Relevance of Ayade Industrialization/ Development Drive Vis-à-vis Emerging Integration of African Economy: Garment and CALAPHARM Factories {1} By: Solomon Asha

The visionary and revolutionary governor of Cross River State, Sir Benedict Ayade.

The World is certainly not going to return 100 percent in the post-COVID-19 era to how it was in the pre-coronavirus days in all sphere of human endeavours, whether in terms global Affairs/International Relations, Bilateral Trade Pacts and the entire global Economy.

A lot is going to change, and if anybody still thinks that the interactions and relationships among nations in the international arena as regards trade relations and transactions among nations and the current global alignments status quo will remain unchanged then such persons will need to have their heads reexamine. Relationships in all facets of life will massively be altered, even before the ushering in of man planned “New World Order,”

Another shift in the current global alignment in terms of trade and relationship is that the robust relation between the nations of Africa and China in terms of trade and other areas would be seriously affected and re-adjusted to favour inter-African nations trading, just as that of the Western nations and Africa countries refer to as developing or third world countries will equally not remain the same in areas of trade , among others in post-COVID-19 world, perhaps until the agenda of the proponents who want to enforce the New World Order or the Deep state people get their way through.

The urge and desire for both economic and political integration of Africa has been a long cherished issue right from the time of the establishment of the then Organization of African Unity {OAU} in May 25, 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to its transformation to African Union {AU} on July 9, 2002 in Durban, South Africa following the then OAU decision in 1999 to establish a new continental body but which has remained largely and painfully elusive due largely to the selfish desire of leaders in various African countries to control powers within their territorial boundaries by hanging on to the artificial boundaries partitioned for Africa during the Berlin conference of 1884 and the destabilizing activities of the western world and other powers who dread such African integration.

However, recently with the outbreak of the global pandemic, Coronavirus, better refer to as COOVID-19, with China as the Centre of its production, maltreatment of African nationals in China and the unpalatable words from Bill Gate and his wife, some of the continent political leaders and academia have come out strongly advocating for complete political and economic integration of the continent or at least economic integration that will ensure a smooth trade relations and exchange of ideas and technological know-how amongst the nations of Africa.

This new awakening among some Africans both at home and in the Diasporas is gradually building a completely and robustly renewed zeal and formidable impetus towards the realization of both political and economic ties among the nations and countries of Africa, thereby striving to realize the vision of generating African solutions to solving African problems and moving away from being the worlds weeping and problem continent that has been constantly refer to as the third world afflicted with diseases, hunger, poverty and high level of illiteracy in the world, alongside some parts of Asia, south and central American and the Caribbean as companions.

What is however gladding to this writer and the rest of the people of Cross River State is that the current Governor of Cross River, Senator professor Benedict Ayade, had a vision of such a period as will by the grace of God soon usher gloriously in the continent of Africa.

This is true because right from May 29, 2015 when he was sworn-in as the governor of Cross River State at the prestigious Calabar International Convention Centre {CICC} in his first term to his second term that is still running, all the major projects embarked upon by hime, including those completed and those ongoing are such projects that have the width and depth of continental importance, thereby laying a solid foundation for the state to play a prominent role in the envisaged continental economic and political integration in the no distance time.

One of the completed industry that has been playing and fulfilling important role since the outbreak of the global pandemic and its reported first case in Nigeria, February 27 this year is the Cross River Garment factory, one of the first industry started and completed by the administration of Ayade.

There is no doubt that the garment factory will continue to play a more prominent role in the future and in the envisaged total economic and perhaps political integration of the countries in the continent of Africa.

During this period of COVID-19, The Cross River Garment factory has witnessed beehives of activities as it plays a pivotal role in the provision of face masks not only in Cross River state but in the whole country with the factory.supplying the needed face masks to states that ordered for them just as the benevolent Governor of the state donated millions of face masks to some states like Kano while many other states in the country are still confidently expected to relied on the face masks from the state garment factory.

