On Tuesday, April 10, 2018, exactly 49 days to May 29, which will be his third anniversary as he was sworn-in as the 16th governor since the creation of the state on May 27, 1967 and the third since the beginning of the fourth republic. The governor of Cross River state, Senator Ben Ayade signed his third budget into law as governor of the state.
In a signing ceremony which was auspicious as it was historical right from the very huge size of the 2018 budget standing at a gigantic figure of N1.3 Trillion, the first of its kind among the comity of states in Nigeria, to the historic and powerful speech delivered by the governor, the unprecedented crowd that attended the signing at the Executive chambers, Governor’s Office, Calabar, to the stylishly but deliberately and purposeful budget christened, Budget of Kinetic Crystallization”, two words so catchy to the people and appropriate to our situation and indeed, for the positively charged atmosphere felt by all with an inspired and prophetic prayer by the Special Adviser on Religious Affairs, Rev. Fr. Bob Ettah as requested by the governor, the state number one citizen could not hold back tears.
At the occasion, Ayade stated, “Cross River state is gathered here today to make history because indeed, this is the first budget in the history of Nigeria where a state would be giving a budget in the neigbourhood of a trillion. This is the first over the one trillion mark budget in the annals of Nigeria history and therefore is stoic, is unique, is an ambitious indication of the expression of the will of the people of Cross River State.”
Certainly not holding back emotions or tears when they come naturally not minding where it happens, whether in ones closet or in the public as the governor on Tuesday exhibited and had done in some other occasions in the past is a divine attribute acceptable to God Almighty. It is also an outward expression of the tender feelings of the person towards a particular situation, circumstance of person/persons, just as it could equally be an expression of joy of an achievement or envisioned target.
All things being equal, in this circumstance it seems to this writer that the governor wept at this occasion as a result of the massive support he receives from Cross Riverians, for the audacity of his dream and vision which for the people of cross River state, has steadily but gradually manifested before all in an unambiguous terms, including the administration’s most vicious critics.
It is also for the assurance that God Almighty has listened to the prayer led by Rev. Fr. Bob and joined by all in the chambers and even the people at their various houses and places of endeavours, and for many other positive reasons as a thorough reading in-between the lines of the Governor’s speech or a careful listening would succinctly reveal why Ayade got so emotional.
“For the people of Nigeria, I speak to you today with a full understanding of the implications of this great budget, the expectations and ambitions, frictions and hopes of the people of Cross River State being express in such huge manner. The chances are that you may either strip or fall and fall far below the expectations of what the world would have imagined what a N1.3 Trillion budget will carry or indeed achieve it so much that it become a classic case of example. However you look at it, it is better to have a very great ambition and miss your mark, than take a very small ambition and achieve it. We are known for great ambitions.”
Ayade went further to assert that “as we get into the salacious presentation of a very ambitious and humongous budget of this nature, it is very clear that there would be conflicts between expectations and what we will get, but we would be driven by the spirit of “We can do it” , the spirit that the people of Cross River have become resolved that we must decouple ourselves from the continuous dependent on the federal government allocation, and we must create a new vista, a new prospect, a horizon, a new income pattern that will define us by what we are and not what the world sees us to be; that we must put an end to the civil service status of Cross River State.”
Right from when Ayade took office as the governor of the state on May 29, 2015, he made it clear that he was ready to bulldoze any financial obstacle and impediments that his administration was going to face and focus on the welfare of the people as well as carry out massive industrialization programme to rapidly decouple the state from over-dependent on the federation account.
Certainly, for the past two to three years, Ayade has clearly demonstrated that he is ever committed to the realization of his set out development agenda. In two years, he has kept faith with payment of salaries and provision of massive political appointments to many Cross Riverians and had just recently announced 9000 more jobs for the people, just as his industrialization, agriculture and other social welfare programmes have completely taken firm shape within the period under review.
Inspite of the fact that some persons doubted the sincerity and capacity of the Ayade led administration in delivery what they described as exaggerated pipe dreams and unrealistic programmes by over-zealous and excited young persons in office dreaming a utopian society, Ayade has so far vanquished the fairy darts of criticisms and doubts of the critics and went ahead to perform and reduce to concrete terms his dreams and visions that even a blind man can now touch and feel.
