By CrossRiverWatch Admin
Many citizens and well wishers including myself are appalled by the events that are unfolding at such a quick pace in a state once celebrated as a beacon of stability. Personally, I have followed the local politics since my one-year stint as a Youth Corper, and can claim with certain boldness that it is indeed my home having married from the Biase axis, and then settled and setup my law practice, now, Ekpo, Eyamba & Nsofor, in Calabar Municipal since 1986.
It is this familiarity with and love for “the nation’s paradise” that prompts me to comment on the current uncertain conditions of a once vibrant role model for governance and accountability.
Clearly a marked difference from the stellar legacy that his predecessors left, it is truthfully and painfully saddening that Governor Ben Ayade’s first term has been defined by failures and bogus embellishments spun by a complicit section of the media as touted achievements and economic miracles and gains. Furthermore, considering the rancor, especially with the rebellion of the political class who have now written to the National PDP for intervention, evidently, the optimism of May 2015, seems to have fallen flat, which is leading to a situation that could now invariably be considered the beginning of the end of the peoples paradise?
And the reality remains, if Governor Ben Ayade’s role in the state’s current chaos is commonly exaggerated, evidently, so too is his level of overall competence and achievements. More so, tragically, his hold on the state has literally crushed it in a short span of two and a half years. And this is more disconcerting, because, we are all too well-aware of an entrenched culture, or mindset, if you will, where a group of members of our polity spends months, even years, obsessively criticizing a decidedly passive or failed political leader, only to have the same group of people later plotting to prop up the same character back in power; call it blind sentimentality mixed with a goldfish memory; it isn’t far from the truth?
Failure Has Taken A Human Form
If the general complaint about the tenures of erstwhile Governors Imoke and Duke’s was that they predominantly favored slightly prosaic styles of government, in general, the consensus is that their styles inadvertently established stability, order and a semblance of unity. In comparison however, Governor Ayade’s present day style of disorganized and impulsive leadership has shackled the state and its inhabitants and dragged everyone down a ruinous path.
In retrospect, despite renewed claims that Governor Ayade did not possess the necessary ‘motivation or attitude’ to govern the state, the narrative probably developed as he personalized and then recklessly abused the perks of office egged by a conniving with a few who know themselves, while many, including Senator Imoke, I am made to believe, had hoped that he would ride the tide and stabilize things.
Falsifiers Of Truth
Sadly, rather than the improved performance, citizens and the entire state is demanding, he has instead resorted to a newly established pattern of serially attempting to cajole, muscle or murder his political collaborators while continuously bribing and empowering the opposition, a practice which has only led to further alienation and apprehension.
To cap the free fall, the recent slap-on-the-face resignation of Barrister Edem Ekong, a leader of repute from the South Senatorial zone and the claims that Governor Ayade’s tenure is nothing but a charade, it is a wake-up call to once again consider if Governor Ayade is simply a hapless scapegoat or truly the architect and perpetrator of the current rot.
Some of Governor Ayade’s unquantifiable follies as he swung into action upon resuming office after his worldwide tour include his attempt to fix a system that wasn’t creaking or broken, which led to his appointing over 4,000 people to mostly bogus positions in Government to enable his SSG and Head of Service file inflated budgetary figures as salary expenditure. As If that was not enough, him and his co-governor brother have carefully resurrected the now eerily ubiquitous “Atam Congress” with a promise to hand over to the Central Senatorial Zone “because he promised the South nothing and they should be happy with being Deputy Governor or SSG.” All this, while actively promoting violence as a political tool, empowering opposition members while trying to defang and kill the state chapter of the PDP and paying lip service to the people and the traditional systems, which he holds in low esteem. Not forgetting the mess we now find ourselves in with the open thievery of every monies accrued to the state including the IGR and Lafarge PLC., the cement company might want to tell Cross Riverian’s to whom they paid their tax returns, which is an open secret to those who personally share the IGR monthly.
With the political game end-game either to kill the PDP and emerge as the opposition candidate in the state believing the hapless people of Cross Rivers will easily be flogged into line whether they like it or not.
This becomes even more alarming as there is a natural concern about the eventual outcome of the 2019 elections considering the incumbents desire for a 2nd tenure. And that is where the popular frustration lies. While many now argue that Ayade is delusory to even think of a second tenure, much to the applaud of some of his political collaborators, clearly the people still have big decisions to make.
My summation is that Governor and co-governor will most likely only win an election, and that is by a slight margin, in his native Obudu, which is just a speck in the bigger picture. Hence my insistence on his character flaw, (rather than him being a scapegoat for the “perceived limitations” of past leaders and the state’s political class) being the militating factor against Governor Ayade and his brother returning to Government House Calabar come 2019.
The picture painted above drips with a very grim outlook for the state and its people. The ongoing excitement over the short-term inducements by the Governor and co-governor truly will lead to the slaughter of the orderly arrangement that has ensured that all political zones are ably and strongly represented through a collegiate system incorporating political wards, zones, units and our royal fathers.
Ayade’s Lackluster Journey To Nowhere
There have been flashpoints in recent times and Governor Ayade’s meeting with the state’s National Assembly contingent in Abuja should give him an inkling as to what to expect should he threaten the collective even if some argue that the tension had apparently eased in that relationship.
And while others in the political hierarchy might be railing while Senator Imoke, as ever the consummate statesman, argues for patience, for a pause for breath, for simple common sense, one should never underestimate his sagacity and political reach; besides, far too many political fortunes are tied to him to let an upstart like Governor Ayade and his brother Frank upturn the cart.
A warning signal should be Senator Gershom Bassey’s soundbite during the Abuja meeting, even though Dr. Frank has openly argued that Senator Bassey was toeing the party line in the extreme, yet most around the political family have been excited as well as startled that a figure who has generally shied from the limelight should offer such an explosive soundbite; it did not seem to be his style to react like a lightning rod.
These flashpoints have perhaps driven Governor Ayades desperation to another level as he tries to militarize the state amongst other counter-measures. With an Armored Personal Carrier in front of the Governors entrance gate and a mini-military cantonment to protect him in place of the former ERC centre, he erroneously thinks the people can be cowed into a 2nd tenure?
Conclusively, the political class will influence the narrative and set the agenda so Governor Ayade will most likely not to return to Government House Calabar. And you can try to read into this however you want, but now is the time to warn the good people of Cross River state about the “Beast” bearing gifts, because collective action is the only clear path to victory.
At the heart of the matter is that should the Ayade’s return as Governor and co-governor, everybody will loose. So, incidentally — and inevitably — the Ayade’s must go. And for those who doubt that the “Atam Congress” are back in control through the Ayade’s and still foolishly believe that he will hand over to the South Senatorial come 2023, you only need to look at the history of the man to work out the truth. Firstly when did he promise that power would return to the South? When in his consideration for 2023, his initial preference is his brother, Dr. Frank, and lately Chief Chris Agara or someone from the “Atam Congress.” And if those who are still alive in the South Senatorial remember the struggles to have Donald Etim Duke emerge as our consensus Gubernatorial candidate, and how the “Atam Congress” resisted and the winning votes came from the Boki area, then we must protect what is ours and kick out the Ayades.
Barrister Eyo Saturday Ekpo writes from Calabar Municipality
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