By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Cross River State governor, Senator Ben Ayade said in the last three years, he has focused on the people by taking government to them.
Governor Ayade said this when he led a walk around the city of Calabar, the state capital in celebration of May 29th, Democracy Day.
Doing an introspection of his stewardship in the last three years while addressing a crowd that poured out to participate in the walk, Ayade said: “When you are a governor and you focus on the people, this is what you get because I have shifted government from a small number of people who before now thought that they were the Alpha and the Omega. I have commonised government, expanded it and taken it to the people that need it most. That is what has brought the atmosphere you see here today.”
Rationalizing the basis for his expanded government, the governor said: “Cross River State has never had it so good, when almost every family has somebody in government,” adding that “that is the secret because in a sluggish and developing economy, the focus is on the people, while infrastructure becomes secondary.”
According to Ayade: “If people have not eaten, you cannot be thinking of doing roads for them. Food first. While my first term policy is food on the table by expanding government, I did so because I understand that in politics, the emphasis should be on the people.”
He continued: “When we move from this level to a level where hunger is no more and they are guaranteed of a decent livelihood, then you move to the next phase which is infrastructure. So I am doing what my people love and that’s why you are seeing all this enthusiasm.
“We are very happy for the stability of our democracy but very little to show in terms of character. Indeed, Nigeria has just become a political country.”
Seeking less emphasis on electioneering, and more on service, Ayade averred that: “From the beginning of an election, you think of another election, so we do election in Nigeria for the purpose of election and not for the service to the people.
“I feel sad that after 19 years, we still have this kind of democracy. If Nigeria is indeed a leading country in Africa, then this is not the kind of democracy I will expect from Nigeria 19 years after. And so, I expect to see more finesse and more educated people in politics, I expect to see better character. It is not normal that in every election season, there has to be this level of tension.”
Drawing parallels from other democracies, Ayade revealed: “I was in China during their own presidential election, I was not aware that there was an election going on that day because everybody was in the factory working. It doesn’t matter who is the president. That is the situation in a near perfect system like China.”
Ayade who insisted he is more focused on the people, said: “I am more focused on my people and if your focus is on the people, politics will be three months before election and I think whether you are in opposition or in the ruling party, just focus on your people and you will see that the conflict in your state will be less because if I’m doing well as a Governor, there will be no desperation to effect a change. The only reason where you see fierce competition is because those who become governors or even presidents hold it and limit it only to their political party.
“Already I have started hearing of assassinations and killings. He who is killing somebody will die one day. Don’t you feel ashamed that when you take a life and you can go and sleep, do you think your children will succeed by stopping another man’s progress?”
The event witnessed various groups including men, women, students, workers, youths who defied the rains as they walked round the capital city chanting solidarity songs for Ayade and his team for tremendously transforming their lives as evident in the long term projects spread across the three senatorial districts of the state.
In her remarks, Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong, said: “Democracy Day is worth celebrating in Cross River because Governor Ayade has in three years turned the state to an industrial hub. From the South, Central and Northern Senatorial Districts, evidence of performances is everywhere and since the projects are not short term projects, continuation is only real and necessary for the governor beyond 2019.”
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