way.

The best thing I can do to you and your new government is to tell you the truth exactly as it is. I don’t desire any political or economic advantage from your administration rather than a desire to see the state move forward, and to see a better life for our people. Pay more attention to meeting the people’s needs than scoring political points.

You have no obligation to start big, you can start small and achieve great things. Don’t push yourself too hard to prove a point, you can make a point without proving it.

Come out openly and let the people know the true state of the economy, for this will reduce their expectations on you. If the signature projects are looking challenging, don’t push yourself too hard just to please the people or to fulfill your promises.

We the people will understand. Your being able to meet up with staff salaries is good enough for your first 100 days. Form your cabinet now, and let your signature projects be a collective effort and not a private dream.

Princewill Odidi is a development Consultant writing from Atlanta USA. (princewillodidi@yahoo.com)

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