The most celebrated event ever in the world is the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is celebrated across religious divide as adherents of other religious beliefs including atheists often join in celebrating the birth of the son of God. Hence, sending birthday greetings has become a necessary tradition these days. It can be hard to find the perfect birthday wish for the special birthday boy or girl especially, with so many options. A genuine birthday wish will surely make anyone’s day.
With exactly seven days to the 2019 gubernatorial elections today, Prof. (Senator) Benedict Bengioushuye Ayade, the executive Governor of Cross River state marks a historic birthday as he celebrates his 51th year on planet earth. Unarguably, the best performing governor since 2015, earning him the sobriquet “Digital Governor”, Ayade’s golden birthday coincides with his quest for a second term as the chief servant of the “Peoples Paradise” state.
It is therefore axiomatic that the best gift the peace loving and enlightened citizens of the state could accord the birthday is to turn-up en masse next Saturday and cast their votes to re-elect Prof. Ben Ayade to consolidate on his sterling achievements in the past four years. There couldn’t be any other gift better than this because this gift will be the appreciation from the wonderful Cross Riverians to their son, who has spent the last four years building, reshaping and transforming the state. As it is often said, one good turn deserves another; and Ayade’s excellent outing from May 29, 2015 deserves to be rewarded with additional four years.
Apart from the fact that Ayade has performed exceptionally well, there is need for the people of Cross River to respect the gentleman understanding of fairness, equality and justice that has been the practice in the state to allow the north complete its turn, just as the south and central did between 1999 and 2015. As it is the tradition, it is only natural that the north should do two terms.
Perhaps, if not for the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly election, which resulted in the rescheduling of the gubernatorial election, Governor Ayade, the golden birthday boy would have been on the ballot today on his birthday. He is a child of destiny who has been positioned by the Almighty God to raise the ante of development in Cross River state. The people of Cross River have a date with history, when they file out overwhelmingly to honour this worthy son by approving another four-year tenure for him.
Although, there are other Cross River state indigenes angling to take over from Ayade, the “difference is clear” and he towers far above all of them. He has been tested and confirmed fit and capable; he is competent and is trustworthy. Hence, Cross Riverians have to march in March for Ayade when March 9 comes calling next Saturday.
In his four years on the saddle, Ayade has won the Vanguard Newspaper Governor of The Year Award, Authority Newspaper Governor of The Year Award, Tell Magazine Man of The Year Award and The Most Labour Friendly Governor Award from the organised Labour. He was also adjudged as the best performing governor in the area of Agriculture by BusinessDay Newspaper. The Newspaper said the award was in recognition of “Ayade’s revolutionary strides in Agriculture.”
The Governor’s achievements, which spanned every area of human endeavor; health, education, agriculture, industries, infrastructure etc have incredibly won him accolades even from his most ascetic critics. Just recently, an environmentalist and a vitriolic critic of the Ayade Administration, Mr. Odey Oyama shocked everyone when he openly declared support for the Governor’s second term bid. Oyama, the Executive Director of Rainforest Resource and Development Centre (RRDC), in making the historic confession commended Ayade for his revolution in the industrial sector. According to him, “As an environmentalist, therefore, RRDC’s position on the super highway has not deviated from the principal issues of compliance with the law…It should be noted that environmental advocacy is not intended to result in needless conflicts and enmity with government at all levels.”
It is also on record that President Muhammadu Buhari has visited Cross River many times than any other state despite the fact it is an opposition state. This is due to the laudable and verifiable projects initiated and executed by the governor since coming on board. Not too long ago, President Buhari commissioned Africa’s first and only Rice seeds and Seedling Factory in Calabar. The factory is one of Ayade’s signature agricultural projects. While commissioning the project, President Buhari commended the governor for keying into the economic diversification policy of his administration by investing heavily in agriculture, describing him as a reference point in agricultural revolution.
He has effectively launched Cross River state on the path to decoupling it from over-dependence on oil-driven federal allocation through diversification of the state’s economy. He is also building an ultramodern rice mill in Ogoja, a 30000 per annum cocoa processing plant in Ikom. He has also established a cotton farm in Woda, Yala, and Banana Plantation in Odukpani. Work has also commenced on the Calabar ultra-modern poultry farm and yellow maize farm in Obubra among others.
Born on 2nd March 1969, Ben Ayade is a Nigerian politician and the current Governor of Cross River State since 29 May 2015. He ran successfully for the office of Governor in April 2015 on the platform of People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Before that, he was a member of the 7th Senate of Nigeria.
Benedict Bengioushuye Ayade was born on 2 March 1969 to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Akinsheye Ayade, a native of Kakum, a village in Obudu Local Government Area in northern Cross River State. His parents were both devout Catholics. His father worked as a public servant with the water board. Ayade received his primary education at St. Stephens Primary School, Obudu and proceeded to Government Secondary School, Obudu, Nigeria.
Ayade earned his B.Sc. (Honours) in Microbiology at Ambrose Alli University in Ekpoma, Nigeria (1984 – 1988) and proceeded to the University of Ibadan (1990 – 1994) where he obtained his Ph.D., winning the Best Doctoral Dissertation Award in Environmental Microbiology. Ayade went on to work as a lecturer at Delta State University, Abraka where he was subsequently appointed Professor.
From his work in groundwater remediation in Nigeria, Ayade invented a sewage treatment plant powered by solar energy. The technology he developed is currently being used off-shore by oil-producing companies operating in Nigeria.
Apart from academics, Ayade has had the privilege of serving the nation and his state in different capacities before now. He was Chairman of Ecological Fund, Chairman of International Institute of Environmental Research, Member of Strategic Policy Advisory Council,Member of Nigeria Association of Petroleum Engineers and Member of Cross River State Poverty Alleviation Board.
Ayade ventured into politics when he ran for a seat in the Nigerian Senate beating his closest rival, Patrick Agbe of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), with over 80,000 votes in the April 2011 elections. Ayade roundly defeated his rival with 91,123 votes who received only 11,056 votes. During his term in the Senate, Prof. Ayade held the position of Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology. He was also a member of other Committees such as Petroleum Downstream, Education, Drugs/Narcotics/Crime etc.
Senator Ayade was one of the leading voices in the Senate and a prolific legislator, having sponsored a total of 41 bills he was ranked highest among his peers in the 7th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2011-2015). Among the bills he sponsored are Nigerian Naira Stabilization Bill, Nigeria Expatriate Quota Control Bill, Job Creation and Protection Bill, Federal Scholarship Commission Bill, Petroleum Refineries Bill, Green Cities Development Bill, EFCC Act 2003 Bill, and National Energy Bill. Senator (Prof) Ben Ayade won the gubernatorial poll again on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the April 2015 elections in Cross River State having polled 342,016 votes ahead of the All Progressives Congress candidate in the state Mr. Odey Ochicha with 53,983 votes.
On taking up office as Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade launched several important infrastructure projects, including a 260 km dual-carriage Calabar-Katsina-Ala superhighway, Calabar deep seaport, and a Calabar garment factory, all of which were projected to employ thousands of people. He also unveiled plans to build three new cities in the State.
Ben Ayade is an accomplished scholar and speaker at numerous high-level events such as the Summit organised by the United Nations Secretariat for Climate Change when he led African Governors to the climate change negotiations in Paris in December 2015. The Digital Governor is married to Dr. Linda Ayade and has three children. His hobbies include reading, playing and watching games as well as dancing.
Therefore, let us unanimously give four gbosa to our birthday and wish him another four years of purposeful and credible leadership. Happy birthday the Peoples Governor!
Emmanuel Ulayi, is SA Media to Governor Ben Ayade