By Usen Edem
It appears Cross Riverians are displeased with Governor Ayade’s latest sojourn in Europe, where he was photographed at the NIMASA exhibition stand at the just concluded shipping trade fair in Oslo, Norway.
The governor was booed in church earlier today, live on AIT, during the burial service of late Temitope Ita Ekpenyong, the wife of Ita Ekpenyong the ex-DG of the DSS, who hails from Odukpani LGA in Cross River state.
The Governor who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu was called to give a condolence message to the bereaved family on behalf of Governor Ayade. Professor Esu began by apologizing for the absence of Governor Ayade who he said was away on an important trip in Norway.
Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu, speaking at the funeral service
Instantaneously, there was a very loud cacophony of booing across the whole church by attendees inside the building. This was broadcast live across the whole nation on Africa Independent Television AIT.
The incident was very embarrassing and humiliating to the point that the widower, Mr Ita Ekpenyong himself had to get up and appeal to everyone to calm down.
Interestingly, when the Governors of Akwa Ibom and Rivers State were respectively called to give their condolences, there was a loud ovation for them by the congregation. However, the loudest ovation was reserved for former Cross River state governor, Donald Duke when he was called to the pulpit as a late addition. He admonished the deceased family in fluent Efik.
Former Governor Donald Duke speaking at the funeral service
Governor Ayade who in his second term inauguration address, promised to become project manager to ensure speedy completion of projects he initiated in the first term, spent barely one week in office before commencing another round of travels in search of new projects.
Chairman of the Efik Leadership Foundation, Mr. Richard Duke, who attended the funeral service at the Hope Waddel Chapel, chided the governor for not showing respect to the deceased as host.
Mr. Duke told CrossRiverWatch that, “For those of us inside the church, this was a very cringing moment and embarrassing experience.
“He (Ayade) showed absolutely no respect to the family of Ita Ekpenyong as the two other Governors who were sworn in on the same day as Governor Ayade on 29 May created time in their itineraries to attend the burial service today. Project Managers don’t behave like this.
“I’m not saying that Cross River State has now suddenly become a laughing stock. All I am saying is that Governor Ayade missed a big opportunity to make a statement and play host to all the national dignitaries that congregated at the Hope Waddell Parish for the burial service; but rather preferred to attend an insignificant vainglorious trade fair in Norway barely two weeks after being sworn in.” He said.
The burial was attended by numerous dignitaries including the governors of Rivers, Nyesom Wike, Akwa Ibom, Emmanuel Udom, former Anambra governor Peter Obi, Senator Gershom Bassey, Efiok Cobham among others.