By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
The 2019 re-election bid of Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade on Monday received a huge boost as the State’s traditional rulers’ council threw its weight behind him for a second term, while declaring the state as wholly Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Chairman of the council and Paramount Ruler of Bakassi Local Government Area, Etinyin Etim Okon Edet conveyed the decision of the council in Calabar, the State capital shortly after Governor Ayade presented certificates and staff of office to two new paramount rulers for Bekwarra and Obanliku Local Government Areas, while Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, declared that the State is totally PDP.
Etinyin Edet who kick-started the process of the endorsement reeled out achievements of the Governor Ayade’s administration and announced his endorsement.
In a unanimous voice vote, the monarch asked the hundreds of first and second class chiefs present if his statement was in consonance with their decision and they all thundered yes.
The Obong of Calabar, the Obol Lopon of Ugep and the Paramount Ruler of Obudu Local Government Area who spoke on behalf of their colleagues from the senatorial districts of the State, explained why the council decided to throw its weight behind the governor.
The Obong of Calabar, in his remarks, stressed that the order already established for the rotation of political office would be followed as it was binding on all Cross Riverians. He said: “This state is PDP. I am not a politician, and name it, these other people that have defected and are going round trying to look for one thing or the other, they are all PDP members. They can bear any other name but all I know is that they are all PDP members because in this state, we have just this party and it is a family.
“We have an understanding that is binding on every son and daughter of this state. We rotate, we move our governorship position and other administration the way it has been scheduled and you cannot come in overnight and say I want it here. No, we are not that crop of people and we are very decisive. Unfortunately, we may be very poor but we have our integrity. We must uphold our integrity; we must not turn this state into something else. It is not where anyone can jump in from anywhere and say there want to so this and do that. That is the orderliness and we must show the world that, that is what we are and that is what we will always be and that is what I will always want to be.”
The monarch who also lauded Ayade’s signature projects, pointed out that it was vital for the success of the industrialisation drive of the current administration also commended the governor’s achievement in office in three and half years.
He urged the governor to sustain the momentum of industrialization, adding “We need forward thinking leaders like Ayade, we need to have the superhighway to open up this state or else even if you put all the industries here, where will you carry them to?”
Aligning with the Obong of Calabar, the Obol Lopon of Ugep, Obol Ofem Ubana said: “The words of our chairman are enough and support our position concerning the governor’s re-election in 2019. Today we ticked you right and we will do so come 2019. Cross Riverians are here, the spirits of the state are here to say you have done well for the last three and a half years. We approve that you should go back.”
Explaining the reason why the first and second class monarchs had agreed to endorse the governor, Obol Ofem noted: “When you have a good product to sell, you don’t labour to advertise it. Governor Ayade is a good product of Cross River State. We will support you very well. Let me borrow the words of our chairman where he said that you are our revelation. You have revealed to Cross River State that things that we thought were impossible, with good thinking, you will have good products.”
He warned all those willing to vie for governorship in 2023 to understudy Governor Ayade as Cross Riverians will not entertain anyone who will complain that there is no money.
Also, Africa’s longest serving monarch and paramount ruler of Obudu, Uti J.D Agba in his remarks pointed out that the Governor had been active in rebuilding the economy of the State and contrary to opinions held by some, “He is doing it and that is why it is enough reason for us to appreciate his effort and I am happy that there is nobody who is going to be disappointed.”
In his response, Governor Ayade commended the monarchs for living above board and explained the reason why he had expanded government while industrialising the state to create jobs for the over 6,000 Cross Riverians who graduate every year.
“It was because I came with a roadmap, I came with a direction; I knew where I was going. If you are producing 6,000 graduates every year and there is no job for them, you are inviting crime to your doorstep, you are inviting cataclysm, No matter what, in spite of your rural road problems, you have to create jobs for those younger people, we have to industrialise, the deep seaport has to work, the superhighway has to work – that is our core business.”
He charged the monarchs to look into issues of governance and support the government to ensure the delivery of democratic dividends. “You are paramount rulers, you are the custodians of our culture and our heritage. In fact, now you are the spiritual fathers, have you asked why the superhighway is not on construction phase? Our own brothers and sister joined hands with foreigners, joined hands with other people from other parts of the country who do not want us to have this deep seaport to write petition against the deep seaport, to write petition against the superhighway and reduced all of these things to APC and PDP politics.
“How can you play politics with the life of a people, with the development of a people, with the future of our young men and women? How can that be politics? And we all sit? You as paramount rulers, you as the custodians of our culture, you are the people who hold the afro-centric philosophy of our afro-politan theory that you must always provide a shoulder for a brother to lean on and that we must aggregate and come together in the African spirit of communalism.
Continuing, the governor queried: “When did this suddenly happen that we have lost our Kantianism to come together as a people of the state to plan the common cause, so much so that for two years, I have been fighting the federal government in court to get approval for the superhighway. Why will you travel seven hours as bad as the road was then from Obanliku to Calabar? Who will want to go and invest in such a place? Why will you ever think that you have to go through such a perilous road to get to your headquarters when you can have a shortcut?”
The Governor later presented 2018 model Ford Edge SUV’s to 17 Paramount Rulers excluding Yakurr which is yet to finalise on some issues.
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