By Chidi Onyemaizu
“The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself”
By aceeding to the clamour of the people of Northern Cross River Senatorial district to return to the Senate to represent them, His Excellency, Professor Ben Ayade, the All Progressives Congress, APC Senatorial candidate for the district in next year’s senatorial election and the constituents themselves have given flesh to Plato’s immortal words above.
So, come Saturday, February 25, 2023, the day of the election, the people will be left with one choice: Make a life-changing political decision by sending His Excellency, Professor (Senator) Ben Ayade back to the Senate.
It will be a pragmatic decision that will not only secure for them a purposeful representation in the senate but that which will come with a huge political mileage and a new vista for Cross River as a State and the South-south as a geo-political zone.
The gains and impact of Ayade’s return to the Senate will be manifold.
First, having been a Senator between 2011-2015 and then a governor for eight years( 2015-2023), Ayade will be the most ranking Senator, not just from Cross River but from the South-South.
Secondly, he will be returning to the Senate as one of the very few Senators with both executive and parliamentary experiences.
Thirdly, with the South-south geo-political zone within poles of producing the 10th President of the Senate in
the incoming- APC-led federal government, the search for the most qualified and most experienced APC Senator from the zone will naturally gravitate towards Ayade.
As it is now, the body language of the APC tells the story of disposition towards a South South Senate president and His Excellency, Senator( Professor) Ben Ayade, upon return to the upper federal legislative Chamber next year, will be the only ranking APC Senator from the geo- political zone.
And leveraging on his experience in the Executive arm of the government, the Senate under the leadership of Senator Ayade will fast-track the completion in Cross River, of critical infrastructure in the exclusive list such as the Bakassi Deep seaport.
No one should begrudge Northern Cross Riverians for their fervent desire to have Ayade back as their ears and eyes at the Senate.
Ayade’s constituents in Northern Cross River are alien to ghost representation- the see nothing, say nothing, move no motion, sponsore no bill, sitting duck sort of representative- in the Senate.It is in this context that their hunger for the APC senatorial candidate is situated.
The people , no doubt, are nostalgic about the past.Northern Cross Riverians yearn for the return of the old days when their illustrious son, Ayade, was a strong voice on the floor of the Senate where he moved motions, sponsor innovative bills and marshalled his points with an engaging clarity and conviction of a patriot.
Senator Ayade was indeed the ramrod exactness of a quintessential parliamentarian imbued with legislative know-how.
From Obudu to Obanliku and from Yala to Ogoja and Bekwarra, the ordinary people on the streets of Northern Cross River remember with fond memories of how, as a Senator in the 7th Senate, their representative, Ayade, had fourty one (41) Bills to his credit, the highest ever by a Nigerian Senator as at 2015.
His Bills centered on Housing Right, Employment, Poverty Reduction, Social Welfare and the advancement of Nigeria from third world to first world.
As sitting Senator, Ayade gave teeth to his bills in his constituents through various empowerment interventions, including scholarship scheme, job placements, food banks among others.
Having tasted quality, purposeful and people-oriented representation at the Senate via Ayade, it amounts to a stale joke to suggest that Cross River North electorates will in February settle for a pale shadow of the main deal.
Ayade’s crowning is indeed a walk in the park!
Chidi Onyemaizu is the Senior Special Assistant on Print Media to Governor Ayade