When a suspect pleads guilty upon arraignment before a judge for criminal offence(s), the tedious process of trial is automatically expunged, which allows the judge to make a quick and judicious decision.

In the same vein, Governor Ayade has now pleaded guilty to the fact that he has been a monumental failure after five years in office. This open confession is coming after the governor surprisingly turned into a tyrant, arbitrarily jailing critics of his regime for calling out his anti-people policies, pervasive corruption and a total lack of transparency in office.

Before dramatically breaking down in “tears”, Ayade said before the world:

“I never knew that five years into office as governor I will still find somebody who could live in a thatch house in Cross River State. I am almost crying because I knew how prepared I was but it didn’t end the way I dreamed for the state.”

From the above lamentation, Ayade’s admission that he has failed couldn’t be more unequivocal. And his last sentence, wherein he says: “it didn’t end the way I dreamed for the state”, is a resignation that clearly suggests that with three years left to go, the governor intends doing nothing to remedy his calamitous reign.

As admitted by Ayade himself, his time in office has been a total waste to Cross Riverians albeit at a very high cost. Unlike other state governors, Governor Ayade’s annual budgets are passed in trillions of naira and are hurriedly approved by members of the State Assembly without subjecting the governor to a thorough grilling process to justify the humongous sums in his budgets. But here is where Cross River’s leadership problem lies: Ayade’s appalling incompetence and failure are greatly amplified by a 25-member rubber-stamp assembly in the state, readily available to endorse every paper from the office of the governor.

It was members of that assembly who hastily approved Governor Ayade’s controversial superhighway project which the governor said required an outrageous sum of N648, 870,730,739.23 (Six Hundred and Forty-eight Billion, Eight  Hundred and Seventy Million, Seven Hundred and Thirty Thousand, Seven Hundred and Thirty-nine Naira, Twenty-three Kobo). The loan for the superhighway was to be repaid through an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) of N300,000,000 every month. What this meant was that Cross River State was expected to cough out N3,600,000,000 every year for 180 years! Approximately two centuries of slavery over a superhighway which has never been a priority to Cross Riverians!

Besides the fact that Cross Riverians still live in thatch houses as confirmed by the governor himself, what he forgot to tell you is that Cross River State has terrible roads, a dilapidated healthcare system, lack of pipe-borne water, public schools remain an eyesore. In fact, Cross River is one of the most poorly governed states in Nigeria. Yet the governor is chasing shadows when he has real issues confronting him.

Below are the annual budgets of Governor Ayade since assuming office in May of 2015:

2016: N350 billion: Budget of Deep Vision

2017: N707 billion: Budget of Infinite Transposition

2018: N1.3 trillion: Budget of Kinetic Crystallisation

2019: N1.043 trillion = Budget of  Qabalistic Densification

2020: N1.1 trillion = Budget of Olimpotic Meristemasis (unconfirmed reports say that this figure was slashed to N147.7 billion)

So, let us assume that the purported claim of the slash of Budget of Olimpotic Meristemasis is true, this will mean that Ayade has officially spent approximately N4 trillion since assuming office, yet the state’s economic and social infrastructures remain in a decrepit condition with numerous projects that have either been abandoned or have faded into oblivion. For instance, the Cross River State Food Bank Project, for which Ayade budgeted N10 billion even as far back as 2017, has been in a state of coma. The Food Bank Project, according to Ayade, was supposed to carry out food distribution across the 197 council wards in the state. Curiously, across Alege, Ukpe and Ubang and the rest of Obudu Local Government Area, not one person has received such food supply since Ayade assumed office. They are not even aware of the existence of such a project, leaving me to wonder if beneficiaries of this multi-billion Naira project truly exist.

It is totally unacceptable to squander approximately N4 trillion in just five years in office and attempt to cover up such a galactic waste with the mere shedding of tears. The governor’s “tears” are like the tears a crocodile sheds whilst devouring its prey. Ayade must account for this money and explain how every Kobo of it was spent.

Whilst Ayade accounts for the waste that culminated in his self-confessed failure, Cross Riverians must begin to scrutinise the job of the men and women they send from the 25 state constituencies to represent them at the State House of Assembly in Calabar. Cross Riverians must begin to understand that the 25 “honourable” members who sit at the state parliament are their prime enemies who work in cahoots with the governor to impose anti-people policies and the swift passage of budgets that are never implemented in accordance with their colourful contents.

Cross Riverians have spent the last 21 years electing criminals and accomplices, people who are more concerned about the size of their individual bank accounts rather than the well-being of the people who elected them into public office. In the face of these costly setbacks, we must remember that going forward, we still have an opportunity to put an end to this roguery, cruelty and insensitivity. It is time to sing a new song. And the time starts now!

Elias Ozikpu

Activist, playwright, novelist, essayist, polemicist


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