The garment factory is indeed a powerful testimony of a product of a smart thinking and visionary leader who think ahead of his contemporaries, just as the factory equally became an absolute example of how a people can rely on what they have to achieve what they want or solve a fundamental problem such as the quantity of face masks require to meet the numbers of persons in the state and states that ordered theirs from Cross River Garment factory in the face of daring and rudeness COVID-19 impunity and the undying and resilient spirit to confront and bring it to submission.

Based on the role which the garment factory plays during this period of the pandemic and will still play in the near future, in the continent of Africa, there is no doubt that the establishment of the factory was a carefully calculated smart and visionary move divinely propelled by God not just to serve the financial needs of Cross River and her people but most importantly to carry out the role it is playing at this time of COVID-19.

Again, the role it will still play in future pandemics of greater severity as already predicted , and the ultimate part it will play in the greater African economy as the sleeping continent is being pushed by the happenings in the world, and sharp treatment from those it thought were it friend to gradually wake from its long decades of slumber to take its rightful place among comity of nations and continents is vital and instructive.

Probably when the garment factory was being conceived from the inception to its completion and functioning now, no Cross Riverian ever contemplated the outbreak of COVID-19 and the central role the factory was going to play in the mass producing of face masks, one of the important preventice kits against the ferocious spread of the man created pestilence; not even the visionary Governor Benedict Ayade himself could have envisaged such a pivotal role to be played by the garment factory within a short period of its existence.

Considering the role that the factory has already played and is still playing within this time of national and global emergency and in the future pandemic and the emerging African economic integration, we do not need a telepathist to peep into the crystal ball to inform us that as a people and as a government, we must begin to think of the best possible aspects that hitherto are not included in the present design of the factory so these can be incorporated to serve not just a national and regional purpose but a continental purpose where the factory will give Cross River state, Nigeria, entire West Africa and indeed Africa a rock solid comparative advantage in the production of fabrics and kits of all types in Africa and in the world to the point that the current giants in the industry would become green with envy as they will become mere dwarfs within the industry circle.

Another of Ayade brainchild industry to be considered alongside the Garment factory in this first article consist of series involving important Ayade industrial revolution/ projects is the Calabar Pharmaceutical company Limited {CALAPHARM} also located beside the Garment factory in the busy Ayade industrial Park along GoodLuck Jonathan Bypass, Calabar Municipality.

CALAPHARM, an establishment based on Public Private Partnership Initiative {PPPI}, targeted to initially start with 40 products, was conceived with mother and Child Health as its main thrust and to also play an important role in the state own Insurance scheme tagged AYADECARE by supplying quality and standard drugs based on WHO approved standard to the people at an affordable rate.

CALAPHARM products to consist of syrups and tablets, syringes and injections as well as Lassa fever and Meningitis vaccines to be produced locally with standard laboratories to ensure accurate scientific procedures and meticulous analysis to meet the best scientific practices anywhere in the world and WHO standard, with an equally a standard packaging section.

The long term plan of Governor Ayade as regards this gigantic pharmaceutical plant is for the country to be able to see the importation of drugs and other medical kits, equipment and tools. Though chemicals for the production at this initial state will come from outside the country, it is hoped that in a very short time those chemicals would be source locally thereby conserving foreign exchange earning for the state and the country.

Sincerely, the idea behind the establishment of the pharmaceutical factory was inspirational and fits perfectly into the new thinking and awaking among African countries economic integration agenda aimed at realizing a competitive grisp and footing among the nations for a stronger, virile Africa that will have an effective voice in the global affairs, firmly self-reliant to a reasonable level as other continents are, thereby fulfilling the purpose of God for the continent and its people.

In the emerging economic integration of Africa and the role that CALPHARM is envisaged to play in the production of medicines and other health equipment, to be able to fight the various pandemics and pestilences of whether natural or those instigated by man, among others, there is the need for the present scope of the factory to be expanded to include the production of vaccines against other deadly diseases besides Lassa fever and meningitis.

To achieve this, since CALAPHARM is expected to be one of the major producer of syrups and tablets, syringes and injections, vaccines and medical equipment, kits and appliances, there is every need for an African Union {AU} sponsored Research Centre to be located in Cross River state to carry out findings and research into the various indigenous herbs, {roots, barks and leaves, flowers and fruits} to extract their medicinal properties for the manufacturing of all kinds of drugs for local consumption within Africa and for export to the rest of the world.

