Former Secretary of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and a chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State, Bobby Ekpenyong, is alleging that the administrations of Donald Duke and Loyel Imoke incurred huge public debts despite selling the state assets.
Speaking against the backdrop of the current political situation in the state, Ekpenyong, who is also a former Special Adviser to the Governor on Obudu Cattle Ranch, claimed that Cross River has not made any meaningful progress before the administration of Ben Ayade, who he claimed is changing the economic landscape of the state.
According to him, the governor in the past seven years has shown a different type of leadership from what we have known in the past by moving the state forward and building factories despite the huge debt burden.
He said the present administration is faced with unusual leadership style where its all about politics, grading of roads, tarring roads or building of school compared with current broad vision of industrialisation and empowerment.
“During the South Eastern State where Cross River state was part of, we had critical assets that this state was generating revenue from and also taking a chunk of our youths to work in them.
“We had the oil palm estates in Akamkpa, Biase and Boki, we had the rubber estates in Akamkpa, Yakurr, Biase, we had the Calcemco which is now Larfarge, we had the cocoa plantations in three LGAs. These were things that took a lot of our population out of the labour market jist as these estates and plantations gave us huge revenue.
“Before the Ayade administration, the past administrations sold off every critical asset that we had in the state. So, if you have an industry and you want to change a business model, do you sell an industry that is not producing money and use the money to go and build stadium where football matches will be played how much will you make from it that is what we have had in cross river state.
“We lost our industries because we could not run them but if you are selling why don’t you retain a stake so that you can still be generating revenue.
“Ayade came in as governor of the state but before he came in, we sold all these critical assets and then depended on federation account as the main source of income for the state.
“Because you have sold these critical assets, your revenue will surely fall and for that our internally generated revenue fell drastically because we were no more in control of the things that used to give us revenue even if they were run by individuals.
“What did Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke administration use the money for?
“Rather the past administration collected huge loans allegedly amounting to N400 billion for infrastructure development that none is working today. Again, where are the things they used the money to do?
“But Ayade came in and with the pains of paying loans taken by the previous government still has the intellectual ability to generate money and run the state and then building industries in all the local government areas of the state. So, one can rightly say that Donald and Imoke caused our present predicament and not Ayade”, he stated.
Ekpenyong, who is one of the aspirants for Calabar Municipality/Odukpani Federal constituency, maintained that the present administration may not complete all these factories but added that some of them are are 80 percent completed.
He added that the State Privatization Council will bring in investors who will now come and invest, run and employ indigenes and then we still retain a stake in these industries, adding that Ayade government has done much for the state in the area of industrialisation even as the benefits of these industries will not be seen during the lifetime of the administration but after his administration we are going to appreciate it.
According to him, these industires, if they become functional, they would generate PAYEE and income taxes just as the indigenes are going to get employment and earn a living from all these factories, thereby changing the political and economic landscape of this state.
He added that the governor’s movement to the centre is borne out of his sincere love for the state having known that Cross River State as a very disadvantaged state and will not be able to survive as an opposition state.