By EDEM DARLINGTON
Friday, May 18th 2018. I had the previous day concluded arrangement with a senior citizen of the state for an interview session on some very disturbing issues national issue. I was already running late, having secured the appointment for 11am day.
I barely left my office when I received a message that the governor, had requested to meet some selected journalists in the state, in particular, members of the Association of Cross River State Online Journalists (ACROJ) for a media tour of the state’s Rice City Project.
When I weighed both options, I quickly concluded that the governor’s call was (in legislative parlance) of ‘urgent public importance’.
This conclusion was based on the general believe that, the Ben Ayade led government had been burdened with a yoke.
Yoke of doubt and worry about the project ownership, gains and perhaps direction of an administration that has been widely criticised by the crank and knavery of our Calabar south people as “It is a lie, Ayade is not working”
I didn’t think I wanted to miss that opportunity to have a first hand information of what that much talked about project was all about. So I hurriedly rescheduled my plans and headed to the Secretariat of ACROJ, where we were to assemble for take off.
In the company of a few others, we arrived the rice city site, directly facing the popular garment factory along the Jonathan by-pass. After a few banters with some colleagues, we waited a few more minutes and about 12:13am, sited the usual long convoy of the governor blaring away its sirens, descending the hills of the ancient Eyip Etap community, before diverting into the expansive Rice Seedling factory, renowned to be the first in Africa.
We all hurried into the large building and gradually the convoy rolled in and I watched the governor stepped out of his 2015, 7 series BMW, beaming with smiles. Smile of a proud achiever as he took time exchanging pleasantries with the gentleman of the press.
In my years as an investigative journalist. I had tactically avoided having any direct relationship, dealing or contacts with politicians, yet my job requires that I have a full dossier of them. I am naturally a ‘behind the scene person’ and I love it that way.
Knowing too well Nigerian politicians, I knew such occasion would easily be used as a tool to score political goals. So I was determined to get into the details, lay hold of fact behind facts and capture the truth, beyond what the governor was going to bandied before us.
I was more interested in the statements the governor will not make. I was going to match what he will tell us with my own private interactions with the people.
As expected the governor took time showing us what the project was all about, how the processes is done from start to finish and what benefits are there for the state to reap.
He demonstrated and analysed the processes involved in the rice seedlings production to my amazement and I guess to that of my colleagues too .
He talked like a professional in the field, the experts did not say a single word all through the long two hours of the tour. At a point I was confused about what the professor governor actually studied in school, then realised he had soaked his head in too many academic tracts.
Again, I noticed the governor acted like a real farmer when a Taiwanese operator was mixing the fertiliser with the organic sand. The tractor raised heavy dust, almost all the media men practically ran away to avoid the dust, even some of his aides gave him a good distance. I stood by and noticed the governor was still standing. That pleased me alot and he got my admiration.
For the next one hour or so, I noticed the governor’s carefully shaved hair to his glittering shoes were painted with a mixture of the organic sand and NPK fertilizer.
At the end of the visit, when I checked my time, it was 2:22pm. My God! The governor had taken us through a tortuous and long media tour for a grilling two hours plus under a blistering Calabar sun.
Well, a few things stood out. And I wish to share clearly without equivocation.
The first thing I observed about Mr. Ayade, was his stamina at work, push and drive for results
The governor is trying his best. But I wish his beaucoup followers could boldly tell him the truth. That the business of the state does not begin and end with the rice city (I understand the governor’s visit to that place has become an everyday affair)
An ordinary business day of government should not dawn at the industrial park and dusk at the the garment factory whose real ownership is still sharply a contentious issue among many Cross Riverians.
A typical business day of government should involve checking and ensuring that the many deadly portholes shamefully adorning our state capital is effectively addressed.
A perfect business day of government should include taking proactive measures to arrest the needless bloodshed in our farming communities.
Government must rise up to put in place simple basic needs of the people so as to bring back our pride and strides as pace setters in many developmental areas.
Governments business day should include making sure Calabar, a once pride of the nation, regains back her lost glory in many areas.
It should involve, fighting the nightmares where we now live in perpetual fear of kidnappers, cult wars and armed robbers. Completely alien to us as a people.
Our government must ensure the ordinary people on the street, have a feel of what government is about as it used to be in the early 2000s.
Perhaps, the greatest threat we have today as Cross Riverians, is the inability and unwillingness of political appointees and followers to tell their leaders and principals the truth.
I honestly think the governor has done well in articulating the visions of his numerous projects including the rice seedling, and the garment factory projects.
In intent and thoughts, I will score him above average, but in action and records, his score is abysmal low sir.
While I will not lay the blame solely at the governor’s feet, I will do so at the feet of his humongous appointees, who are too timid to tell him truth and too naive to point to him his weaknesses for fear of loosing their plate of porridge. I can only remind them that truth and morning become light with time. The worst you can do to truth is to cloth it in lies, you can’t undo it.
And to his excellency the governor, I will remind the biblical injunction. “Beware lest any man spoil you (your administration)”
Darlington is AUTHENTIC News Daily’s Cross River State correspondent.