Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, yesterday embarked on a 14-kilometer walk across the city of Calabar, where he interacted freely with residents, assuring them of his government’s commitment to improve their lives.
Ayade who walked across several streets inspecting the state of roads in the state capital Calabar and the level of waste evacuation in the state, terminated his streets tour at Atimbo.
At every street the governor passed through, chants of Obong Owo (elder) and Obong Ekpe (chief priest) rent the air, as residents trooped out to hail him for what they said has been his proactive and humanistic approach to governance.
At one of Ayade’s stopovers, a mild drama ensued where an eight-year-old boy stuck out his hand from his father’s car for a handshake with the governor, hailing “we love you.” The governor who waved continuously to the cheering bystanders responded with a handshake.
For several others, it was bear hugs, while for some it was what is referred in common parlance as “chop knuckle.”
In what could be described as a show of empathy, the governor who was literally swathed by a large throng spotted a young girl of about 16 years looking dispirited with her drooped face on both hands.
Moved by her sight, Ayade, in his characteristic gesture, directed that something be immediately done to lift her mood.
The unscheduled street walk which also attracted youths who besieged the governor , thanking him for his leadership style, while expressing their total support for the construction of the ongoing Bakassi deep seaport and the 260-kilometre superhighway.
In unison, they chorused: ‘Ayade we love you’, ‘Ayade we support you,’ ‘Our digital governor, we are proud of you, the superhighway must be a reality,’ ‘mischief makers leave our governor alone,’ ‘Cross River State is safe with Governor Ayade.’
Similarly, the governor who used the opportunity to mingle, shop and interact freely with hawkers and shop owners, assured them of his government’s commitment to look into most of their challenges.
Specifically, a particular groundnut and corn seller saw fortune smile on her as her stock was boosted by the governor, who stopped by her little road side stand to buy groundnut and soft drinks.
Some locals who could not believe that the governor could stop by their shops to buy groundnut and soft drink said the day would remain forever etched in their memories.
Expressing his excitement, a resident of Atimbo community, Michael Uduak, said: “The governor made my day, he came to our community to eat with us, joke with us, and most importantly interact with us and shared our challenges. He has shown he is a man of the people and we will stand by him to the end.”
In the same vain, an overwhelmed resident, Elizabeth Ekpeyong, with tears rolling down her cheeks, said: “I left my business to come and identify with the people’s Governor who came down to see his people, to speak to us, to advise us and to assure us of the future.”
On his part, Effiom Asuquo said: “I am happy that in my lifetime I was able to shake hands with a sitting governor, we are happy that he came to our community to identify with us, we are happy and proud of him as our governor.”