Since 1999, in every state there is this group of persons called the political class, they run the state, share state budget and contracts among themselves, rotate political offices and appointments among themselves, to an extent their children marry one another.
Power usually rotates within that group, from fathers to sons and daughters. When they talk about zoning, it is designed to rotate power among themselves. The poor man is used and dumped, for lack of a better term I call them the ruling class in the state.
That group has ran things in Cross River State since the advent of democracy in 1999. But in 2015, something backfired, they brought in a new entrant to their group, made him governor, and he changed the game.
The new governor among other things, his first assignment was to dislodge that group. Instead of awarding contracts in billions and billions of Naira to just a select few within that group to keep the political family in unity, he chooses to distribute power to about 6000 appointees.
The billions that would have gone to 10 or 15 families as major contracts is now shared by political appointees as salary and the rest goes to civil servants to pay monthly salaries. Dislodging the political class is Ayades biggest sin.
The former ruling class can no longer hold their peace. Food has been taken from their table, huge contracts that created war chest amongst them has disappeared, some out of frustration have left to the new ruling party at the federal, some mobilise the social media voices to brand the governor as non performer and drag him before the court of public opinion for crucification. However, Ayade’s biggest sin is dislodging the former ruling class who hitherto shared our state funds.
If you ask them, what is the governors sin? They will not be bold enough to say we are not getting enough big contracts and we are no more part of the sharing, rather they will sing the familiar line: Calabar is dirty, state library is in shambles, where is superhighway? where is seaport? Those are the familiar lines, but the main truth they will not tell you is that Ayade is not sharing money with them, rather Ayade is gradually creating his own new war chest team, comprised mainly from his close friends and family.
Ayade has further created a new middle class from his appointees, some of whom through the small salaries he pays ,they can now afford to rent apartments in Calabar, place their kids in private schools, some of them saving monies and had weddings and some buy small cars and call themselves the new bourgeoisies in town.
At least, as the money goes round in bits and pieces to many people instead of a select few it keeps the palmy joints busy in Calabar.
I will not say Ayade has performed remarkably well, but he has tried to an extent, from his universal basic education to primary health and his mini industrialisation efforts.
Ayade’s’s biggest failure in my judgement is his inability to stop cult activities associated with his government, the complicity of his aides in the harassment of an online critic and his lack of technical capacity to make his industrial initiatives to triumph as successful businesses. To me this is where he failed. Moreso, his many long travels out of the state did not help matters.
The people of Cross River State have a few options going forward, you either return power to the political class who have been sharing state funds among themselves since 1999, some of them are showing interest to run for office. However, bringing them back will be your worst mistake or you allow Ayade a second term on assumption that he has learnt one or two things in the past three years; or you bring in someone with enough experience to bring life to Ayade’s’s industrial projects and make meaning of some of his initiatives which he is struggling to make them succeed; or you bring in a new breed who will abandon all Ayade’s projects and start his own all afresh. At least we have four options, choose one.
But, what you should never do is to bring to power some of the very year in year out politicians who have been part of the looting since 1999. You can’t go back to your vomit, to the same people that dragged us into this big debt profile and are busy looking for who to blame while they have chunked billions of state funds overseas.
You can deceive some people sometimes, but you cannot deceive the people all the time. Cross Riverians are learning everyday, in the coming year they will make the right choice
Princewill Odidi, a political scientist and social commentator, writes from Atlanta, USA.
NOTE:Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Princewill Odidi, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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