Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade has sworn in Justice Maurice Eneji as the acting Chief Judge of the state.
The swearing in of the CJ on Tuesday follows the non-confirmation of Justice Akon Ikpeme as the substantive Chief Judge of the state by the Cross River State House of Assembly on Monday.
While asking the new Chief Judge to dispense justice without fear or favour, the governor said the exercise was imperative as law and nature abhor a vacuum.
“I urge you to dispense justice without fear or favour, you have to have fairness of mind. The law is blind and should not be sensitive to religion, ethnicity, colour or affiliation.
“We ask that the leadership of the judiciary under your watch should be very exemplary and should be such that every other state would like to emulate. We know your background and believe that you are competent and capable and worthy of this office,” he said.
Ayade said that as governor, he has taken several decisions in the past to ensure equity and fairness in the distribution of government positions so as to have a balanced representation across the senatorial zones in the state.
The governor gave instances where he insisted that the position of the Provost of College of Education in Akamkpa be given to a southern candidate even when a candidate from the north had the highest score.
Speaking further, Ayade recalled how he overlooked a northerner while appointing the Head of Service upon assuming office, stressing that he preferred a southerner occupy the position to avoid having a lop-sided government with key officials coming from a particular zone.
“Currently, I have over 20 non-Cross Riverians holding various appointments in my government. Some of the appointees are from far flung states like Kano, Imo, Edo to as close as Akwa Ibom state, which has a commissioner in my cabinet. I am not known or given to sectionalism or tribalism. I believe in equity,” he stated.
On his part, the new acting Chief Judge pledged to enthrone a number of reforms that will aide justice delivery in the state.
He promised to be a listening leader, adding that the judiciary under him will be tough on criminals.
Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, has been named the ‘Man of the Year’ by 50 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) under the aegis of the Civil Society National Lectures and Awards (CISNALA).
The latest award is coming on the heels of similar recognition by three Nigerian newspapers – Vanguard, Business Hallmark and the Authority newspapers respectively.
The conferment of the CSO Man of the Year on Governor Ayade, according to CISNALA, “is for his recorded milestone in good governance, democracy dividends, people-oriented policies and programmes, transparency and accountability, as well as infrastructure and human capital development”.
A statement which unveiled the honour was jointly signed and issued on behalf of the CISNALA by its convener and the National Coordinator of COCMEP, omrade Innocent Okadigbo, and the Convener of Transparency Centre Network, Mr Umar Farouk, among others.
According to the group, the exercise which led to the eventual “emergence of Governor Ayade as the CSO Man of the Year, was a product of a keenly contested and due process compliant selection system” which the Governor had no inkling of.
The statement disclosed further that the award would be conferred on the Governor in Abuja on a date yet to be announced.
The CISNALA also highlighted other considerations for the conferment of the award to include “(Ayade’s) strident green life advocacy, construction of the largest garment factory in Africa, construction of multi-million dollar rice city project, completion of Calabar International Convention Centre, prompt and regular payment of workers’ salaries, ongoing construction of his signature projects, namely, the Bakassi Deep Seaport and 260km Digital Superhighway, among others”.
The Cross River state government has set a February 2017 deadline to complete works on 21 megawatts Calabar Power Plant and give Calabar metropolis 24/7 uninterrupted electricity supply.
During his routine inspection of the ongoing construction work at the site along the Parliamentary Extension in Calabar the Cross River State Capital, Ayade hinted that the power plant was a new technology which is cost effective.
The project, according to the governor, is one of the fruits of the several Memorandum of Understanding signed with foreign investors during his several investment trips outside Nigeria.
On the status of the power plant, the governor explained that the project was a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and that the state was working in partnership with a Brazilian/American firm which is also collaborating with the Cross River State Power Company to establish and deliver on the world class independent embedded power plant in Calabar.
He also assured residents and participants in the forthcoming Calabar Festival of steady power supply.
Professor Ayade said that the state had also concluded arrangements with Lilleker and Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company to ensure uninterrupted power supply during the yuletide.
