OPINION : How Ayade's trailblazing project charms Buhari By Christian Ita

Mr. Christian Ita, Governor Ben Ayade Chief Press Secretary

The enormous demands of his office coupled with the complex nature of the federation makes the Nigerian President one of the busiest presidents in the world hence to get President Muhammadu Buhari to pay a visit to a state twice within three years is no mean feat.

This is why friends and foes alike have been wondering how Cross River state governor, (Senator)Professor  Ben Ayade was able to bring the President to the state twice in three years, especially in view of the fact that both leaders belong to opposing political parties. President Buhari is of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC while Ayade is governor on the platform of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP.

Cross River is one of the few states the President has visited more than once since assuming office May 29, 2015. In fact the state was the first state he officially visited shortly after assuming office.

The people of Cross River say Ayade’s winning formula which attracts the president to the state is good governance.

President Buhari’s second coming on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 woke the sleepy but alluring city of Calabar, the Cross River state capital as it bustled with human and vehicular traffic.

Ecstatic and cheering Cross Riverians lined virtually all the streets in the beautiful city to welcome the president and show appreciation to their performing governor. The Nigerian leader was in the state to commission another of Ayade’s people oriented project, the Cross River Rice Seed and Seedling factory. The facility is the first automated rice seeds and seedlings factory in Africa.

President Buhari beamed with smiles as he commissioned the project. He was evidently excited by the multi-billion Naira magnificent rice factory and Ayade’s unwavering commitment to decouple the state from over dependence on crude oil driven federal allocation by investing massively in Agriculture.

Essentially, Professor Ayade’s revolution in agriculture resonates across the state with the ongoing construction of rice mill in Ogoja, the cotton farm in Woda,Yala, the cocoa processing plant in Ikom, the banana plantation in Odukpani, the feed mill  and yellow mill maize farm in Obubra as well as the ultramodern poultry  farm in Calabar for export of  frozen chicken.

Speaking at the event, the President described Calabar as home and said he was delighted to visit the state again in connection with yet another visionary project from governor Ayade.

Buhari: “I must say that visiting the state for the second time within three years in connection with Governor Ayade’s people oriented project is heart warming.”

The President expressed joy that Ayade’s agricultural blitz in Cross River is in tandem with his government’s vision.

“When we assumed the reins of leadership of our dear country, our administration launched a zero-oil economic roadmap as a way of making our country less dependent on oil, while encouraging investments in other sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture.I am happy Governor Ayade keyed into that policy and has today become a reference point in our agricultural revolution effort”, the President said.

He commended the Governor for focusing on projects that that are building a new economic base  for Cross River rather projects with short term benefits for the purpose of making cheap political points, saying Ayade “has keen eyes for tomorrow”.

Buhari is optimistic that seedlings from the Cross river rice factory will improve rice yield from the current national average of 3 to 4 tons per hectare to about 9 to 10 tons per hectares, thus helping to ensure rice sufficiency in the country, save foreign exchange and create jobs for the unemployed. The President thus directed relevant federal government agencies, particularly the federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Central Bank of Nigeria ,CBN through its anchor borrower’s programme to partner with Cross River state in the area of supply of seedlings to farmers.

Barely 24 hours after the commissioning of the rice factory, the presidential directive assumed life following the receipt of orders from Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN for the supply of rice seedlings to the tune of N2 billion.

An elated Governor Ayade said: “Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Rice and Wheat Production, Senator Abubakar Bagudu has confirmed that they are ready to take off every quantity we have got, so we have open order in excess of N2 billion”.

Pledging not to relent in establishing income generating industries that will not only create employment for the people of Cross River state but also reduce the state’s over dependence on monthly federal allocation, Governor Ayade praised President Buhari’s economic policies and assured him of Cross River’s support in that regard.

Meanwhile, the Cross Rivers state governor has disclosed that plans are underway to get the President to visit the state for the third time to commission the multi billion naira rice mill in Ogoja when construction is completed.

Located within the Ayade industrial park which also boast of the Garment factory, pharmaceutical factory, the Cross River Cosmetic industry, Noddles factory and Poultry farmer/factory, the  Cross River Rice Seeds and Seedlings automated Factory which is the first in Africa parades massive state of the art machinery and produces high yielding, vitamized  and disease resistant rice seeds and seedlings. The factory is expected to generate a yearly income of between N70 billion to N100 billion
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