An important distinguish characteristic which stands out a leader from the rest of other leaders at any level is the ability of such a leader to dream dreams and being able to transform those dreams to concrete reality.
Concrete reality will be in form of the policies of such a leader having a positive impact in the lives of those he/she leads as well as the infrastructural and technological transformation of the entity being led by such a leader.
Undoubtedly, the quality and direction of a leader is what will at the long run define the place of any nation or state in the comity of nations and how it can be classified as developed, developing or underdeveloped society.
The leadership qualities of the Governor of Cross River, Senator Benedict Ayade can be classified in the same mold of leaders such as the late Singaporean President, Harry Lee Kuan Yew who was born on September 16, 1923 and died on March 23, 2015 at the age of 91 of severe pneumonia.
Like Harry Lee Kwan Yew whose English-educated parents, peeped into the future to know the significance role their sons was going to play in the development of their country and its transformation from third world to a developed nation, and named him “Kuan Yew”, meaning “light and brightness”, or “bringing great glory to one’s ancestors”, the parents of Governor Ayade were also able to beyond the challenges of existence which confronted them then and gave him the English name, “Benedict”, meaning “blessed “and the native name in Bette dialect “Benyaushuye” meaning nobody knows the future or the future is unknown, and the young Ben went ahead to prove his parents right, the way Lee did.
Ayade, a consummate leader with an unquenchable love and a fighter for the rights of his possesses the same deep vision, the knack and the touch to change a supposedly irredeemable or helpless situation to a one of hope by putting smile on the faces of the people by going extra miles to transform a desert into a blossom land, as he is currently doing to source for alternative means to keep afloat the process of oiling the engine of state.
Similarly, Prime Minister Lee was a consummate leader and fighter for the socio-economic and political emancipation of his small colonial outpost who forged for a merger with Malaysia which did not work, but went ahead to work to transform Singapore, a poor territory in terms of natural resources from an underdeveloped nation to an Asian Tiger economy. Through forging and institutionalizing a system of meritocracy, an effective and anti-graft government and civil service, Lee efforts and vision paid off today with Singaporeans enjoying the fruits of his vision and leadership quality, just as his name has been written in that country’s hall of fame, bearing in mind also that many of his policies are now taught at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore.
A barrister like Ayade, Lee was not only the first Prime Minister of Singapore and led the country for 30 years, but also served his party, the People’s Action Party (PAP) which he co-founded as its first secretary-general until 1992, led the party to eight consecutive victories then step down as Prime Minister in 1990, and then went ahead to serve his country and constituency as a Senior Minister under his successor, Goh Chok Tong un to 2004, Minister Mentor (an advisory post) to 2011, under his son Lee Hsien Loong, holding a total of 56 successive ministerial positions for 56 years. He equally continued to serve his Tanjong Pagar constituency for about 60 years as a Member of Parliament up to his demise in 2015 at the age of 91. It is penned that to ensure a long term planning for the development of the country for the interest of present and future generations, “Lee eschewed populist policies in favor of pragmatic long-term social and economic measures”.
A strong-will Lee who stated that “every time we look back on this moment when we signed this agreement which severed Singapore from Malaysia, it will be a moment of anguish. For me it is a moment of anguish because all my life … I have believed in Merger and the unity of these two territories. You know, it’s a people connected by geography, economics, and ties of kinship…”, immediately went into isolation in an Island for six weeks to seek for a way forward for the tiny nation immediately the Malaysian parliament had in August 9, 1965 passed the resolution to severe Singapore form Malaysia. He realized that Singapore lack of military capability, natural resources and even water which were derived from Malaysia was a huge challenge for the young nation divorced by Malaysia but he was determined to make a different in the face of national challenges.
In the same manner with which Lee did not allow the disappointment of a failed merger with Malaysia to becloud his vision of his destiny for his country, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River before assumption of office as the governor had prepared himself in all aspects to bring about a change in the midst of very little that Nigeria and the global community will be amazed; and has continued to work toward the realization of the said goal with all the passion and energy he possesses. No wonder that Ayade strongly believed that he inherited a state that is potentially rich and is committed to transforming those potentials for the benefit of all by tasking the God given brain and not taxing the people.
