Poor man’s son takes over in Calabar
LAST FRIDAY, the curtain dropped as former Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Samuel Imoke gracefully bowed out of office ending a journey of eight years; thus paving way for the son of a poor man to take over in the relay of governance in the prestigious Diamond Hill Government House, Calabar.
With his inauguration at the mega Calabar International Convention Centre (CICC), Summit Hills, Calabar, the rich son of a poor parent, Senator Benedict Bengioushuye Ayade born March 2, 1969, entered the annals of history clutching the mantle of leadership as the 17th governor of Cross River State since 1967.
He became the 6th democratically elected governor of the state and the 4th since Akwa Ibom State was created from it in 1987.
Ayade has repeatedly declared that he will be driven by his poor background to deliver on his election promises hence, will focus his administration on the elevation of the poor within the state. His father was a poor village farmer.
He promised to create a new agenda that would uplift his people and improve their welfare, saying, “we shall, with this opportunity afforded us by the people, create a new agenda, an agenda that focuses on the poor by making the means of production easy and affordable to move our people forward”.
Since his emergence as Governor-elect, the media has been inundated with lots of criticisms on how he emerged. Some persons said he bought his way in while some others said Imoke imposed him on the party and the people. Yet some others maintained that the people duly elected Professor Ayade.
Former governor Imoke belongs to this last group that say Ayade was duly elected. In a valedictory media parley on May 27 with reporters in the state, Imoke, for the first time opened up on the emergence of Ayade and debunked all allegations of imposition.
He said, “Professor Ayade did very well. He went through the whole process of our internal mechanism, the primaries and the election. We did not impose him on the people. Only one person will be governor”.
Imoke said a number of persons came out to tell him they wanted to be governor and from experience, he refused to stop anybody but to encourage all of them.
He said, “The worst thing you can do is to pick a successor. For me it was critical that we went through that process. It would have been wrong for me to restrain anyone from running. It was the responsibility of all to choose a governor. We had a bit of an interesting model.
“In the general election, we went out and campaigned assiduously than anyone else or the opposition seeking for the same position but when you emerge, they say you rigged but how. As a party leader, my instruction was that we should mobilize our people to come out”.
He noted that the party structure is very important and advised, “those who aspire should be willing and courageous. If they fail, they should accept defeat. It is wrong that I did not carry them (other aspirants) along. The greatest issue is the electorate”.
On pre-election legal matter by Joe Agi (SAN) and other legal tussles challenging the legibility and election of Ayade, Imoke said, “I have heard of few cases against the incoming governor on technicalities, does that represent the wish of the Cross Riverians? Anyone that gets office through that means will not be accountable to the people. To grow our democracy we must be firm at all times”.
He eulogized the style of democracy in the state saying, “Cross River State stands out as one of the few states that stood for democracy. We always conducted our local government elections without putting sole administrators in place. In election those who win should carry the people along and those who lose should concede defeat.
“Imagine in the last presidential election, we saw 1.9 million votes from Kano and all the voters were so enlightened and educated that not one vote was voided, yet President Jonathan conceded defeat even before the final result was announced. We should learn lessons”.
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