The Ben Ayade We Think We Know BY TOM OSHIE

In Breaking News, Opinion, Politics

There came a time in the Cross River State Political ecosystem particularly in the northern prairie when there was a need to go outside the usual dogs, moose, pronghorns, and other known biotic features. There was the need to test a rookie.

More so, like an elk, he has branches of certificates in his head. That was how Prof. Ben Ayade was shown the goodwill of PDP and the people and he became the Senator representing the Cross River State Northern Senatorial District.

Then he was actually a Lilliputian, it was a non-issue as he was the people‟s choice. And also coming from the ivory tower, they saw a reservoir of knowledge. In no long time, the door for the governorship was open to him particularly at the niche of time when there was a strong argument for Northern Cross River to produce the governor. Fortunes smiled at this young man. All the spirals were getting straight for him as he had a smooth sail to the governorship seat.

Be informed that this piece is not about the infrastructures or projects put in place by Ayade as a governor. Neither is it about his governance. But it is about his character first, for a man is measured by his character. One thing that cannot be dissociated from Prof. Ben Ayade is his oratory. He has the gift of words. He can cause musical sounds with his speeches and trust that you do not know when you would get up and start dancing in excitement, maybe to the sweet words or promises made there from. But the big question is, does he match action with words?

Immediately Ayade assumed office he started bulldozing the forests right from Calabar to Obudu with his mouth to create a super highway that the earth has never witnessed before. The media was awash, an unusual blitzkrieg of propaganda on the super highway. Lo and behold, the only super highway Ayade constructed and he neatly maintains is the parted haircut on the left side of his head.

Right from 2016, Cross River State has witnessed a budget of Deep Vision in 2017, the budget of Infinite Transposition in 2018, the budget of Kinetic Crystallization in 2019, the budget of Densification in 2020, the budget of Blush and Bliss in 2021 budget of Conjugated Agglutinatum in 2023, the budget of Quantum Infinitum. With all the clownish christening of the budgets, it is baffling how no one person has asked how much is the annual revenue of Cross River State to have sired such billions and trillions. Has anyone asked the percentage of implementation of such budgets? One could summarize all the budgets into budgets of conjunctivitis.

This could be so called because Prof. Ben Ayade has covered every Cross Riverian with that disease so that they do not see clearly the mess he turned Cross River State into. Is it not a financial crime to claim what does not exist? In one of his plenty except he claims we are giving focus on completing the existing projects with the view to making them functional.

The only functional project Ben Ayade has in Cross River State is his younger brother, Frank Ayade, the de facto Deputy Governor of the State. Lest it is forgotten, this piece is not to focus on the projects yet, but his character and lies. Fifteen generations after Ayade can never test hardship, not because they are blessed with entrepreneurship or skills, but because once upon a time someone in the family was a governor of Cross River State. That is the extent to which the Ayades have stashed it.

His wife is also good at diversionary and sentimental remarks that end up next to nothing. Why do you cry out that women are suffering with all the decay in the state under your watch? They are talking cheaply about how pregnant women should have been helped. Do you help pregnant women in their various homes or do you provide good hospitals that can treat them?

Do not be bamboozled with lies about the Obudu-German specialist hospital. The 95% of the ownership of that edifice including the land, belongs to Swiss Biostadt Limited, a private company. The remaining 5% stake has been bought by Cedarcrest hospital, another private research, and clinical care company. It is a sure bet that members of the State Executive Council and other stakeholders are not aware of the sale of this edifice. Now, who sold it to these new owners?

When was the transaction made? Where are the proceeds from the sale? If you see Ayade there on certain occasions, he is only honoring invitations, not because it is the property of Cross River State. Like every other private hospital in Nigeria, no poor pregnant woman would be given treatment at an affordable cost there. Again, this piece is not about projects yet, but the character of Prof. Ben Ayade. It is very dangerous to exhibit wickedness and hope that nobody would know.

Prof. Ben Ayade keeps deceiving naïve Cross Riverians with appointments. Imagine a peasant farmer doing his thing on the farm then suddenly an appointment letter from Calabar is served on him as a Senior Assistant to the Governor on Yam. Zoom! The farmer sees himself in Calabar, and does all the necessary „documentation.‟ He squats with a friend or a family member, or even lodges in a hotel. After all, he is now a political appointee. Life is getting better!

