By Chidi Onyemaizu
One hundred days can indeed make a difference in the life of a person, state or country depending on how the days are skilfully applied.
The late American statesman, Abraham Lincoln puts it in broader perspective when he posited that, “in the end it is not the years in your life that count, it is the life in your years”
In Cross River, 100 days have made huge, impactful difference on the socio-economic landscape of the state.This is examplified by the on going consolidation and crystallization of Sir Ben Ayade’s Industrialisation blitz which come with unimaginable results.
Sir Ayade has just clocked 100 days in office having been sworn-in for second term as governor on May 29, 2019.Within the period under review,quantum consolidation and crystallization of his Industrialisation policy have evidently got Cross Riverians excited.
Cross Riverians testify that Ayade is indeed walking the talk or as it is said in Calabar parlance, “Show walking”.
Celebral, urbane and fashionable, the governor stunned the mammoth crowd at his swearing-in ceremony when he appeared on a simple workman cloth with a bowler hart to match.He was communicating the tenor of his second term governorship.He was passing a message and that message was that there is work to be done.In his second term, he won’t tolerate inanities and niceties.The monumental task of accomplishing his dream of industrializing Cross River does not allow for any distraction.
And to that end,he assumed the title of “Mr.Project”.He would not sit idly in the office.Rather he would be a field governor, roving from one project site to the other.And they are many.Cross River must be industrialised.
Mr.Project, in those 100 days, has matched words with action.He has covered an unprecedented mileage consolidating and crystallizing his lofty dreams.
For example, achieving Agricultural value chain is at the heart of Agro-industrialisation segment of the governor’s industrialisation drive.It is for this reason that the Cross River Integrated Poultry Farm at Odukpani, a suburb of Calabar, has taken a firm root.
The ultra modern poultry is primed to produce 20,000 birds per day with eyes for export.
The governor himself explains the import of the poultry farm: ” With 20,000 birds per day which go through some processing in the cold room, we can export to the west Africa sub- region. We have three products here, the broilers which are the ones for eating that go to the slaughter house, the egg production which is the hatchery, it has an incubator system that will give you the layers , the layers give you about one million eggs per day”.
Agro diversification is indeed yielding dividends for the state.The Cross River state Rice seeds and seedlings factory, the first is now a major income earner for the state.
Commissioned June last year by President Muhammadu Buhari, the ultra modern rice factory which is situated at the Calabar industry park has witnessed heightened activities in the mould of patronage since the return of Ayade for second term.The factory has raked in billions of Naira for Cross River through orders for rice seedlings.Among states and private concerns that have so far bought seedlings from the factory are Abia, kano, Bayelsa and River states.
Private rice farmers including the IRS group have also bought rice seedlings from the factory.
Essentially, in the last three months, Enginners work day and night installing state of the art machines in the other factories at the Industrial park.
The installation process is now about 80 percent completed.Such factories include Cross River integrated food Processing factory, Calachika Chicken processing plant, among others.
The Integrated food processing plant which,when fully operational will be producing Calavita range of instant noodles from freshly harvested rice as opposed to wealth which existing brands in the market are made of.
When the noodles factory comes on stream, the state government hopes to latch onto it to make a bid for a share of the #280 billion the federal government has set aside for the school feed programme.
The automated Calachika Chicken processing plant is primed for an installed capacity of slaughtering 6,000 birds per day and will be feed by the Integrated poultry farm.
In Ogoja and Ikom, Sir Ayade, since returning to office for second term,has made sure that the automated rice mill and cocoa processing plants there respectively berthed on the shores of reality.It is therefore, to his credit that the installation of equipment at the Ogoja automated rice mill, the first vitaminised rice mill in Africa, is 95 percent completed.The machines are of course the latest technology in rice milling.
Installation of equipment at the Cocoa processing plant, Ikom is equally over 90 percent completed.When operational, the plant will be processing cocoa seeds into bars, pastries and tablets for local consumption and export.
Cross River state, especially the central half of the state is rich in cocoa and has been the economic mainstay of the people.
In other sectors, Sir Ayade, within the100 days of his second coming has fulfilled promises made, achieved uncanny strides and realised dreams.
Obviously, nothing can be more fulfilling than the realisation of the Calabar 23 megawatts power plant.The power plant which construction was started in 2016 was recently switched on, leaving the Cross River state capital and its environs inching closer to 24 hour uninterrupted power supply, a dream Ayade vowed must be realized.
At Tinapa, the construction of the 26 Megawatts gas fired power plant is progressing beautifully.Governor Ayade disclosed recently at the project site that there would be a consolidation of all the power power plants he built to meet the power need of the state.
Road and housing infrastructures have also received unparalleled attention.The construction of 147 kilometre super highway linking the entire five local government areas that make up Northern Cross River has in the last three months been accelerated with the Obanliku end of the road dualised and asphalted, complete with walk-ways and street lights.
The Tinapa junction- Odukpani bye- pass dualization has also witnessed increased tempo.Contractors, at the behest of the governor, are at the project site daily working to deliver the road as scheduled.
The displaced Bakassi people are full of effusive praises for Sir Ayade.And this is because what they hitherto thought was unthinkable or undoable has come to fruition and starring them in the face: A social housing scheme meant to resettle them.
The housing scheme comes with beautifully paved internal roads.On a visit to the housing project recently, the governor told the displaced persons that under his watch, they will enjoy quality life just as other citizens of Cross River.
A scientist himself with bias for the environment, Sir Ayade knows the importance of keeping Cross River green through afforestation.This explained the recent institution of the Green Carnival during which trees are planted across the state.The Green Carnival will run as an annual event.
The maiden edition of the carnival which held on July 30th, 2019 equally, as wont any event that bears Governor Ayade’s imprimatur, created wealth for a cross section of Cross Riverians.
Notedly, not only did the people of the state turned out in their thousands to participate by planting trees across the state, many also made money from the exercise through sale of tree nurseries.
In all, one million trees were planted across Cross River.
The one million trees nurseries deployed for the exercise were supplied by Cross Riverians and paid for by the Ayade administration.
This obviously was in keeping with the governor’s new mantra of hands on the plough, which in turn is translating to food on the table for the teeming families in the state.
Indeed,100 days is neither the beginning nor the end of a journey that will last the next four years but within this period, His Excellency Senator (Professor) Sir Ayade has demonstrated that “in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it is the life in your years”
Chidi Onyemaizu is SSA Print Media to Governor Ben Ayade