Let us do a blind hypothesis about our State. If the 38 industries that Governor Ben Ayade says he has built were working efficiently, employing workers and making some profit like Lafarge cement in Mfamosing in Akamkpa Local Government Area is doing, apart from the cumulative direct and indirect number of jobs that would have been created, even me as a media entrepreneur in the State will make massive fortune without involving in any form of corruption.
If only 50 percent of those industries (19), pay products promotional and advertisement sums that are prorated to even NGN100,000 monthly, it will amount to NGN1.9 million a month. That is enough to pay ten staff members more than the salary of some appointees in Ayade’s government and still save to buy a property in Calabar within 12 to 24 months. And you know what, you will have no business with government office.
Before accepting appointment as a Special Assistant to Governor Ayade, Joseph Edet, Founder of La Shakara Wears and Branding, had built a strong brand with presence in major cities across the country.
If the NGN5.2 billion Cross River State Garment factory is really churning out garments for the market and not just a front for extension of government payroll, La Shakara will be rolling in a lot more money than whatever he gets from government today as Special Assistant unless he has access to stealing our public money.
Young people sold millions of shirts after capitalizing on the viral “Oga at the top” gaffe of the former Lagos Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) boss on Channels TV and printed T-shirts with trendy designs that sold millions of pieces nationwide.
Such ventures as producing and marketing garment products with trendy slogans continue to flourish around the country daily and those shirts are produced somewhere here in the country or outside and young people are cashing out.
If the Cross River deep seaport was working, just like Tin Can Port in Lagos, so many idle young people who have strength will have a place to go to every day. They will just sit around and whoever comes to evacuate their goods will need their services to offload or load their wares. Some return home with between NGN5,000 to NGN10,000 or even more daily. That, again, when calculated in a month, is more than the salaries of some Special Assistants in Ayade’s government.
Our ingrained craving for civil service and uniformed jobs and political appointments, like our parents did, is still trapping us in the same circuitous rigmarole and stifling our capacity to build a sustainable economy outside government.
We need to instigate government to build an alternative economy that can pay Cross Riverians more than government appointments. We require a government that can deepen our economic aspirations and create a bustling environment that can wake us from sleep before cock crow. Governor Ayade’s attempt at doing that, has been insincere, opaque, and disastrous.
Today, even petty business premises in our State capital, Calabar are behaving like civil servants. They sleep till 9am to 10am before opening. If you come before then, you are disturbing them. If your employer tells you to come before then, the employer is wicked and stressful. Some close the same time with government offices because that is the only thriving source of patronage. The work culture is still stratified within the civil service framework. Every other job in the State is perceived as a stop-gap while you are still waiting for a government job or appointment.
Are we not too cold? Aren’t we tired of turning around this mountain for too long? Can we please generate some heat into the system? Can we heat up the system a little? Heat helps us cook our food. It helps us to bend, melt and recreate even the toughest iron or steel. That is exactly what our leaders need to serve us, heat! Not our pampering.
Citizen Agba Jalingo, Publisher of CrossRiverWatch and a rights activist, is a Cross Riverian and writes in from Lagos.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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