The Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, on Wednesday morning, locked out civil servants working in the Government House, Calabar for coming late to work.
The governor, who was in the office before 8am, ordered the Chief Security Officer to lock the gate and not allow any one coming after 8am to enter the premises.
As of the time of filing this report, several workers who were locked out, were seen hanging around the entrance gate of the state Government House while others moved towards Chieftaincy Affairs office.
Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade on Wednesday called on Nigerians to explore local tourist sites in the country and invest in the nation’s tourism.
The governor said Nigerians are the greatest spenders in terms of global tourism and challenges including COVID-19 restrictions and ban on international travel by some countries is an opportunity to stay back home and explore Nigeria’s tourist sites like Obudu Cattle Ranch.
“Nigerians are the greatest spenders in terms of global tourism. We Nigerians account for the vibe and agility that you find in Dubai. Withdraw Nigerians from global tourism and it will see it drop by at least 25%.
“With the increasing challenges ranging from exchange rate fluctuations, it is obvious that Nigerians must now focus on local tourism.
“It is time that Africans patronise themselves and Obudu Cattle ranch presents the opportunity for tourism within the country,” the governor said.
Speaking during a visit to Obudu Local Government Area of the state, Ayade further sought renewed patronage of the Obudu Ranch Resort which he said is undoubtedly is the best alternative for tourism outside Nigeria and other countries alike with no visa requirements, no exchange issues.
“You have no visa requirement, you don’t have an exchange rate issue, no crisis issue in Rivers State, so why go somewhere else?,” he questioned.
The governor also called on the Federal government of Nigeria to make a deliberate policy statement on promoting tourism sites across Nigeria.
Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade has explained some of the strategies used to ensure that the state has not recorded any case of COVID-19.
The governor in an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said among many other strategies, Cross River State responded quickly to the pandemic by shutting its borders, closing airways and declaring ‘No Mask No Movement.’
He added that he also, personally, kept vigil at borders to ensure safety.
“As soon as we started reading in the papers and watching on Television the impact of the pandemic globally, what we did as a state was to quickly respond to it by blocking our state against the virus. We locked our borders immediately and commenced ‘No Mask No Movement’. We were proactive and we have continued to sustain that.
“Also, because we share borders with Cameroon, we ordered over 100 brand new vehicles. Policed all our borders, between Nigeria and Cameroon, including the legal and illegal. We ensured that we blocked all access to other states. We closed our airways.
“I lead from the front, I personally spent the night at the borders, keeping vigil to ensure that entry and exit points are safe. Our borders and being manned by senior security operatives to ensure there is no compromise at that point,” he explained.
Governor Ayade added that the strategy deployed by the state government has been deliberate and this obviously has worked for them.
He said this even earned them a pass mark from Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health.
“Yesterday, NCDC and Federal Ministry of health officials just left here and they gave us pass mark. They were very impressed with our isolation centres and laboratories. They were very impressed with our border closures and checkpoints we have put in place to ensure the use of masks,” the governor said.
Cross River and Kogi State have remained the only states in Nigeria yet to record any case of the COVID-19 virus.
The Cross-River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, has said the social distancing directive is not enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Governor Ayade said the use of nose mask provides one the needed protection against the virus.
The governor explained that his research as a Professor of Microbiology has shown that science has backed the use of nose mask as an option, stressing however, that social distancing is not as effective as some would have people believe.
“Social distancing presupposes that things are so equal, that you stay in an isolated room, it is completely wrong because in natural circumstances, in our own cultural habit people are used to interacting, we are not electric poles, we are not trees, we are interacting by nature.
“Social distancing gives a false impression of security, because I know that if you and I stand together and I sneeze, that two metres distance, the factors that govern the transmissivity are things that are beyond your own control. Variables like humidity, wind speed, wind direction, how do you control those factors?” Ayade questioned.
He further opined that “When you wear a mask, it gives structural protection. It is a very strong option. And so, as a Professor of Microbiology, I know that as common sense.
“And that is why it (wearing of the mask) is not an economic option. It is a scientific option. That is the most popular option.”
When asked if his administration’s policy on ‘no mask no movement’ is against the World Health Organisation (WHO), the governor neither affirmed or overruled the question.
Rather, he faulted the global health body for reversing itself on the use of nose mask following the outbreak of Coronavirus globally.
“The same WHO said mask doesn’t work but they reversed themselves after proper research that showed that the use of nose mask reduces droplets that are up to 95 per cent.
“The WHO came out to reverse herself. In several other research findings, WHO has been seen severally reversing herself. Come to the real substance, the use of the nose mask confirms structural protection,” he said.
