Supporters Stranded as Ayade returns to heroic welcome in Calabar

Gov. Ayade dancing with the crowd
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has come under attack by stranded supporters who trooped out in numbers on Thursday to give him heroic welcome on his return to the state after his two weeks annual vacation.

The mammoth crowd that were mobilized by different groups to receive the Governor were said to be promised N1,500 to N3000 each but things got soured when after the show leaders of the different support groups allegedly absconded leaving their members stranded.

Speaking, Edem Bassey one of the stranded supporters said that "God will punish Ayade and his people. They brought us out since morning to this place, no food, no water; nothing. After everything, they have refused to give us the money we were promised".

Responding to question on how much they were promised, he said that "The person that brought me said the budget was N3000 but that if the turnout was massive, we will be given N2000 or N1500. I came all the way from Scanobo to this place but now I'm stranded, I don't know how to go back".

Another stranded supporter who introduced herself as Susan said that "We are very surprised at what just transpired. Many of us used our money to buy and crest polo for the function on the promise that we will be reimbursed after the programme but now nobody seems to be taking responsibility again. Even the person who was parading as the leader of our group has said that he was only standing in for someone that we don't even know".

She added that "Many of us here are students. We came thinking that something will come out but we didn't know we were scammed. It's such a pity that people are still doing this. I don't think the Governor is aware of this. We're suspecting that some people may have hijacked the money".

A leader of one of the support groups who spoke in confidence said that "Many of us are as surprised as the people we mobilized. As I speak with you, I've spent all I came out with trying to settle my group members because nothing has come from government and nobody is giving us any reasonable explanation.

After going through all the processes of mobilization, printing of different kinds of materials, we're hearing now that some of our groups were not captured. Each group was suppose to be given N300,000 but now we're even begging for N100,000 to help us offset the debt we incurred but nobody wants to answer us. I hope the Governor gets to hear this and do something about it because it's really telling bad about him".

Earlier, the support groups thronged the Margaret Ekpo International Airport and invited the Governor to the Calabar Municipal council grounds where they called on him to declare his intention to run for a second term in office and declared support for his administration's policies and programs.

"All we are saying as a people, as groups is that please you seek for a second term," said Mr. Lebo Lebo who welcomed the governor on behalf of the thousands who had trooped out.

"In our numbers, we have all agreed that henceforth as a group of volunteers, we support all government policies, agenda and vision," Lebo said, adding that: "It is our agenda that we must go all out to ensure that as he responds to our clarion call of seeking for a second term, we must go back to our various constituents and communities to ensure that his response doesn't go in vain."

Governor Ayade had written to the House of Assembly informing them that he will be proceeding on a two week vacation with effect from July 2, 2018 leaving his deputy, Professor Ivara Esu in acting capacity

And, while addressing the crowd that welcomed him, he commended his deputy as well as the the support the residents had given him.

He said: "I thank you very much for all the great support you have given to the acting governor, I cannot thank you enough. I came in from my vacation and I saw Calabar clean, green and beautiful. I saw a young team of people very committed to the state."

The governor who reaffirmed his administration's commitment to pursue a people centered agenda, averred that: "We have realised that there is no amount of infrastructural development that is above the destiny, the food on the table and the family government that brings young men and women to have access to governance. It is that catalytic profile that has brought about this large crowd that we see here."

He continued: "I want you to note this, if I was a politician, a traditional politician you know, I will be focusing on doing small things that will make me win elections.

"But, when I look at your future as we have more and more young people coming out of the university, where are they going to work?"

"I need to construct your future. That is why I decided to leave mundane politics and go ecclesiastical and celestial."

Earlier, Professor Esu commended the willingness of the crowd who braved the weather to give the governor a befitting welcome.

"Nobody forced you to come here. You came here on your own volition because of the love you have for your governor, because you believe in your governor. We welcome you and thank you for coming," Esu said and announced that he has formally handed over.

Several speakers took turns to extol the virtues of the governor and urged him to declare his intention to run for the 2019 gubernatorial elections.
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