Governor Ben Ayade is a Professor of Microbiology with an uncommon passion for and knowledge of the economy.
Born on March 2, 1968, Benedict Bengioushuye Ayade, ran successfully for the office of governor in April 2015 on the platform of People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Before that, he was a member of the 7th Senate of Nigeria. He was re-elected as the governor of Cross River State in the 2019. On Thursday, May 20, 2021, Ayade announced his defection to All Progressives Congress (APC) in Calabar, capital of the State.
Since he was first elected Governor of the state in 2015, Ayade has made economic development the cornerstone of his administration’s policy, deploying it as the chief driver of growth and development of Cross River state and the welfare of its people.
His 30-year Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) roadmap for Cross River state envisages “a prosperous Nigerian state with healthy and well-educated citizens, living in harmony with people and nature, pursuing inclusive and sustainable growth, moderated by good governance.” Cross River state was once classified as an oil-producing littoral state before its 76 oil wells were awarded to its neighbour, Akwa Ibom, but the Governor would not allow that setback to slow the pace of its economic development.
Governor Ayade launched the GDS to fulfill his administration’s promise of inclusive development programmes, consistent with the ideals of the universal declaration on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). His administration’s goals and prosperity aspiration is to deepen the state economy from its current N2.7 trillion GDP level to N9.6 trillion by the close of his second term in 2023.
Governor Ayade has been traversing the globe since winning a second term of office to attract investors to the state. His administration has made significant progress in creating a conducive business environment for investors by de-risking the opportunity fields for private sector investments and collaboration. His administration’s friendly collaboration with the Federal Government has fast-tracked the development processes for signature projects such as the Bakassi Deep Seaport and the 275 km super highway.
The thrust of Ayade’s administration since inception in 2015 was built around rapid industrialization of the state and building of socio-economic infrastructure. He has maintained that trajectory since his reelection in 2019.
In this regard, the administration has embarked on the establishment of a number of employment creation initiatives, namely: Cala Chika, a frozen chicken factory that processes 22,000 birds per day, a feed mill, a noodle factory, and a fertilizer plant. To ensure that economic empowerment blossoms and takes root, he began a new agro-economic empowerment scheme for the youths, known as G-Money or Green Money, which seeks to make 1,000 youths millionaires in the first instance.
The programme was designed for the empowerment of youths and creating a value chain in agriculture through a beneficiation process that allows young men to hold plots of land while the government helps them in land clearing and processing, so that the industries can now buy back the raw materials from them as feedstock. It also provides direct cash, a million naira, as take-off grant.
Then, there’s CrossRice, the state’s flagship agricultural project, a multi-billion naira project promoted by the Cross River State Rice Company Management Board, the Central Bank of Nigeria and Sterling Bank. So far, over 2,000 Cross Riverians have already been either directly or indirectly engaged in the scheme as part of an ambitious employment generation move, that targets 5000 people in the next one year, making maximum use of commercial and mechanized farming methods.
The ongoing construction of the longest runway in Nigeria at the Obudu international passenger and cargo airport is another milestone in the Ayade administration’s efforts at boosting the state’s economy.
It is on the basis of these and other landmark contributions to the economic development of Cross River State that Professor Ayade is being honoured today with Governor of the Year Award by the Top 10 magazine.