Ayade’s remarks come two weeks after the state government began the mass production and distribution of nose masks free of charge to residents of the state.
“In court, it is Federal Government versus Agba Jalingo, not Cross River State,” Mr Ayade told reporters on Monday at the presidential villa, Abuja, where he went to meet President Muhammadu Buhari.
“He’s in court for treason, a state does not have the power to try anyone for treason, it’s not me.”
Governor Ayade said the arrest and trial of Agba Jalingo are in connection with Omoyele Sowore’s #RevolutionNow protest, adding that the journalist left his core profession and began to meddle into politics.
“On his Facebook page, he sent pictures where he was being teargassed at the revolution march in Lagos. His own pictures, posted by himself and when Sowore was being arrested, he went back to his Facebook to post that the revolution has just started, ‘we will continue this battle until revolution works’. He admitted this in Court.
“You are seeing him as a journalist, but he’s not, he’s the chairman of Sowore’s party in Cross River State so he’s a politician. He has a primary calling, which is journalism.
“Once he started the campaign to overthrow the government of President Buhari, he ceased to be seen from the point of a journalist because he has become the state chairman of a party,” Governor Ayade stated.
The governor reiterated that he has been working for Mr. Jalingo’s release from Calabar prison where he has been incarcerated.
Until his arrest, Mr. Jalingo was the publisher of Cross RiverWatch.
He was apprehended was on August 22 allegedly over a report suggesting that Governor Ayade diverted N500 million belonging to the state, a claim which the government has strongly refuted.
President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government is committed to boosting Nigeria’s economy through Agricultural revolution and is already recording progress.
The President made this statement on Tuesday while commissioning the automated rice seed and seedling factory in Cross Rivers State capital, Calabar.
He applauded the Cross Rivers state Governor, Ben Ayade, over his contribution to Federal Government’s Agricultural revolution.
“When we assumed the reins of leadership of our dear country, this administration launched a zero oil economic roadmap as a way of making our country less dependent on oil while encouraging investment in other sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture.
“Indeed this factory speaks loudly about the giant strides we are making in agriculture as a country. This monumental project for which we are gathered here today is a marvel to behold.”
The automated seed and seedling factory is believed to be the first in Africa and the President is confident that the seedlings from the factory will improve rice production and sufficiency nationwide.
He said, “The factory which is said to be the first in Africa is an automated plant with a capacity to produce high yielding vitaminised and disease resisting rice seedling.
“What we expect is that the seedlings from this factory will improve rice yield from current nation three to four tonnes to about nine to 10 tonnes per hectare to ensure rice sufficiency in the country.”
President Buhari said further Governor Ayade is establishing various people-oriented projects because he has keyed into the Federal Government’s revolutionary vision.
“I must say that visiting the state (Cross Rivers) for the second time within three years in connection with people oriented and the flagship project of Governor Ayade is very welcomed and very satisfying to me.”
Cross Rivers State Governor Ben Ayade broke down in tears on Tuesday as he signed the state’s historic N1.3 trillion budget for 2018.
The emotion-laden governor signed the 2018 Budget at the executive council chambers in Calabar, the Cross River State Capital.
The budget was tagged, ‘Budget of Kinetic Crystallisation.’
Shortly after the signing, Ayade said such humongous amount was budgeted because his administration is driven by a conscious determination anchored on a clear ambition, with timelines and clear performance indicators.
“The state must create a new vista, prospect, horizon and income pattern that will define us by what we are and not what the world sees us to be. We must put an end to the civil service status of Cross River and we can only achieve this when we think out of the box,” he said.
According to him, within 35 months, his administration has completed and secured the entire approvals for the superhighway project, completed detailed design of the deep seaport project and achieved the EIA approvals for both the deep seaport and superhighway, among other projects.
Earlier, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, John Gaul Lebo assured that the House of Assembly will perform its functions to ensure that the budget is crystallised for the benefit of democracy in the state.
Others who were at the signing include members of the Cross River State House of Assembly and state executives.
Political Appointees and Staff of the Governor’s office in Calabar who resumed late to work on Wednesday were locked out of the Government House, following orders by Governor Ben Ayade.
The action according to the Senior Special Assistant and Chief Press Secretary to governor, Mr Christian Ita said is a way of instilling discipline on the State’s work force, which he has since his assumption into office given adequate concern to their welfare.
Speaking to Channels Television on the issue, the CPS said, even senior appointees who came late were not spared.
