By CrossRiverWatch Admin
On Sunday 24th July, 2018, I read an article with the above title written by one Venatius Ikem ahead of the visit of the President of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday 26th of June, 2018 to Cross River State to commission the Cross River State Rice Seed and Seedling Factory and the Navy Referal Hospital, Calabar.
This is the first of a two part rejoinder to the article to put the issues in perspective ahead of the president’s visit. The second part will be written after the visit of the president as a lot is expected to happen during the visit which will further unmask the hypocrisy of Venatius Ikem’s vituperations. I will have the last laugh.
The first thing which caught my attention was that implied by the title. One does not need to be a rockect scientist to decipher that the writer who is a governorship aspirant under the platform of the All Progressives Congress implies that he has no access to the president who is the leader of his party.
Of course if he did, he would not be on Facebook looking for who will tell the president, moreso on a day that serious APC members are busy at the party convention which started on Saturday, June 23, and spilled over to Sunday, June 24, 2018. That being said, I will move on to address issues raised in the write up.
I will not waste my time with response on the talk about inspectors of primary and secondary schools but suffice it to say that Nigeria is a federal state.
Federating states do not receive impress from the federal government and do not need to cover up anything during the visit of a president, who is not a school inspector.
These are elementary things I expect the least governorship aspirant to know lest as a governor he surrenders his state’s rights out of ignorance to the federal government. I recently heard a senator tell the president that all senators are his children. Hahaha.
Back to the issue at hand. Venatius stated in his write up that when he was in government, and I quote “the same scenario repeats itself in even greater magnitude, frenzy and lack of imagination.” There is no doubt this may be the truth about when he was in government as it is coming from the horse’s mouth. Of course I cannot refute that but can only assert that this is not the case with the present administration.
Venatius mischieviously asserts that the industries in the state are huriedly assembled together, forgeting that only a few days earlier he had argued there were no industries at all. Those who know, know that for about a year, the rice seed and seedling factory was been under construction, then completed and recently installation of machines, which has also been completed.
Although the governor, Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade is in a hurry to industrialise Cross River State, he does not put together anything in haste but painstakingly moves from vision to achievement putting together some of Africa’s first and biggest industrial concepts; the rice seed and seedling is the first and biggest in Africa.
Who will tell Venatius that the president did not give states money out of “sympathy?” The president gave states one bailout and thereafter the Paris Club Refund which as of right are the states share of the refund. The president suggested the funds be used to offset backlog of salaries for states that owed several months of salaries. We all, already know Cross River State under Ayade has never owed workers their salaries neither does the state owe pensions.
Ayade the salary master went ahead and paid gratuities owed retirees running from the days when Venatius Ikem was commissioner and could not speak up for the gratuities to be paid. The governor instructed on Workers Day, May 1 2018 that gratuities for 2014 be paid having already paid up to 2013. Is there any governor in Nigeria that has done more?
On the superhighway, the progress of work is undeniable as the design, debushing and earth works has since been done even as the state is anticipatory of the final nod from the federal government for the commencement of construction work. The call for bids for the construction were recently advertised in National Dailies and bids from reputable companies were received and opened and winners are to be announced soon and contracts signed.
It is our hope that the visit of Mr. President will accord him the opportunity to fulfil his promise to support the construction of the superhighway and use the power of his office to remove any remaining impediment by the federal government to the construction of the superhighway.
Please tell Venatius Ikem that as Cross Riverians, we are happy that Mr. President has completed the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital in Calabar, which was abandoned for years, as this will go a long way to add to the number of tertiary health institutions that will provide citizens with options for health service delivery in the state. Health they say is wealth.
The facilities, be they state government owned or federal government owned do not compete but compliment one another. The number of doctors in the state and local government far outnumber the figures Venatius Ikem throws around but that is hardly the issue.
Indeed it is public knowledge that Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade has approved the employment of more doctors in the state and the civil service commission recently conducted interview for them in the state. These are in addition to other efforts at revolutionizing health service delivery in the state with the recent launch of AyadeCare Homehealth, the ongoing building of AyadeCare hospital, the completion of a world class Calabar Pharmaceutical Company, (Calapharm) and accreditation of all schools of nursing to boost Human Resources in health sector in the state.
The state has also recently employed nurses into its service as well as built, renovate hundreds and reequip hundreds of primary health centers across the state.
We will tell the president that the industries he is commissioning during this visit are part of an aggressive industrialisation and agriculture development plan of the Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade led administration in Cross River State. Ayade indeed is in haste to transform the once civil service state to an industrialised one, with prosperity driven by production based on rich resources, human, material and natural in Cross River State. And in this, he is succeeding, in just about three years.
This administration has built the biggest garment factory in West Africa, employing more than 3000 people mostly women working in shifts and producing quality garments for its clients. He has built a Calabar Pharmaceutical Company which is more than 95 percent completed and will produce drugs and vaccines, to meet the demand in the state and indeed the entire Niger Delta region.
Ayade has built a toothpick factory in Yakurr which has been completed and is about to commence production. The factory is one of about 18 cottage industries being set up in each local government area in Cross River State under the one Local Government Area, one industry policy of the Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade led administration. Other industries presently being built in the 18 local government areas include the Instant Noodles factory in Calabar Municipal; the Piles, Pylons and Poles factory in Akamkpa local government area and the Poultry and Feedmill in Obubra local government area and many more.
Cross River State is the second largest cocoa producing state in Nigeria and the state is also building a 30,000 metric tons capacity cocoa processing factory in Ikom local government area. Also, an automated rice mill in Ogoja which is part of the rice value chain development in the state is been constructed.
The rice seeds and seedlings factory, which the president is coming to commission is a revolutionary investment located in the Ayade Industrial Park in Calabar, the Cross River State capital. It is the first and biggest in Africa. The factory brings innovation into Agriculture in Nigeria.
The factory is equipped with world class machinery and facility that tests, modifies, proccesses, and produces quality seeds and seedlings for rice production in Nigeria and other African countries. The rice seeds and seedlings plant is conceived to produce high-quality seeds and seedlings of stress-tolerant and disease resistant rice varieties for cultivation in Cross River State in particualr and Nigeria in general.
Of course, the president already knows about all of these and more. That is why he has chosen to visit Cross River State a second time while he is yet to visit some states in Nigeria even once. The president loves Cross River State even more than some of its citizens who are working hard daily to thwart development initiatives in the state in the name of opposition party politics.
Time and space will not allow me elucidate all that Ayade has done in Cross River State in just three years but suffice it to say that the state is on its way to an industrial revolution. Like I mentioned earlier, this is only a part of a two part treatise, and I will bring you more information in the second part of this response.
Let me give you a peep into some of what the second part will have. If Venatius Ikem is anybody in APC in the state, he will be there to welcome Mr. President, his party leader. By extension, he will be at the rice seed and seeding factory commissioning. When the president speaks, he will clap. He will say a few words to the press in the euphoria of the moment. I will bring you exclusive photos and the story from those moments.
Have a wonderful week ahead and see you at the president’s visit.
Emmanuel Etim is SSA to Governor Ayade of Cross River State on Creative and Knowledge Economy.
NOTE:Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Emmanuel Etim, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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