In Cross River, Ayade is widows' husband By Christian Ita

Mr. Christian Ita, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ben Ayade
He came firing on all  cylinders, assuring and reassuring that no more shall mothers and children of Cross River State go to bed on an empty stomach. No more shall government tax Cross Riverians to prosperity.

In other to walk his talk, Governor Ben Ayade spared no time in putting in place policies that would make good his avowed promise to the people. He was desirous of mitigating the suffering of artisans, petty traders, women, particularly widows who had to endure pains, anguish and trauma of losing their breadwinners.

Rather than follow the templates of other states where the vulnerable are merely given handouts on occasions, Ayade opted to institute policies and programs to allow them control their own destinies.

He outlawed taxes for zero income earners and equally set up the biggest garment factory in Africa to address the pains of women, particularly widows.

Outright, he banished what he regarded as measly handouts.

Today, Cross River widows are heads and shoulders above their counterparts in other states, thanks to the Calabar Garment Factory and other intervention windows now open to them.

In the words of the governor, "it is better to teach Cross River widows how to fish instead of giving them fish." In line with this policy, women make up 80 percent of employees in the industries established by the Ayade administration, especially at the Calabar Garment factory where the majority of this percentage  are widows.

The number of widows in the state given gainful employment increased recently when the governor yet again announced automatic employment for 200 more widows.

These deliberate but salutary measures which are targeted at making life more meaningful for widows and their children excite widows in the state.

Recently the widows, under the aegis of Association of Cross River State widows were at the Government House, Calabar to show solidarity to the Governor whose empathy to widows, according to them, is unprecedented in the annals of the state.

Ayade is the only governor in Nigeria, past and present, who has created the office of Special Assistant on widows' Affairs to the Governor.

The office and its occupant who is a widow see to it that Cross River widows are adequately catered for.

Recently, with the support of the governor, election into the vacant Obudu State Constituency seat in the Cross River State House of Assemble, which is the Governor's constituency, produced a widow, Mrs Abbey Ukpukpen who replaced her late husband, Hon. Steve Ukpukpen.

Speaking at the Government House during a solidarity visit to the Governor, leader of the Cross River State Association of Widows which has about 10,000  members, Mrs Grace Otu described him as God sent who has impacted positively on the lives of widows since taking office in 2015.

Mrs Otu thanked the Governor for Mrs Ukpukpen's election and the creation of the office of Special Assistant on Widows Affairs saying, "Today we have one of us who truly understands our plights and will ensure that our interests are dully protected at all times and in appreciation to this mark of honour to widows, we the entire widows numbering over ten thousand in the state hereby and publicly declare our support for the second term bid of our Digital Governor to enable him complete his good works, " she stated.

According to the group, it will go to the nooks and crannies of the state to mobilize Cross River women to go out and pick up their PVCs.

They assured Ayade of more women votes in the 2019 governorship election in the state.
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