By Fred Abua
If you are asking me what Dr. Linda Ayade can do to please those who insist on fitting her into the mould they have created and comparing her to their old role models, I will answer simply, NOTHING!
Because everything she has done proves that she is a unique, focused, moral, self-motivated professional who is not propelled by a quest for fame and undue recognition! She is an educated, intelligent and urbane First Lady who is gifted with beauty and brains, elegance and poise, yet her chastity has never been at question. Never!
Regrettably, if I may say so, blowing her own trumpet is a skill set she is reluctant to acquire, even after stepping into the murky arena of politics where self-appreciation is the way to go. So, she will continue to give secretly to those within her reach and be a true friend to her friends; she would continue to do only what is possible and within her means in the hopes that the Almighty God is watching. The approval of God is better than the praises of men.
Critics often fail to understand that the Office of the First Lady has no budgetary allocation. It exists only in name and each occupant can only leverage on the platform it provides to pursue and fulfil their passions through collaborations with various stakeholders, relevant MDAs and development partners. Some First Ladies have even worked with business entities interested in fulfilling their Corporate Social Responsibility within their states while some have, unfortunately, blurred the lines between the First Lady and the various Ministries of Health, Women Affairs, Social Welfare, International Development Corporation, Education, or whichever they are interested in, usurping the functions of those Commissioners.
This First Lady will NOT usurp another person’s duties!
Dr. Linda Ayade is already running a pet project like almost all governors’ wives do – and she is not pedestrian about it, she is achieving her strategic goals with every passing day. Empirical evidence shows that her NGO, the Mediatrix Development Foundation, has impacted over 100,000 vulnerable and less privileged people within Cross River in various ways – various health services, sustainable livelihood interventions, educational services, advocacy for rights and justice.
Those who try to diminish her achievements within this constituency by comparing them to some unrealistic once-upon-a-time feats done by someone somewhere are mere mischief makers who cannot differentiate media hype from actual impact on ground. Or perhaps, because of political differences, they are blinded to the very strides that have attracted many multinational organizations who now provide technical support and funding for many of MDF’s activities. Never in the history of Cross River has a First Lady’s pet project attracted funding from any UN organization (I stand to be corrected) but Dr. Linda Ayade’s MDF has partnered with the UNFPA, UNHCR, UNWomen, CUSO International, FHI360, GADA, US Embassy, Lafarge Holcim, 9Mobile Nigeria, amongst others. Pictorial evidence of interventions abound to prove all these claims.
Dr. Ayade understands the problem of street children in Calabar and desires to contribute to solutions to this perennial problem that has been there from the early 2000s. This particular menace was one of the challenges Mrs. Obioma Imoke tried to address with her Destiny Child Centre located in Calabar South and we recall how some of the rehabilitated children always returned to the streets, rejecting reintegration with their families, while some of them either had no families to return to or were no more welcome there. Acknowledging this response and to avoid another failure in the effort to get our children off the streets means that a holistic programming that employs sustainable strategies relating to the protection of children is necessary. This, Dr. Linda Ayade, is fashioning with the Commissioner for Humanity and Social Welfare already.
Time will fail me if I delve into the exploits of her political organization for women, Cross River Women Emancipation Initiative, CROWEI, which was created for the realization of the political and socio-economic goals of women in the state. This organization has ensured the inclusion of a reasonable number of women in appointive and elective offices in the state and has structures and an EXCO in all the wards of all the LGAs of the state.
CROWEI is set to increase women participation in politics come 2023.