Not minding its factional status, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State has taken a swipe at the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying Governor Ben Ayade must be voted out of office in 2019. The party alleged the governor has performed extremely poor, aside being financially reckless.
It called on the governor to account for all monies that have come to the state in the past three years, saying at the appropriate time APC government will institute a probe into the matter.But the Special Adviser to the Governor on Inter-party Affairs, Mr. Austin Ibok has described the claims as spurious, saying they are coming from a party that is divided against itself.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor and Senior Special Assistant, Mr. Christian Ita, said anyone who does not see the enormous achievements of Ayade might be blind.According to him: “If Ayade has not achieved so much, how come the President came to the state to commission the Rice factory? The industrial Park, the roads in Boki, Yakurr and many others are all part of the governor’s success story.”
Briefing newsmen in Calabar recently, the factional Chairman of the APC in the state, Dr. Matthew Achigbe, said, “we are not calling for a probe now; it is not in my place to do so. I just want Cross Riverians to know that there is serious misrule in the state and they should vote Ayade out in 2019. He should go and look for another state where he would do a second term. We have institutional arrangement in the present administration to bring him to book.
“Whether he likes it or not, this administration at the appropriate time will be made to account for every kobo that has been sent to Cross River State. N25. 6 billion (the Paris and bail out fund) is not a thousand. Even if Nigeria is rich, we have not reached the stage where we would throw away such huge sums of money. I don’t want to waste efforts; at the appropriate time, we would probe him. I want Cross Riverians to please forget about Ayade. We are going to provide a better alternative.”
According to Dr. Achigbe: “The Ayade government is notorious in 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 retirement benefits, despite receiving the huge sum of N25.6billion as bailout funds from the Buhari-led administration, to pay pensions and gratuity owed senior citizens.”
He pointed that out of 50 retired permanent secretaries, as at August 11, 2015, 12 have died without receiving their outstanding benefits. Most of them died for lack of funds to maintain and manage their health challenges.“In time past, Cross River State was a preferred destination to people who wanted a safe and secure place to holiday. Calabar was fondly known as a place to come and live and be at rest. We took pride as an enviable 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 crime, Ayade is providing a safe haven for criminals. 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 national and international visitors is under serious threat. Our reputation as a clean green state is fast declining. Indeed, the destination Cross River needs urgent salvation from Ayade’s misadventure,” stressed.
Dr. Achigbe disclosed that APC under his leadership is offering a credible opposition that will vote out Ayade, saying APC is on a mission to salvage the state from gross misrule experienced in the hands of Ayade administration.
Still reacting, Ibok dismissed the claims by APC, saying, in a democracy every government in power welcomes constructive criticism.He said: “APC through their manifesto and during their campaign promised us a lot of things across the country, but are yet to deliver, having majority of state governors. Despite cannot mention any state that has performed better than PDP states, including Cross River State.
“APC states like Osun have not been able to pay salaries, yet they are talking. Do they at all consider the revenue that comes to Cross River from the Federal Government in a month? Do they know that developmental projects need finances and that in every allocation that comes to the state there is always a deduction from source because of the debt inherited before this government came on board?
“This is why any person that is criticizing the government should do his analysis first; do some checks and balance. So, I can categorically say that APC does not have what it takes, as at today in Cross River State, to vote out PDP, less taking away Governor Ben Ayade,” he noted.Ibok disclosed that it was the drive for revenue that gave birth to the ongoing industrialisation programme, adding that some have started operations, while others are yet to come into full operations.
“Government is a continuous process and whatever Prof. Ben Ayade cannot complete today, we will complete during our second term. The garment factory and the rice city are already in operation and more will soon follow. “So, what APC is indirectly trying to say in Cross River State is that, while it cannot pay salaries and execute meaningful projects in other states of the federation that PDP should take over come 2019. APC cannot chase us out because PDP is a formidable party with structures everywhere.”
Also reacting, the Commissioner for Information in the state, Mrs.Rosemary-Archibong, said opposition should not be seen as an opportunity to make enemies and paint the party in government black, just to be heard.
On the allegations of non-payment of pensions and the casualties, she said: “It is regrettable that some pensioners have died without their benefits, but it should be noted that the present administration inherited backlog of pensions and gratuity arrears, which it has been attending to and has been taking the payment year after year. The payment is ongoing and the governor has recently directed that every outstanding pension and gratuity should be computed and attended to.”