By Florence Kekong

Cross River Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr. has commended Hon. Legor Idagbo, Member, representing Bekwarra, Obudu and Obanliku Federal Constituency, for placing welfare of the people above politics.

The Commissioner who witnessed the end of year ceremony that held at Bekwarra on Wednesday, described it as a “Longstanding Empowerment Programme, most consistent and impressive”

While calling on the other politicians to take a cue from Hon. Idagbor’s laudable initiatives, Ekpenyong Jr. equally charged the Constituents to show their appreciation by way of offering continuous support to their son, who he furthered described as having result-orientated representation records at the Federal House of Representatives.

“There is no doubting the fact that Hon. Legor Idagbo is on the right path of development as he has placed people orientated empowerment programmes as a major priority.

‘I am optimistic that with the unalloyed support of his people, these laudable initiatives would grow into formidable Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), offering economic and development opportunities in the localities of the Northern Senatorial District”, he posited.

The ceremony which attracted dignitaries from across the country, ended with beneficiaries smiling

home with Tri-cycles, mini-buses, cars, grinding machines, sewing machines, among other gifts.

Worthy of note was also, the warm reception accorded the Commissioner, when he paid a courtesy call on the newly installed Ada of Bekwarra, Hon. (Signor) Omang Ideiege, who is also Commissioner, Youth and Skills Acquisition in the State.

Receiving the Commissioner, Ada Bekwarra applauded the good gesture of Ekpenyong Jr. in the area of youth development programmes that are opening opportunities for youths to diversify and become dynamic social entrepreneurs in the ever growing global competition.

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Prudence in Financial Management favours Cross River State

It is heart-warming that prudent management of scarce resources by the Cross River State Government, under the managerial skills, sterling leadership qualities and qualitative direction of the Governor, Sen. Prof Ben Ayade, has been recognized and applauded by Budglt, a civic tech organization which works to make public data and budgets more comprehensible for the benefit of the public.

In its recent State of States report, which is regarded as the most comprehensive annual report of the fiscal health of States in Nigeria, Cross River took a giant leap forward to occupy the 8’h position in a 36 states survey. This move, from its 2020 ranking as the 14th most fiscally healthy state in the federation, is a healthy development worth acknowledging.

The State of States report is a self-assessment tool which gives an indication of the fiscal strategies of States in Nigeria and what they need to do to deploy necessary and available resources for investment, to the benefit of their people.

According to the report which was presented in the presence of representatives of state governments, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), amongst other stakeholders, Cross River State paints a pleasantly interesting picture of the fiscal health of the Governor Ayade-led administration.

Long before now, the Governor had harped on the necessity of decoupling the state from the handouts that comefrom the Federation Account. He had set machineries in motion to boost internally generated revenue and enhance investments in high- yielding, novel industries and ventures that would shore up the revenue base of the State.

The state also recorded a 30% reduction in its year-on-year operating expenses, a large part of which is attributable to a reduction in overheads by over 70%. This in turn led to a corresponding growth in capital expenditure by over 71%, with an N 11,494 expenditure per capita, higher than the country’s average of N8,129. These laudable strides could only be achieved through prudent and judicious deployment of resources which are, in any case, scarce in the state.

Governor Ayade’s avowed determination to prioritize investments in capital expenditure, while at the same time significantly reducing operating expenditure spending, coupled with placing premium attention to investments in capital projects obviously did not go unnoticed.  Budgit’s ranking attests to this.

Long before now, the Governor had harped on the necessity of decoupling the state from the handouts that come from the Federation Account. He had set machineries in motion to boost internally generated revenue and enhance investments in high­ yielding, novel industries and ventures that would shore up the revenue base of the state. His take-off point has always been intellectual money, which is working well for the State on all fronts.

And even though Cross River State ranked l 7’h in terms of residual income left over for investments in capital projects after servicing deductions on inherited loans and operating expenses, it’s ranking as the 4th highest state on the ladder of capital investments is an indication of sound fiscal policies and creative funding.

