April 2018, Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade, wept profusely at the State Executive Council chambers whilst signing the N1.3 trillion budget of kinetic crystallization into law. The governor asked Rev. Fr Bob Etta, his Special Adviser on Religious Matters, to commit the budget to God and while the prayer was ongoing, Ayade broke down in tears.
The prayer ended swiftly and while addressing the chambers after signing, Governor Ayade said this of the budget: “As part of the philosophy of this budget, we focus on human capital development to put food on the table which was part of the agenda we did in year one and two, to say here we come with a new agenda, *food on the table, hands on the plough*.”
True to the first part of his promise, the governor propounded the “Ayadesian Theory of Expanded Government” where about 6000 persons have been put on government payroll in appointments that the governor has repeatedly described as “food on the table.”
The second part of the promise to migrate from food on the table after year one and two, to hands on the plough, has been everything else but kept to. And there is a need to send His Excellency a reminder that, the last time we checked, more hands are getting on the table than the plough.
Your Excellency, it appears designations have finished and when the press releases come these days from your office, they just read:
His Excellency, Governor Ben Ayade has approved the appointments of the following:
The appointments take immediate effect.
No designations, no job titles, no clear roles, no appraisal indicators. Just names and they hit the payroll. After four years sir, those hands are not getting on the plough. As a matter of fact, the horse trading and clandestine plots presently fouling the atmosphere in the state over appointments in your second term, is sickening.
It wouldn’t have been much of a problem if this incredible obsession is about service. The salary of a Commissioner in Cross River state statutorily, is supposed to be 350 thousand Naira monthly. Governor Ayade increased the number of ministries to 28 and had to pro rate the pay and reduced it to 300 thousand before deductions. Something tells me this pay cannot be the reason for the murderous scrambling for these slots either. Someone must be poking fingers in the cookies jar.
Which is why Governor Ayade must quickly fulfil the second part of his promise that he gave Cross Riverians in tears in 2018. The promise to move from food on the table to hands on the plough. We are not yet asking for what you did not promise sir. This request is still one of the promises you made and this is just a simple reminder.
Your Excellency, kindly save us the embarrassment of holding Nigeria’s gold medal in the highest number of government appointees without portfolios and even a work table. If you ask me sir, we do not need 28 Commissioners. We do not need six thousand SAs and PAs. A smaller, more compact government dominated by technocrats will be far more productive and cost effective in your second term.
If it is the desire of His Excellency to continue to put food on some people’s table, I will suggest that you start a social security program like SURE-P or N-POWER and even call it AYADE-SURE, and be sending whatever pleases your mind to the beneficiaries and save us the mental trauma of calling known criminals and gangsters – Commissioner, SA or PA, to a whole governor.
Many of the people who have left the 18 LGAs to pay rents in Calabar, calling themselves appointees without any specific task or office in the state capital, can then return to their various LGAs and continue with anything they can do from whatever comes to them monthly.
This in my opinion will reaffirm the governor’s acclaimed status as a promise keeper and also return respect and finesse to public appointment in our State.
Agba Jalingo is the Editor-In-Chief of CrossRiverWatch and writes from Lagos State.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are solely attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo and do not in anyway represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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