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