For an administration that is placed 36th out of the 36 states of the federation in terms of ability to borrow, the Ayade-led government has however worked assiduously to reduce domestic and foreign debts, expending over N l20billion on debt servicing on inherited loans. This is quite commendable!

In the face of all these achievements, government is still not resting on its oars. Appreciable efforts are being made, via the ingenuity of the Digital Governor, to take the state out of its fiscal woods. Some of the measures being employed to achieve this include substantial investments in infrastructural projects, with a focus on agro-processing; deploying technology to checkmate the vexed issue of ghost workers which unnecessarily swell the payroll; and a conscious, continued and concise effort at beefing up the internally generated revenue of the state.

With time, and certainly in the lifetime of his administration, Cross Riverians will not only witness, but get to reach the light at the end of our collective journey as a people.

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SHARED OPPORTUNITIES: Together, we can rebuild the Cross River of our dream.

In the face of unpredicted global environment, united efforts remain key to highlighting the pathways through which
negative storms are amplified. Cross River State, our beautiful State, famous for its peaceful and environmentally friendly nature is undoubtedly, facing unprecedented tests. From the unprecedented lockdown occasioned by the Corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic to the recent unpredicted crisis from the EndSARS protest, evidence abound that the government of Cross River State and its people, will require also, unprecedented response from everyone across the State The government and t h e c i t i z e n r y, a t t h e community level , both public and private sectors as
the case maybe, must all get involved in the march towards rebuilding Cross River State. Having invested so much
over the years in key projects, that have potentials for creating more jobs, as well as attracting huge investment opportunities in the State, it is expected that we all must put our hands on deck in rebuilding the Cross River State of our dream, and building, better, even in the face of enormous challenges. Cross River is globally known as a “Miniature Nation” because of its unique ethnic and cultural diversity. Its imposing disposition in tourism and hospitality, agriculture and trends in industrialization drives, which capture the huge investment in human capital
development, call to mind, the need for the good people of the State to continually unite efforts in re-building and rebranding the State for effective repositioning at both the grassroots and government level.
The Covid-19 lockdown and the curfew that was occasioned by the #EndSARS protests in the State, have left great lessons for us to learn. It therefore behooves on Cross Riverians to passionately fix our minds towards making valuable contributions that would significantly lead the State to reclaim its world excellence and maintain its leading role as the number one State in Nigeria. This, we can do, by adopting pragmatic approaches for effective re-building. We should begin to re-imagine our future by way of

“…it is expected that we all must put all hands on deck in rebuilding the Cross River State of our dream, and building, better, even in the face of enormous challenges.”

focusing on building back better from the havoc caused by Covid-19 pandemic and the #EndSARS peaceful protest that was later to be given an ugly face with the entry of hoodlums that caused so much havoc in the city of Calabar. We have no other choice than to re-cover from both the Covid-19 torture and the social problems so exacerbated by
the crisis in the State.
This remains indeed the Moment of truth. The recovery from the unpleasant crisis and disease-burden must lead to
a different development gain, for the actual attainment of peace, unity and progress for good governance.
Like other parts of the world, our dear State is also facing unprecedented tests but we shall overcome all of this. We cannot leave all for the government alone. The State Governor, Sir. Ben Ayade at the beginning of the two crises (Covid-19 and Endsars) brought in his proactive instincts to bear. As a pragmatic Leader, he stepped in promptly to
ensure that the State remained safe and calm in all its ramifications, even as hoodlums seized the occasion to strike, throwing away the olive branch that was offered to them by the Governor.

