Even with the chequered history of the Cross River state government in managing state-owned companies, governor Ayade insisted on take-off that he believes the government has a business doing business.
He didn’t stop there; he argued hispoint very explicitly, citing similar models from other parts of the world.Additionally, he has created a cluster of industries that are supposed toprovide jobs for Cross Riverians and revenue to decouple the State from federalallocations, in the words of the professor governor.
In the Ayade Industrial Park,unmistakably visible from the aircraft as you touch down Margaret Ekpointernational airport, along the Goodluck Jonathan by-pass in Calabar alone, wehave:
1. Cross River state GarmentFactory.
2. Cross River State Rice Seeds AndSeedlings Factory (Rice City).
3. Cross River State PharmaceuticalProduction Company (Calapharm).
4. Cross River state ChickenProcessing Plant (Calachika).
5. Eastern Instant Noodles (CallyNoddles).
6. The Fabrication Academy of WestAfrica is also located in Calabar but not in the Ayade industrial park.
7. There is the Banana Plantationand Processing farm in Odukpani. (That one is already dead sef.)
8. Poles, Piles, and Pylon factory in Akamkpa.
9. Ekori Toothpick Factory. I don’tknow which market I have seen it, not even in government functions.
10. Ultra Modern Cocoa ProcessingFactory in Ikom.
11. Ultra Modern Rice ProcessingMill in Ogoja.
12. Roof tile Manufacturing Plant inOgoja.
13. Groundnut Processing Factory inBekwara.
But these projects are as highfaluting as they sound. Only the garment factory and the rice city have people who still resume work with all the bottlenecks and they are still paid from the government purse like civil servants, while the other companies are at various levels of construction, some barely taking off, some stalled. I am not quite sure about the present state of the Ekori toothpick factory. Even the government does not patronize its own toothpick.
The State House of Assembly hasrepeatedly expressed concerns about the sustainability of these companies andasked the governor to privatize them. The Speaker and the Majority Leader ofthe House have said in different fora that the companies were gulping more fromgovernment purse than they generate and urged the governor to privatized them.The House also passed a resolution to that effect.
Other stakeholders have also expressed worry about the ability of the Ayade government to privatize the assets of the companies transparently owing to the lack of transparency and acquisition tendencies of his government.
Also, besides the fact that these industries are overpriced due to the different levels of corruption padded into the procurement processes, the shareholding and/or ownership of the Special Purpose Vehicles SPVs that were incorporated to run these companies are shrouded in ominous secrecy. Only governor Ayade, his younger brother and co-governor Franco Ayade, DG Due Process, Alphonsus Eba, and Commissioner for Industry Peter Egba, seem to be abreast of those details and they are not willing to tell Cross Riverians the whole truth.
Then, the most excruciating challenge for these companies is that the governor does not have the money and time to see his intentions through. No matter how well-meaning he may be, he has put his hands in too many pies and the reality is that he can only get enough allocation to barely pay salaries and manage to ramp a few things together before he begins his 2023 departure/survival race.
And the possibility is that these companies will not survive after May 29, 2023, after which they will become luxury apartments for reptiles and rodents. And very painfully, the lame excuse, as usual, will be that “My successor failed to continue from where I stopped.”
But right now that voices of reason are calling for a rethink, the governor will not listen. It is a familiar path. $450million was spent on developing Tinapa by Donald Duke. With all the projections and good intentions, Tinapa failed and the rest is history. Ask Ayade if he continued with Imoke’s projects and why he should expect his successor to continue with his!
I really wish the story will change, that the graph will take a different curve, but the signs are clear that we are not, so yet again, we are on course to building another set of monuments that will stand as a painful reminder of the inability of our governor to blend, vision, passion, fantasy, and reality.
Citizen Agba Jalingo.