One of the most important advantages which the AU will have for the establishment of a high class medical research centre in Cross River is that the state still harbours about 40 percent of Nigerias remaining tropical rainforests that are home some of the rare endangered species, flora and fauna in the world and rich in biodiversity.

Another advantage that CALAPHARM and all the industries located at the Ayade ultramodern Industrial Park is that the pharmaceutical company and others will enjoy the status of an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in the following areas of grants, waivers, tax reliefs and other incentives which all EPZs enjoyed globally. African countries that will import their drugs and other medical supplies from CALAPHARM, fabrics and clothing from the Garment factory, among other industries located within the Ayade ultramodern Industrial park will enjoy the benefits associated with purchasing goods from an Export Processing Free Zone {EPZ}.

The next article in the series will focus on the hybrid and vitaminazed Rice Seed and Seedlings factory also located within the Ayade Industrial park, the Ogoja ultramodern hybrid and vitaminazed Rice processing plant and the ultramodern Cocoa processing plant at Ikom.

TO BE CONTINUED.

Monarchs laud Ayade over C’River COVID-19 free status

The Cross River State Traditional Rulers Council has commended the state governor, Sir Ben Ayade for his proactive efforts, which have kept the state free of coronavirus.

The council in a statement signed by its Chairman, His Royal Majesty, Etinyin Etim Okon Edet, described the success as unprecedented asserting that, “the outbreak of COVID-19 has not only been revelatory but has indeed separated boys from men, “professors of science from professors of science.”

According the council, “The recent visit of the Presidential task Team from Abuja through the Nigerian Centre Disease Control (NCDC) led by Dr. Omobolanle Olowu has not only confirmed the COVID-19 free status of the state but has scored the State first in all indices.”

While lauding the Governor for the feat, Etinyin Edet maintained that, “The Traditional Rulers in the state therefore, commend the ingenuity and pragmatic efforts of the State Governor, Senator Prof Ben Ayade and the entire COVID-19 team, in preventing the spread of the virus through early closure of borders, provision of nose masks and adequate monitoring which has landed the state “a COVID-19 free status by the Presidential Task Team.”

He hinted that “while other States, including the federal government were locking down all means of livelihood, our dear Governor only locked out and allowed economic activities but with the enforcement of “no masks, no movement.”

The traditional rulers through its chairman therefore, appealed to the federal government and other international organisations to lend their hands of support to the State as a moral booster considering its state of finances so as to enable it maintain the feat.

“We assure our amiable Governor of our continued support as prevention is indeed better and cheaper than cure,” he added.

NCDC AND CROSS RIVER RELATIONSHIP: FROM INTIMIDATION TO COMMENDATION, SYNERGY. By Augustine Ogar

The coming of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control ( NCDC) officials to Cross River State, this week, on a fact- finding mission is a welcome development. Many weeks after the stand-off between the NCDC and the the Cross River State Government which almost resulted in confrontation, the NCDC led by Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu suddenly realise their approach of intimidation to coerse the state government to announce phantom convid-19 cases in the state was futile.

Nigeria, a country where” anything goes”, have never had it so bad as the suspicion surrounding the management of the corona virus’ outbreak by the Presidential Task Force ( PTF) on Convid-19 and the NCDC officials is creating so much doubt with the reality on ground.

But under the exceptional leadership of the Cross River State Governor, His Excellency Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade,( a professor of Micro- Biology), it has been proven that combating the corona virus is not “rocket science”,as the PTF, NCDC or any other institutions anywhere in the world would want us to believe.

Ayade has clearly shown that he has the intellectual depth to rise to the demand of any situation even in times of national emergency when he went ahead of the Federal Government and other states to put out measures that effectively checkmated the convid-19 infection from spreading to Cross River which has become a subject of constenation to others who cannot imagine, ” How Cross River did it”!

