By Ugo Onyeama
When he came four years ago with the mantra that “no nation can tax its people to prosperity”, “decoupling Cross River from the federal allocation”, as well as “recalibrating the economic architecture” of the state, by establishing one industry in each local government area, not a few thought this was a flight of fancy Governor Ben Ayade was about to embark on.
While some were dismissive of his bullish talk, others adopted a wait and see attitude to see how the then new governor was going to walk his talk.
Visioner that he was and still is, Ayade’s ascendancy as governor was not to mouth vague and empty promises he could not fulfil. Instead, he came brimming not only to be an active participant but to write a new chapter in the emerging story of Cross River State.
For the governor, he came putting his shoulders to the wheel, ever poised to confront the odds and turn the ugly narrative of the state for the better.
And staying true to his convictions, Governor Ayade would prove in no time that leadership was not about title or designation. It is about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact in achieving results, influence in spreading the passion you exude for your work and the inspiration to inspire hope in others under you.
Insisting not to tax his people to prosperity, the governor in no time, abolished taxes for low income earners in the state as a way of growing the informal sector and consequentially create wealth and stimulate growth.
In the formal sector, Ayade was desirous of encouraging investment in the state by insisting on a number of waivers and incentives such as granting of free land to would-be investors at the Ayade Industrial Park.
With his audacious declaration to plant one industry in each of the 18 local government areas of the state, all the governor did was to gaze into the future to see what others could not see. He saw a state with abundant opportunities, he saw prospects, he saw industries sprouting from the creeks of Bakassi through the rainforest of Ikom to the mountains of Obudu.
As a leader in a hurry and ahead of his time. Ayade dreamed big, talked big, and envisioned an Eldorado for his people. In spite of his shoestring budget, he has continued to put his soul above the odds, allowing his body to wade through.
Today, the narrative has radically changed from lamentation to joy, from near doom to boom, despair to hope.
What more, the governor, eager and very much in a hurry to quickly change the state’s economic landscape, embarked on a catalytic industrialization of the state which has culminated in the establishment of a dozen industries across the state and still counting.
That is why for almost four years now, the governor has stayed focus, strong and committed, knowing that he could achieve just anything he sets his mind to. Applying his Ayadenomics policy, he has been courageous enough to scale up the ambition of the state, which is to be among the best economies and the first world in the comity of states through rapid industrialization.
Ghana is no neighbour to Cross River, neither is it a state within the Nigerian state. Yet tellingly, the Ayade economic model of locating one industry in one local government across the state, which to many Nigerians was like a page taken out of a science fiction, has gone beyond romanticization to constituting the economic plank of Ghana’s growth plan.
In what no doubt would go down as aping what I had three years ago dubbed as “Ayadenomics”, Governor Ayade’s economic policy of cutting taxes to generate more revenue and stimulate growth, a senior Ghanaian government official, while unveiling the new economic direction of his country at an investment summit, had espoused extensively the inherent benefits of tax incentives the Ghanaian government was willing to grant across the various sectors of the economy as a fillip to encourage investors.
Adopting wholesale Ayadenomics, the Ghanaian official announced to his cheering audience government’s plans of revving up production through industrialization, by ensuring one industry each in the 216 districts of Ghana, which is equivalent of 216 local government areas.
In Cross River, Ayade is striving to ensure that by 2023, when he finally takes his bow as governor, he would have successfully located one industry in each of the 18 local government areas of the state.
Sadly, in Nigeria, Governor Ayade’s economic template is yet to be given the thunderous applause it deserves. What many of the states in Nigeria have either failed or refused outright to embrace, as sound economic blueprint in Ayadenomics, has long resonated and converted into an economic roadmap in Ghana. That country has ingrained the Ayade template in its economic recovery and growth programme.
The West African country is on the same page with governor Ayade as to policies that give meaning to economic growth. Like Ayade, Ghana believes that focusing on production is the way to go in a sluggish economy that is largely import dependent. Ghana is currently implementing this.
According to Ayadenomics, when crushing taxation on struggling and small scale businesses is tampered with by the government, the private sector can only regain balance, gets recalibrated and eventually contributes to the national economy through job creation.
With a stronger economy than Nigeria as well as a brighter growth projection, Ghana should ordinarily have no reason to look towards Governor Ayade’s economic template. But doing so with so much feast of Ayadenomics is a screaming gesture of endorsement that the government is toeing the right economic trajectory.
If the Ayade model is now the template for global economic growth, and already adopted by Ghana, one wonders if this franchise needs to be placed on public auction for adoption by the rest of the country, given that it is working and yielding economic dividends.
Designed as a catalytic template to kinetically recalibrate the economy of Cross River, Ayadenomics, already embraced by the Ghanaian government, will by no means redefine the economic landscape of Nigeria, if other states adopt the policy wholeheartedly.
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