The matching forward in the midst of doubt and lack of financial capability, but with enough intellectual capacity and reservoir, the constant receiving of alerts by thousands of Cross Riverians every month for the past two years plus now, the gradual transformation of his industrialization agenda from concept to reality with some ready for commission by May 29, this year, the support from the people and the members of the state House of Assembly, the I can do spirit and supportive spirit of the members of the state Executive Council and other appointees and the powerful Online and Traditional press team led by Christian Ita, etc. on reflection, would have certainly cause anybody with the heart of a stone at the centre of it all to melt and then weep.
Senator Ayade understood these intricacies and dynamics within the society and among the people he leads, hence averred, “That is why in desperation of that ambition, we are mistaken to be excited young people in office. But truly if you look at our achievements in two years plus so far, you can see clarity of thought, consistency of focus, a directional focus that creates a vortex that will shock the world.
Today as I sign this budget into law we are certain that within two years plus, we have completed and secured the entire approval for the super highway. We have completed the details design of the deep seaport. We have progress and have achieved the EIA approval for both the deep seaport and the super highway. We have started and has commence massive pre-construction works including land acquisition, land clearing and have started massive dredging at the deep seaport.
We have completed the design and have commence work on the dualization of the Calabar-Odukpani dual carriage way. We have completed the construction of an agro-industrial park, and we have our industrial park. We have completed the garment factory with an expansion mechanism which is provided here in this budget.
We have the pharmaceutical company also complete and ready for commissioning before the 29th of May. We have finish the rice City, completed, all the equipment have arrived and installation works have commence. We have also completed the design construction of the cocoa processing plant in Ikom and the equipment 100 percent paid for and are due for arrival.
We have completed the first digital vitaminized rice mill, the first of its kind again in Africa and the construction work is ongoing at Ogoja. We have finish all the earth works, design and complete all the earth works on the 148 km dual carriage way, the first and the biggest project ever undertaken by a state government. We are number 35 out of 36 states in terms of federal allocation. We are about number three in terms of debts burden.
Inspite of this ugly financial background, we have shown clearly that we stand out. We have shown clearly by the dexterity of our commitment by the exuberance of our youthful energy use positively, we have demonstrated that Inspite of the fact that we got nothing, we got everything. The only thing lacking and the only time you can fail in any ambition you have is when you begin to doubt yourself. The only person who can stand between you and your success is yourself.
It is only when you fail yourself, so as a corporate self, Cross Riverians, we can’t afford the agony of failing ourselves. We cannot be distracted but convert every criticism into tonic of enterprise, tonic of achievements that creates a new thinking that indeed, there is a chance that Cross River state can stand itself out. You must also recognize also that we are blessed with the opportunity of having two professors as governor and deputy.
That background creates opportunity for us to realize that we are people who have risen above physical and material considerations and that we have moved to something which is called the Golden Fleece, that which is not materialistic, that which is not physical, that you are driven by the ambition, the zeal, determination, energy to create a change that can bring succour to your people.”
Yet, Ayade is fully aware that Inspite of his commitment and altruistic intention and clear understanding and support from majority of our people, there are some who would not see his efforts in good light, but is certain that posterity shall judge him right when he is long gone.
“As I grow grey, as I aged in such sinister of speed, sometime I begin to wonder, I enjoy the aging process because I do know what I’m putting out to humanity is greater than what you can see today. I might not be recognize in all of these, but I know that in the fullness of time when I’m long gone society will remember that there was one ambitious person who was not driven by the excitement of reelection, because if it was, we wouldn’t have started the expansion of government from day one.”
About three years in the saddle, with three years budgets so far to his credit, the 2016 budget of N303Billion, tagged, “Budget of deep Vision” that laid the foundation for the realization of his development agenda; the 2017 budget of N707Billion, christened, “Budget of Infinite transposition”, envisioned to positively reverse the fortunes of the people and the state in an unbounded manner to become a miracle to many, 2018 budget of “Kinetic Crystallization” with a huge figure of N1.3Trillion, aimed to dynamically manifest his deep vision, sustain the match to prosperity that will change the entire story and history of Cross River for good, Ayade has shown that his vision is clear.
The path to greatness, self or collective fulfilment may be rugged, and strewed with mines and thorns, the purposeful and undeviating in mind and spirit, whose heart is single to the glory of God will always crack the puzzles and the obstacles, and the end product is always the satisfaction of an achievement