By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Contrary to opinions that governance in Cross River may have slowed as politics dominate public discourse, Governor Ben Ayade may have proved critics wrong when in the past week, he reeled out more programs and projects in a bid to fulfill his goal of industrialising the State.
These includes the chicken processing plant nicknamed ‘Cala-Chicka’, the waste to wealth initiative and the unveiling of the brand name for products of the Cross River State garment factory; ‘CallyPhina.’
Fielding questions from newsmen shortly after taking delivery of the equipment for the chicken processing factory in Calabar, Mr. Ayade said the state will soon begin exporting high quality birds and products as the system in place detects bad birds.
“Today, Cross River is truly industrialised, preparing ourselves for the post- restructured Nigeria and we are ready. What we have got here is a special system that will process, freeze and prepare chicken for export. It is very digital, modern and highly sophisticated that takes into consideration the biomedical status of our chicken,” Ayade said, adding that: “If you have a chicken with any form of infection, the system will detect and remove the affected chicken in the course of processing and that is why we have an internal conveyor system that tracks the health status of birds by taking the temperature and all the necessary quality attributes of every chicken before they are processed for export.”
He explained that Cala-Chicka will compliment the yellow maize farm and feed mill being constructed at Obubra even as he expressed hope that big fast food brands will soon establish in the country as the system guarantees quality.
“Cross River State is investing hugely on the provision of chicken feeds. You know we have a very big feed mill coming up in Obubra Local Government Area because the land is suitable for yellow maize. Having produced feeds, we have to grow our own birds and ensure that we are the largest exporter of frozen chickens in Africa.
“The tradition in Nigeria is that people import frozen chickens that have been in deep freezer for so long including preserving them with formalin and what have you, which is very dangerous and unacceptable but of course that is what Africans get.
“Yet, we have large arable lands with over 23,000 square km in Cross River alone suitable for cultivation of all crops known to man,” Ayade said, stressing that: “In order to meet the international best practice in terms of quality, we have decided to go for world class. That is why we don’t have the McDonalds in Nigeria because they have no guarantee about the quality of our chicken and they cannot afford the agony and the difficulty in importing chickens which you know is on absolute ban.
“So, this gives us the opportunity as a government to create jobs through the instrumentality of the agro-industrial value chain and I am happy that today we have taken delivery of all this equipment to fast track the process of wealth and job creation.”
But, why the name Cala-Chicka? Mr. Ayade said that: “Our Brand is known as Cala-Chicka, so we are having the Cala-Chicka chicken, from there we will establish Cala-chicka Kitchen. Our Kitchen is going to be a unique brand to be sited in Calabar, Abuja and Lagos, Port Harcourt after which we move to Johannesburg. My dream is to have Cala-Chicka as a brand across the globe.”
Concerns about refuse management in the state reached a fever pitch early in Mr. Ayade’s administration and he may have found the solution to the problem when he announced the introduction of a waste to wealth program which will commence in the first quarter of 2019.
According to the governor, the program will create employment opportunities for youths and generate organic fertilizer for the farmers in the state as the plant has been procured and is being shipped to Nigeria.
Addressing Journalists shortly after mounting one of the newly acquired thirty mowers for the cutting of grasses at the Ayade Industrial Park in Calabar on Friday, Mr. Ayade said the initiative will also bring the State at par with modern cities where waste generation is seen as wealth creation and will go a long way to improve the cleanliness of the environment using the mowers even as he promised to improve on the green and clean nature of the city before the annual Carnival Calabar in December.
“Indeed there is a new system coming into Calabar, it has already been shipped. In few weeks time you will see people struggling to sell their refuse because we are installing a plant that processes urban refuse into bio fertilizer to do away with the inorganic fertilizer that has cumulative negative impacts on human health.
“In no distant time, once you have your refuse, you will hold back the bag until you are paid before you release. So, Calabar will naturally become clean and once we achieve that level, once everybody has imbibed the habit we will then move to the next senatorial district,” Ayade said.
Continuing, he averred that: “We just launched the process of motorised mowing and we are deploying more of these machines round the city because the dry season is setting in and it is important that we keep our lawns clean preparatory to our annual Carnival while ensuring that it stays green all through the season.
