The act of leadership and being in a position of power and authority is not all about dishing out orders and commands here and there to subordinates and expecting them to perform miracles which the leader himself could not perform. Being a leader at any position of authority takes more than exuding an air of importance and playing God in a mortal frame. Certainly, the quality of a good leader does not include building a high fence as solid as the hitherto Berlin walls to cordon the mass off; just as turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to the cries and plights of the common people is equally not part of what a true leader and leadership consists.
A truthful and faithful leader is aware that beyond the paraphernalia of power and authority, getting one’s desire at the beckoning of a finger, giving barking orders, getting irredeemably enmeshed with acquiring wealth in an insatiable manner at the expense of the poor and feeding the people with lies all the way is abysmally, a debased and animalistic form of leadership which is derived, not from the altruistic/holistic, highest morals/ethics which reflects the pure divine mind and the pure light of God, but the exact opposite force, whose eternal work is to bring upon mankind sufficient misery.
A Leader and leadership that is conscious of the reality that power and authority does not exist in a vacuum devoid of the people, and as such drives policies deliberately and passionately targeted at the overall common good of the ordinary people, leading them with high level of empathy, human feelings and charismatic touch, consciously eliminating to obscurity, actions and utterances that tickles the vanity and empty ego of many leaders and has always been their Achilles heel, represents the spirit of common humanity from common ancestors and the creator, God; here lies the difference between a good and bad leader and leadership.
One of the leaders of our generation who right from the onset when he was given the political mandate to shoulder the leadership of his people, the good people of Cross River state, and has in words and actions proven that the core ethics of a true leader and leadership necessarily revolves and derives its strength and legitimacy from the people, and as such they deserve to be accorded all the respect, shouldering their problems as his personal problems is the Governor of cross River, Senator Ben Ayade.
If anyone had any doubt as regards the integrity/sincerity of Senator Ben Ayade’s administration, especially concerning his pro-people policies and programs, then such an individual or individuals lacks any justification now with the glaring and self-evidence utterances of Governor Ayade which have been consistently reduced to concrete actions, coupled with his leadership which has a deeper spot for empathy toward the voiceless in the society; nothing can speak more aggressively and eloquently for any man than a heart that feels, an ear that listens and eye that sees and does not hesitate or is not ashamed to express physical emotions with the poor of the earth.
In one of these occasions while addressing the displaced people of Bakassi, hearing from them and seeing the condition under which they lived, the soft-hearted Governor of Cross River threw protocol aside and allowed emotions, human nature to have their course as he openly wept.
The kind hearted Obudu born number one citizen of Cross River did not just said words and expressed emotions but had before now, traveled to the city of Dortmund, Germany and arranged a fruitful collaboration that will build 300 houses for the people of Bakassi in a location to be decided by the people themselves. This is a clear indication and direction of a leader and leadership that is not just anxious about driving a process of development that will rake in only money but also that which brings no profit but will bring comfort to the neglected people of Bakassi.
There can be no act that is humanly and divinely more touching and strikes at the very essence of humanity, attracts the favour of God than for a governor to drive pass and see an old woman returning from the farm looking dejected, and tired and immediately ordered his convoy to stop, went out, greeted her and lifted her spirit that day with a sum she may not have expected to touch for a long time. This is kindness and compassion by a man in authority in real sense of it, showing an actual call to duty, duty to care for the neglected section of the society; it cannot be interpreted otherwise honestly by anybody.
Weeks back, Governor Ayade trekked more than 12 kilometers through the streets of Calabar and interacted with the people, sharing groundnut, bread and beverages with the ordinary people and hawkers and at the same time transforming the fortunes of some of them by boosting their capital. There is nothing that can be so warming and enlivening for the ordinary man than for a governor going through the streets freely mixing with them sharing jokes, shaking their hands, speaking pidgin English with them. No man can convince the people that Ayade does not have a heart of a gold.
Going further to show that his heart is after the down-trodden of the society, Governor Ayade recently signed into law the Cross River State Health Insurance Bill, christened, “AyadeCare”, and lucidly made provisions in the law that unequivocally exempted the aged, the poor, the physically and mentally challenged, people below 18 years and pregnant women from paying the monthly One Thousand (N1000) Naira and yearly Twelve Thousand (N12,000) Naira premium required by the law for all Cross Riverians and other Nigerians resident in Cross River to pay to be able to access the health insurance scheme. Unlike the other forms of Insurance premiums, the Cross River Health Insurance covers all forms and types of sicknesses, diagnosis, surgery, consultations and medications among others for the said amount a year, which clearly reveals the heart of the man behind the policy; the man, Ayade.
Barely three weeks before the signing of the Health Insurance Bill into law, the Cross River governor had signed into law the Cross River State Home-Land Safety and Security Services bill code-named, “Operation KBM”; The Primary Health Care Development Agency; Environment and Carbon Emission; Equal Opportunity and Gender Based Discrimination; Greater Calabar Development Agency; Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) Amendment; Harmonized Levies; and Roads Infrastructural Maintenance Development bills, haven hitherto assented to 14 making a total of 24 laws including the Health Insurance law in less than two years. Recently, the Federal Government which started the National Health Insurance Scheme years back commended the Cross River State Government under Governor Ayade for the uniqueness of the Cross River Health Insurance Scheme, “AyadeCare”.
