Musa Maigoro, is Special Adviser to Governor o2f Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, on Non-indigene Affairs. In this interview with DAILY ASSET correspondent in Cross River State, FRANCIS OGAR, the lawyer described Ayade as a bridge builder, detribalized Nigerian worthy of emulation. Excerpts:
What is your mandate as a Special Adviser on Non-Indigene Affairs to Governor Ben Ayade?
The department of non-indigene Affairs is a new development. It is a creative issue by the governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade. It is unprecedented in political anal of Cross River State. The governor being a visionary governor, a pragmatic governor, thought it very expedient the political anal to incorporate the non-indigenes into the scheme of Affairs in the governance of Cross River State. It is on that premise that he established the department of non-indigene Affairs and appointed me as a special Adviser. Part of my mandate is to coordinate and galvanize the support of all the non-indigenes in the state to key into the developmental projects of the governor. It is also part of my mandate to ensure that the non-indigene live in peace and harmony with one another and also to ensure that they do not engage on anything that is inimical and detrimental to the peace and stability of Cross River State. So, in a nut shell, my mandate is to ensure that I provide a first class advice to the governor on the relationship between the non-indigenes in one hand, the indigenes in one hand and the government of Cross River State on the other hand so as to ensure that there is peace and stability in the state for rapid development.
What has been your achievements and challenges since assuming office about two years ago?
My achievements are numerous and manifold. One of my achievement is that I have tried to coordinate the affairs of the non-indigenes. Initially the non-indigene were not coordinated or united but they are now. When I came on board I tried to indentify all the non-indigenes in the state and also to coordinate their own affairs and to ensure that there is a central leadership. That every ethnic nationality in Cross River State has a central leader who can always coordinate their own affairs and who can channel their grievances and their problems to my office for onward transmission to the governor of Cross River State, His Excellency, Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade.
So part of the challenges I encountered was how to galvanize the non-indigenes, how to get them united. Because of the pragmatic nature I had justify the confidence reposed on me by the governor I brought them together to key into the development of the governor so that they are not left out as far as the development of Cross River Staten is concerned.
What is the rationale for creating the department of Non-indigene?
By so doing, the governor of Cross River State has demonstrated, unparalleled patriotism for national integration. He has shown that he is a bridge builder, the detribalized Nigerian. This is unprecedented in the political anal of Cross River. This is the first in the country in the six geo-political zone for a sitting governor to appoint a special adviser from other nationalities. This is a very good and a welcome development. The governor is trying to show that Nigeria must come together irrespective of ethnic, religion or geographical background since we are all Nigerians. We must understand that we must live together and accommodate one another. So this is what the governor is showing that is a bridge builder and detribalized Nigeria. A Nigerian that is patriotic to ensure that there is unity and also national integration.
What is your take on Ayade’s numerous awards?
The Governor’s numerous awards symbolize his commitments to bring rapid developments to Cross River State. I know the governor has received numerous awards both nationally and internationally. Just of recent, the Igbo Community in Cross River State gave award of excellence in recognition of his outstanding performance in a lot of projects that touch the lives of the people. I represented the governor on that award. All these awards symbolize the governor’s commitment to rapid development in the state.
Recently suspected Fulani herdsmen burnt down a sugar cane plantation belonging to Dangote Group in Adamana State an incident that threatens 6,000 Jobs, what is your comment?
It is very unwarranted and unfounded. It is sad and has assumed a national dimension. What the government is doing at the centre, the governor of Cross River State is ensuring that the Fulani herdsmen live in peace and unity with the host community and also live in peace wherever they stay because peace and development are explicably intertwined. Whenever that is no peace there would be no meaningful development. What the Fulani herdsmen did was actually unwarranted ad unfounded. The Fulani herdsmen have to ensure that they live in peace and harmony peace is indispensable as far as development is concerned.
Some Nigerians view President Buhari’s fight against corruption as a one man show, what is your take on that?
