By Chidi Onyemaizu
In the words of Warren Bennis, “leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
A character and personality critique of a frontline presidential aspirant of the All progressives Congress (APC) and the governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade establishes him as clinically encapsulating Bennis’ treatise on leadership.
Ayade as governor has transformed into reality, a vision of a society where ethnic and religious faultlines can be effortlessly bridged, where tongue and teeth can live peacefully in joy and in brotherhood, a society where an economy can be created from ground zero through the deliberate recalibration of factors of production and a new lease of life created for the people.
Indeed, a thorough perusal of every chapter of Professor Ayade’s political and academic Odyssey profoundly recommends him for the office of the presidency of Nigeria, as the man Nigeria needs as its leader at this critical juncture in its chequered history.
This Presidential hopeful who has reinvented Cross River is a unifier of interests and a welder of disparate ethnoreligious and cultural cleavages. His predisposition to patriotism and nationalism is very evident. He is a pan Nigerian, a man who sees Nigeria as his constituency, a man who speaks and understands Nigeria’s major languages and is at home with all Nigerians of different cultures and religions.
This is reflected in the composition of his cabinet.
Essentially, as a detribalised Nigerian, Ayade’s cabinet is comprised of Nigerians of diverse cultures and tribes. He is the only Nigerian Governor whose cabinet is a microcosm of Nigeria. In Ayade’s cabinet, you have Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa/Fulani, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Nupe, Ijaw etc, many of them holding strategic and sensitive positions.
Nigeria needs a personality of Ayade’s character trait, temperament, education and worldview as president come 2023 to bring about an exhilarating freshness to the polity.
In the economic sphere, here is a man with a deep knowledge of the Nigerian economy; one who understands the workings of the micro and macro economy indices.
Ayade understands that for the Naira to appreciate, Nigeria needs to be self-sufficient in food production instead of spending scarce foreign exchange importing foods.
It is Ayade’s economic philosophy that Nigeria should transit from an importing and consuming nation to an exporting nation to earn dollars.
He has understudied the economic models of developed nations whose industrial strides were ignited by the industrial revolution of 1760 which began with agro industrialisation because agriculture itself does not create jobs; what creates jobs is the value additions that are brought to agriculture.
This explains why all the industries Ayade built across the 18 local government areas of Cross River are agro allied.
A very learned person, Ayade is sufficiently equipped with the necessary academic qualifications to superintendent over a complex and diverse country like Nigeria.
Ayade’s sterling leadership qualities can also be gleaned from his succession plan for Cross River. His choice of successor speaks to how tidy and organised the governor is.
Of course, he has picked a governorship candidate for APC who is loved, accepted, rated and venerated across party lines and across Cross River’s diverse ethnic society.
APC will be shooting itself in the leg; it will amount to self-immolation for the party if it fails to crown this goldfish from Cross River as its presidential candidate. Ayade is simply tailor-made for the high office of the presidency of Nigeria!
Chidi Onyemaizu is the Senior Special Assistant on Print Media to Ayade