“We cannot continue to create jobs by creating slaves. There is no amount of job provision that will reduce our people to want in body and in muscles, spirit and soul.
“With this launch today, I want to assure you that you won’t find any person from Cross River having to use a machete to cut grass in a very slavish and atavistic manner because it is old fashion and a wrong way of creating jobs.”
Justifying the initiative, Mr. Ayade stated: “For a man to take a machete and work a whole day under hot sun in the name of cutting grass just because you have a landscaping department in the Ministry of Environment is wrong and I think it has to stop and Cross River State must always live in line with world’s styles which is what informed the deployment of the mowers to save workers’ energy.
“When you decide that you want to create jobs and you choose to ask your people to go and manually cut grasses as a way of creating employment, that will be a forced job, there will be no job satisfaction, no efficiency and so, in order to make them enjoy the pleasure of a digital era, we have decided to order hundreds of mowers from Germany just to ensure that grass cutting in Calabar, maintaining and keeping of our lawns tidy are properly done thereby moving the workers away from the manual effort to a motorized process.”
While encouraging cabinet members and residents to emulate him in restoring the greenery, Ayade stressed that, “I am proud as a governor to mount the mower because it gives me great sense of pride and joy each time I see those beautiful green lawns. So, if I can do this I believe everyone should join hands with me to succeed in this campaign to keep Calabar as the cleanest in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the Cross River State government has unveiled the brand name for products of the garment factory.
The State, in partnership with and Indian firm, Blue Ocean, unveiled a new set of wears, ranging from tee-shirts to boxers, polo, shirts and trousers last week at the factory.
Unveiling the ‘Callyphina wears,’ Ayade said: “The state is proud to showcase high quality wears with special finishing, which will be formally launched during 2018 Calabar Carnival.
“If you look at the finishing and lining, you will see precision and expertise. And if you look at the hemming and final knitting, it just could be a Versace, Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana.”
He was accompanied by the Managing Consultant of Blue Ocean, Atul Kakkar who explained that the job specification handled in his two week stay in Calabar was in line with the governor’s vision of creating world class garment factory.
Mr. Ayade has been telling whoever cares to listen that he is not a ‘traditional politician’ else he would have forgotten governance and focus on the politics of reelection.
And, he told Government House Correspondents last week that he decided to veer of what has been accepted as the norm and went back to the day he assumed office to explain his style of governance.
“When I started, Cross Riverians had no clear idea of what I had in store for them but I knew I was not going through the traditional trajectory known to them and as soon as the restructuring starts, Cross River will shift completely and face oil and gas and you will be amazed at what I will do out of the oil and gas development sector,” Ayade said and explained his love for going against the norms.
He averred that: “I will not be excited if I do what is traditional, my excitement in this government is that I have decided to bring all my business acumen, intellect, exposure, contacts and all that I got to bear to bring Cross River out of this present primitivistic dependent on federal allocation.
“The decoupling process has started. The instrumentation, engineering and the architecture, the sociology of taking the state completely out of its dependent on the federal government has begun.”
All these, he said, should put to rest talks of the NGN1.3 trillion budget he had signed earlier this year as it was now manifesting.
“That is why this year’s budget of NGN1.3 trillion, is christened ‘Budget of Kinetic Crystallization’ because kinetically, I am crystallizing all the concepts and dreams I actually had, and today they are at maturing process. So, you can now see the manifestation of the trillion budget in the amount of equipment we have acquired in the last three months into the state,” he said.
However, politics was not far off as he subtly appealed for a second term in office even as he promised that by the time the current tenure elapses, all factories under construction will be up and running.
“Allow me the luxury of another four years and see the difference. Of course, before we hit May next year, every single project I have started in terms of factories will all be up and running.
“At the fullness of time when all the maturity of all these concepts shall become practical, yielding funds for the State, when the State can stay back and reap its various investments without the support of the federal government.
“I am preparing Cross River for the post-restructured era. If indeed this federal government decides to restructure, then it means we will have to depend on all these investments for survival.
“I had to start with the big dreams because my predecessor, Senator Liyel Imoke spent eight years taking government to those who needed it most, transforming the rural areas and preparing them for an industrial revolution and so, it is a cascade, continuum and I am just taking off from where he stopped,” Ayade said.
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