RIGHT OF REPLY: Re: Governor Ayade: Still On The Trail Of Investors BY EMMANUEL ETIM

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

By CrossRiverWatch Admin

Emmanuel Etim

This is a rejoinder to the article titled ” Governor Ayade: Still on the Trail of “Investors “! ” posted by Barrister Venatius Ikem on his facebook timeline on Saturday 4th Febraury, 2017 at about 11am.

In the said write up, Barr. Ikem raised a few pungent issues. I want to put it clearly that this treatise is not focused on the person of Venatius Ikem who as a person has made some level of contribution towards state and national development, but on addressing these issues and concerns and to disabuse the minds of other citizens who may also have these concerns.

First, he opined that Prof. Ayade’s search for Foreign Direct Investment FDI is “ostensibly to jump start the CR State private sector development” which I agree with him. Indeed, this is one of the strategic objectives of the investment drive.

In addition to this, 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 also impacts the host economy in a lot of other positive ways.

Where I differ with Barr. Ikem however is that he thinks this search is “elusive”. According to webster mariam dictionary, elusive is defined as “tending to evade grasp or pursuit, hard to comprehend or define, hard to isolate or identify.”

I do not know which of these definitions the writer had in mind but in my opinion, none of these apply to a geniune investment drive. Many reputable and successful businesses and investors globally have the objective of business expansion and seeking of new markets as a priority.

Saying that Foreign Direct Investments FDI or even Local Direct Investments LDI is elusive thus is to say the least untrue. Driving Investments may be difficult but that is no reason not to try.

I leave the issue with this quote by Louis Sachar which he puts succinctly “I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. Nothing in life is easy. But that’s no reason to give up. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it. After all, you only have one life, so you should try to make the most of it.”

Having established clearly the import of this, it is clear then that the opinion of the writer that the trips by the governor are “daily diminishing the status of the office of Governor itself because it does seem the premium is more in the fact of the governor traveling abroad than in the achievement of the objective of the trip” is clearly misplaced.

I will not waste my energy to establish that the governor was well travelled as a businessman even before becoming a senator and thereafter a governor and was also wealthy enough to travel to any country of choice. That is trivial matter. What I would rather establish is that some of these trips are not at the convenience of the governor considering that he could sit back in the state , appropriate federally allocated revenue and achieve very little.

If half the number of governors in Nigeria had the zeal of the governor of Cross River State to harness the potentials of and industrialize their states through Foreign and Local Direct Investments, Nigeria would be on its way to joining the Industrialized nations by 2020.

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 or by average men.

This then explains the extraordinary zeal 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.

It can be understood however if a few citizens do not understand this direction of action and the need thereof as it has never been, with all due respect, the nature of our people to aspire zealously and take risks in investing outside their comfort zone.

It was Albert Einstein who said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Ayade has chosen to do things differently and will surely achieve a different set of results. Doing things differently may rattle a few people but it is the different results that we are anticipating that we must rather focus on.

The writer’s assertion that “no achievements” has been “recorded” including the garment factory “which till date is not known to even have been test run yet, not to talk of being put to any productive use” is totally misleading. The garment factory which has long been completed has begun operation, employing hundreds of youths and widows and contributing positively to the economy of the state.

Some of the projects that the governor has successfully attracted Foreign Direct Investments to the state as outcomes of his trip which construction work have begun and are at different stages of completion include the Calabar Pharmaceuticals Company which on completion will be the largest in the whole of the South-South region of Nigeria and the Thai -Africa rice city, which will boost rice production in the state.

Others include power project, the Bakassi Deep Seaport, the Bakassi Katsina Ala Super Highway, Canadian Model School project and the New Cities project to mention a few.

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 2017, 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.

Beyond Foreign Direct Investment, Barr. Ikem also raised the issue of government doing business rather than “creating the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.” I must agree that this has been a subject of discourse among stakeholders in the business sector with people holding varying opinions.

On this subject, I find this submission instructive “Privatization of state enterprises was a core recommendation of the so called “Washington Consensus” that emerged over a decade ago. While governments worldwide followed the recommendations, and countless state enterprises were privatized, the debate over the proper role of the government in the economy remains open. (Franko 2007).

The Governor of Cross River State Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade, coming from a private sector background has conceived an innovative strategy that’ll see government drive the growth of the economic sector in the state through Special Purpose Vehicles SPVs in Build Operate and Transfer, Public Private Partnership concession models. In all of these, government will establish the vision while the private sector will partner to deliver on the vision and set objectives.

On his final idea ” to turn Tinapa into an Industrial Park” , I will not say much. Like Venatius Ikem rightly said, “We all have our blueprints and some day will have the opportunity to show case the difference between reality and utopia.” I will thus advice Barr. Ikem to wait for his opportunity to be governor and then implement his blueprint.

Thank you for sparing some time to share these thoughts. We wish you the best now and always.

Emmanuel Etim is a development consultant based in Nigeria.

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