A rejoinder to ‘As the storm begins to Gather 1’ By Venatius Ikem
When I read the title of the article written by Barrister Ikem on the 7th of April, 2017, it was the quote by Roy T. Bennett that immediately came to my mind. It goes thus “Never lose hope. Storms make people stronger and never last forever.”
Could it be that Venatius Ikem has never come across this quote to have chosen this as the title of his write up or has he not come to appreciate the import of storms either in his personal life or business endeavor?
Of course from the little I know of him, his life has been full of storms but the lessons and importance of these may have been lost on him. It does however take a philosophical mind to discern such deep seated truths but I may not be in a position to judge his level of comprehension.
The focus of this rejoinder is not the topic of the write up and as stated in my earlier rejoinder, my intention is not to denigrate his personality but to attempt to address his concerns and throw light on a few grey areas to give understanding and clarity for the benefit of the simple.
Having said this, I will like to make it clear that it is only the weak who fear the storms of life and we fear no storm, no matter how fierce they come. Indeed those who fear storms will never leave the shores of life, and will thus achieve nothing.
For those who have chosen to embark on great endeavor, like Sen. Ben Ayade has, to sail into the unknown and uncharted waters, like the sailors and voyagers of old, they will meet with storms and challenges of life.
We will weather the storms when they come and we will emerge victorious. Maria V. Snyder said “There’s always another storm. It’s the way the world works. Snowstorms, rainstorms, windstorms, sandstorms and firestorms.
Some are fierce and others are small. You have to deal with each one separately, but you need to keep an eye on what is brewing for tomorrow.
Frank Lane on the other hand said “If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.” So, let the storms gather if they will.
Unfortunately I do not even see the storms gather, maybe just a storm in a teacup. Enough about the storm and its import. Let’s go into the meat of the matter. It is not news that May 29th, 2017 will mark the second anniversary of the swearing in of Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade as Governor of Cross River State and also the midterm of his administration.
In the presidential system as practiced in the Nigerian Democracy, there is no room for midterm elections and so issues about election should not come up at this time. In fact in saner climes, discussing election issues at such a time will not only be criminal but would streak of utmost irresponsibility.
This however is Nigeria. Barrister Venatius Ikem made the assertion that “in political terms, it is about one year to the emergence of candidates for the next general elections,” but a close look at the timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission does not support this.
The release shows that the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on Saturday, 16th February 2019, while the Governorship/State Assembly/Federal Capital Territory Area Council Elections will hold on Saturday 2nd March 2019.
Indeed it is only politicians who do not have the development of Cross River State and Nigeria at the back of their minds that “are already oiling their tools predictably to position for the next election” at this time as Venatius puts it. And believe me; we have some of such politicians among us.
Barrister Ikem also seems to suggest that jumping from one party to another is an “exercise of power of democracy!” I do not agree. While democracy offers us freedom of association, jumping from one party to another to protect one’s selfish personal interest may not be the context in which democracy was conceived.
He went ahead to say “movement of persons”, “from the ruling PDP in the state to the ruling APC at the federal level was long predicted but only delayed because of several factors”. What he failed to mention are these factors.
Could it be that it is because the APC government at the federal level failed Nigerians having failed to keep most of its pre-election promises or because the Buhari led administration has plunged the Nigerian economy into the worst recession ever experienced that these “self-first” politicians developed cold feet?
What has changed since then that has made it to “resume in ernest” or has taken away the “circumspection and skepticism”? Have these “several factors” been taken care of appropriately now? Your guess is as good as mine. It is the need for self preservation that has taken over their entire self against all odds.
Let me bring them bad news! Jumping from one party to another will not revive your dying political career. It is time some of these old men and women threw in the towel to create room for younger and more vibrant Cross Riverians to contribute their quota to state and national development.
Senator Professor Ben Ayade has demonstrated beyond any doubt his commitment to empowering youths in Cross River State and the potentials for youths to drive development in the state and nation cannot be overestimated. The youth of the state must rise up to this challenge, having been empowered, and stop singing praises and pledging loyalty to expired politicians who have kept them in bondage for years and take their destiny and that of the state into their hands under the leadership of Senator Professor Ben Ayade.
I will not dwell on rumors of who is planning to defect and who is not. I may not also be patient enough to entertain the fantasy or dreams of floodgates and trickles of defectors. What I will address however is that the movements of politicians from one platform to the other for their own selfish interests will not impact the way the state is governed in any way.
Like my friend Agba Jalingo says, I can say authoritatively that all these political quarrels are about “sharing formulae” and once that is settled they will all come out smiling as they do not care about the masses.
The days of sharing our national and state cakes are over. I will like to put it succinctly, that Senator Professor Ben Ayade rose to power on the collective will of the people; having been elected by a majority of citizens in a free and fair election and so owes this cabal in reference nothing; we know what they want.
Barrister Ikem said and I quote “My interest in pushing for some sensible approach to the conduct of public affairs has continued to propel me to comment” Is this true? The first phrase “My interest” may propel him but the rest is “story” like the young people would say. He went on to say “Ayade is our brother” and I shudder.
If this is what having a brother means, I do not wish to have brothers. The south and central have had their turn and supported their brothers, the north is writing its history and just maybe they will prove pundits right. That much being said, Senator Ayade is governor of the state not governor of the north.
Yes there was a genuine agitation for the governorship to come to the north, but that achieved, there is no reason to expect that the resources of the state ought to be used to settle people who were part of the struggle. It was a selfless struggle and posterity will reward the heroes rightly.
Venatius should thus keep his advice and prophecy of doom to himself after all he had earlier prophesied albeit falsely that Ayade will never be governor.
I want to use this medium to assure Barrister Venatius Ikem and his co travelers that the second term of Senator Ben Ayade will not be won based on ethnic and regional sentiments but on achievements and visible developments in Cross River State.
Despite the recession in the nation, paucity of funds and huge deductions from the federal allocations to service loans left by previous administrations which were probably used to settle these same politicians, Professor Ayade has been able to make tangible strides.
With the Cross River Garment Factory hundred percent completed, the Calabar Power plant more than eighty percent completed, the Calabar Pharmaceutical Company more the seventy percent completed, the Thai Africa Rice City more than fifty percent completed, Cross River State is on its way to industrialization.
The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido said recently in the Kaduna Investment Conference that the panacea to the under-development in Nigeria is industrialization. Cross River State under the leadership of Senator Ben Ayade thus seems to be the only state on the right track if this suggestion is true.
The huddles on the road to the actualization of the super highway and the deep sea port are presently being removed and full scale work on the development of these world class infrastructures is set to resume.
Cross River will truly become a leading state in Nigeria with all of these. This is why a former governor of the state Dr. Donald Duke said at the Vanguard governor of the year Award which was bestowed on Senator Ben Ayade that “After Senator Ayade is through with Cross River State we will not know it again”.
It is a new day in Cross River State and a new generation is rising under a new leadership. It will not be an easy task to build a new paradigm but surely it is possible. For those who have been beneficiaries of the old order and have milked our state and nation, it is time for change; change your ways and change your mind set. Together, let us build our state.
I will end this treatise with a quote from Vivian Greene which says “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” It sure is raining as Ntol Chris Agibe said, and the storm is gathering, let us dance in the rain. Best regards.
Emmanuel Etim is a development consultant based in Calabar, Nigeria
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