The actions taken so far by the man who has earned the admiration of his people, and his popularity has soared as the ” Digital Governor”, coupled with divine intervention, the state has retained its convid-19 free status several months after the outbreak of the disease world wide and in Nigeria, where it has ravaged 34 out of the 36 states in the Federation. So, far, Cross River remained the ” safest and freest environment” to live at all times and during this period of convid-19 pandemic.

But one may ask, what is the magic? Captured in the words of Dr. Omobolanle Olowu the NCDC team leader to the state,” Governor Ayade woke up even before the rest of the country. He shut his borders and has been working from the front line. Your governor is a man of foresight who believes in his people and want to serve his people”. It can be summarised that Ayade’s swift response to the outbreak of the infections in Nigeria saved the state.

Surprisingly, within days as the outbreak was announced in Nigeria, he had a plan ready for implementation on combating the corona virus. Ahead of federal authorities, he immediately, ordered a lockdown across the state and a lockout on inter states travels. All entry and exit points across the state were identified and blocked by security agencies and Government officials working under the convid-19 committee headed by the state Commissioner for Health Dr. Betta Edu. Social gatherings such as burials, weddings and others were banned.

Restriction on Church activities exceeding 20 persons was announced. Public and business outfits were ordered to provide hands sanitiser and water with soap for washing of hands placed at strategic entrance to their premises for use by clients. Social distancing was to be strictly observed by all citizens of the state.

Two weeks into the countdown, another smart measure “, NO MASK, NO MOVEMENT”, was introduced but this was to draw initial criticism with a self acclaimed social critic, Dr. Rueben Abati, a former presidential spoke man declaring on Arise TV program that the measure was a huge joke. But, wearing of the face mask in public places has now been certified world wide as one of the best practices to combat convid-19, a vindication of Ayade’s position established even by the World Health Organisation ( WHO).

Today, the ” No mask, No movement”, started by Ayade has become a law in Nigeria, as announced by the Federal Government and the senate has adopted it into the Infections Disease Act about to be enacted prescribing a six months jail term for defaulters.

Ayade’s exceptional leadership prowess in Nigeria at this time has been proven in many fronts. The garment factory which he concieved and built immediately he assumed office in 2015, is providing not only employment for the citizens but has become the fulcrum on which face masks, PPE and face Shields are made. These protective equipment are now in high demand across the federation. Indeed, the state government has earned a reputation as being the neighbors’ keeper when recently it donated millions of home made masks made from local fibre to other states like Lagos, Kano, Benue, etc.

The state number one citizen is already prioritizing on the post- convid-19 era by scaling up the means of livelihoods for the citizens through injecting employment of about 8,000 personnel in Agricultural, Environmental, Health and Security subsectors of the state economy.

The breaking news is that schools in Cross River State are about to reopen but first the state government has made up a plan where about 2 billions dollars materials have been procured to make face shields for pupils and students in primary and secondary schools across the state which will be distributed ” free of charge”.

The NCDC officials took wise counsel to have changed its bullying and intimidating stance against the state after it was enmeshed in a big embrassment during its recent visit to Kogi state where the Governor Yaya Bello accused the agency of fraudulent activities in the management of the convid-19 cases in Nigeria, and threatened to quarantined the NCDC visiting officials.

The fact- finding mission of NCDC to Cross River has now opened the eyes of the agency to issues which they were not privileged to know while in their cozy offices in Abuja. Its official delegation to the state led Dr. Omobolanle Olowu has given high commendation to the work of the state government regarding the measures put in place to fight the corona virus while promising federal government patronage for acquisition of face masks, PPE from the garment factory.

However, it is my utmost believe that the NCDC should move a step further by recommending Governor Ayade to the federal government for national merit award honour as the ” Hero of Convid-19″ who provided critical leadership at the time of national emergency and saved his people from the rampaging disease. It is not much to ask because in other climb, Ayade would have become an instant celebrity making world headlines as the ” Governor with a convid-19 free state.”

Finally, my take, # I stand with Ayade on humanity!

End.

Southern, Middle belt Leaders call on Nigerians To Be Vigilant.

