One of the thrilling stories we all woke up to in the morning of Thursday, May 20, was the ‘official defection’ of Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade from PDP to APC, something that is common amongst political prostitutes in Nigeria. But the fact that this switch, naked as it had always been, surprised people I thought had long seen the direction of Ayade’s wheels, remains to me an inscrutable mystery.
When I called out this calamitous governor in the recent past and equally called out Cross River’s parliamentarians for constituting a rubber stamp assembly, some PDP stalwarts in the state and the hawks around Ayade frowned sternly at me. But like I have always said, the danger in nurturing a monster is that one day the monster turns against its master.
One thing that has also stunned me is the apparent surprise that fellow Cross Riverians expressed when Ayade slept as a PDP governor and woke up the following morning cladded in APC’s regalia, as if there exist any striking difference between these two organisations. But then, the striking similarities between these two groups have been more than fully discussed in the last six years since APC, the world’s most dangerous political organisation, emerged and took power through the grandest deception ever. Ayade’s obvious ineptitude, guile and insensitivity have, however, not been addressed. And it is high time they were!
Ayade found his way to Cross River’s highest seat of power after deceptively claiming to be the ‘eagle’ long awaited to lift a drowning Cross River State out of the jaws of a waiting whale. But upon becoming governor, Ayade broke the backbones of the people on whose back he rode to power and had them permanently deformed.
Besides his anti-people policies and several deceptions which many of his victims do not recognise, Ayade quickly moved into land-grabbing, leaving our people stranded and homeless under the guise of building an airport. The governor went to Obudu where he claimed he wanted to build an International Cargo Airport, forcefully grabbed people’s lands and pulled down several buildings before abandoning the project in his characteristic fashion, even though he still claims that the Obudu Cargo International Airport will be completed this year – magical! If completed this year, as he so claims, that airport shall become the eighth wonder of the world!
Some of his victims, under the aegis of Okambi Development Associations (ODAs), have since dragged the Cross River State Government to court for illegal seizure of their lands without recourse to due process. They have courageously faced the Ayade regime despite the governor’s threats to “deal with” anyone who opposes a fraudulent project that does not exist. But then again, tyrants have no respect for due process and fundamental human rights.
But it is not the first or only time that Ayade has introduced highly fraudulent projects in Cross River State. Remember the superhighway for which Ayade claimed he needed a loan of over N648 billion to be repaid for a period of 180 years? This project had a doomed future at birth, like King Odewale in Ola Rotimi’s ‘The Gods Are Not to Blame,’ so it died like several other projects introduced by Ayade – Mr Governor.
One of my major gripes has been that Cross River’s problems are beyond Ayade’s recklessness and gross incompetence. To start with, the 25 men and women who sit at the State House of Assembly cannot feign ignorance over the above referenced “projects” (and several others) which were calculated fraud against the people of Cross River State. But despite their knowledge of this grand fraud, they nodded like a lounge of agamas when the proposals were presented to them in parliament.
As Ayade’s impunity and arrogance roar across Cross River State today, it is instructive to remember that this was generously fuelled by members of Cross River State House of Assembly, a group of people legally empowered by Cross Riverians to represent and protect their interests in Calabar. But upon their election, they abandoned their legitimate duties and became errand boys and girls to a tyrannical governor whose excesses they were meant to check through the democratic doctrine of checks and balances.
How a group of legislative officers, people who ought to be respected and even feared by the executive, became a flock of sheep, is to me an incomprehensible irony. It is this attitude, which betrays the essence of our democracy and raises troubling questions on our civilisation, that has fostered the lawlessness, corruption and the gross underdevelopment in Cross River State, especially under Ben Ayade.
The cardinal point of this treatise should be quite clear by now, namely that Governor Ben Ayade’s arrogance and his violent destruction of Cross River State have been done with the direct complicity of members of Cross River State House of Assembly whose complete loyalty lies with Ayade, never with Cross River and its people. That this naked truth has been glossed over all these years is because majority of Cross Riverians do not have a commanding understanding of the role of the legislative officers they elect into office, and so their gross misconduct go completely unremarked.
Like an infant monkey strapped to its mother’s back, some of these lawmakers in the state have now followed Ayade to the APC, which underscores the notorious affinity between them and why the state has been a monumental mockery.
Since it is important for us to know whose interest ought to be protected and staunchly defended between Cross Riverians and a governor whose time in office is transitory, I have decided to write extensively about the 25 errand boys and girls in Cross River’s House of Assembly in another treatise, wherein I will analyse at considerable length the damage these people have caused and why Cross River electorates have been treated with such profound derision during the last 22 years of Cross River’s democracy.
After numerous allegations of financial recklessness by his regime during the last six years, it was time to switch to a sister party where total refuge was guaranteed for the time being. Did Adams Oshiomhole, the disgraced former National Chairman of APC not say that “once you join APC all your sins are forgiven”? Many political criminals underlined Oshiomhole’s remark that evening of January 17, 2019 in Edo State and decided to act on it.
For instance, the N500 million for which Agba Jalingo was arrested and arbitrarily detained for several months on the instigation of a governor who considers himself a god and who is, without a doubt, trying to outdo Uganda’s Idi Amin, has still not been accounted for – two years after the alarm was raised!
Being anathema to criticisms against his calamitous reign, Ayade simply activated his draconian powers like all tyrants do without providing credible explanations on the whereabouts of the funds. The matter has not even been raised on the floor of the Assembly till date! Nobody questions a god, remember?
So, as Ayade is set to be baptised, cleansed and forgiven by the holy blood of the APC, our demands as Cross Riverians remain the same. They have not changed. They will not change: we want a Cross River State that is economically viable, with ultra-modern infrastructures in roads, healthcare, education and general well-being. These are the crucial things that must occupy Ayade’s thoughts as he wears APC’s angelic garment in the twilight of his woeful reign.
Elias Ozikpu – protest writer, human rights activist, playwright, novelist, polemicist, citizen journalist, arch-enemy of the oppressors.