Governor Ayade was/is fully aware of the very meagre allocation from the Federation account caused by the ceding of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon and then the giving out of the 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom State. He like Lee is focus on what he wants to achieve to the glory of God and his people and would not allow anything to distract him, not even the wicked criticisms which emanates from people with malicious acid tongue who are condemned to destroy rather than build, because it is easy to pull down than to build up.
The late Singaporean leader’s preference for a pragmatic long term projects and development programmes as against the short term and myopic populists policies and his preference for meritocracy did not went down well with some persons in his time, so is Governor Ayade’s pragmatic developmental policies and projects like the signature projects that are capital intensive are being senselessly criticized by short-sighted individuals who would have preferred the continuous spending of money to repair Federal government own roads rather than looking inwards and with collaboration with foreign investors and other stakeholders to build a better future for the people of the state.
It is to the credit of the Obudu born number one citizen of Cross River that as a result of the peculiar circumstances of our people and arising from the anthropological and communal traditional setting of the African man and his desire always to provide a shoulder for his brother, Ayade policy direction combined both the long term capital intensive projects with those focus essentially on the people with short term benefits.
Some of these projects include the Calabar garment factory presently at advance stage of completion, the Rice city project in Calabar, 2000 hectares of land for the planting and production of banana for export, the Green Police, CalaPharm for the production of drugs, N1.7 Billion provided in the budget for the setting up of the Cross River State Food Bank Commission with a Director from each Local Government who will identify the key farmers, one for yams, beans, cassava among other crops, and the 5000 houses for the low and non-income earners in the state, among others.
Just yesterday, Governor Ben Ayade signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China roads construction Design and Consultancy Company Nigeria limited for the construction of an industrial park and a wood processing factory in the state.
Under the Agreement, the company would be responsible for the provision of industrial park, new towns and other social amenities with support services, while the state is committed to provide a piece of land to set up the park and another to develop a new town within each kilometer that will depict a 21st century world class city center. These projects according to Ayade, would be developed without state government funds and executed in such manner that the environment will be regenerated and not degraded. The projects are meant to generate an alternative revenue and most importantly create a sea of employment opportunities for the teeming youths of the state in a sustainable way.
The fruits of Ayade’s ardent commitment to moving Cross River from the shackles of poverty, want and despair to a first world state within the federation of Nigerian is gradually paying off to the dismay of the enemies as many of those projects are gradually living up to expectations of the people as some are in advanced stage of completion.
Again, it is instructive that at a time each patriotic Cross Riverian stands knitted together with Ayade, some self-seeking persons are dubiously and busily working against government efforts. However, Cross Riverians and Nigerians are completely happy and rest assured that all the encumbrances and landmines placed on the path of the signature projects will soon be removed as the Minister of Environment had personally paid a visit to personally assess things and at the end expressed deep satisfaction with the project and that it does not interfere with the National Park.
It is true that the actions of leaders with clear and unquestionable direction are often maligned and misunderstood by some persons out of sheer ignorance or through deliberate mischievousness, what matter however at the end is not the initial misrepresentation but that the unconstructive critics are shamed and that there is a satisfaction of an achievement to the good of all, including the very unreasonable critics.
Ayade has clearly exhibited the qualities of a leader with an impeccable characters, visionary and driven by pragmatic tenets to practically find answers to the challenges facing his state and his people, instead of endlessly playing the blame game and resigning the present and future destiny of the state and its people to fate.
We want every Cross Riverian who truly have the interest and wellbeing of its citizens, their old parents and relatives to take just a minute and contemplate how Cross River and its people will be in terms of economic opportunities when the twin projects of the Super-High-Way and the Bakassi Deep Seaport are completed and commissioned.
There is no doubt that at the end of the day, Governor Ben Ayade will have a prime place in the hall of great leaders like Harry Lee Kuan Yew and other great leaders both living and death who changed the fortunes of their people and their fate from gloom, bleak, uncertain future to that of prosperity. Ayade therefore deserves nothing but our total support.
Ayade economic policies would also be studied in future by even the children and relatives of those who sees nothing good about his policies and leadership, the same way the posterities of the hitherto critics of the late Prime Minister Harry Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore are studying his policies in school today.
By Emmanuel Ulayi
Support InfoStride News' Credible Journalism: Only credible journalism can guarantee a fair, accountable and transparent society, including democracy and government. It involves a lot of efforts and money. We need your support. Click here to Donate