A restaurant, the Fusion, set up by prominent Bakassi leader, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, has opened in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State.
At the opening of the restaurant, the Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to supporting indigenes who decide to establish investments in the state.
He said: “Senator Florence Ita-Giwa is a dream and pride of Cross River State.
“She is one of those great assets of the state, and we laud you for having the courage to come here and invest in the state. As part of efforts to encourage you, all the bills at the opening of this restaurant will be paid by the state government.
“As a person, as Ben Ayade, I am donating the sum of five million Naira. This is to show Cross Riverians that if they indeed come to invest in Cross River, the government would be there to support them”.
Whoever Wants To Eat
Speaking at the Opening, Senator Ita-Giwa said the Fusion was going to serve meals that would take into consideration the wellbeing of whoever wants to eat.
According to her, the restaurant is aimed at uniting all members of the society, hence the name, The Fusion.
“This place is going to unite young and old, forward looking children, hardworking people and so on.
“We are going to have food that will take your well-being into consideration. You will eat and have energy and look like I do at 70, still very energetic. I don’t have joint pain, no knee pain.
“I am the only 70-year old that does the 12 km Carnival walk. So if you eat the Fusion food, you will be like Ita-Giwa. Everything here is measured. Like the salt here is sodium-free. The oil here is cholesterol free. What I am serving here is what I eat and I like my life,” Ita-Giwa said.
Among many dignitaries that graced the event were former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke; former Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso; and Kogi State Senator, Dino Melaye among others.
Cross River State government in southern Nigeria has announced plans to float a state’s shipping line that will service countries along the coastal line.
The State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, announced the plan on Friday at a meeting with 21 indigenous Merchant Navy Maritime Students from the Philippines. They were on a courtesy visit to his office, in Calabar.
Assuring them of the government’s continuous support, the governor said that as a result of the new development, coupled with the fact that Cross River now has well trained maritime experts, his administration would see to the creation of Maritime Services Department in the state.
Governor Ayade further told the visitors that, the Maritime department would oversee the affairs of the students and ensure that they got to the peak of their chosen career.
Leader of the group, Deck Cadet Olom Gabriel Odey, thanked the governor for the role he played in facilitating their admission into Maritime Universities of Cebu and Lecyean, both in the Philippines, as a serving Senator.
The trainees further requested for an opportunity to have sea time experience which is the perquisite for their training programme.
Cross River State is ready for the commissioning of the Calabar Monorail which is expected to be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari on a soon to be announced date.
According to the State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, the President’s Commissioning of the Monorail will be to mark his first year in office.
Speaking moments after a second test ride in the monorail, in Calabar the Cross River State Capital, Ayade said that taking another ride in the monorail was his own way of checking to ensure that the project was ready for commissioning before the President arrives the state.
Ayade maintained that with the kick-off of the monorail, the state’s economy would be boosted and many employment opportunities would be opened for the unemployed in the state.
On whether the monorail would be fully ready to accommodate the huge crowd that will flood the state soon, the Governor averred that, with the commitment shown by the contractor, he is optimistic that everyone visiting will not only have a smooth ride on the rail but a memorable experience.
Five Governors of Nigeria’s south-south states plan talks with President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss various security issues affecting the zone, including the menace of herdsmen.
The governors, who are members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), met on Sunday in Asaba, the capital of Delta State.
At the meeting were Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, that of Akwa Ibom, Gabriel Udom Emmanuel, Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike, Bayelsa, Seriake Dickson and Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade.
They discussed security challenges posed by Fulani herdsmen and condemned the recent pipeline vandalism in the Niger delta.
Discussions were also focused on the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State and the governors resolved to reposition the party to be victorious.
At a press conference after the meeting, which took place at the Delta State Government House, Asaba, the host, Governor Okowa, said that far reaching decisions were made.
He said: “We discussed issues concerning our great party, the PDP. You will recall that our convention has been fixed to hold in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on May 21 and we are putting plans in place for that convention.”