It is obvious that the road ahead has a continued challenge for the reasons of the set-back occasioned by the havoc caused in the State, so, we must therefore, work towards building back our State better together. Everything we do or say now must be with the intention of adding value to Cross River State.
Our sincere actions would go a long way to encouraging the administration of Sir Ben Ayade in building More equal, inclusive and sustainable projects that would be more resilient even in the face of many challenges.
The time is apt for managing
Cross River after disease attack and after unrests. Our income, investments and production have been dangerously tampered with, and would remain retarded, if we fold our hands and allow the blame-game trend survive in our land.
Together we can rebuild a more formidable, g r e a t e r , greener and more sustainable future for Cross River. With genuine efforts and concern, the good people of Cross River State can still passionately give a great and lasting push that would significantly add more value to our great State, the nation’s haven. our shared responsibilities remain the bedrock upon which the re-building of Cross River State rests on.
Yes, we can!

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An Overview of Ayadenomics

“Gradually but steadily, the process of capital formation in the state is being accelerated, courtesy of the Ayade administration.”

It was Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher who said: “Man, examine your life, for an unexamined life is not worth living”. this is quite true and it applies to every other thing in life. In the study of administration, we are told that there are five stages in policy formulation; but the final stage is the most important.  The first stage involved observation. An observation is made of certain development in the polity: it is either the way people drive their cars on the highways or the general social behavior of the citizenry. properly guide the citizenry. Government continues to enact policies through these processes for the well-being of the citizenry; to either promote certain development or to discourage some others. After the myriad of policies have operated for some time, they would be over-viewed to ascertain their work ability and effectiveness. the overview of a policy or a the second step in the formulation of
policy continuum is the formulation of hypothesis which is meant to explain the observation made. In economics, we observe that when prices are high, the quantity demanded of a particular commodity would fall.

A hypothesis is formulated to explain this phenomenon: that is, why should the quantity demanded of a particular commodity fall when its price rises? the third step is testing of the hypothesis, which is to confirm the validity of the explanation. If the explanation is valid, then the fourth stage is the formulation of theory. the fifth step is the formulation of the policy. Policy is then enacted to development program could be explained in another way. If you want to see the layout of a city in its proper perspective, you can climb a mountain and from there, properly view the entire ambiance. You will be surprised that some structures are causing obstructing while some are actually

promoting the environment. This is the same thing with policy or program overview. If you take a bird’s eye view of the myriad of programs initiated by the government, you can fathom out that some of the program are actually causing problems while some are actually facilitating social progress. But it takes time for any policy or program initiated by a government to cause problem because at each stage of the conceptualization of the program, government takes into consideration the well-being of the citizenry. After these preambles, I want to emphasize once again that democracy is all about the proper management of the economy to promote social progress and the well-being of the citizenry.

Administration after administration comes into governance to undertake a course of action that is aimed at promoting these social necessities. Government programs are guided and supported by policies. After a time, these programs are over-viewed to see their effectiveness in their proper perspective. Governor Ayade has, in his first term which would terminate in a few months’ time, enacted a number of economic policies and development programs that were intended to drive the Cross River State economy and guarantee the well-being of the citizenry. these programs are now being over-viewed to see their effectiveness and so justify His Excellency’s second term bid. Governor Ayade has, since assumption of office as the third Cross River State Governor in the Fourth Republic, been preoccupied with the failure of the market to properly distribute income in the economy. This is a universal problem, quite all right, but any government worth its salt can do something to ameliorate his subjects over this market failure. those who are actually engaged in the actually working of the economy earn so little through no fault of their or that of the government. Majority of the citizens of the state fall into this category of the labor force. they are engaged as peons, tilling the soil all day but earning so little.

The effect of this abysmal failure of the market is the drab in consumer spending which is affecting other sectors of the economy. So to ameliorate the citizenry against this hazard, Governor Ayade has to come up with a policy that is aimed at augmenting the incomes of these people. His Excellency evolve a policy tagged conditional cash transfer where households in the lowly income bracket are paid monthly stipends to augment their income. this program paid off handsomely as consumer spending in the economy rose, thereby encouraging investment, particularly in the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) category.

