By: ETIM BASSEY
The gubernatorial election in Ekiti State which was held on Saturday 14th July, 2018 has gripped the attention of many stakeholders accross the country and Cross River State is not left out.
The Chief Returning Officer of the election, Professor Idowu Olayinka, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, announced the final results in the early hours of Sunday 15th July, 2018.
According to the announcement, Mr. Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress APC, secured 197,459 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Professor Olusola Eleka of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, who scored 178,121 votes.
I will not get involved in the issues relating to circumstances that may have marred the election and the acceptability or otherwise of the final election results as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC. Rather let us discuss issues based on the results as released.
In some corners, it has been heard where opposition dreamers have attempted to draw similarities between Ekiti and Cross River as civil service states and the narative of opposition victory in the gubernatorial election in Cross River State in 2019.
It is important to bring the few critical issues in this conversation to the fore to put things in perspective for the benefit of the simple minded.
Beyond the definition of being a civil service state, both have nothing in common in the circumstance under consideration.
Let’s begin with even the civil service state toga.
It is not a secret that Cross River State is on its way out of the civil service state status as the administration of Senator Professor Ben Ayade is on a fast track of development through it’s massive agricultural and industrial investments in the state.
The issue of salary payment which was a major determinant in Ekiti election outcome is the exact opposite in Cross River State.
Indeed, Cross River State ranks as the first state in Nigeria when it comes to salary payment.
Of course the governor of the state, Senator Professor Ben Ayade, has been nicknamed the “salary master” because of his prompt and timely payment of salaries in the state.
Verily, he is deserving of the accolade as he often times pays workers salaries on the first day of the working month.
Many in the opposition have often argued that this is no achievement but with the recent turn of events in Ekiti State, it is clear to many that payment of workers salaries is an important part of good governance and delivery of democratic dividends, because it is trite that a hungry man is an angry man.
Ekiti state government under the leadership of Governor Ayodele Fayose, was owing workers salary in the state for up to 7 months.
This however is not perculiar to the state as some states even under the All Progressive Congress APC leadership are owing workers salaries; some for up to a year.
Indeed Ayade must be doing magic to have maintained a clean slate despite being the lowest earning state in the country, a feat which has also earned him an award as the most Labor Friendly Governor in Nigeria from the NLC in Cross River state.
If we also consider Ayade’s political disposition; his style of political leadership; it permeates the boundaries of political divisions and gives preference to development above political differences. This has been rightly christened “politics with ethics”.
Right from his initial foray into politics from his successful stint in business, Professor Ayade has shown that he is a different breed of politician and his foray into politics is to use it as a platform for impact and contribute to the development of the nation.
He thus relegated the medieval politics to the backwaters and had chosen instead to deliver leadership through relationship building and seek common grounds in vision actualization.
Here, there is a great difference between him and many other politicians including Fayose of Ekiti State.
This can be seen in the cordial relationship that exists between him and the President, though both of them belong to different political and ideological leanings.
This made the President come to Cross River State twice in three years; something he has not done in any other state but two.
This has left many in the oppostion in a state of confusion with some saying the governor is nursing the intention to decamp into the opposition party.
How true could that be?
This is just part of the quality and style of politics that the governor is disposed to.
It is also not a secret that the All Progressives Congress in Cross River State has been in shambles since its inception.
For more than 4 years, the party has been unable to resolve its internal crisis and as such has neither been able to grow nor position itself as a viable opposition, able to provide alternative leadership if there was need for any.
In addition to this, now that the crisis at the national level of the party has given birth to the Reformed All Progressives Congress rAPC, we are yet to see how this will play out in Cross River State.
The last but not the least issue I would like to consider are some of the landmark industries that Professor Ayade is dotting the entire Cross River state with, something Ekiti can yet boast of.
Some of the industries include the Rice Seeds and Seedlings Factory recently commissioned by the President of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari, when he visited the state, the Cross River Garment Factory, earlier commissioned by the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Calabar Pharmaceutical Company CALAPHARM, which is more than 90 percent completed.
Others are the Cross River garment factory which is 100 percent completed, the independent power plant in Calabar Municipal, which is 90 percent completed, Toothpick Factory in Ekori, which has been completed and awaiting commissioning, the Instant Noodles Factory in Calabar which is under construction, the vitaminized rice mill in Ogoja, the Feedmill and Yellow Maize Farm in Obubra, the Banana Plantation with automated irriggation in Odukpani, the Poles, Piles and Pylon Factory in Akamkpa among many others. All these by a first term governor.
I am not a prophet of doom but one does not need to be a seer to see what will happen to the opposition in Cross River state in 2019 in the light of all of these.
The President of the country has said that Governor Ayade has an eye for futuristic projects that are shifting the economic base of the State from oil rather than short term projects to get political gains.
The President has also said that: “Ayade has become a reference point in our agricultural revolution project.”
Who else can be a better second term campaign spokesman for the Governor than the President, with all these quotable quotes?
In fact, the opposition party needs a leader in the mould of Ayade, a leader who plays politics with ethics, to be able to get out of its intractable challenges. I wish them the best.
However, wishes are not horses, if they were, beggers would ride.
Still, wishes are not enough, for they cannot overcome the greed and base nature of some men which is at display.
2019 is already here and I see Ayade on the saddle of the state till 2023.
BASSEY is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ayade.
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