By Efa Sunday, Government House Correspondent
The newly sworn-in Governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben Ayade seems to have finally realized the reality and cost implication of his “over six thousand appointees” in the State payroll during his first tenure, as he finally termed it “biting more than I can chew.”
Governor Ayade made the remark while commenting on need to downsize his cabinet, a remark that signifies the weight the appointees constitute on Cross River State budget.
He also stated that there’s possibility of relocating his office and residence to Ikom and Bakassi Local Government Areas of the State, as he says it will help him monitor the ‘Super Highway and Deep Seaport’ signature projects.
Recall that Governor Ayade had in his first term appointed over six thousand aides in what he referred to as “expanding Government,” though some have alleged that it was his (Ayade) strategy to win the guber election of February, 2019.
His words, “When I expanded Government, creating jobs for over six thousand direct appointees – two thousand teachers, one thousand nurses in the hospital, it was not very clear to everybody that it was impossible to achieve it within the limit of my resources, so indeed, Ayade was biting beyond his chewing capacity, and it is beyond the carrying capacity of the State.”
Ayade’s aide and immediate past Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong in an exclusive interview with CrossRiverWatch had denied the weight of the numerous appointment on Government’s account, stating that “it was out of the Governor’s benevolence to expand Government and to put food on the table, and to also ensure that no child goes home hungry.”
The Governor however, re-affirmed his decision to reduce Government in order to maintain focus and to only appoint “those that can add value to the system.
“In my first term, we had a food on the table program, but I have said it clearly that second term will be food on the table, hands on the plough. When I did the expansion, I created jobs for people that I knew were not actually adding value, I did so because I wanted to eradicate hunger in my own little way.” He said.
According to the report published from the National Bureau of Statistics, Cross River State receives NGN2.7 billion (Two billion, seven hundred million naira) monthly to rank 35th out of 36 States in the Federation.
Mr. Ayade had mentioned yesterday during the valedictory service held at the Exco chamber that he would be the “project manager” in charge of overseeing and supervising all projects ongoing across the eighteen Local Government Areas of the State.
“About 99.9 percent of the vote showed that I won at almost every polling unit in the State. This is possible because you all trusted me. And that is why we are ready now to pay you back by ensuring that even when I am out of office, your children who are recently in Government can continue to survive and make good money through the massive industries being erected across the state.
“…like I said yesterday at the Exco chambers, my first tenure was food on the table policy, but now it is food on the table, hands on the plough. Which means that every one including myself will be on the field working tirelessly to ensure that we build the Cross River of our dreams. So don’t be surprised when you hear that your Govenor has relocated to Ikom and Bakassi, because I will from this day become the Project Manager, while my Deputy, Professor Ivara Esu will be the Acting Governor …” he revealed.
However, the former Senator appealed for prayers and constant support from Cross Riverians, promising that his second term will be more focused and “it will seek to transform the State from third world to first world.”
Pictures from the swearing-in;
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