C’River: Signs of dis­cord be­tween ‘fa­ther’ and ‘son’

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - From Eyo Charles, Cal­abar

Cross River State gets lit­tle in terms of fed­eral al­lo­ca­tions, but it is blessed with in­tel­lec­tu­als.

At present, the two per­son­al­i­ties at the helm of af­fairs in the state are highly ed­u­cated.

The gover­nor of the state, Ben Ayade is a lawyer, a former Sen­a­tor and a Pro­fes­sor of en­vi­ron­men­tal sciences and chem­istry.

Be­sides mak­ing ex­celling in the aca­demics or pol­i­tics where he veered into lately, Ayade is noted to be an out­stand­ing phi­lan­thropist, trans­porter and an in­ter­na­tional busi­ness­man.

He is much younger, more like a son to his deputy, Pro­fes­sor Ivara Esu.

Esu, in his 70s, is a one time min­is­ter of state for tourism, cul­ture and na­tional ori­en­ta­tion, former Vice Chan­cel­lor of the Univer­sity of Cal­abar and a Pro­fes­sor of soil sciences.

He be­came a Prof when his boss, Gover­nor Ayade, now 46, may just have been leav­ing high school.

Pro­fes­sor Ayade has never left any­one or the peo­ple of the state in doubt re­gard­ing his aca­demic prow­ess, al­though they were fore­warned by his pre­de­ces­sor’s han­dlers about his char­ac­ter, contents and stu­dious na­ture.

In an in­ter­ac­tion with jour­nal­ists, he re­called his ex­pe­ri­ence at the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

“When I was in the Sen­ate, the former Sen­ate pres­i­dent would al­ways plead with me, say­ing ‘Prof please, come down, come down to ev­ery­body’s level, we know you are a pro­fes­sor’”.

“I am learn­ing to come down. For­give me, you know there are three dis­tinc­tive per­son­al­i­ties dwelling in me: the pro­fes­sor, the busi­ness­man and the politi­cian. I am learn­ing to roll them to func­tion only as the gover­nor yet”.

But that is not re­ally the is­sue at hand now. The ques­tion play­ing on most lips in the state is whether Ayade is truly com­fort­able with his deputy.

Some pun­dits are also ask­ing how com­fort­able, too, is the deputy, Prof Esu, work­ing un­der his boss, doubtlessly the age-mate of his son.

A fe­male se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial, who ap­pealed not to be named, said it does not ap­pear to be very well be­tween the duo be­cause the gover­nor hardly in­volves his deputy in key de­ci­sion-mak­ing pro­cesses, even now that a func­tion­ing cabi­net is yet to be com­posed.

“Ayade hardly bring in his deputy into his think­ing and plan­ning, let alone ac­cept wise coun­sel from his deputy who is much more ma­ture, older and more ex­pe­ri­enced than him when it comes to Cross River State pol­i­tics.

“I can say that when Ayade sat down to ini­ti­ate his am­pli­fied sig­na­ture projects of build­ing brand new deep sea­port near Bakassi and other, he did not con­sulted with the poor man who would have cau­tioned him.

“When Ayade was to em­bark on an­other for­eign trip re­cently, in the name of sourc­ing for in­ter­na­tional fund providers and in­vestors, there was no money to pay fuel sup­pli­ers here at home be­cause the deputy gover­nor has no power to au­tho­rise such funds.

“There was to­tal black­out even in the gover­nor’s of­fice. The deputy gover­nor had to fling open his win­dows and doors be­cause his air­con­di­tion­ers could not be pow­ered. We saw him fan­ning him­self in his of­fice. All the of­fices had no elec­tric­ity sup­plies through­out the pe­riod the gover­nor was abroad,” she said.

Chief Okoi Bassey , a com­mu­nity leader in Yakurr lo­cal gov­ern­ment area of the state, said, “It is not de­bat­able that, Ayade’s pre­de­ces­sor, Sen­a­tor Liyel Imoke had im­posed Prof Esu on Ayade, the same way he im­posed Ayade on the peo­ple of the state.

“How can you ex­pect Ayade to be com­fort­able with his deputy who was not his orig­i­nal choice?

“Ayade is merely tol­er­at­ing him to mark time. I am al­most cer­tain that he would not go with him again if he has to look for a sec­ond term,” Bassey said.

Sim­i­larly, Madam Janet Michael, a sec­ondary school teacher in the state be­lieves that Ayade would not en­dure Esu through­out this first term. We might have an­other deputy gover­nor be­fore Ayade’s first term elapses”, she said.

“Yes, Ayade ad­dresses his deputy as his Excellency which is ok. But I can tell you that given his na­ture he would not mind to blast the old man any day and any­where, if he does not keep pace with him,” an­other gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said.

A jour­nal­ist in the state quoted Ayade as hav­ing said, “let the old man be there when he is tired no­body will tell him to re­sign.”

How­ever, Ayade’s spokesman, Chris­tian Ita dis­agreed strongly with the thought that his boss was un­com­fort­able with his deputy.

“It is not true in any way that the gover­nor has fric­tion or not com­fort­able with his deputy. I don’t know why peo­ple would be imag­in­ing vain things like this,” he said.

How­ever, it ap­pears that Prof Esu does not mind the wide gap in his age with that of his boss.

Dur­ing var­i­ous pub­lic out­ings, he has func­tioned obe­di­ently and ex­e­cuted his as­signed tasks with com­mit­ment.

“He rep­re­sents the gover­nor wher­ever he was di­rected to and re­mains hum­ble to a fault,” said Prince John­son Ekanem, a politi­cian.

But Ekanem said he was not happy with what tran­spired on Oc­to­ber 1 when Gover­nor Ayade di­rected the deputy to stand for sev­eral hours and take salute dur­ing the na­tional In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tion at UJ Esuene Sta­dium, Cal­abar.

“Why did Ayade, who is much younger and full of en­ergy and vi­brancy, not stand for such lengthy hours and take salute. Is it sup­posed to be the duty of the deputy to take salute while he sits down? What if the frail old man had col­lapsed?

“To me Ayade was ex­hibit­ing ar­ro­gance and in­so­lence, and also ill-treat­ing his deputy, an old man”, he said.

Gover­nor Ben Ayade

Deputy Gov. Ivara Esu

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