Leaders of the Southern And Middle Belt Leaders Forum are outraged at the complacency of the Nigerian Security Forces at the invasion of their areas by teenagers from certain section of Nigeria hidden in containers and trailers in large numbers in spite of the ban of interstate movements by the President, the Northern Governors Forum and the Nigerian Governors Forum.

What type of country do we we live in that the order of a President and laws in the country would be selectively obeyed or ignored totally by some citizens without consequences while others are under koboko to obey?

This ominous development is coming after Boko Haram threatened openly three weeks ago, that they were going to take their battle against Nigeria to the South East and South South. Very worrisome in this development is the quietness of the National Security organizations, the National Covid-19 Committee and the Presidency since this story broke out.

This development has brought about very strong suspicions amongst people regarding the aim of the deployment of these young men. Their capacity to escape all border security checks until they reach many States in the South and Middle Belt and nearly the whole country points to a strong collaboration.

The Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum asks all Nigerians at the receiving end to be vigilant, adding that God forbid that the Boko Haram threat is being surreptitiously executed.

We will certainly not fold our arms and allow massive influx of youths who have no reason to flout extant laws on interstate movements, no pressing National engagement in our areas, no verifiable occupation, no tests for Covid-19 and no pre-arranged accommodation,to come and forcibly occupy our forests and perhaps prosecute the threat of Boko Haram.

The silence of the Federal government in this situation is ominous. The maneuvers appear deliberately planned and provocative. We will resist any threats to our invasion and the security of our lives and property with every amount of self – help available to us.

To avoid further descent to an uncontrollable situation,we call on the Federal government to publicly declare this invasion illegal, direct our National Security Organizations to flush them out NOW and ensure that they do not return. We need to be reassured there is a government here!

Not too long ago General Danjuma warned us to be ready for self – help. We hope that his predictions have not become inevitable and that our country can be saved a slide into lawlessness and its disastrous consequences. A stitch in time saves nine! We call on our people to be vigilant.

How can we endure sporadic killings in the hands of herdsmen in “normal” times and Almajiri invasion under pandemic?

Signed by:
1) Chief E K Clark for Pandef
2) Chief Ayo Adebanjo for Afenifere
3) Chief John Nnia Nwodo for Ohaneze
4) Dr Bitrus Pogu for The Middle Belt Forum

Ayade’s Call for Resumption of Domestic Flights: A Potent Tonic to Stir and Bolster the COVID-19 Gaunt Economy By: Solomon Asha

The Governor of Cross River State, Senator Professor Ben Ayade.

Recently the Governor of Cross River state, Sir Benedict Ayade pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari, to lift ban on domestic flights in the country which was imposed as a result of the present global pandemic, Coronavirus, better refer to as COVID-19.

The Cross River Governor plead with Mr. President and the federal government to lift ban on domestic flights is so germane and cogent bearing in mind the devastating effect the ban has already has on the economy of the nation, especially the very vital tourism, travel and hospitality industry and their allied small industries and businesses that survive from the operations of the major tourism and hospitality sector.

We cannot deny the fact that besides the prime place of the tourism, travel and hospitality industry in the world and as a sector that holds great promises and potentials for the present and future globally, in Nigeria the sector has been contributing some percentages to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the past years.

For example national statistics indicates that in 2007 the sector contributed 6.0 percent to the National Gross Domestic Product {GDP}, it contributed 7.0 percent in 2008, in 2009 it was 5.5 percent, 2010 it contributed 3.9 percent, 2011 was 3.5 percent and contributed 3.9, 4.5; 4.6; 4.4;5.1; 5.4; and 5.0 in 2012, 2013 2014 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively to the GDP of the country.

It is estimated that in the year 2016, direct contributions of travel and tourism to the National Gross Domestic product {GDP} was N1, 861.4bn; in 2017 it was N1.881bn, while in 2018 the sector contributed the estimated sum of N3.63bn to the National Gross Domestic product; just as the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that in 2017 the tourism sector accounted for 34 percent of the GDP and about 20 percent of the nations employment.

It is therefore a sad reality that since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the world and its first reported case in Nigeria on the 27 of February of this year, this sector became one of the sectors badly hit by the global pandemic, leading to the sack of some workers in the aviation industry worldwide and in the country in particular.

