Democracy day in Nigeria is celebrated every year on 29th May, which was the day the last military administration under General Abdusalami Abubakir handed over to a democratically elected General Olesugun Obasanjo. This event occurred 19 years ago. It was to instill in the psyche of Nigerians their hard earned freedom and the reign of democratic norms in all facets of our nation ethos, thereby instituting a situation where the people will now determine their destiny by choosing their leaders after every four years.
29th May, 2018 therefore marks 19 years of unbroken nascent democracy cutting across all tiers of governance. At the national level, there had been four presidents, namely; Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yaradua, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and the incumbent presently Mohamadu Buhari.
There is consciousness of accountability to the people by the elected leaders; hence the drive to bequeath visible developmental strides in all areas of governance as constitutionally, every four years the people will determine the score cards of all elected leaders by either voting them back to power or vote them out of office on election days.
The 2018 democracy day celebration in Cross River State assumed a spiral dimension under the State Governor, Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade, with the introduction of Democracy Day Road-Show, by the Ministry of Information and Orientation, which stormed major streets of Calabar, the State capital.
There was a mammoth crowed at the Calabar Cenotaph as Cross Riverians eagerly awaited the arrival of the State Governor Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade to flag off the newly introduced democracy day road-show, organized by the State Ministry of Information and Orientation. The road show which was colourful, with pomp and pageantry consisted of a motorcade led by the Governor, his lovely wife Dr. Linda Ayade, the Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. John Gaul Lebo and Members of the Legislature as well as the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mrs RoseMary Effiom Archibong among others.
Vehicles in the motorcade carried banners showcasing projects that speak eloquently of the Giant Strides’ undertaken by the Ayade led administration in the past 3 years. The motorcade took off from the Calabar Cenotaph through the teeming Mary Slessor way; into Marian road, flowing past Rabana Junction and wading through Marian road extension, embracing Effio-Ette junction and warming itself into those living along MCC .
From there trumpetting into Murtala Mohammed highway, cascading to Flour Mill junction and navigated through old Odukpani road to SPC junction, from where it got back to Murtala Mohammed highway into the cozy ambience of Tinapa road, returning through the mesmeric Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Bye Pass to terminate at Calapharm within the Ayade Industrial Park with its refreshingly revitalizing location.
As a build up to this Road-Show, the Management of the State Ministry of Information and Orientation under the very resourceful Mrs. RoseMary Effiom Archibong as Commissioner had undertaken a media tour of the three senatorial zones in the State to view first hand and have on the spot assessment of the gigantic projects which constitute some of the Giant Strides’ of the 3 years of the present administration.
The one week media tour enabled the Commissioner and her team to see and capture project details for CrossRiverians.
They visited the construction site of the Ogoja Ultra Modern Rice factory in Ogoja Local Government Area. Governor Ayade has, in collaboration with investors from Thailand, commenced moves to mill the rice produced in the state – which used to be milled and bagged in neighboring states. Moreso, the state government has completed the construction and equipping of the rice city, Calabar, in collaboration with the Thai investors. The project is expected to produce specie of highly vitaminized rice to be sold locally and exported; the project will also produce highly specialized organic rice seedlings for export. The rice city is located at the Ayade industrial park and it is powered by solar energy.
Governor Ben Ayade has embarked on the construction of Mfon-Okpoma-OKuku-Bekwarra-Obudu-Obanliku-Ranch 148 kilometres dual carriage way (mini super highway). This road when completed will re-energize and increase access to the obudu ranch resort as well as transportation of farm produce to local markets. The construction of the road is ongoing and handled by Messr Sidney Construction Limited.
In the cocoa sector, Sen. Ben Ayade has made significant impact. The cocoa processing factory in Ikom local government area is at an advanced stage of completion. His effort is aimed at getting Cross River State at becoming the leading producer of Cocoa and cocoa products in Nigeria. He is also committed to seeing the production of cocoa in the State rise to 350.000 metric tons per annum.
In his bid to bring equitable, qualitative and affordable health care delivery to the door step of its citizenry, Governor Ayade flagged off the State health insurance scheme (popularly called AyadeCate) on May 28,2018 ; being the first State among eleven others that have been striving to implement same in Nigeria.
To compliment his health scheme, Governor Ben Ayade set up three referral hospitals in the three senatorial districts of the State; with a functional ptimary health center in each ward.
Accordingly, construction work on the referral hospitals are at various stages of completion in Akpabuyo, Efraya in Etung, and Obudu Town in Obudu Local Government Area.
Also, Boki East-West Road is progressing. There is also the massive completed bridge linking Boki east and west. With this, the Indigenes of Boki East and West in Cross River State who have been disconnected for over 45 years now have reason to smile. Economic activities in these areas were at a standstill before the intervention of the Ayade-led administration.
The Banana plantation at Odukpani Local Government Area was visited where the team saw the banana trees in growth and due for harvest for export. This is commendable.
Another laudable project of this administration is the toothpick factory at Ekori in Yakurr Local Government Area. The factory at completion will produce 20 metric tons per day and will create over 1000 jobs for Cross Riverians as well as increase the State’s internally generated revenue
Work at the Bakassi Housing Scheme was seen to be at advanced stage. Indeed some of the blocks have been roofed and completed. Many internally displaced indigenes will soon call these blocks of flats their own.
The State government’s 21 mega watts power plant at parliamentary road extension, Calabar is 95% completed and this will be hearty news for electricity consumers. The team specifically noted the section of the power equipment installations at the power plant.
The Calabar pharmaceutical company (CALAPHAM) has installed machines ready to commence production at the scenic environment called Ayade Industrial Park along Jonathan Bye pass.
Here also, the tour team saw a long row of different component machines for sewing inside the Cross River State Garment Factory with staff at their duty posts.
The State government has built t Canaan Table Tennis Club House inside the U.J Esuene Stadium, Calabar with state of the art facilities. This gesture will enhance the game of table tennis in the State.
These are just few of the numerous projects of the Ayade-led administration highlighted here for want of time.
No doubt, the Ministry of Information and orientation’s addition gave a deeper meaning to the celebration and the people can now have insightful reflection on the essence of democracy. This will engender warmth within them about democratic governance; especially the Sen. Ben Ayade-led administration and his untiring drive at kinetic crystallization in governance.