Ayade, an Outstanding Person in 2020


My Most Outstanding Person of this year is Governor Benedict Ayade of Cross River State writes Firsts Baba Isa

What defines this choice for me is his near prophetic proclamation about the use of facemask during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Obviously, COVID-19 defined and redefined our lives and the whole world as we see it this year and many persons will choose their heroes and champions based on their response to this pandemic.

Why many might argue, including myself, that Cross River State’s response especially, in terms of testing, falls below par, I will never forget the governor’s bold declaration that the best way to prevent this virus is to wear a facemask. The governor added that once you wear a facemask, social distancing is no longer necessary.
He was attacked. He was called names. The Obudu-born professor stuck to his guns. And he walked his talk. He went about with beautiful and fashionable facemasks.

When flights resumed, I have flown close to 20 times. Whenever I’m up there in the sky, sitting shoulder to shoulder, rubbing arms with the passenger sitting close to me but with a facemask firmly tied to my face, I remember the governor. The guy damn well knew what he was talking about. With facemask, we don’t need social distancing.

Very often, I go back to watch that video, where governor Ayade made those declarations. I love to watch it now. Then I watched it with alarm and some confusion, because it was only Ayade that was saying something different. But today I watch that video with some pride. I see the confidence he exuded, the assured smile and prophetic arrogance. It is difficult not to remember that show of courage and uncommon brilliance by the Cross River State Governor.

As the world continues to battle this deadly virus, we know humanity will overcome; we always do. I salute all the caregivers, who are at the frontline sacrificing all to combat this virus and I don’t intend to forget people like Governor Ayade, who saw the future and was bold enough to declare it.