“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything”—Muhammad Ali.
I love friendship and I earnestly pray to have one that is true and fair because one loyal friend can be worth more than a thousand relatives. A true friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. In Igbo, we often say that “ezigbo enyi ka ajó nwanne” meaning a true friend is better than a bad brother.
In Cross River state, I’ve seen and admire friendship amongst some political players but I am yet to see any friendship that is parasitic and exploitative as the friendship between Barr. Chris Agara and Ben Ayade. For Ayade, his friendship with Chris Agara is purely transactional and not mutualistic. For while Chris Agara has continued to show unalloyed loyalty and support to his supposed friend, Ben Ayade, the Governor, on the other hand has been very exploitative of their friendship. While others will do anything to safeguard their friend’s interest, Governor Ayade has shown clearly that his friendship with Chris Agara is only useful as much as it serves his own personal interest.
Today in Cross River state, we are hearing BackToSouth and zoning simply because His Excellency, Senator Liyel Imoke is hellbent on delivering the governorship seat to his friend, Distinguished Senator Gershom Bassey. Remove Bassey from the political equation and you will discover that the Back To South agitation is merely a smokescreen, the real intention is to “gift” Gershom Bassey the governorship seat.
Today in Cross River state, Distinguished Senator Prof Sandy Onor is seen as a big political threat to the intention of Senator Imoke, who has vowed to stand, win or fail by his friend, Bassey. In the same vein, distinguished Senator Prof Sandy Onor has a good friend, His Excellency Governor Nyesom Wike (The Lion of the Niger Delta) who has also vowed to support, stand and win with his bosom friend, Senator Onor.
Dear reader, what else could be the most scintillating show of friendship, if not the analogy given above about Imoke and Bassey, Onor and Wike?
Regrettably, in the friendship between Agara and Ayade, the reverse is obviously the case. In Ayade, Agara has a friend who can never and has never stood by him. In Ayade, Agara has a friend who betrayed his senatorial ambition. A friend who couldn’t stand by his own friend and fight like a man with a titanium balls in-between his legs. In Ayade, Agara has a friend that stood and watched him disgracefully disqualified on the even of a senatorial district primaries.
Notwithstanding the shame, reproach and defeat, Agara suffered, he has chosen to be loyal to a friend who doesn’t give a damn about his existence. Agara had every reason to be angry with ayade after the fallout of the PDP primaries in 2019, but he considered his friendship with ayade that has spanned over 30 years, more valuable than politics. He was in the US when his friend defected to the APC. Being the loyal friend, he ran back to Nigeria and immediately went to his Ntanselle ward in Ikom and defected to APC.
When next you hear Governor Ben Ayade talking about Intellectual Money, Green Money and Other People’s Money, just know that he is referring to Barr. Chris Agara’s money. His intellectual money is all about tricking people to use their personal monies to fund government projects. To think that not even his friend was spared in this devilish scheme tells you the kind of thought he has towards his friend. By accepting to use his personal resources and company equipments to do government contracts, Agara truly wanted to see his friend succeed. If not wickedness, how does Ayade expect Agara to recoup all the billions of naira he has sank into the cocoa and rice projects in Ikom and Ogoja?
While others are standing by their friends, Ben Ayade has chosen to fight his own friend. By his BacktoSouth declaration and his recent meeting with Abi APC leaders where he announced that Abi Local will retain House of Representatives and Yakurr will take Senate, it is now crystal clear that Ayade has no plan of settling a friend that has stood by him through thick and thin. In fact, Ayade is not even considering his friend, Agara for Ikom House of Assembly. What a tragedy!!
I have it on good authority that Agara has been playing quite alot of invisible roles towards stabilising his friend’s administration. Agara’s only crime seem to be the fact that he is too econonically independent to be added political power. Maybe, simply because he has refused to revere the Ayades like others do to them. Indeed, Agara has been loyal to a fault. It’s time for him to understand that friendship is all about give and take. It’s time for him to take a sober reflection on his friendship with the Governor. Aside the Factory he (Chris Agara) built with his own money for the State Government, what other project has his friendship with the Governor attracted to the Ikom People? How many of the Appointees in Ayade’s Government are from Chris Agara’s loins?
While I do not intend to glorify cabalistic looting of our state treasury nor enjoin the governor to settle his friend, Agara with our state commonwealth, methinks the governor needs to consider the interest of his bosom friend before championing BackToSouth.
God bless Cross River state!
Umezulike Desmond-cruz writes from Cross River