Reading the diatribe written by a certain Elias Ozikpu against Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River and the content of his vituperation, it was not difficult to discern this was yet again another recruit and parasite engaged by the forest scavenger and a self-appointed environmentalist, Odey Oyama to boost his already thinning clan of anti Ayade and his vision for Cross River State.
In yet another trite and tame effort to join issues over the funding of the six-lane 275km superhighway project, one thing stood out starkly and confirmed the obvious: a treacherous attempt at distortion, a brazen cannibalization of fact as well as a tragic and shameless romanticization with fiction. Aside the farrago of illogicalities patently seasoned in his rant, Ozikpu, in seeking to discredit the superhighway project, embarked on rewriting history by vending falsehood with a clear aim to misinform and incite.
Unfortunately for the hack writer, Cross River under Governor Ayade is one of the best run states in the country.
It is common knowledge that the state receives the second least allocation from the federation account.
In spite of this ugly reality, Ayade has in the last four years embarked on aggressive industrialization of the state with a view to creating job opportunities for the people.
As at the last count, Ayade has built 15 industries; including the ultra-modern cocoa factory in Ikom, the state-of-art rice mill in Ogoja, the Cross River Garment Factory in Calabar, the Rice Seeds and Seedlings Factory, commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in Calabar and the Calabar Pharmaceutical Company (CALAPHARM), the first and only pharmaceutical company in the South-South.
Work is ongoing in the Calabar Chicken Processing Factory, Calachika. With equipment already on ground, it will have the capacity to handle six thousand birds per hour. There is also the Noodles Factory in Calabar, Bio-fertilizer plant, the Paradise Toothpick Factory, Yakuur amongst others.
To address the challenges of power, Ayade has built a 23 megawatt power plant in Calabar. It is awaiting approvals from the federal authorities for power to be evacuated to homes.
The poor revenue allocation to the state notwithstanding, Cross River has emerged number in the payment of salaries and pensions under Ayade.
To boast manpower requirements of the state, and provide food on the table for many families, Ayade gave appointments to over 8000 across Riverians, employed 2000 teachers, 1000 thousand nurses and lifted the over two-decade embargo on employment into the state civil service.
Cross River, whose people were amongst the earliest to have contact with western education, has consistently ranked amongst the most literate states in the country. The Ayade administration has not just maintained the standard, has actually taken it a notch higher.
For the avoidance of doubt, UNESCO in its 2018 literacy ranking of states in Nigeria, attributed 62.3 per cent literacy rate to Cross River. Only four states were ranked higher than Cross River.
In another data released by databod for the same year, Cross River had 89 per cent literacy rate.
Also last year, the Federal Ministry of Education ranked Cross River as the fifth most improved state in education.
In four years of the Ayade-led administration, Cross River has twice emerged the second best state in National Examination Council (NECO) examinations.
To further raise the bar, the administration is building a Continuous Teachers Training College in Biase and the ultra-modern British-Canadian Model School in Obudu, in addition to the complete rehabilitation of about 300 schools.
As for healthcare, Cross River has been adjudged the best performing state in health in South-South and one of six in the country by the United Nations and the Federal Government. The award was presented to the state by the Vice President, Professor Yomi Osinbajo last year at the Thisday Summit on Health in Abuja.
It may interest Ozikpu and his pay masters to note that Cross River has the highest child survival rate in the country even as it was perhaps the first state to implement a health insurance scheme that guarantees universal health coverage for all, including non-income earners.
The administration is also building three specialists hospitals, one in each Senatorial district of the state.
On the state of roads, it is a pity that a man who goes by several appellations that ought to suggest intellectual fecundity could not engage in any form of intellectual rigor like research to avail himself of facts.
Apart from the superhighway project, the Ayade-led administration is handling other equally ambitious road projects like the 143km dual carriage mfom-Obudu-obanliku road, which cuts across the five local government areas of Cross River North. Asphalting of the road is at an advanced stage.
The administration has also increased the tempo of work on the expansion and dualisation of the 16km Calabar-Odukpani Junction highway with a spaghetti-shaped flyover to decongest the perennial traffic on the road and beautify the approach to Calabar.
In Calabar metropolis, most of the major roads have been given a facelift with a complete asphalt overlay by the Ayade-led administration.
Some of these roads include Mary Slessor, Marian, IBB and Murtala Mohammed Highway.
Clearly, Ozikpu was writing from the outer space and his piece was at best a poor attempt at fiction writing, a hatchet job to an appalling salesman to demarket the governor and the state. But yet again, like others it fell through.
Christian Ita, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ayade