Ahead of the 2019 gubernatorial elections, a group, Cross River Sand, Gravel miners and Tipper Operators Association (CRISTA), Tuesday, declared its total support to the state governor, Prof Ben Ayade, assuring him of overwhelming victory.
Members of the association, in their thousands, defied the scorching sun and shunned their busy schedules as they stormed Government House Calabar, chanting solidarity songs and vowing their unflinching loyalty for Ayade to return as governor of the state.
Presenting an award of Good Governance to Ayade, Chairman of the association, Elder Ekpenyong Okon, disclosed the resolve of his team to support the return of the governor, after considering him as “a man who has kept to his campaign promises, industrialized the state, pays salaries promptly and made Cross River a safe haven for investors.”
Okon pointed out that “Ayade remains the best governor in the country, offering food on the tables of the common man and the downtrodden, even as he has continued to make security a priority thereby encouraging both local and foreign investors to troop into the state without any fear of molestation.”
The group, while insisting that the governor’s victory in 2019 was not his but that of CRISTA, and the entire Cross Riverians, advised Ayade to go to sleep as there was no vacancy in Diamond Hill Government House, adding that the he had surpassed all expectations as the most performing governor in the country.
Responding, Governor Ayade lauded the group for the honour done him unsolicited, while praying God to continue to grant him the wisdom and strength to pilot the affairs of the state in spite of dwindling financial challenges.
His words: “You are not politicians, you are professionals, you made a choice to come to me to give me an award, to tell me to carry on. I cannot say much, I can only say, God bless you, what I cannot achieve, you will achieve, and as professionals, I pray that you and your children will surpass me, I pray that God should give you long life.”
The governor enjoined them to “check the number of houses that have been built since I became governor,” adding that “you will never believe that it is during the time of recession that all these are happening. “There is no single factory that is being built or already built without the miners’ input, as we are building Calachika factory for the export of frozen chicken, instant noodles and the construction of roads, it is you that will supply the materials.”
On some of the policies he initiated on assumption of office as governor, Ayade said: “I passed a law against over taxation, my people may not be keeping it but my spirit, heart and God will judge me. Any government that taxes its people to prosperity is because it has failed to tax its brain, so the best thing a governor can do to a people that want to survive is to leave them alone.”
Continuing, the governor rhetorically asked: “You struggle day and night to eke out a living, to train your children in school, if your children graduate from school and come back home to stay with you without jobs, will you be happy?”
To this end, Ayade disclosed: “I decided to do those things that seem impossible except in the eyes of the rich like deep seaport, superhighway and industrialisation. For me, it is when it is impossible that it excites me, so I do only big things.
“In three years that I have been in office go and check out the projects that I have completed, the number of people I have as appointees, about 6000 and everyone is struggling to build a small house, so if I cannot empower them, how will you (miners) be busy?”
Noting that that his goodness of heart has guided his conscience in all he engages in, Ayade said: “God has bless me too much to abuse this office, I must therefore make a major difference and the only difference I can make is to look at the way of going forward.”
Not done with his intentions for the state, the governor argued: “If you look for a solar light and replace, or look for a pothole and patch and do all those cheap things to win elections, you may succeed, but have you really brought the change that God brought you to serve or do?”
While preaching morality, the governor stated: “I don’t fight back. Only love can drive out hatred, when I know you are fighting me, I look for you and do you good, let your own soul judge you. That is why in Cross River, two months to elections, no political killings, tension or persecution.”
The governor while granting the request by the group for a piece of land for its office, charged them to “go round, pick a location of your choice to build your Head office. I will give you C of O free of charge, you are not going to pay for that land. I will grant you a piece of land within a suitable location at no cost, free of charge.”