It is a fact that the last two years have been very strange to many Nigerians courtesy of the devastating economic recession that descended on the nation barely a year into the All Progressives Congress (APC) led administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. While most states are battling with huge accumulated arrears of workers’ salaries, some governors are struggling to get close to the bottom line on the list of their campaign promises. In fact, President Buhari recently expressed shock at the failure of some state governors to pay staff salaries. And with just a year plus to the next general elections, some of these state chief executives have already received red cards on the basis of their non-satisfactory performance.
But amidst the biting economic recession in the nation, the executive governor of Cross River state better known as the ‘digital governor’, Prof. Senator Benedict Ayade has defied the odds and placed ‘the peoples paradise’ in the sands of history. Despite the paucity of funds, Ayade has in the last two years and five months, avoided the embarrassing temptation of owning workers’ salaries thereby escaping the curse of pensioners’, who have cast a spell on governors that have refused to pay what is due to them. Conversely, Cross River has instead being turned into a huge construction site with quality and reputable infrastructural facilities adorning every section of the state. These projects have traversed all sectors of the economy being it health, education, industry and commerce, agriculture, tourism youth and women empowerment, name it.
It is on record that in his first year in office, the governor completed a garment factory with the employment capacity of between 1,800-2000 workers, mostly women and widows and completed; he commissioned the Calabar monorail. A Pharmaceutical Company, CALAPHARM also came on stream.
Realizing that one of the intractable problems the people of the state had faced over the years was the absence of motorable and accessible road network, Governor Ayade has since 2015 embarked on an audacious road construction that is unprecedented in the history of the state. Of course, these achievements are a product of a well thought out plan as encapsulated in the “Signature Projects” agenda. Hence, the first major project initiated by the governor was the 260-kilometre Calabar-Kastina-Ala Super Highway road, which was launched by President Buhari in October 2015. Major geo-technical studies have been carried out on the other signature project, the Bakassi Deep Seaport. The Super Highway, when completed will serve as the evacuation route for the Seaport. The road will reduce travel time from six hours to two hours from Calabar to Obudu Ranch Resort.
The Ayade administration has also shown great interest in fixing dilapidated federal roads in the state since assuming office. For example, it is a known fact that the Odukpani Junction, some portions of Calabar-Itu Federal highway, and Calabar-Akpabuyo-Bakassi Federal highway were all in a state of disrepair when this administration came on stream. Consequently, the government embarked on a massive intervention and remedial works on the roads. In the state capital, the administration has also fixed several streets in both Calabar Municipality and Calabar south to ease traffic congestion and ensure more accessible routes.
Not oblivious of the importance of Obudu Ranch Resort to the economy of the state and in deed the nation at large, the Ayade administration has given priority attention to providing more access roads to the Ranch as well as links other produce markets. It was in this wise that the governor flagged off the construction work on a 134 kilometers Mfom-Okpoma-Imaje-Bekwarra-Obudu-Obanliku dual carriage way. The construction of the federal road which will traverse the five local government areas of Northern Senatorial District of the state valued at N31 billion and expected to be completed in 30 months.
It is a fact that before the emergence of Ayade, the northern part of Cross River made up of five local councils of Bekwarra, Obanliku, Obudu, Ogoja and Yala were virtually ostracized from socio-economic activities with the central and southern part of the state due to. The governor lend credence to this while performing the groundbreaking of the Mfom-Okpoma-Imaje-Bekwarra-Obudu-Obanliku dual carriage way. He said the project was the beginning of a new journey in the history of the Northern Senatorial District which for 45 years had been denied the luxury of driving on good roads.
Ayade’s infrastructural revolution particularly in the area of roads cut across all the 18 Local government areas of the state. In Akpabuyo Local Government Area, the government has awarded the Akpabuyo Road into Arthur Javis University at the cost of N146 million and the road. Similarly, in Odukpani Local Government Area in Usung Esuk, contract has been awarded for one and half kilometer stretch that is undergoing construction. This is just as contractors have been mobilized for the Usung Esuk road in Odukpani for a N130.
Other road contracts awarded by the Ayade administration and ongoing include the one in Biase Local government area, comprising the stretch of road from Akpet Central which is the local government headquarters, Akpet Central to Ugbem crossing to Eton Owan and entering into Ereyi farm settlement, that stretch of road is 23 kilometers and that road was awarded for grading. The government has also awarded a contract to Ugep urban, one and a half kilometer stretch of road for a N120 million Naira. In Obubra local government, contract has been awarded for the Ofat – Ababene road at the cost of N136 million, which is an age long abandoned road. The bridge construction ongoing for the Boki East West road. The road has been awarded and hundred percent of the payment has been paid to the contractor for the bridge. The Kanya-Kataba-Boje-Onijafang road is also under construction.
In fact, there is another mini superhighway being constructed by the Ayade administration- that is the N31.7 billion, 143 kilometre dual carriage way. Of course, clearing for the road project from Mfom, Okpoma, Okuku, Ogoja, Abuochichie, Obudu and Obudu Ranch has been done. So clearing has been completed right to Obudu. As we speak with you, you can go and investigate. Again, stabilization of the road in terms of cutting, shaping and hauling of materials and compaction has been achieved for 20 kilometers, hence one can now drive on 20 kilometers stretch of that road from Mfom right into Okpoma and through to Okuku with ease.
Furtherance to its commitment to ensuring infrastructural developments in Cross River, Governor Ayade recently approved N3.7 billion Maura for the construction of the ukelle okpoma benue border road.A project that has been abandoned for several years, his recent action has brought ample joy to people of that areas as attest by ogbaji oko” GOVERNOR Ayade has give us hope with the award of the construction for this road our people have suffered a lot for many years as a result of the bad state of the road. “We are indeed very happy and proud of him and will demonstrate our appreciation for him by our votes come 2019.”