“The Chairman of the committee for the convention is Governor Wike of Rivers State and we use this medium to call on all our supporters and members of the PDP to desist from any form of crisis before, during and after the convention. We accepted, as a party, and the leadership of the party agreed that the national convention should hold at Port Harcourt. We stand by that resolution,” he added.
Senator Okowa stated that issues bothering on the PDP in Edo State and the governorship elections coming up in September, 2016 were also discussed, asserting that had tried to map out strategies in order to strengthen the PDP in Edo State.
Asked about the strategies to muscle power from the All Progressive Congress-led government in Edo State, Governor Okowa, beaming with smile alongside his colleagues said: “We will not let the cat out of the bag because we are putting things in place at the moment”.
The Cross River State Government says it has not banned assemblies, prayers or devotion in schools in the state.
A statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Barr Tina Banku Agbor, on Friday said that a circular issued by the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Mrs Anne O. Odey, suspending assemblies in schools should be disregarded.
“The circular issued by the Permanent Secretary was neither at the instance of the State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade nor with his knowledge.
“The Permanent Secretary claims to have issued the circular based on the directive of the State Commissioner of Police who was purportedly acting at the instance of the Inspector-General of Police, over security concerns.
”We wish to state categorically that it is not the policy of this administration to infringe on the freedom of worship of Cross Riverians and all who reside in the state,” the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, the Governor has directed the setting up of a 3-man panel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the circular by the Permanent Secretary without recourse to higher authorities and recommend appropriate sanctions for this breach of protocol.
The panel is to be chaired by the Deputy Governor with the Secretary to the State Government as the Secretary.
The statement advised schools in Cross River State to disregard the circular from the Permanent Secretary, saying she acted beyond her brief.
The National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has assured state governors that the federal government would reimburse the cash spent on maintaining federal roads across the country.
He said that all those who have followed the right procedures and due process would be refunded their expenses.
The assurance was given at the NEC meeting which held in the council chamber.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, the Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, said that the meeting which was the fifth for the year, also took a look at the states being affected by flooding and what the federal and state governments were doing about it.
He said that the affected states would soon receive succour from the government.
He also said that the Excess Crude Account as at October 15 stood at 2.25 billion dollars.
On the provision of concessionary loans to the states, based on collaterisation of the Excess Crude Account, 27 states have made request for the ten billion facility and that the application was being processed.
He called on the states to complete their documentations for the release of the money to them.
The CBN Governor was said to have also given a brief at the NEC meeting on whether or not the NNPC and other agencies of government like NIMASA should be remitting revenues in naira.
According to him, investigations were still ongoing on the matter.
The primary elections held for candidates that will represent the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 governorship election have ended in some states in Nigeria, with a former Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, Teslim Folarin, Umur Nasko and others emerging as candidates.
Mr Wike emerged as the PDP governorship candidate in Rivers State at the party’s primary election held in Port Harcourt, the state’s capital.
The event was conducted under tight security, but 17 aspirants from the party, however, stayed away.
In what looked like a done deal, the Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Etife Bekeakpa, wasted no time to announce the results.
Meanwhile, the 17 aggrieved aspirants are certainly not on the same page with the party leadership in the state.
The leader of the coalition, Major Lancelot Anyanya (rtd), told reporters at a press briefing that the primary was a sham that would be rejected using all options available to them.
In Oyo State, former Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin, emerged as the PDP governorship candidate.
Some aspirants boycotted the event, claiming “it is illegal”.
Out of the seven aspirants who attended the primaries, only three contested against Senator Folarin, who won with 167 votes while two others abstained.
Some of the main contenders like the former Oyo State Governor, Adebayo Alao Akala and Seyi Makinde were absent from the primaries.
In the PDP primary election in Niger State, Umar Nasko, emerged the Governorship flag bearer.
The former Chief of Staff of the Government House pulled 908 votes out of the 1023 votes cast to emerge victorious at the primaries which held in Minna, the Niger State capital.
In an acceptance speech, Umar Nasko promised to take the state to a greater level if given the opportunity by the people of the state.