Another pro-people Bill is already before the State House of Assembly which when passed will give legitimacy and legal backing to the activities of hawkers, and will only regulate the trade. Hawkers are everywhere in Nigeria being chased about by the authority that they should not hawk to provide food in the table for their dependents. Here in Cross River, Ayade is thinking otherwise because he is of the strong view that a government that denies people from hawking without providing them with an alternative to survive is pushing the people too hard.
As part of his deep love for the people and the desire to make life bearable for Cross Riverians in this period of national economic downturn, Ayade ordered the payment of Local Government staff salaries, with a firm assertion that he, Ayade will rather pay a ghost worker than to allow the workers to continue to suffer in the name of verification/screening. Nothing can be more touching, and driven by human spirit and compassion for the workers and their dependents.
Tiberius Caesar, a military commander, statesman, Roman Emperor between 14AD and 37AD, son of Nero and adopted son of Octavian who later became Augustus, is reputed to have always warned his regional commanders against taxing the populace excessively by stating that “it is a good shepherd’s job to shear the flock, not to flay them” (boni pastoris est tondere pecus non deglabere). Governor Ayade displays this act of not flaying his flock but rather keep them in proper care and grooming through his tax exemption policy, prompt payment of salaries and his choice of promoting social services/welfare programs at the time of economic recession as against the popular route of cutting down on social services/welfare as many would gladly do because they do not produce financial returns to the coffer.
Ayade is striving and driving steadily to transform the entire face of the Cross River State economy from the doldrums of civil service and a people hitherto not in the reckoning in the scheme of things in Nigeria, including changing the people’s mindsets to have faith in themselves, making use of their God given brains, the greatest of all riches; giving them firm confident that the stars would only surely incline them but would not for sure bind them in their deliberate march and quest for greatness.
The essence behind Ayade’s desire for leadership at this level which God has graciously granted him may have been completely or remotely oblivious to many, but as the days go by, the results of such a desire are ubiquitously glaring in the state by words and concrete actions, justifying the saying that the cause is hidden but the result is well known (causa latet vis est notissima). It is for this reason that the more detractors labor in vain to pull the administration of Ayade off the track, the more he labors to “overcome evil with good” (bono malum superate).
It is in tone with the divine law that so long as Ayade continues in the right path, despite whatsoever reasons some persons may read behind his actions, sincerely the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind should be guilty (actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea). Ayade works are no longer in dispute to majority of cross Riverians, as you don’t speak against the sun, that is against an obvious fact (adversus solem ne loquitor), it is only the devil’s advocates (advocatus diabolic) that does that.
Again, endeavoring to redo that which has been done(actus ne agas), especially acts done with all mount of altruistic tendencies is striving to kick against the pricks, the result would be obvious.
Ayade will continue to do great exploits because he possesses a firm mindset committed to the good of the common man, and holds tenaciously to the saying that “I will either find a way or make one” (aut viam inveniam aut faciam). Ayade has consistently proven that he has what it takes to be an effective manager of men and resources by his words and action to the chagrin of some, though young. However the truth is that “a beard doesn’t make one a philosopher (barba non facit philosophum), hence it is not by grey hair and long beards that good leaders and leadership emerges, but by the earnest desire of the person to do what is right in the sight of God and men because even without the laws of men, there is an in-built law which every man and woman carries about in his or her earthly journey, which is the conscience. We are great men and women when we live and act in tone with our consciences.
It is true that people who are ignorant are quick to condemn what they do not understand rather than ask questions and seek to get an understanding of the matter. It is the desire of the writer that “may he love tomorrow who has never loved before; And may he who has loved, love tomorrow as well” (cras amet qui nunquam amavit; quique amavit cras amet).
It has always been my candid position and part of my philosophy of life not to bark back at those who out of conviction refuse to see anything good in others, or those who out of sheer mischievousness swore never to see any good in others, rather, their eternal works is to malign and destroy or assassinate others characters and good works, including pulling down their own society or state just to get at their real or perceived enemy or enemies. This goes to confirm the saying in Latin that “contra principia negantum non est disputandum (there can be no debate with those who deny the foundations).
Similarly, it is more reasonable to appreciate and have regards for the eggs at hand, that is, eggs today are better than chickens tomorrow (a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush) (ad praesens ova cras pullis sunt meliora).
Finally, all that Ayade has done, all that he is doing and shall do is for the good of the people of the state, to the glory of God. He has proven that he has a soft heart for the down-trodden, the voiceless. Ayade’s heart is a heart for God because God is a God of the oppressed, and when a heart is broad enough to go after them and feel after them, then God is please with that man or woman. All I have seen him doing for the past 15 months plus, and the philosophy he unabashedly held on to is the philosophy that “while we live, we serve” (dum vivimus servimus).
God bless Cross River State for all of us.
Solomon Asha is the Special Assistant Social Media to Governor Benedict Ayade of Cross River State
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