It is no longer news that Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has expressed readiness to reduce the size of his cabinet in his second term administration. According to a release signed by his Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser, My Christian Ita, Ayade said he will reduce his cabinet to ensure better service delivery.
In the release, Ayade also directed his Commissioners and aides to turn in their hand over notes before April 26, 2019 for a smooth transition.
No doubt, this release has created an up rise of anxiety in the minds of his aides, leaving them to ponder on who will make the governor’s final list of appointment for 2019-2023 political period. Between 2015 and 2019, Ayade had 29 Commissioners in the State Executive Council who headed old ministries and a few created by his administration.
As he plans to reduce the size of his cabinet, Crossriverians and stakeholders are waiting patiently to see which of the ministries will be de-listed from his government, or rather, merged to reduce cost of governance.
To reflect the interest of the 18 local government areas in the state, I will advise governor Ayade to appoint at least one Commissioner each from all the LGAs in the state. This will foster political growth, promote equity in representation in the State Executive Council and drive peaceful political leadership and development in all the LGAs.
To do this, the governor must take into cognisance the welfare and security of residents in the state by ensuring that the reduction in size of the cabinet is for the overall interest and development of the state.
The 29 Ministries in Ayade’s first term can be merged into 18 strong, viable and reliable ministries that if well funded and monitored, can drive the speed of `industrialisation’ which is the focus of his administration.
A merger of some of the ministries to produce an outstanding 18 can be seen below…
1. Ministry of Justice: This office is constitutional, it needs no merger. The Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice serves as the Legal Advisor and Chief Law Enforcement Officer for the state government and is also empowered to prosecute violations of state law, represent the state in legal disputes and issue legal advice to state Ministries, Department and Agencies.
2. Ministry of Environment and Ministry Climate should be merged as one and called `Ministry for the Environment and Climate Change’. Issues of the Climate and Environment can be handled in this ministry because they are closely related.
3. Ministry of ICT, Sustainable Development and International Donor Corporation should be merged. These ministries are inter-related and also, they are largely funded by International Agencies. This will help in better coordination and effective service delivery.
4. Solid Minerals: In view of the good work Ayade has done in creating a solid mineral mapping in Cross River State by way of fostering its activities to generate revenue to government covers and promote the state rich resources, the ministry should stand.
5. Ministry of Health: One of Ayade’s tremendous achievements in his first term is in the health sector in view of the committed effort of the Commissioner for Health, Dr Inyang Asibong who is driving the health policy effectively. This ministry should be adequately funded and strengthened to collaborate with Nigerian Medical Association and the Cross River State Private Hospital Regulatory Board to fight increasing rate of medical quackery in the state. Health should stand.
6. Ministry of Education: This Ministry should stand on its own. But more should be done to improve infrastructure in public schools, especially in the remote areas.
7. Ministry of Finance: Finance is another vital ministry of government. The ministry prepare the annual fiscal budget and issue adequate regulations for its execution. It also manage government financial asset. The ministry should stand on its own.
8. Ministry of Commerce and Industries: This ministry should be given more attention in the next four years in view of the state governments’ agenda for industrialisation. If Governor Ayade must complete his ongoing projects within the next four years, this ministry should be well funded, evaluated and closely monitored to deliver the projects successfully for the growth of the state. This Ministry should stand.
9. Ministry of Special Project and Special Duties: As the name suggest, this ministry oversees special projects of the state government including maintenance of roads and others. This ministry should stand.
10 . Ministry of Transport and Marine Services: This ministry should stand as it concerns the state transport sectors which include Department of Public Transportation, Vehicle Inspection Office, and other marine movements and services.
11 . Ministry of Information, Ministry of Culture and Tourism should be merged. The state government should intensify efforts by revamping its media outfits in other to use them to showcase the tourism potentials of the state, especially the Calabar carnival, and creating adequate publicity for its sponsorship.
12 . Ministry of Women Affairs: This ministry should stand to cater for the welfare of women, especially widows in the state.
13 . Ministry of Housing and Ministry of New Cities Development should be merged and called `Ministry of Housing and New Cities Development’. These two ministries are closely related. They should be merged to improve on the social housing schemes of the state government and proposed new cities designed for the three senatorial districts in the state.
14 . Ministry of Sport and Youth Development: Sport instils discipline in the minds of youths and children. This ministry should be maintained, well funded and monitored to harness the potentials of primary and secondary school competitions and identify talents for national and global representation. The ministry under the leadership of Comrade Asu Okang, had witnessed tremendous achievements over the years.
15. Ministry of Gas and Ministry of Petroleum should be merged and called `Ministry of Energy Resources Development’. These ministries should be merged and strengthened because of the potentials of oil in Cross River State, irrespective of the ceding of the state oil wells to Akwa Ibom state.
16. Ministry of Works, Ministry of Power and Ministry of Infrastructure should be merged into one ministry for effective coordination, supervision and implementation.
17. Ministry of Lands: This ministry should stand on its own for effective surveying and mapping of the state government lands.
18. Ministry of Local Government Affairs: This ministry should be maintained to oversee the affairs of the third tier of government on behalf of the state government.
More so, the period between 2015-2018 was a booming period for states in Nigeria, thanks to Bail out funds and Paris Club Refund and Cross River State wasn’t left out in this regard. Going into the next four years, we “may” not have this free monies anymore shared among states in billions.
It is important that as a state with one of the least federal allocation, it is wise for Ayade to run a modest and sizeable government to reduce cost and to also focus on other sectors aside payment of salaries, gratuities and pensions to retired senior citizens.
As the build up to the next state executive council gets underway, it is our hope and wishes that each local government area will be guaranteed a voice to speak on behalf of their respective local government areas in the state.
However, it is our desire that Governor Ayade will bring in the brightest hands to drive forward the state administration for the next four years.
Long live Cross River State
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.