Cross River Governor Ben Ayade broke down in tears this week. Here's why a bucket was needed in govt house, Calabar.
Cross River State’s N1.3 trillion budget is called ‘Budget of Kinetic Crystallization’.
For context, Ayade's budget is the biggest by a single State in Nigeria's history. Only Lagos comes close in 2018 with a budget of N1.04 trillion.
Ayade’s budget is ambitious and ambiguous. The Governor seeks to achieve what no other Governor before him has achieved, hence the tears.
Cross River Commissioner for Finance, Asuquo Ekpenyong, explains why it was an emotional moment for Gov Ayade.
“This budget is intended to crystallize and implement the visions that have been so far formulated by the administration. We are entering the fourth year, so this is the time to deliver on the mandate and the promises we made to the people”, Ekpenyong said.
Eyewitnesses who were in the room as the budget was signed, tell Pulse that Ayade was overwhelmed with emotion after signing the budget. He thereafter shed tears and pleaded for God’s intervention towards the successful implementation of the budget.
Regarded in certain quarters as a very dramatic dreamer who fancies erecting castles in thin air, Ayade divides opinions in Cross River.
After shedding gallons of tears on Tuesday, Ayade handed over a signed copy of the budget to a pastor who attended the budget signing ceremony.
The unnamed pastor then led the room in prayers and supplication.
Ayade explains why his emotions got the better of him on a humid afternoon in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
“This is the first trillion Naira budget by a State government in the annals of Nigerian history, and therefore it is unique and ambitious and intended to decouple the state from dependence on Federation Account”, Gov Ayade said of his budget of ‘Kinetic Crystallization.’
“The philosophy behind the budget is the spirit of we can do it and create a new vista, thinking and horizon that would take us out of the woods. It is high time we brought to an end the civil service status mentality we have found ourselves in by thinking outside the box,” Ayade added.
Cross Riverian Braide says Ayade’s ambitious 2018 budget isn’t his first.
“Ayade had shocked many when he presented a budget estimate of NGN1.3 trillion on November 30, 2017 and despite mixed reactions trailing the figure, the House of Assembly passed the budget with almost no alteration a few weeks ago”, Braide says.
She adds that “in 2016, Ayade presented a budget of N301 billion called budget of “Deep Vision”. In 2017, he presented a budget of N701 billion called “Infinite Transposition”. And in 2018 we are having a N1.3 trillion budget of "kinetic crystallization". Not one detail available.”
A chunk of Ayade’s trillion Naira budget will go into the construction of a superhighway that will criss-cross Calabar in the South of Cross River to Obudu and Ogoja in the Southern fringes of the State.
Environmentalists say the 275km Cross River superhighway will destroy the famed virgin forest of the State and lay waste to plenty of flora and fauna.
Cross River is a mostly agrarian State with all of its oil wells ceded to neighboring Akwa Ibom. That means very little in terms of internally generated revenue and allocation from the center.
Not a few have wondered where Ayade will get the N800B ($2.6B, 2.3B euro) needed to fund the superhighway.
Soon after he resumed office in 2015, however, Ayade vowed that the expensive superhighway will be his legacy to the people of Cross River.
“If after four years I have not achieved the superhighway I promised, then I am not Ayade. I am going to shock the country. I promised that I will deliver. I will not fail the people. I will work hard to wipe out poverty in the State. I promised God I will do everything possible to help my people. That is what I owe God", the Governor had vowed.
Estimated revenue from internal sources to fund the N1.3tr budget is N40.7 billion. Cross River is expected to receive N67.7 billion as federal allocation in 2018, which brings total revenue needed for the budget, to something in the region of N108.5 billion.
Less than half of N0.3trillion is expected as actual earnings receipt but the ambitious budget sets aside over N1.1 trillion for implementation of capital projects.