In a keenly contested primary election held at Umuahia Township Stadium in Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu clinched the governorship ticket.
Dr Ikpeazu had about 480 votes to beat Uche Ogah, former Minister of Labour, Emeka Nwogu and a former Ambassador of Nigeria to South Africa, Okey Emuchay, the other contestants.
In the election, Mr Ogah pulled 103 votes, Mr Nwogu got 33 votes and Okey Emuchay got three votes.
Another candidate, Ayogu Eze, emerged in Enugu State as the candidate of the PDP in the 2015 governorship election.
Before Mr Eze was declared winner, the exercise took a dramatic turn when two governorship aspirants out of the seven contestants conducted parallel primaries at different locations within the state
The trouble started in the morning when some of the aspirants had a disagreement over the authentic list of delegates which are to participate in the elections.
Front-liner in the contest, Senator Ayogu Eze’s primary election was conducted at a location along New Haven Avenue within the State capital while House of Representatives member, Ifeanyi Uguwanyi’s primary was at the same time held at the Nnamdi Azikwe Sports Stadium.
In the election conducted at New Haven Avenue, Senator Eze emerged winner beating six other contestants with 530 votes. He promised to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people of Enugu State if finally elected Governor in 2015.
In Kaduna State, the incumbent Governor, Mukhtar Yero, emerged the governorship candidate of the PDP for the February 2015 elections, in a peaceful primary election conducted at the indoor sports hall of Murtala Mohammed Square in the state capital.
Mr Yero polled 970 votes to defeat his only challenger, Senator Zego Aziz, who got only one vote while only one vote was declared invalid.
Before the commencement of the election, the Chairman of the Electoral Committee and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Steve Oru, announced the withdrawal of three aspirants from the election, leaving the contest between the incumbent governor, Mukhtar Yero and Senator Zego Aziz.
He gave the names of the three aspirants who withdrew from the contest as Air Commodore John Ajei, Lawal Yakawada and Felix Hassan Hyat, but did not give any reason for their withdrawal.
The Kaduna PDP governorship primaries was conducted amidst heavy security presence as operatives of the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security Service and Civil Defence Corps were on ground to maintain law and order.
Speaking after the election, the visibly elated Yero thanked all delegates and members of the party for their votes and support and assured them that his administration will consolidate on the achievements recorded so far if he gets re-elected for another term.
In Akwa-Ibom State, even before the official announcement of the governorship primary, supporters of the former Executive Director of the Zenith Bank, Udom Emmanuel, were already celebrating his victory.
The immediate past Secretary to the State Government won an apparent landslide, clinching victory with majority votes from 30 out of 31 Local Government Councils of the state.
Mr Emmanuel was congratulated by Governor Godswill Akpabio, who witnessed the event from the very beginning till the conclusion.
In Cross River State, a serving Senator representing Cross River North Senatorial District and the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Professor Ben Ayade, emerged as the PDP governorship candidate ahead of the 2015 governorship election.
The returning officer, Olushola Akamode, who made the declaration shortly after counting the votes, declared Ayade the winner with 752 votes, as against Jeddy Agba with five votes and Joe Agi with 11 and Francis Eworo with five votes.
The governorship primary held at the UJ Esuiene Stadium in Calabar, the State capital was described as transparent, peaceful and rancor free.
Although 10 aspirants picked nomination forms to contest for the ticket, four of the contestants formally withdrew from the race shortly before the elections.
They are the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Mr Larry Odey, former Executive Secretary, National Planning Commission, Ntufam Fidelis Ugboh, the immediate past Secretary to the State Government, Mr Mike Aniah and the immediate past Commissioner for Works, Mr Legor Idagbo.
Prominent politicians who participated in the elections included, the State Governor, Liyel Imoke and his deputy Efiok Cobham, the Party Chairman John Okon, Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma Egba, other Senator and members of the State and Assembly.
After the exercise, the governorship flag bearer thanked delegates for their confidence in him to fly the party’s flag as the governorship candidate.