Nigeria’s political structure is faulty, says Ayade
Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Benedict Ayade during a media interaction in Lagos recently said although he is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he however needs to align with the Federal Government to get certain things done because of the political structure which the country operates. He also explains why he extols President Muhammadu Buhari. SEYE OLUMIDE was there.
Cash crunch and performance
When things get so tough, when the economy is slowing down, the normal convention is that government must cut down the costs, so government ordinarily is supposed to downsize, reduce the number of ministries, cut down allowances and salaries to be able to get out but that actually is not the right way to go.
From what I understand, it is at such times that government should be socially sensitive. At this period of cash crunch, is when we have increased our number of ministries from 18 to 28. So I would rather increase the number of commissioners. And this is the best story we would have imagined. It is consistent with this because as young people get unemployed, as the cash crunch bits harder, people would look for alternative to survival, there is the survivalist system, which pushes them to a level when criminality begins to manifest, then we have social tension, so you spend more on security, which is a non- productive aspect. And so you are just scrupulously playing round the clock.
This is when people are supposed to consume more. And so we are definitely a ballooned government, expanding within the beacons of what is financially possible, to expand government to expand consumptions and that is why Cross River is going to have a very high number of appointees at the political level. And so we must understand that at the point of financial crunch, government needs to expand to take care of the people until the economy begins to buoy and as it begins to buoy, the government shrinks and private sector takes over. That is the course we are taking in Cross River State.
Cross Rivers is not a poor state
I believe the greatest asset I have got before the people of Cross River State are my history, my character and my pedigree. The people know what I inherited, but I remain strong, because despite the challenges, the sate remains rich, strong and great. If I don’t have the ideas, then I can say Cross River is poor, how can Cross River be poor with 123km of Atlantic Coast, with huge deposit of gold, bronze, tantalite and kaolin? I can go on and on. How can Cross River State be poor when they have most civilised souls, a people that are very refined, emotionally stable and poised, people who are not aggressive and materially crazy? How can you have such a rich heritage, people of such distinctive character of honour, then you still say the state is poor? The state is blessed with such abundant human resources. So for me, I believe we inherited a very rich state.
What has been the problem that characterises Nigeria’s political landscape is that politics is a lifestyle; it is not a call to service. At the end of an election, I am eager to partner with the national government to do the best I can for my state. In the absence of a President, I cannot have an approval to do a deep seaport. In the absence of a President, I cannot secure for example any form of a sovereign guarantee in case I am seeking a facility. You cannot run a regional government without a relationship with the centre. Besides, my political philosophy is focusing on character, integrity of a leader.
We need the support of media
At this point in time, I need the media to give us support to achieve those projects that otherwise looks impossible for us to achieve. Little did I know that what I conceived as a dream would have the endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is known for his discipline and for his words; so for him to give his commitment to commission our project in Cross River is an indication of his commitment. He has not just stopped at that. The president also made arrangement for a team from one oversea country to look at the Super Highway and the Seaport and think of the ideas of the partnership they can bring. This same projects today have enjoyed such a popular support that we have $10billion being put aside that we are investing in the port. Today we have investors.
Alleged PDP governors that are planning to defect to APC
As to why about three PDP governors are singing praises of President Buhari and hoping that this does not suggest that probably I am one of those governors who are pushing to defect to the APC is a good question because it gives me the opportunity to do a little clarification. There are no ideological or philosophical differences between the PDP and APC. You are dealing with a nation that is at a basal living, hunger, pain, poverty and infrastructure. Whether PDP or APC, what we seek to address at this point are those fundamental needs. Maybe in the next 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years, we would have risen above those challenges of basic survival of living, then there would be an ideological difference. Until you get to these issues party is just a container, a vehicle that conveys people to position of authority.
But more importantly, politics ends at the poll, after which governance starts. As a regional leader, who leads a region called Cross River State, I need that fecundity with the national government to be able to sustain growth in my state.
What has been the problem that characterises Nigeria’s political landscape is that politics is a lifestyle; it is not a call to service. At the end of an election, I am eager to partner with the national government to do the best I can for my state. In the absence of a President, I cannot have an approval to do a deep seaport. In the absence of a President, I cannot secure for example any form of a sovereign guarantee in case I am seeking a facility. You cannot run a regional government without a relationship with the centre. Besides, my political philosophy is focusing on character, integrity of a leader. If I see that a leader is doing well, and looking at his right policy, focusing on backward integration, I would celebrate and not condemn him.
Nigeria runs a faulty political structure
Nigeria runs a faulty political structure. We spend too much time doing politics. Immediately after my elections, all I do is to focus on governance. That is why I don’t get involved in politics. The time of politics will come; it will ultimately lead to your re-election and until it comes, focus on your business, the business that you sought to be elected as governor. Focus on governing the people and bringing the dividends of democracy to your people. I believe strongly that celebrating President Buhari for his statesmanship, I have not done enough because I know the wire line politics that was tending to stop you from that, if he is not a statesman.
In fact we have chosen a wrong system of government, the Presidential System that gives room for elections upon elections, which allow politics to be played all through. We have more stable economies, Germany, China and on and on. We are using a most classic system adopted by fully developed economies. We are on the pedestal, yet we are still picking the same model as theirs. It is a wrong model. I have been in the Senate, I know how difficult it is to get a bill passed because the reason, the basis, the arguments are not focused on issues or subjects but on ethnicity or what I stand to benefit.
At all times, we are more emotional than ideological, why would a country like this run a vertically, mechanically, politicised system when you can’t even afford means of production. Your people are hungry. So the President has much to do. Nigerians are hungry; the media has much to do, because it owns the conscience of the masses, it is the intelligential that are supposed to educate the people.
You have done your bit but I think you can do more because where we are now is where we have been since 1999. One of our major problems in the political landscape is, no matter how you talk, no matter the amount of grammar you speak in a political landscape, no matter how brilliant you are, without dropping money, nobody sees you as doing anything. So the only persons who can educate, for them to feel the impact of a working government is the media.