Besides the above stated sector, other economic sectors and the overall national economy has dangerously plummeted, partly to the harsh lockdown policy within the country and also no thanks to the rate at which crude oil price has crashed in the global market, all boil down to the notorious COVID-19.

It is based on this premise that the recent call by the proactive and dynamic governor of Cross River state, Sen. Prof Ben Ayade on the President to lift ban on domestic flights cannot be faulted by any reason or reasons which have been postulated by anybody, organization or officials of the health sector.

Nobody in his right senses and mind can doubt the glaring fact that the continuous closer of our domestic airspace is having a negative impact on the nations economy in general and the aviation, hospitality and tourism industry in particular and the devastating effect it will have on the nation for another uninterrupted closer for one month.

It is based on this facts that Ayade maintained that “The suspension of domestic flights has affected most hotels leading to their closure. It is so bad that most hotels including the 5-star hotels are shutting down because they cannot even sustain the cost of diesel for their generating sets and as that happens, they start laying off workers. So you have a lot of workers, young people who used to work in the hotels and tourism industry out of jobs. And the big question is, how long can this continue?”

As the main aviation, tourism and hospitality industry is under a serious burden now, so is the allied and small businesses and caterers who plays key roles in the functioning of the main industry have been pushed out of businesses causing untold hardship to them and their dependents as well as those they also employ to serve.

“The caterers who supply food to the hotels are all out of business. All the suppliers are out of business. So as we continue to lock the domestic airports for another four weeks, what we are going to have in terms of economic loss, what we are going to have in terms of social delinquency, the associated moral and social tension that will come with it will be just too huge for the country to bear, Ayade sadly warned.

Arguments put forward by some top officials in the health ministry or sector that lifting ban on domestic flights at this time will impact negatively on the nation especially flights between Abuja and lagos is not cogent enough; rather such line of reasoning is demoralizing and shows that the sector is ill-prepared and is not capable confronting new challenges and finding solutions to the issues.

It is the candid opinion of this writer that where there is a will, there will always be a way to get out of knotty issues such as the one we are presently facing as a nation except where there is no sincerity of purpose by those saddled with such responsibilities.

The NCDC and the Minister of Health and other top health officials and the aviation authority can come up with strategies that will firstly ensure that the airlines are all COVID-19 constantly disinfected or fumigate and that the officials, workers, air hostess, stewardess and attendants hostess are thoroughly screen to ensure they are COVID-19 free while those who have been caught up with the pandemic are identified and isolated for treatment.

In the same vein, passengers who are to travel by plane to another city will have to be subjected to the normal COVID-19 screening and testing to ascertain their state of health as regards the current pandemic before they can be allowed to board any plane to any location, including other life saving rules and guidelines.

It is based on this altruistic reasoning that Ayade provided a simple solution and aver that “We can still be safe while allowing the internals of Nigeria to run. We can do so by allowing the domestic airlines to start operating. As they fly, NCDC should spell out certain conditions like making sure aircrafts are properly disinfected, ensuring temperature tests are carried out before passengers get on board and of course, ensuring that all passengers wear proper masks. The airlines can have their own masks that they can give to passengers,” the governor further posited.

Elucidating further, the Cross River state Governor explained, “So, for that short flight of one hour, everyone is protected and the hotels can pick up again, the suppliers can have their businesses back so that workers can go to work. For states like ours that depend so much on tourism, we are almost paralyzed. Once visitors, travellers and tourists are not coming into Calabar, the hotels will have no patronage because people do not just leave their homes to go to a hotel to sleep for the fun of it, only once in a while may be. But again hotels need consistent patronage and that can only come when domestic flights are coming in and going out.”

In the same manner, the appeal by the Cross River state Governor to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government “not to lock down the healthy but rather lock down the sick and allow the healthy to work, could not have come from any other personality but a man with the interest of the people at heart as well as the survival of the nations economy, bearing in mind that his concrete achievements in Cross River are there for all to see.

