No nation, and by extension no State, thrives without thinking, dreaming, working towards and actually actualizing its industrialization potentials. Indeed, functional industries can be said to be the hub of development at all levels of governance.
In Cross River, it took the conscious efforts and determination of the governor, Prof Ben Ayade, to literally place the feet of the state on the path of industrialization. He foresaw what had been thought of as an impossible venture in the history of the state. His larger-than-life aspirations and expectations would, over time, see the state birthing gigantic, ultra-modem industries like the Rice Processing Mill in Ogoja, and the Rice seedlings industry in Calabar; Cocoa Processing Plant in Ikom, Calachika and Calapharm, the poultry and drugs manufacturing industries, respectively in Calabar; Paradise Toothpick Factory in Ekori; and lots more.
The beauty of these industries is that their location takes a Principal Law of Economics into reckoning: nearness to raw materials. Obviously, Ikom, being a large cocoa producing area, alongside its neighbours – Etung, Boki and Obubra – it is only proper that such an industry be located there. Likewise Ogoja and rice, Yakurr and bamboo, and the metropolis, Calabar, with its need for processed poultry and medications.
Only a man with a vision in the range of Prof Ben Ayade could have made the newly unfolding vista in Cross River possible. Given the paltry revenue that comes into the coffers of the state From the federation account, and the barely there internally generated revenue, no one would have blamed the governor if he had chosen to fold his arms, doing nothing but lament the situation of the state he was elected to govern. But the erudite professor chose to don his thinking cap and go beyond the ordinary. He chose to step out of the box. As a matter of fact, he created his own box and not only determined, but worked towards achieving what is good for the state.
Today, in the reckoning of the world, Prof Ayade, a multiple award winning governor, has performed magic. Where there is no money, he has worked in the realm of what he termed “intellectual money.” With this, he has taken governance to heights unprecedented, especially for a state which people had thought of only in the realm of the civil service and bureaucracy.
In Ikom, chocolate is being made from cocoa. Whoever would have thought this was possible for Cross River State? Whoever would have thought of industries that would utilize raw Materials from our own farms? Whoever would have thought that our cocoa, which had to pass through other states, states which claimed credit for its production, would be turned into edible, exportable products? That is the ingenuity of our governor at work.
Our rice which used to also go through our sister state and be credited as “Abakaliki rice” can now be processed, branded and packaged as Made in Cross River State. The implication of this is that not only would Cross Riverians eat what is produced from and on their own soil, but earn revenue from selling to others. Positive pride can certainly not come in a better form!
That is why Cross Riverians should appreciate their Governor, the erudite Prof Ben Ayade, for setting in motion machineries that would, in no distant future, see the state as a have that is beneficial to not only indigenes and residents, but the world at large.