First Baba Isa|12 May 2017
A dangerous narrative is playing out in the Cross River State Political Ecosystem and if the opposition is not careful it will be roasted as scape goat in 2019 while Ayade rides to victory by playing the victim card.
I had a debate with one of my friends recently and the conclusion he reached jerked me to write this piece. As long as this my friend is concerned Ayade is not performing because the opposition are massively against him executing his signature projects.
And that's the common story on the streets of Calabar. That the opposition APC, led especially by Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, is preventing the Governor from executing developmental projects in Cross River by writing petitions and instituting several court cases against the governor and government of the state.
While I don't expect the opposition to apologize for criticizing the government, I just want to draw their attention to the yarn that is being spun with their lines; and most importantly, I think we all deserve to know the truth. And as far as this truth is concerned I know it's full depth because I'm privileged to be a lawyer to persons like Ifere Paul and even Chief Obono-Obla. I know of every petition and court case against the Cross River State government and governor at the moment: the ones I personally handle, the ones I'm personally involved in and even the ones handled by other lawyers. So I'm qualified to tell you the whole truth.
I repeat, anybody has the right to criticize the governor, to write a petition against him, to sue him. Those who don't agree with the governor are not demons. I told a friend this much recently:
"… the way you demonize those who don't agree with or share your views leaves so much to be desired. You can do better than this. You can deploy sound argument without attacking or demonizing dissenters.
As young democrats we must imbibe the core attribute of democracy, which is to debate and hold different opinions without demonizing each other. Everyone who don't agree with you is not a demon. And please stop that lame commentary that people who don't see eye to eye with the governor don't wish the state well. That's arrant balderdash.
And yes, it is moral, legal and democratic to always criticize a particular government or leader all the time without sparing even a moment or second to praise. In fact the British Parliamentary democracy institutionalized this. In the British Parliament the opposition members, paid by tax payers, criticizes the government every second. Yes, that's their job. No government policy ever get praise from them. You know why? Because there is always something to criticize no matter how good a policy is. And the British, a bastion of democracy, knows that criticism is a good thing. It keeps leaders on their toes. Without it democracy falters and dies.
I have a friend on Facebook, Michael Ayeni, who has vowed to criticize the Buhari administration till the last day. Go to his wall, no one word of praise from him for Buhari. Does that mean that Buhari has never done anything right? I know you will say the president has done one or two things right. But Michael has chosen not to see that. That's his right. He is doing a great service and most of us respect him for that.
So stop spreading the jaundiced commentary that once you are always criticising without sparing a moment to praise or commend, you are a demon. Criticize today, praise today might be your style. There is nothing wrong about it. Keep it up. But stop feeling like that's the moral or legal standard. It's not. You are not better than those who have taken it upon themselves to spend their resources to criticize and watchdog Ayade. You don't love the state more than such people. What you are doing is great. What they are doing is great. Without each person doing his little bit, the state, the society as we know it will wobble and crash.
Some can choose to focus in a state, others in the federal government or both. But I can't force you to comment on Buhari before you comment on Ayade or vice versa. Doing so is just plain childish.
If you think the superhighway is a great idea, promote it. It's your right. But some of us think it's a scam. We think it's a contraption for embezzlement and a set up to enrich few with the state forest resources. We think it is misplacement of priority. We think the inability to provide an acceptable EIA is fraudulent. We think the appointment of over 2000 aides is a tragedy in governance. We think we deserve to know what is happening with over 100 billion naira given to Cross River State in the last few months. And we will activate every legal means to get answers and frustrate plans we consider devious. Our petitions and litigation will be pursued full blast.
You can call your stance love for state and call our political stunt… We will do same to you. It's a matter of opinion. That's the beauty of democracy. Don't just go personal. Stop demonizing dissenters."
However, the truth of the matter is that 90% of Ayade signature projects have not been petitioned by anyone. The propaganda that some Cross Riverians don't want him to execute projects and are stopping him with petitions and law suits is a mighty lie. I challenge him to list all the projects he promised Cross Riverians and tell us who has tried to stop their execution with a petition or a law suit.
Who is trying to stop the deep sea port? Who is trying to stop the rice city? Who is trying to stop the so-called completed garment factory from producing even a napkin? Who is trying to stop the power generating plant? Who is stopping the governor from paying pensioners and local government staff?
Who is stopping the governor from making the following MOU's a reality:
1.Germany: Sourcing for superhighway funding (before swearing as governor).
2. Germany: Soil Quality Test (after swearing).
3. Ireland: MoU on refuse management.
4. USA: MoU on new city development.
5. China: MoU on 4G network and fibre cable laying for smart city development.
6. Ireland: MoU on diary farm development in Obudu.
7. Britain: MoU on 500 affordable housing development.
8. Thailand: MoU with Thai Rice Corporation.
9. Mexico: MoU on Banana, Plaintain, Pepper, Pineapple, Green beans, etc.
10. Germany: MoU on establishing a waste treatment plant.
11. Canada: MoU on establishing technical model school across the three senatorial districts.
12. China: MoU on wood processing plant which will lead to manufacturing of synthetic woods.
13: France: MoU with the garment factory for the management and procurement of equipment.
14: Israel: MoU with Broad Spectrum Investment Corporation for funding of the superhighway.
15. USA: MoU with a US firm for the construction of Agbokum hydro power plant.
16. Sweden: MoU for heavy equipment lease with Volvo equipment company in Stockholm.
18: UAE: MoU for the construction of new cities by a Dubai based company.
19. Britain: MoU for the training of widows that will work in the garment factory.
20. Italy: MoU for quality assessment and training of workers for the garment factory.
21. India: Procurement of garment factory equipment.
22. Denmark: MoU for the establishment of a poultry with over 50,000.00 birds and a hatchery.
23. Germany: MoU with Dortmund for the establishment of Beach Report in Calabar South.
24. Singapore/India: MoU to establish the Calaphama company. A pharmaceutical company in the Industrial Boulevard/Jonathan's Bypass.
25: Taiwan: MoU to manufacture silos for Cross River State.
26. Thailand: Attended a week long training on the planting of rice.
27. Switzerland: MoU with banks for the credit issuance on behalf of Cross River State.
28. USA: MoU with a US based property proprietor for Calabar waterfront property development.
29. China: 700 Million Naira by co-governor Frank Ayade to woo investors for the garment factory.
30. UAE: Dubai based company signed an MoU with Cross River State government to develop properties, casinos, restaurants, and hotels throughout the length of the superhighway.
31: India: MoU to establish solar farm by a Indian company called Skipper Seil.
32. Sweden: MoU to establish 1.5 pulp farm and paper industry.
33. France: MoU on homeland security.
So, you see no one is stopping Ayade from performing. Yes there are some petitions and lawsuits against the superhighway especially but that's it. All of us don't need to endorse his projects before he executes them. Let those who want to criticize, criticize; you Mr Governor go ahead and build if you are sincere.
I hope the game plan is not to come to us in 2019 and tell us you failed because of critics. We no go gree. Don't tell us petitions and lawsuits stopped you from performing, because that will be a lie. The number of petitions and lawsuits can be counted with one hand. And even if the number increases, do the right thing and it will decrease. For instance, give the Federal Ministry of Environment an acceptable EIA and then go ahead and build the Super highway.
Maybe the truth is the projects were not well thought out. Maybe the projects are rabble rousing mental props designed for the Governor to use to play the victim card. Maybe the projects are conduit pipes and channels of graft. Maybe the strategy is working… Some are being fooled… May the Senator Professor live long to give us results.
First Baba Isa (FBI) is a Legal Practitioner and writes from Abuja.