By Jonathan Ugbal
In a bid to consolidate their spaces in the Cross River political terrain, some Cross Riverians have intensified lobbying efforts to be appointed by Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade as he begins his second term in office in less than 24 hours.
This is despite Mr. Ayade’s stance to cut down the size of his cabinet by over 90 percent in his second term which he christened as “Hand on the plough.”
He reiterated his stance on Monday in Calabar during the commissioning of the new Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) secretariat where he said he will only receive the nominees of the body while others will be appointed based on their track records.
“It is my honor to be part of this event today to commission this secretariat. CAN has contributed a lot to the development of this State,” Ayade said, adding that: “In view of that, CAN should be ready with a list of political appointments in my second term. I wish to call on the association to join hands with me in industrializing the state for economic growth.
“My first term appointments were food on the table, but my second term will be hands on the plough because every appointee must bring on board ideas that will move the state forward.”
Ayade who bagged the title of “Friend Of CAN,” pledged to send 300 pilgrims to Jerusalem in 2019; redeem his promise of providing five plots of land, a 32 seater bus and a Sports Utility Vehicle to the association.
The State Chairman and former Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Calabar, Most Reverend Dr. Joseph Ukpo said the body which is the largest ecumenical body in Nigeria, came into existence in 1976 with the State chapter existing without a secretariat for many years.
“As an association, we can achieve greater things together when we prioritize the common good of the association and strive to make sacrifices for the development of this ecumenical body,” he said.
Meanwhile, the homes of relatives of the Governor and those perceived to have his ears are constantly thronged with visitors seeking appointments.
One of such is the Kakum, Obudu residence of Madam Kate Ayade, the Governor’s younger sister who is said to be referred to as “Her Excellency,” and “Your Excellency” by the dozens who visit her daily with gifts of palm wine, goats, yams among others in order to gain favors.
She is said to have been instrumental to the appointment of no fewer than 50 people across northern Cross River of which a few have been living in her house and serving in different capacities.
The phone lines of Mr. Frank Ayade whom the Governor had referred to as “Co-Governor” (while addressing lay faithful who had gathered for his thanksgiving mass at St. Theresa’s Catholic church in Ipong, Obudu in 2015) are currently being sought for by many who send season greetings on a daily basis.
The Governor is expected to make key appointments shortly after his swearing-in which include principal aides like the Chief of Protocol, Chief Press Secretary, Chief of Staff, State Security Adviser, Special Adviser Governor’s office and Secretary to the State Government (SSG).
There is intense lobbying for the position of SSG with political bigwigs from Yakurr and Boki Local Government Areas currently embroiled in a cat and mouse game to outwit each other to the position due to the loss of the seat of the member representing Yakurr/Abi federal constituency to the opposition All Progressives Congress.
These positions, CrossRiverWatch gathered, are being sought after by many including the current occupants whom, including less than two dozen others were asked to stay put until the midnight of May 28, 2019.
A quick check on social media spaces such as Twitter and Facebook saw increased conversations about the Governor’s performance while most appointees whom were asked to present handover notes have turned to political godfathers this including former Governor Liyel Imoke, Mr. Asuquo Ekpenyong, Efiok Cobham, Gershom Bassey, monarchs and allies of the Governor like Chief Tony Undiandeye, Stephen Odey, two Judges of the State High Court (names withheld), his brother, Mathias Angioha among others to “secure” places.
It is unclear whether Mr. Ayade will return any of his appointees especially commissioners as he is said to have asked each of them to travel to choice countries as he will approve their per diem and other allowances as exit packages.
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