It should be noted that some countries have resumed domestic flights. Kazakh Carrier, Air Astana resumed scheduled flights from Kazakhstan two largest airports, Almaty and Nur-sultan to other regional airports since May 11, while Air Asia had begun domestic flights in Malaysia. It is also reported that Thailand and Philippines commenced their domestic flights on May 17, 2020, while India started skeletal services since May 7, and will commence fully domestic flights on Monday May 18, 2020 with all the necessary health measures put in place.

Some of the measures include strict observance of social distancing protocols at the airports, mandatory online check-in and earlier airport arrivals for medical check among others. Similarly, Emirates resumes passengers flights to nine countries including UK and Australia.

Air France has scheduled the resumption of flights to Lome, Togo with a stop at Niamey, Niger on June 15 and on the same day scheduled direct flights to Abidjan, Cote dIvoire, Cotonou, Benin Republic and Conakry, Guinea, just as Ghana has become the first African country to resume domestic flights from the Kotoka International Airport.

It is my fervent position that Governor Ben Ayade propositions, line of arguments on the need for at least domestic flights to resume in the country are well thought and without faults, if the authority will follow or adheres strictly to the suggestions proffers by the proactive, smart and charismatic Cross River State governor, including borrowing a leave from countries that had already taken a bold step in that direction including our ECOWAS brother, Ghana, without sentiments.

On the aspect of whether or not to reopen public schools, this writer strongly opine that for now schools should not be reopened on the single reason that our educational facilities are embarrassingly inadequate at all levels and would not provide enough accommodation/space in the areas of hostels or classrooms for students to be able to keep the prescribed social distancing.

While it may be appropriate for adequate measures to be put in place for examinations classes that did not complete their terminal examinations to resume and complete them, and Examinations bodies like WAEC, NECO and others to commence their examinations administration under strict and appropriate social distancing protocols, general resumption of schools at this time is not encouraged, not even private schools.

Reopening schools from the pre-primary to the university level at this period in Nigeria is like inviting and quickening the arrival of Armageddon and equally working to bring to pass the intention of those who created the coronavirus {COVID-19} and those prophets of doom who predicted that Nigerians and Africans walk and drop dead in droves in the streets.

Instead of reopening schools at this time leading to monumental catastrophic, the domestic flights should resume flights with adequate arrangement and sense of responsibility by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and stakeholders in the COVID-19 battle, while at the same time putting in place solid plans and facilities for the schools at all levels to resume without unleashing national disaster. Perhaps, Nigeria can take a example from the United Kingdom plan and arrangement to reopen public schools in that country.

As a person, I feel that the authority’s continuous banning of domestic flights in the country will serve a useful multi-dimensional purpose only for evil end because, besides those who unfortunately had been reported death from the COVID-19, and others who may still pass on from it, thousands will die from hunger and poverty, loss of jobs, frustration, depression, mental derangement among others than from the virus itself.

Our Heavenly Father should bless and protect all of us from COVID-19 and other impending man-made viruses and pestilences in the days, weeks, months and years and decades ahead if Jesus Christ delay His return. God will ensure that trouble of monumental intensity emanates behind those who trouble us, those who have decided to assign themselves or accepted the role of ensuring that Gods children do not fulfill their destinies and the purpose for which they were created and sent to the earth.

END.

Ochala, stop parading ignorance, get education By: Christian Ita

Christian Ita, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity.

Ordinarily, as a serious minded and responsible government focused on delivering on its core mandate of industrialising the state, the Cross River government does not have the tradition of joining issues with narcissists prancing the polity with inanities.

It has, however, become necessary to puncture Sir John Ochala’s tissues of lies. His vapid press release on the West African Construction and Fabrication Academy utterly vitiates any claim he has to accuracy, morality and decency. It is dripping with inaccuracies and falsehood.

Ochala’s vile act is ghoulish beyond belief. His ways hiss with diabolical resonance. Essentially, only fraudsters smell fraud even with the best of intentions.

No doubt, the dream of a Construction and Fabrication Academy was the brainchild of Sir Ben Ayade as a Senator. So were other ideas of his such as the garment factory, industrial park, Dual carriage highway linking the five local governments that make up the Northern Senatorial District, a rice mill in Ogoja, an international airport at Obudu, amongst others.

