Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The Cross River State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has vowed that if it forms the next government in the state in 2019, it would probe the administration of the incumbent governor, Prof. Ben Ayade.
It also said the present government would account for the about N25.6 billion which it said allegedly accrued to the state from the London and Paris Club loans refund, and the bailout funds given to the state by the federal government at various occasions.
The APC unveiled its plans to probe Ayade’s administration at a press conference addressed Thursday by the chairman-elect of the party in state, Dr. Mathew Achigbe.
According to Achigbe, despite the release of the funds for the payment of salaries to workers and the payment of gratuities and pensions to retired workers, it was obvious that the funds have not been used judiciously.
“The Ayade government is notorious for inflicting pains on the people. Our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters who put their youthful lives in the service of the state are dying silently and gradually from the non-payment of their benefits to enable them manage the retirement phase of their life.
“This is happening despite receiving the total sum of N25.6 billion, made up of N17. 8 billion as refunds from the London and Paris Club services and N7. 8 as bailout funds from the Buhari-led APC Federal Government of Nigeria, to pay pensions and gratuity owed our senior citizens who are a big human asset to the state.
“These great men and women sacrificed to bring glory to our state, yet Ayade has continued to show extreme wickedness to these retirees by his refusal to pay them for services rendered. He forgets that a servant is worthy of his wages.
“Imagine that out of 50 retired permanent secretaries, as at 11th August 2015, 12 have died without receiving their outstanding benefits. Most of these people died for lack of funds to maintain themselves and manage their health challenges,” Achigbe said.
He said that the state has suffered greatly in the hands of Ayade administration in the past three years, adding: “The gross misrule of this administration has manifested in almost all the sectors of the socio-economic life of the state. Evidently, no tangible value has been added to our dear state since Ayade assumed office as the state governor. It is regrettable that even the gains made by the previous administrations have been grossly eroded. Cross Riverians are in tears.”
Achigbe said since the advent of Ayade’s administration in May 2015, the state has lost its prime position as the preferred destination to people who wanted a safe and secure environment to reside in and do business.
Describing Ayade’s administration as failing in all aspects of governance, the APC chairman said even the gains made by the administrations before his have been squandered under his watch.
“Calabar was fondly known as a place to come and live and be at rest. We took pride with an enviable reputation of a state with the lowest crime rate in Nigeria before the coming of Ayade. Now it is doubtfully so. While other states have stepped up their fight against criminals, Ayade is providing a safe haven for them. Hence kidnapping and armed robbery have become rampant and unchallenged.
“All our iconic tourist sites like Obudu cattle ranch, Bebi Airstrip, Cable car, Marina Resort, Tinapa and Kwa Falls have been grounded and the huge investment of several years left to waste. Our status as a hub for conservation in Nigeria, an attraction to both the national and international visitors is under serious threat. Our reputation as a clean green state is declining fast. Indeed the destination Cross River needs urgent salvation from Ayade’s misadventure.
“Previous administrations of Duke, and Imoke made efforts to bring in urban renewal and rural development respectively. What will Ayade be remembered for? Even business development and investment promotion services such as the issuance of certificates of occupancy have totally been neglected. How many C of Os has Ayade signed since he resumed office? This is a major indicator to prove the lack of seriousness of the government to create avenue for injection of capital into the economy,” Achigbe stated.
The party chairman stated that the inability of the Ayade administration to serve the people has informed the decision of the APC to ensure that Ayade does not return to power for a second term.
Reacting to the allegations, the state Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Rosemary-Archibong, said: “Opposition should not be seen as an opportunity to make enemies and paint the party in government black, just so that you can be heard. Governor Ayade is one that plays politics with ethics and welcomes constructive criticism.
“It is rather unfortunate that the main opposition party would describe Ayade’s government as that of deceit and misrule because it shows that some people are deliberately closing their eyes to what is obvious and real.
“Even though out of the past three years of the present administration, the first year was plagued by legal battles against his mandate, the government had seen settled into doing a lot for the state and the industrialisation drive with visible number of industries are there to attest for the administration.”
Continuing, the commissioner said it was “regrettable” that some pensioners may have died without their benefits.
However, she said it should be noted that Ayade’s administration inherited backlog of pensions and gratuity arrears it has been paying gradually.
“The payment is on-going and the governor has recently directed that every outstanding pensions and gratuity should be computed and attended to,“ Archibong said.