When in his Inaugural Speech Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, Nigeria promised “We shall bring new vistas of hope by expanding the means of production, increasing access to capital and catalyzing our value chain” many critics dismissed this as mere rhetoric and were quick to say “we have heard all of these before”. Little did they know that Governor Ayade is a man who matches his words with action.
The governor eager to see to the realization of this commitment was quick to add that “Cross River State is full of potentials”, a vision pessimists were unable to see but rather went on to argue that all they see is a state deep in debt and with no hope for growth and development.
Both of these views are however valid depending on one’s mindset. The optimist says the glass is half full. The pessimist says the glass is half empty. Prof. Ben Ayade is an optimist.
Ten months into this administration, it has become clear to even the greatest pessimist that Cross River State; a state full of potentials is on a path to change these economic potentials to gains through an unmatched economic revolution. The state is set to achieve the kind of fast industrialization that has only been seen in places like Singapore and the Asian tigers in the early sixties.
Just like the economic success stories of Korea and Taiwan became known as the Miracle on the Han River and the Taiwan Miracle respectively, the economic success story in Cross River State is nothing short of a miracle which I will call the Cross River Miracle. Like Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, Benedict Bengioushuye Ayade is today’s architect of the Cross River Miracle.
The task of achieving economic transformation of Cross River State from a civil service economy to an industrialized economy in record time cannot be achieved by commonplace endeavor.
This then explains the extraordinary strategies of Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade of Cross River State to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), harness the potentials in the state which abound and catalyze the industrialization and economic development.
One of such strategies is the recent Governor Ayade’s investment drive of 10 countries in 4 weeks.
In the last four weeks Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade has travelled to about 10 countries including Germany, France, Switzerland, and Austria. Others include Belgium, United States of America, Mexico, United Arab Emirates were he visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
In his visit to these countries the governor has had the opportunity of engaging with leading investment companies and investors, attending investment and development conferences and inspecting blue chip companies, real estate and infrastructure. All of these are in a bid to attract Foreign Direct Investment to Cross River State.
Some of the sectors where the governor has successfully attracted Foreign Direct Investments to the state during this trip include power generation, tourism, banana export plantation, deep seaport and Infrastructure. Others are the super highway, education, solid mineral, cement plant, livestock and real estate.
These Foreign Direct Investments are worth billions of United States Dollars USD and are set to transform Cross River State to an industrialized economy. The report released by National Bureau of Statistics in February, 2016 indicates that Foreign Direct Investment fell in Nigeria by 82.84% in fourth quarter of 2015. In the same period however, the bureau reported net growth in Foreign Direct Investment to Cross River State.
The National Bureau of Statistics report stated that “For 2015 as a whole, the state to import the second largest amount of capital was Cross River State.” It further states “The state’s rank relative to the other states was primarily due to an investment of $40.00 million in the fourth quarter, which was twice as large as the total Capital imported for the year by any other state other than Lagos.”
It is expected that by the time the National Bureau of Statistics reports are released for the first, second, third and fourth quarters of 2016, Cross River State will lead every other state in terms of Foreign Direct Investment inflow and will help reverse the fall in FDI in Nigeria because of the effort of the digital governor of Cross River State, Sen. Prof. Benedict Ayade.
With such data, even the greatest pessimist and critic will agree that the state is on its way to revolutionary industrialization and economic development. This will also come with the creation of thousands of jobs for youths in the state and other spillover effects in the economy of the state.
To make this forecast clearer, let me try to give an insight into Foreign Direct Investment and its impact on economic development of the state. A foreign direct investment (FDI) is a controlling ownership in a business enterprise in one country by an entity based in another country. FDI usually involves participation in management, joint-venture, transfer of technology and expertise.
Foreign Direct Investment results in the transfer of soft skills through training and job creation, the availability of more advanced technology for the domestic market and access to research and development resources. Apart from capital inflow and these stated gains, Foreign Direct Investment impacts the host economy in a lot of other positive ways.
With inflow in Foreign Direct Investment in all the sectors listed, Cross River State is set to convert its economic potentials in agriculture, solid minerals, oil and gas, tourism, power and other sectors into economic strength which will drive industrialization, economic development, employment generation and foreign exchange earnings.
Even with all these success stories, Sen. Ben Ayade is not about to relent in his efforts to attract more investors to the state. Next on the governor’s itinerary is a trip to Israel for a Foreign Direct Investment opportunity in irrigation and agricultural infrastructure, a trip to Egypt for investment in manufacturing plant, a trip to Canada for an investment opportunity in the development of Education, a trip to Spain for investment in quarry and Italy for glass production from quartzite deposits.
It is worthy of note that the governor embarks on these trips with relevant stakeholders in the sectors like Commissioners, Director Generals of Agencies and Chairmen of Boards and they are involved in discussions and signing of Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs). As can be seen also, these investments and sectors they cover are well thought through and comprehensive.
For many who despair about the challenges the nation is presently facing; the dwindling price of oil and crumbling national economy, I bring you this inspiring story of Cross River State which is set to lead Nigeria out of the doldrums through economic diversification, Foreign Direct Investments, increased production and foreign exchange earnings in the non oil sector.
It has been asserted that Cross River State is divinely positioned to play a critical role in the economic rebirth of Nigeria and Africa. It is said that the map of Africa when turned around is like a gun and Cross River State is at the position of the trigger. It is thus also divine that Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade is sent to play this critical role at this time and these achievements will reverberate across the continent and inspire rebirth of economic development at all levels.
We say a big thank you to our digital governor Sen. Prof. Benedict Bengioushuye Ayade for his vision and commitment to drive this monumental development process in the state and the nation and for staying on course despite the distractions and discouragement of pessimists and critics.
We want you to know that there are many people who believe in your dreams and are standing behind you to ensure these dreams come true for the good of our state and our nation.
Emmanuel Etim is a development consultant based in Nigeria.
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