It was one of America’s foremost President J. F. Kennedy who said that ; “The hottest place in hell, should be reserved for those who keep quiet in times of moral crises,” as to sit on the fence when one should be speaking against dictatorship, is to be somewhat, an accomplice.
Recent happenings in the political landscape of our State, has shown a continued degeneration in the moral lores, ethics, values and sanity in the system ever since the State Governor – Senator Ben Ayade took the inglorious path of defecting to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) against popular opinion. Even on the side, those who reluctantly joined the bandwagon, was for fear of loosing their “food on the table.”
I was privileged to have served under the Governor for six years, and I think I can say to a large extent, that I know his take and thought on a plethora of issues; be it politics, morality, humanity and even business, and so, the Governor Ayade I know, will hardly consciously vent evil to anyone especially using executive powers (at least so we thought). And so, I have deliberately been careful in my outings as ‘now’ opposition member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
I have elected not to be quiet, but still be civilized in churning out my objective views on governance, because I still do understand the moral burden that our separation puts on both of us, hence I have clearly reflected this in all my media outings; be it my interviews with AIT, Punch newspaper, some radio houses, my personal social media handles and even my recent engagement with TNN news hub.
I have also elected to stay true to the oath of secrecy I took as Member of the the State Executive council, by leaving official secrets as secret! by not using any matter known to me as I then was, against the government simply because I became opposition some two months ago.
I am however, still in awe and outright disbelief as to some of the things that have transpired within the last two months; I do not want to believe that there is some opium that intoxicates people once they chant “APC.” Or maybe, when a person joins the leftist’ party, he becomes ‘demonized’, making him immune and insensitive to the reality that there is a tomorrow that will surely come calling. I say this because, the once humane, sensitive and emotional Governor is gradually drifting into full fledged dictatorship.
Even though there are many more sublime issues which I will be outlining in my subsequent releases, I will hinge my position on the fast fading mantra of “politics with ethics” on a tripod of instances;
The first is the way and manner he allowed his hatchet men, to go about ‘relievement’ of some core appointees and the stoppage of salaries of those perceived not to have followed the Governor to the APC, including the elected members of the Cross River House of Assembly.
In 2017, when Senator John Owan Enoh left us in the PDP and joined the APC, almost the same scenario took place, some of our brothers whose stock-in-trade is “crucify him,” wrote a long list of appointees who were perceived to be loyal to the then Senator. The list was sent to me, and so I had the responsibility of forwarding it to Accountant General’s office for the names to be taken off the payroll.
But I instead chose to call the Governor to appeal that we allow them; True to it, the Governor granted my request, infact, he was visibly upset. He told me that he didn’t give such instructions, and so, the names were retained.
In his words, “we must play politics with ethics,” adding that; “why use a gun, when a handshake can do it?, they are still Cross Riverians. Now, most of them are the ones shouting the loudest “Hosanna” for him.
As I write, the overhead allowances of seven elected members the Cross River House of Assembly has been suspended, just because they resisted the temptation of joining the APC. More shameful is the fact that, the money is being shared by the APC members in the house on the directive of the Governor. Meaning that the sum of Ten million, eight hundred and fifty thousand naira only (N10,850,000) being the total allowances for seven members at one million, five hundred and fifty thousand Naira (1,550,000) for each member is being shared among the 18 APC Assembly men in the house in addition to their own, and this has been going on for two months.
Now, my question is, how do these people sleep at night without a nightmare? after eating money that belongs to their colleagues just because you jumped ship two months ago. Even if the directive was from the Governor as they claim, is there nothing called conscience anymore? I mean, these PDP members still represent their constituents in the Assembly.
I also know the wit with which the Governor handled the then opposition APC chieftains while his stay in the PDP lasted! many of whom were given juicy contracts as against party loyalists. Yes! So I am wondering, whatever happened to that sense of maturity, or was he only preparing grounds for a soft landing when he finally moves? What suddenly happened to the long sung mantra of “politics with ethics?” This is wrong on all fronts and completely degrading.
A glance, at Tuesday’s release of the Governor’s official State engagement, as was released by the State Chief of Protocol, Mr. Emmanuel Asikpo-Okon, reveals conspicuously, a complete misnomer. The statement reads in part, invited are “ALL APC MEMBERS OF THE CRHA…” Really?
For a State engagement? It wasn’t a party or personal function. This is vendetta taken too far and a little too childish for our “Digutal Governor” who prides himself with Messianic mantra of “politics with ethics.”
Truly, when I saw that release, I said to myself, ‘this is not my Governor that I know’!
Another surprising thing is the outright refusal to pay statutory pensions to all former Governors including his benefactor – Liyel Imoke and Donald Duke and their deputies who are members of the PDP for many months now, is worthy of note. Should such treatment be meted on him by his successor, post 2023, will he be happy? We forget too soon, the ephemeral and transient nature of power.
The select gifting of vehicles to three out of ten National Assembly members and the increasing threat to life on perceived opposition PDP members as was witnessed yesterday in Boki in the case involving one of his aides, and Hon. Mark Obi, is completely unacceptable! And strikes me like a complete deviation from the all-so-celebrated mantra of “politics with ethics.”
One other shocker, was the outright withdrawal of the ford ranger pick-up vehicles that was driven by ex-commissioners and senior appointees of Government upon their disengagement from office. This one touched me directly.
All over the Country, there exists a car policy, both at Government and company levels. In Cross River, as is in other States, vehicles used after four years are phased out and auctioned with the last user, having a first right of refusal. That is, in the case of official vehicles.
For the first time in the history of our State, findings have shown that, Ayade’s Commissioners will be the first set to serve four years without take- home vehicles. Both Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke, made sure that happened. Even those who served under the military administrators benefited.
The standard really is that Commissioners and Heads of MDA’s are entitled to two vehicles, one official and one other as part of terminal benefit. In our case, NONE! Even the ford Ranger which we were told that was going to be a take-home and the reason for which we accepted the two hundred and seventy five thousand Naira (NGN275,000) monthly salaries as commissioners was retrieved after six solid years, which is even above the stipulated four year vehicle policy.
Again, this was unlike Ayade, the Governor I have for six years projected to the world as a Man with a human face.
If the Governor’s politics is anything to go by even after 2023, His Excellency is kindly requested to rise above party politics to save his fast eroding mantra of “politics with ethics” which is currently undergoing a litmus test and at crossroads, at least for the remaining one year and ten months.
Comrade Asu Okang, served at different times as Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development and Commissioner for Information. He writes in from Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Asu Okang and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.