When Ayade assumed office, the state as a going concern had no asset base. the little assets that were accumulated through investment in infrastructure and corporate entities by the past governments of U J Esuene, Clement Isong and Clement Ebri were all sold out because of unscrupulous government policy called privatization of public corporations. these capitals were sold to people who could not even run them properly. the economy was, therefore, denuded of the potency of a public sector. Consequently, the Ayade administration has to embark on aggressive industrialization to revive the public sector of the state’s economy as well as the economy as a whole. Accordingly, his industrialization policy is aimed at creating infrastructure and to accumulate capital that would harness the enormous natural resources of the state. Gradually but steadily, the process of capital formation in the state is being accelerated, courtesy of the Ayade administration.

In a few years’ time, unemployment in the state would be tackled head-long. What is needed now is for us to rally around the Governor and support him for his second term bid so that his economic policy thrust could come into fruition.

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Managing Cross River During An Economic Depression

(The PPP arrangement) is the only sure way the government could develop the economy and also decouple the State in this period of depression without leaving mounting debts for the future generations of Cross Riverians.

An economy is said to be in depression when growth in some economic variables, namely income, investment and production are retarded or are completely stopped. When this becomes the case, the growth in government finances would also slow down or would completely stop since the income of businesses on which the public tax is based, would also begin to decline as tax evasion and avoidance would become the order of the day. But a government that is worth its salt would not fold its arms and allow Depression in the economy to take the wind out of its sails. A worthy government would, therefore, want to continue with its social responsibility of facilitating the growth of the economy as well as maintain laws and order. But it is quite difficult to do any of these things when there is erratic flow of revenue into government coffers. But the government that is worth its salt would devise means of overcoming the problems posed by inadequate funds. This is not to amplify the aphorism, “economics has explanation to justify every stupid action of the government”.

Without mincing words, I am bold to state that the concept of Ayade’s development agenda clearly points to the philosophy of going outside the conventional method of managing government revenue of: “collect and spend”. Even the philosophy of “collect and spend” is unattainable in an economy facing depression. In managing public finance in a depressed economy, the full Process of making fiscal choice is brought into play. His Excellency’s development agenda focuses on industrialization; but how does he go about it in a depressed economy when government finances are inadequate to tide it over its expenditure program. His Excellency is of course, clearly convinced that industrialization holds the key to the complete growth of the State economy.

He must have reasoned that the inadequacy of government funds should not be allowed to put a wedge on the wheel of the state’s economic progress. Consequently, a fiscal choice would have to be made on how to Fund the industrialization program. Consequently, the Ayade administration has begun “to think outside the box”; to borrow his fond expression. In going About this philosophy, which many admirers of his administration have christened “Ayadeism”, His Excellency has to explore and exploit the private sectors ever-growing desire to invest where the opportunity avails itself.

The public and private partnership (PPP) concept which allows government to go into partnership with the private investor in funding public sector projects is, therefore, being fully exploited by the Ayade administration.  This approach is the sure way through which the state could be decoupled by garnering enough resources that could be invested to provide the state with enough assets and sufficient social overhead capitals that should accelerate and sustain a development continuum that is inveterate. Also, through the PPP arrangement, more funds are brought into the state to reflate the economy and stimulate investments in its other sectors  which would grow the state’s gross domestic product. With more funds in the hands of the people, consumer spending would rise, which goes to stimulate production and free the economy from its inert position. I wish to assure Cross Riverians that there is nothing to fear about the PPP concept. Nobody is selling the State to any private man, whether European, Asian or African. The private investor under the PPP would provide the greater percentage of the capital, which is the essence of the arrangement in the first place; and he or she would also provide the technical Know-how for the running of the project. He or she is called the technical partner; While the government would augment the required capital and would provide the Administrative know-how (administrative partner).

The gains from the projects are often shared according to the proportion of the capital contributed by each partner. For instance, if the government provides 40% of the capital, it would have 40% of the profit; and the assets, if the project is wound up in future. Some public sector projects, however, generate benefits that are not divisible. When this type of project is funded under the PPP arrangement, the private Investor is allowed to run and manage the project on completion until such a time that the investor has fully recouped his or her financial investment in the project; after which he or she would hand over the project to the government. Examples of projects that generate indivisible benefits are roads, bridges, street lighting, etc. For this reason, tollgates are often constructed along roads funded under the PPP arrangement. The disadvantage of funding this type of project under the PPP is that the citizenry are made to pay for the benefits that would accrue from the public projects that ought to have been enjoyed free of charge.

