|L-R: Venatius Ikem and Gov Ayade|
Venatius Ikem|31 May 2017
Sometimes in April 2015, after Ayade had won his governorship election and been duly declared governor-elect, I raised alarm on this platform because he had appropriated the St. Steven’s primary school Obudu also formerly known as Lutheran Primary school Obudu to himself. He had not yet been sworn in so he used the cover to grab the land which he had coveted over time. It was shameful to me because Ayade had been a pupil in that primary school and the school had become derelict over the years. I had hoped that he would rather be a proud alumni and renovate the school so that he can in future point proudly to it as his Alma Mata. But what did I know? In the scramble to contradict me Ayade quickly erected a sign post by the said primary school that reads: Obudu Garment Factory. He proceeded to explain to the enraged elders who gathered to raise their voices in protest, that he actually wanted to build a garment factory on the land and employ thousands of Obudu youth!
Commendable excuse. But I was wary of this noble explanation that came with a 1m persuasive “gift” to the elders! And in those early days of becoming governor people were more minded to give him the benefits of the doubt. Well, more than two years later, the sign post remains at Obudu and a garment factory has been built in Calabar.
Other facts shrouded in secrecy also remain as rumours of a certain garment factory that was to be built by the NDDC at Obudu or Cross River North senatorial district for which money had been said to have been paid to Ayade as Senator remain.
(2) sometimes in 2016, the Hon. Minister of Labor Dr. Ngige, paid a visit to Gov. Ayade in Calabar and out of a very strange excitement when taken on tour of the factory, declared the garment factory the biggest in Africa and also declared that the Governor had informed him that cotton from farms in the northern part of Cross River State would support the factory! I sat up! How could anyone dare say such a ridiculous thing! Cotton farms? Cross River North? Haba! I come from that part of the state and I know that our people proudly farm yam. And cassava. Not cotton. And if government had started any initiative on cotton farming, I would know. But alas! Here was a minister buying into a lie told by a Governor who sees nothing wrong in lying on every single pronouncement he makes to the public.
I recall other lies like the collaboration with the British Government on the garment factory. How far has that come? What’s the context of the collaboration? He got the British High commissioner who was a guest in Calabar to join him in the lie without substance to my consternation all in an effort to get legitimacy for a project built on fraud and deceit.
(3) Anybody who is familiar with the textile production process can attest to the fact that cotton does not translate to a material for finished products without processing. You have to process cotton to yarn. It is the yarn that is used to make fabrics and the fabric is the raw material for making clothes by a tailoring shop such as the one Gov Ayade has built. I happen to have worked for 4 years in a related industry where Yarn was our final raw material. I worked as company Secretary/Legal Adviser in Jackson Devos Plc, Calabar where I rose to become the General Manager and we were in the business of making carpets in the brand name of Crown carpets. Carpet making is in the textile sub sector because we use similar raw materials of yarn to produce rug carpets, just like those who make fabrics. So I know what I am talking about. There is no way therefore that a garment factory can transform cotton to fabrics for its use. You have to establish another factory, indeed two additional factories : one to process cotton to yarn and another to process yarn to fabrics before you can talk of utilizing it in a garment factory.
(4) I recall that Gov Ayade has boasted several times in the past that he was going to commission this garment factory within his first 100 days or 3 months in office. He said at various times and occasions that the equipment had been imported and were being assembled. He assured that the factory would be ready for take off unfailingly. The first 100 days came and passed. Then the one year anniversary of his administration. Indeed people who were hurriedly interviewed for employment in the factory to simulate readiness are still waiting for letters of employment while every occasion depending on its importance the Governor will announce a certain number of thousands being employed! Haba, Governor Ayade, can’t you even be ashamed for your children? Diaris God ooo!!
(5) Putting all these bare faced lies and fabrications together I have come to the inescapable conclusion that the garments Gov. Ayade is parading as produced from that factory are actually imported products from China which he hopes to continue to use to hoodwink unsuspecting members of the public into believing that something is happening in this his mystery garment factory.
History will bear me out!!!
Vena A. Ikem.
Is a politician