Sincerely speaking we know president Buhari is man with zero tolerance for corruption and tendency. I cannot rightly say that those in government are not supporting president Buhair anti-corruption drive. What we are saying is that let all hands be on deck to ensure that we support president Buhari commitment to fight corruption in all its ramifications. Corruption is a national disaster and it has eaten deep into our fabric of the society. Corruption has been the bane of our underdevelopment and must ensure that we put all hands together to support Mr. President fight against corruption in all its ramification and manifestation. So, we must give kudos to president Buhari for his commitment to fight corruption and appeal to all Nigerians to key into his vision to fight corruption so that Nigeria would be a save country for us.
The Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) in Jos Plateau State, recently, alleged discrimination against Christians in employment and education in the northern part of the country, how does this worry you?
Yes, I heard this but sincerely speaking I would not dabble into issues that I do not have cogent or compelling facts. ECWA has made that allegation and as far as I am concerned it still remains within the domain of allegation because it has not been properly substantiated. But in my own state when you take into cognizance of Kano State, my state of origin where I come from, I can speak authoritatively. I have not noticed that in Kano State. The governor is also a bridge builder and has also given equal opportunity to Muslims and Christians. So, in Kano state both Muslims and Christians are given employment opportunities and also in schools. So what ECWA church is alleging that there is sentiment into admission and employment, I cannot sincerely comment on that. It is in Plateau State but that allegation is not found in Kano State. Christians and Muslims are treated the same irrespective of religion or ethnic linnet.
What is your assessment of Ayade Administration?
The achievements of Prof. Ben Ayade is profound and numerous. The governor has tremendously achieved well in all ramification. The governor has brought a lot of development. He has brought succor to down trodden masses. He is recouping the state from absolute reliance on the Federation Account. The governor is making a lot of initiatives to ensure that he boosts the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) so that he could recoup the state. Cross River State is disadvantage economically. We have been removed from NNDC, we are not more part of the oil producing states, we are not in the 13% derivation. So we are disadvantage economically. So, what comes to Cross River State is too small compared to the huge financial burden of the state including payment of salaries and other developmental projects the governor is initiating. So, the governor has achieved very well. You can see a lot of developmental projects littered across the state. Some of them have been completed, commissioned or nearing completion. Some are also ongoing. Lets look at the two signature projects of the governor, the deep sea port and the Super Highway. These two projects are very profound and would bring a lot of economic benefits to the state. Governor Ben Ayade is the governor that we would continue to support because of his vision and pragmatic way of leadership geared towards bring into a lot developments to Cross River State so as to remove Cross River State from the shackles of political marginalization to posterity.
Why do you think that non-indigenes should be given recognition in Calabar?
Yes, the history of Cross River State cannot be complete without making any recourse especially to the early settlers. Bogobiri was named after the first Hausa man who settled in Calabar. Alhaji Bogobiri. He came to Calabar in 1862 and settled in Bogobiri then called Sabon Garin. He stayed in Bogobiri for more than 100 years, had children and grandchildren. When he died in 1963, Sabon Garin was named after him for posterity.
So, we also have a place called Ikot Ishie. Ikot Ishie was also named after the first Ibo man who come to Calabar. He came from Aro Chukwe in Abia state in 1882. The place was named after him. The non-indigenes played significant roles in the evolution and the development of Cross River State. When we take into cognize these two gentlemen who arrived in Calabar, the non-indigenes must be given profound recognition for the role they played bringing development to Calabar.
What is your advice to Nigerians?
Lets us continue to live in peace and love one other? Let ensure that Nigeria is our country. We do not have any other place than Nigeria. Whatever we do is detrimental to our development and progress and affects negatively. We should do good things for the betterment or the country that our children could benefit from our labour. Let live a posterity legacy worthy of emulation by all so that Nigeria could be a great country and community of developed nation. Sen. Ben Ayade does no need to does not need to go for campaign in 2019. Whatever he has done is enough to campaign for him. We want Ayade to become the president of Nigeria so that he can replicate what he has dose in Cross River State for the nation.