Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State deserves a Nobel Prize for his industrialization exploits, so says a former governor of the state, Mr. Donald Duke.
Duke stated this while speaking with newsmen in Calabar shortly after a tour of factories at the Ayade Industrial Park.
The former governor, who said he was stunned by the amazing industrialization feats of Ayade, wondered how the governor was able to record such feat in spite of the state’s huge debt profile.
“I know the debt profile of the state, the income and investment that are required here. Actually, I am very impressed and I want to encourage him (Ayade) because if he succeeds, all of us will succeed and if he doesn’t succeed, all of us have not succeeded, but we must ensure that our leaders succeed because we are the beneficiaries of that success,” Duke noted.
On the rice seeds and seedlings factory, the former governor remarked: “This rice facility, from what I have been told and what I have seen here, it can enable the entire West Africa sub-region to be self sufficient in rice. If that was all Ayade did, he has every right to beat his chest. If all he did was to ensure that the entire sub-region of West Africa is self sustaining in rice production, he will deserve a Nobel Prize for that.”
Wondering how Ayade was able to perform the financial magic to establish industries in almost every local government area, Duke asked rhetorically: “How are you funding all these projects? I have a good idea of the state resources and it doesn’t add up, so there is something you (Ayade) are doing that we don’t know.”
He maintained that the rice seedlings facility “will make Cross River by far the largest producer of rice in the entire West Africa, as the state has land which is arable, so, we need to get our citizens into rice production. My encouragement is just keep on doing it, don’t stop.”
Describing the factories as amazing, Duke said: “There is a pharmaceutical company, Noodles factory, power plant, among others with a lot of work put in place which has brought spread, so Ayade deserves kudos for these. There is always cynicism and criticism of government, but let’s call a spade a spade, there is no amount of money that a state generates that can sustain what you (Ayade) have done here.”
The former governor who recalled his speech at the Vanguard Newspapers award which honoured Ayade with an award of excellence said: “Yes, I said that Ayade will leave this state stupefied. He is living up to the billing, and I said when he leaves the state, he will have people confused and I think he is living true to my words.”
The former governor advised the people of the state to take advantage of the state’s rice revolution and “get involved in rice farming, even if it is two or three hectares, do it as it will augment our income.
“They call us public or civil service state, but public servants can take part in agriculture, it is allowed and encouraged.”
On the sustainability of the various projects initiated by Ayade, the former governor advocated for the privatization of the industries.
His words: “What I see here is an attempt to jumpstart industries in our state. Government is not equipped to run these, we need to privatise it as soon as it is mature. Privatise it for sustainability, we shouldn’t be shy of privatisation.
“The important thing is that the industries are in our state and we are the direct beneficiaries. You don’t need to own what is not working. I want to encourage Ayade to work towards the privatisation of the plants so that by the time he leaves office, it is totally off government hands and that is also preparing a clean slate for the next administration to work in other areas. Please introduce total private sector management.”
Responding, Ayade thanked Duke for his kind words, noting that “this for me is a call to do more. The only people who can criticise me are Governors Duke and Imoke, because they have sat there, they feel it and know it.”
Continuing, Ayade said: “Like Duke said, he knows the income and challenges of the state and knows that the income cannot do the much we have done. I want to thank Duke for his time, energy, commitment and goodwill towards the state.”
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