No office, no access to the Principal, no clear-cut function, and the list of embarrassments is endless. That is how Ayade has deceived a huge chunk of Cross Riverians into hardship in the name of political appointments. He would tell that it is food on the table. Scam! Many people are roaming around Calabar with rents hanging on them. The Magistrate courts are filled with rent cases most of which are Ayade‟s appointees.

The story of an average Cross Riverian under the Ayade system is likened to that of Sarah Baartman, a khoi indigene born in 1789 in the now Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Baartman was taken from her home by a British ships doctor, William Dunlop, who promised her work as a servant in Cape town.

However, instead of being employed as a servant, Baartman was taken to England and exhibited as a sideshow attraction under the name “Hottentot venus” Baartman‟s buttocks and erupted Labia was considered unusual and exotic and she was put on display in London, and Paris. She was dancing and singing to the entertainment of spectators.

Baartman was treated poorly during this time and was not paid for her performances until she finally died after being used multiple times by her captors. This is the sorry state of an average and naïve Cross Riverians who is under the captivity of Ayade in Calabar in the name of political appointment. Most of them go about chorusing and dancing, calling him all names in the hope that something is coming. He displays them on various media for people to see that he is doing well. Trust, he only uses them to entertain viewers.

In the passing eight years, Cross Riverians suffer double if not more, of what other Nigerians are suffering today. But you know as a very theatrical person, Ayade is always quick to cry. He has also mastered the act of crying particularly when he wants to deceive people. It seems that society now values comedians and actors more than scientists.

Cheap judges would say he pays salaries at the beginning before work. It is an elementary knowledge in corporate financial management that salaries are earned and not to be paid in advance as it is not project finance. Anybody who works deserves his salary; it is not to be recorded as an achievement of the governor.

Shivers ran through thoughtful minds when the Governor claimed that he had too much meek heart for some categories of artisans to pay tax. What an aberration to tax laws! Every sane person should know that tax is a cardinal device for improving the revenue of the government. Tax people judiciously, but let them feel and see what their money is being used for. It is a developmental tool in every society. It even has biblical support. But the „digital governor‟ chooses to be analog here. You do not deceive artisans, okada riders, and others to be tax-free but federal allocations accruing to the same persons are taken away through phantom schemes. You tell someone that his pain is being taken yet you cause him more pain. Too many comedies coming from this man, abeg.

While many states had the problem of not sharing the COVID-19 palliative, Ben Ayade seems to have taken it to a craft. A man who has the downtrodden at heart, would steal from them and pretend to give them a tax holiday. Why not tax them so that they would see the outcome of good governance?

Ayade arm-twisted the legitimate winner of the APC primaries for the Northern Cross River Senatorial Seat, collected the ticket from the young man, and rendered him a wet noddle by using his power as the governor of the State. That is their business anyway, but it is a moral offense, to be frank. Today he is contesting for the senatorial seat at the National Assembly. Lest it is forgotten, he was there before and there was nothing to show. It is an open bet to everyone to point out the tangible project executed during his days in the Red Chambers other than boring people with grammar. Can you compare that to the short time Senator Agom Jarigbe Agom has spent?

One thing an average Northern Cross Riverian has going for him is that they do not sleep for too long. You cannot catch them twice. Ayade thinks he has indoctrinated everyone to believe that by feeding them with lies under his controlled conditions, they would never be wise but that is not applicable to the electorates this time around. At this point, he is deceiving himself. Even his supporters know that he is not going anywhere. Northern Cross Riverians particularly are not limited to dependency than being free.

If truth be told, Senator Jarigbe Agom has brought wisdom to the electorates. He has exposed the people to see that they have been under the shackles of a liar. He has given them the keys to survival. There is no community in the Northern Senatorial District today in Cross River State that does not feel and see the quality works of Senator Jarigbe Agom. Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent efforts, Jarigbe had amidst the praises stated clearly that what he is doing is not from his money, but money meant for what is being done.

That is competence and character. But can anyone say the same about Ben Ayade?

Tom Oshie is a Legal Practitioner, Researcher, and Public Affairs Analyst.

NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Tom Oshie, and do not represent the opinion of  CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.

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