Many think that building roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and ensuring security of lives and property are achievements in a democracy. But not so in Cross River State where the number of marriages in a tenure of an elected governor is ascribed as tremendous achievements. AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE (Abuja) and RICHARD NDOMA (Calabar) in this report examine Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State’s boast of having recorded more marriages under his administration than all other administrations since 1999
“Cross Riverians under my administration have witness more weddings than before.” Those were the words of Cross River State governor, Prof Ben Ayade as he bragged of his administration’s achievements in the last three and half years.
Governor Ayade even boasted to the high heavens that marriages contracted under his watch as governor of the state surpassed the numbers recorded since 1999.
While other governors are busy fighting hard to sell their package of achievements to their electorate, Governor Ayade appears to have less stress in selling his candidature to the people of Cross River State. After all, the people are getting married in their thousands, courtesy government opportunities.
Ayade, boasted at a recent parley with journalists held at the executive chambers of the Governor’s Office Calabar, that among the democratic dividends accruing to the state and felt by the people of Cross River State, were the number of weddings recorded from the time he came on board as governor of the state in 2015. He said the number is higher than marriages experienced in the state in the last 15 years.
If the governor’s assessments were to be taken as true, then there is every likelihood that there has also been of harvest of babies in the state under his tenure as governor and more work for the National Population Commission (NPC).
The state may also be in need of more schools, hospitals to take delivery of babies, more nurses and doctors and many more.
As the 2019 general elections draws closer, Nigerians have been inundated with sweet talks from politicians reeling out their achievements in a self-assessment style, while the new entrants are full of promises all to woo the electorate into voting for them at the elections.
The stage is busy with political dancers trying to entertain the people with whatever song that attracts the attention of the electorate.
Whether they fulfil their promises after being elected into office or not is another matter entirely. Nonetheless, some of the serving public office holders still have cause to celebrate by rolling out the drums like that of Governor Ayade of Cross River State.
On assumption of office in May 29, 2015, the governor made a promise to the people of the state that he was going to run and managed the affairs of the state in a manner that the dividends of democracy will be felt by all residents in the state.
To him, the dividends were going to be in terms of inflow/outflow of cash with regards to numerous opportunities to be created by his administration in a manner that the impact and booty associated with democracy would be tapped by all and sundry in all areas of life.
Ayade said, “I want to assure you that exigency and commitment, the deep sense of love I have for the state, the passion drives me along without any road block.”
He said with the appointment of young men and women into his cabinet, there has been plenty of resources to stage marriages with its attendant high cost in the state. The young appointees now have money to perform marriage rites which hitherto was a problem to the young men and women in the state.
To the governor, salaries earned by his appointees has given them the temerity to accost their would-be in-laws to declare their intentions of having the hand of their daughters in marriage.
He said the high number of marriages has helped in no small way to curb the incidence of crime in the state. According to the governor, “The genes responsible for a man to desire a woman can cause him to commit criminal act to raise the money he needs to get the woman, especially if he doesn’t have it.
“You know as you approach maturity, there is a biological urge in you. And the thing will be troubling you, it is a genetic urge. If you read your Bible well, God said go ye into the world and multiply. When once you get to that age, that urge will come. When that urge is coming, and you don’t have the financial muscle to meet it, you experience what we called broken personality.”
The Governor further said, “When your pocket cannot meet your needs, and then the criminality in you will come out. And those who don’t know the sociology of crime will begin to say you are a thief, without knowing that even you or I are potential thieves.
“So if you want to know this, please take the statistics of how many weddings that have taken place since Ayade came on board.
“It is equivalent to the number of weddings that have taken place in this state in the last 15 years. Just in my three years in office. It shows you the sociological promotion of society.”
He said that because of the appointments which result to plenty of marriages/weddings ceremonies which occur very often in the state, the churches are also reaping bountifully through offerings during wedding ceremonies. “Please check the Church offerings,” the Governor said.
While many residents were taken aback by the latest way of letting the people know of the achievements by the state government in the last three and half years, some are not amused by the eloquent Professor’s assessment of governance in Cross River State.
An APC stalwart Mr Moses Tachen, while faulting the governor’s claim chides Governor Ayade saying that if the governor is to be placed on a scale to ex-ray his performance Ayade’s performance will be rated low as weddings/marriages alone cannot be used to judge his performance and charged the governor to touch other areas of life to make the dividends of democracy touch the subjects in a manner that his name can be written in the sands of time when he leaves office.
While on the other hand, Mr Bessong Bessong, one of the governor’s appointees, said the governor has performed better than any other governor given the number of appointments which has been able to put food on the table not only for himself but on the table of other members of his family.
He said that with the appointment, he has been able to surmount several challenges that almost took his life anti-clockwise.
For Mr Samuel Offiong, a resident of Calabar, Cross River people are being ridicule by their elected public servants. He wondered how sapping the state’s resources through appointments is helping the economy of the state.
“Where are the industries, farms, workshops and even investors that actually employed workers in the state in the last three years?” he asked rhetorically. “So when has marriages turned to be dividends of democracy. This is ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, those watching political activities in the state said with appointments which has culminated into large number of marriages holding in the state since he came on board, Ayade doesn’t need to go to the streets again to campaign but those he has aided with such appointments will be the ones to vote him into office even if he decides not to embark on campaign to sell his candidature.
According to critics of the governor’s style of governance, he should have limited that discourse in the said interaction to his reelection bid which he claims shouldn’t create any cause for alarm, because to him it was a done deal, instead of boasting that his administration has sky rocketed the number of marriages in the state in three years of his reign.
“By the time the governor is sworn in to office (if elected) as governor for second term, and served and leave the throne, any individual who will step into his shoes to lead the state as governor will have to do better by giving more appointments to increase number of marriages in the state,” some critics argued.
Ayade appears to be enjoying patronage in that line of argument, according to a marriage expert operating in the state, Mrs Adline Douglas, “A lot of you may see his encouragement of marriage as a ridiculous stride, but then marriage the Bible says is honourable”.
She said that any society which fails to embrace or encourage marriage is an irresponsible society. She attributes a large percentage of violence bedeviling the society to children raised out of wedlock and called on parents to step up societal norms where people are encouraged to tie the wedding knots immediately they strike the age of marriage.
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