Nearly, the entire industrial projects being undertaken by the Ayade administration are, therefore, executed under the PPP arrangement. this is the only sure way the government could develop the economy and also decouple the State in this period of depression without leaving mounting debts for the future generations of Cross Riverians

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Ayade’s Economic Agenda: Decoupling Cross River State for Greater Tomorrow

Democratic governance is all about the proper management of the economy and as well as conflict resolution. But most conflicts occur when the economy is not properly managed, such that a section of the populace might feel short-changed and would likely react when they begin to bear a greater chunk of the brunt of the poorly managed economy.

However, different government administrations adopt different approaches to managing an economy. While some administrations would want to maintain the existing level of investment and would, therefore, not expand the growth capacity of the economy, some other administrations would want to expand the level of investment and the growth capacity of the economy by discovering and exploiting new resources.

Past government administrations in Nigeria belonged to the rest category. Coal, iron-ore and crude oil were discovered and exploited by the colonial government of Nigeria which became the means of production for the Nigerian economy that expanded its growth capacity. But after these resources were discovered and exploited; no successive Federal government had attempted to discover and exploit new resources. The complacency even got to the point where the exploitation of coal and iron-ore was abandoned and the government only concentrated on the exploration and exploitation of crude oil. However, some years ago, the Federal government of Nigeria had established the Raw Materials Research Council to discover new resources.

The Cross River State government had in the 1990s also commissioned its defunct Department of Economic Planning to carry out the survey of solid mineral resources in the State with a view to inviting investors who would harness them for the industrial growth of the State. As a flash back, I want to also recall that the Dan Archibong military administration in the former Cross River State had also appointed one Prof. S. W. Peters of the Department of Geology of the University of Calabar to survey the extent of salt deposits in the Okpoma – Yala axis of the State.

All these were attempts made by government to discover new resources that could expand the growth capacity of the State’s economy. However, these exercises could not decuple the growth of the State because they could not see the light of day beyond the drawing boards.

Actually, every economy requires a leading sector that would drive development in the rest of the economy. A particular sector becomes a leading sector when new resources (that is raw materials) are discovered and their processing would act as the centrifugal forces for the growth of the entire economy. Although the Ayade administration was inaugurated, the directions of the straws flying in the winds clearly indicated that the intention of the government was to discover and develop new resources that could double the growth capacity of the State’s economy. In addition to cultivating every available swath of arable land in the State to expand the agro sector of the State, the government had also commissioned a team of foreign experts from some of the Asian Tiger nations, to explore solid minerals in the State (insert photograph of Chinese inspecting some rocks, here).

In addition to working towards the discovery of new resources, the Ayade administration is also developing a prime location that promises auspicious growth for industries into industrial estates (insert the photograph of the garment factory and other factories, here).

A new source of energy is also being developed. Thus, we have the power plant, the garment factory and the rice city.  These are the critical infrastructure that the economy requires to expand and sustain its future growth capacity. Against this background, it is my opinion that Ayade’s economic agenda is to decuple Cross River State for a greater tomorrow by exploiting new resources for production. However, I want to use this opportunity to solicit for the support and full cooperation of Cross Riverians and friends of this administration by keying into this lo y programme.  It could be through investing in the industrial growth of the State and by exploiting the newly discovered industrial raw materials. Cross River State is our baby and its prosperity is our dream. Let us nurture it together to achieve this dream. We cannot afford the luxury of sitting on the fence or dining while Rome burns. It would be disastrously suicidal if we should allow the fate that befell previous administration’s projects to also befall Ayade’s economic decoupling programme.

“…Ayade’s economic agenda is to decuple Cross River State for greater tomorrow by exploiting new resources for production.”

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