It is also a fact of history that one of Ayade’s standout bills in the senate was a bill seeking to make social housing a right for all Nigerians.

These were all Ayade’s lofty dreams as a senator which he had hoped to actualise as a way of bringing development to his senatorial district.

Now, let us situate them vis a vis Ochala’s incoherent attempt at misinformation regarding the Fabrication Academy.

Garment Factory

The idea of a garment factory was conceived whilst Ayade was a senator. In fact, land was identified for that purpose in Obudu with a sign post erected.

The project was even included in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) budget but the budget was never financed.

So, when Ayade became governor, rather than actualize his dream by locating the garment factory in Obudu or any other local government in his Senatorial zone, he decided to make it a state project. In his broad-mindedness as governor, he chose to site it in Calabar. Today, the factory has become not only a thing of pride for the state, but also a revenue earner.

The big question now is; does the fact that the governor conceived the garment factory idea as senator reduce the facility to a privately owned entity?

Social Housing
On social housing, as a senator, Ayade had sponsored a bill to make social housing a right for al Nigerians. On becoming governor, he built a social housing scheme for the displaced people of Bakassi. Since the idea was conceived when the governor was a senator, does that also make the social housing scheme in Bakassi a privately owned entity?

Ultra modern rice mill, Ogoja
The first visit Ayade made to the original equipment manufacturers for the Ogoja rice mill was whilst he was still a senator. This can be verified from the stamps on his international passport. Even the design of the mill was drawn before he became governor.

The rice mill will soon go into commercial operations. In spite of it being funded by the state government, one wonders if that mill is privately owned based on the mere fact that the idea was conceived before the birth of the current administration.

*Mfom-Okpoma-Okuku- Bekwara- Obudu- Obanliku dual carriage way

The dream for this all important road linking the five local governments that make up Northern Cross River Senatorial District was conceived by Ayade when he was a senator. Now that the state government is building the road, Ochala might as well give it away as Ayade’s personal road.

Construction and Fabrication Academy
This is where Ochala immersed himself in irredeemable ignorance and crass illiteracy in his bid to play opposition and spew mendacity. Not only did he expose his abject lack of fact and coordination, Ochala clearly advertised himself as a laughable disoriented charlatan who talks before thinking and one grimly disconnected from reality.

By continuing in his self-deception and ignorance, Ochala is not only harming himself but on a gradual metamorphosis to a conman.

Just as the projects listed above, the idea of the academy was conceived by Ayade whilst as a Senator as one of the projects he intended to attract to his constituency i.e Cross River North. However, the idea only remained in the realm of conception and was never realised.

But on becoming governor, he saw the state’s ownership as really not a bad idea as the academy seeks to train middle level manpower like artisans etc.

And now, the academy is taking the advantage of the post-COVID-19 global pandemic to prepare a middle level manpower for the state.

The property housing the academy was bought by the state government after approval by the state Executive Council and receipted for as the state’s property. The question begging for answers therefore, is, how can a property acquired with state fund after due approval by the executive council, captured in the budget and receipted for as state property now become a private entity because the dream was conceived in 2014?

It is also imperative to mention that the crude oil deposit report on Cross River State was paid for by Ayade before he became a governor. Does that mean Ayade owns the crude oil in the state?

Payment for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the superhighway project was paid for by Ayade on May 9, 2015, weeks before he was sworn in as governor. Are we now to say that Ayade owns the superhighway?

Ochala also made bold to list the promoters of the fabrication academy to include the five council areas in Northern Cross River. Perhaps these local government areas are also private entities of Governor Ayade. There can’t be any worse contradictions than this. Only a fraudster smells fraud even with the best of intentions.
Ochala’s conspiratorial nuance clearly depicts him as an indulgent purveyor of chaos. He is a man with a troubled mind. Little wonder he is running riot with misinformation and spreading gibberish with the sole aim to malign and cause disaffection.

It is only a bigoted idle man, perching nervously on a disputatious office he lacks legitimate claim to, that will luxuriate himself in mongering lies and an entrenched ignorance.

Christian Ita
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Governor Ayade.