Ita noted that, “The action is just to instill discipline, Governor Ben Ayade has done a lot to make the work force happy and he feels that, what they owe the administration in return is to be at their duty post when they should be at their duty post to reciprocate the gesture.
“No appointee was spared from the punishment irrespective of position.
“Status does not matter, what matters is, doing the right thing at the right time, the CPS concluded”.
This is the third time, the governor is ordering that, the gates be locked out to staff who do not come early to work.
The Cross River State Government has assured the people of Ogoja that justice will be served on the person or people who are linked to the food poisoning incident that claimed two lives and affected 44 other persons across communities in the Local Government Area (LGA).
The state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Joe Abang, said this during an interview with Channels Television.
He was speaking at his community, Oboso Mbube where the unfortunate incident was said to have occurred.
According to the Commissioner, Governor Ben Ayade had given a directive that the law must also go after local criminals perpetuating violence in rural areas.
The survivors of the incident, who said they were thankful for their lives, mourned the demise of the vendor and her husband.
The couple were said to have died on the spot after eating the poisoned food.
Following the incident, Police arrested a man suspected to have masterminded the food poisoning.
Cross River State Government has completed plans to float its own airline as well as a shipping line, as part of efforts to increase revenue and lower dependence on federal allocation.
Addressing reporters in Calabar, Governor Ben Ayade said the state was taking full advantage of its huge tourism potentials and vast maritime resources by going into both airline and maritime services.
Huge Maritime Resources
The governor noted that while Cally Air was expected to transport tourists from all over Nigeria to the beautiful tourist sites dotted across the state, particularly the famous Obudu Ranch Resort, the shipping line would concentrate primarily on cargo services, especially along the shoreline of the Gulf of Guinea.
Ayade maintained that “Cross River State is only taking full advantage of its huge maritime resources by focusing on maritime trading particularly, cabotage services by providing merchant vessels that will ply the Gulf of Guinea and provide services to countries along this shoreline.
“In our 2017 budget, there is a provision for a merchant vessel that will provide maritime businesses with Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroun and the entire stretch of the shoreline.
“There is another provision for Wharf landing and other support services. So, we are also going to have a fabrication yard and other allied maritime services as we refocus on broadening the maritime sector in the state”.
Justifying government’s decision to venture into maritime services, Professor Ayade reasoned that with the maritime trade and connectivity along the region, his administration was confident that the return on the investment would definitely be huge and contribute immensely to the budget of infinite transposition.
“Our vessels are already berthing in Calabar as part of investment in 2017 because we are establishing business outlays in some West and Central African countries dealing mostly on petroleum products and because Cross River State is looking at an aggregate of driving an industrialised, business-like module for governance, soon, you will see us go into full time trading.
“That is why in our budget, we have budgeted about 14 billion Naira to expand investment in this direction to the Gambia,” the Governor explained.
Professor Ayade further told reporters that the state had the capacity to handle the huge investments, knowing full well that, it is a very delicate combination of public-private service administration structure running it from a private business perspective.
Cross River is announcing its plan two days after Imo State government said it had taken delivery of the first aircraft, to kick start, as the first state owned commercial airline, Imo Air.
During the official launch of the new airline at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo airport in Owerri, the Imo state capital, the Governor Rochas Okorocha said the investment by the state government would boost economic activities in the state.
He added that it would increase the state Internally Generated Revenue and also generate employment opportunities for teaming unemployed youths in the state.
The Cross River State government has commended the Federal Government for some developmental projects sited around the boarder area of Bakassi Local Government Area of the state.
Governor Ben Ayade, who made the commendation on Wednesday, however advocated for the speedy conclusion of the projects.
He expressed optimism that the development would be beneficial to the Bakassi community when concluded and commissioned for use.
The governor made the remarks when he received the National Assembly Joint Committee for State and Local Government at the Government House in Calabar, the state’s capital in south-south Nigeria.
Represented by his deputy, Professor Ivara Esu, Senator Ayade noted that much needed to be done for the displaced Bakassi people, whom he said were subjected to harsh climatic conditions at their various camps.
He highlighted the importance of the projects and assured the committee that his administration would ensure the prompt conclusion of the projects without external or internal interference.
Speaking on behalf of the committee, Senator Abdullahi Gumel said that the lawmakers were in the state to inspect the Border Commission Development Agency’s projects around the boarder community of Bakassi.
The Executive Secretary of Boundary Communities Development Agency, Mr Numo-Ipre Wills, also expressed delight at the progress of the ongoing projects.
Mr Wills, however, urged the government for provide more funds for successful completion of the projects.