Ayade : Taking Cross River Out Of The Woods With New Sustainable Economic Opportunities

Cross River State Governor, Sir Ben Ayade, (R) with the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Baba Abubarkar (M) and senior officers of the Nigerian Air force while on tour of the Cross River Garment Factory in Calabar.
Every new administration comes into power with different mission and vision. Usually, expectations are high as people will naturally expect the new administration to correct the wrongs of the previous administrations while strategically possitioning the state or country on a path of sustainable development.

It's common knowledge that as the electorate gather in their numbers on election day to either usher in new government or reward an existing government with renewal, they often set agenda as well as define their expectations for the new administration. Although, some are realistic while many are purely out of emotions, all can be said to be genuine desire of the populace to see positive change.

Because of some circumstances, most times beyond the control of the head of the administrations, it takes some administrations some time to fully settle down to perform while others hit the ground running phenomenally from the beginning.

In Cross River, the reign of Sir Ben Ayade, the first Professor ever to be elected Governor of the state has unarguably been phenomenal since he mounted the saddle as the third democratically elected Governor of the state in the current democratic dispensation. Just in about four years, five months, the state has become one of the most sought-after states in the country.

Ayade, a former Senator has taken Cross River out of the woods by decoupling the state from its over reliance on monthly allocation from the federal coffers to survive. Perhaps, at the beginning of his administration, a lot of people struggled to understand his policy thrust which is not unconnected to the fact that some of his projects and programmes appeared impossible especially to those who think small and don't look beyond the lean financial position of the state.
Gov. Ayade with the State Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria during the signing of agreement for the making of 10,000 Uniforms for the organisation by the Cross River Garment Factory

Without exaggeration, before he came on board, Cross River State had no clear economy. People often define the state with tourism but have forgotten that the main tourism activity in the state, the Carnival  Calabar, happens just once in a year. The state always  spend billions of naira to hold the Carnival with almost zero return on investment.

The much talked about Obudu International Mountain race was not contributing anything to the state. In fact, all the winners of the Obudu International Mountain Race since it inception are yet to be paid; some have even dragged the government to court.

The Obudu Ranch Resort itself is not really generating anything for the state. The resort is being powered by diesel which means that the state was spending millions on electricity. Staff were being paid from other subheads as the revenue generated could not meet the running cost not to talk of paying of staff. In fact, Sir Ayade's administration inherited 36 months salary of Obudu Mountain Resort workers.

Thanks to his deep vision, he is today renovating the resort and positioning it for serious business that'll translate to good revenue point for the state.

Even the Marina Resort which the state spent so much to establish and maintain, there's no record that it has contributed ten Kobo to the state rather, it's even taking more from the state coffers.

The state was virtually surviving on monthly allocation from the federal government. Perhaps, creating a sustainable economy for the state was not a top priority to previous administrations because the state earned big between 1999-2012 because it was still regarded as one of the oil producing states.

But Ayade, who has been very unfortunate to become Governor at the poorest stage of the state has not relented in his efforts to create an economy for the state. His reign has been  that of a true leader with a deep vision and big dreams. He has decided to leave little things for a Governor with a small mind to focus on big and super things that will change the economy of the state forever.
Gov. Ayade with NDDC board members at the Cross River State Rice Seedlings Factory

To accentuate his priority on creating a sustainable economy for the state, Ayade has embarked on so many gigantic projects that have today rightly placed the state as one of the industrial hubs in Nigeria. The Garment and the Rice Seedlings Factories have generated heavy revenues for the state, something that has never happened in the state since the loss of status as oil producing state.

Last year, the Peace Corps of Nigeria awarded the Garment factory multimillion naira contracts to make Uniforms for over ten thousand of its personnel. Early this year, the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria awarded the state N3 billion naira contract to supply rice seedlings to some states.

The Governor has also recently reached another agreement with the federal government through the CBN to supply seedlings to another 17 states.This is not forgetting the recent huge contract from the Nigerian Airforce for the making of one hundred and twenty thousand uniforms and flying suites. It's rumoured that other security agencies in the country are also set to trust the state Garment Factory with the responsibility of making uniforms for their personnel.

The Calachika Factory which in no distant time will begin exporting frozen chicken, the Calavita Noodles factory which is set to take the noodles market in the South South very soon, the CalaPharm which is set to take the pharmaceutical industry by storm, the Ikom Cocoa processing plant,  the Ogoja rice mills and many others, when fully completed for operation will no doubt place Cross River at a pedestal of sustainable socioeconomic development
Cross River State Chicken processing plant (Calachika)

Besides, the Bakassi Deep Seaport, one of the signature projects of the Governor, once it starts working, the economy of the state will change forever. The state will not only compete favourably  with Lagos as Nigeria commercial capital but will become even a better one.

A true Governor of the modern world must think deep, big and bold and Ayade over the past four years has demonstrated that he's not just a modern Governor but a real genius among the modern Governors in the world.
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