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Governor Ben Ayade’s address to mark his 100 days in office: An evaluation

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Governor Ben AyadeGovernor Ben Ayade’s [image above] address to Cross River State to make his 100 days in office is a mere farrago of words. However, I greatly commend the

Governor at least for expressing his intention to provide social housing for the poor masses. 

I hope the Governor will in the final analysis walk the talk. I was hugely disappointed that the Governor woefully and spectacularly failed to address the issue of the continued industrial action by Court workers that has totally crippled the administration of justice in the State since December 2014. 

The closure of the Courts for so long has also led to loss of internally generated revenue for the State. The State make hundreds of millions of Naira from payment of fees by litigants for the filing of Court processes such as Summons, Motions, Appeals, Affidavits, etc.

 You can imagine how much losses the State has incurred since the strike action started in December, 2014! You can further imagine how many disputes have remained unresolved since December 2014! You also imagine the sufferings of lawyers in the State as a result of the closure of the Court for the past 8 (eight) months! 

Yet the Governor says he wants to attract foreign investment to the State! No investor would put his money in a State where there is no possibility of prompt resolution of contractual or commercial issues/disputes because the Courts are shut down!

 It is well settled that there is a correlation between the Justice Sector and economic growth, investment and development! I do not know why the Governor is not just interested in ending the industrial action by Court workers? I don’t know why the Governor does not want to grant financial autonomy to the judicial branch of government in compliance with the provisions of Constitution that he has sworn to protect, preserve and defend.

This is the crux of the matter. The Federal High Court delivered a judgment that the Federal Government and the 36 States of the Federation must grant financial autonomy and independence to the judicial arm of government at the Federal and State levels. 

It was the failure of the Federal and States Governments to obey the judgment that led the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria to declare an industrial action in December, 2014. 

The Federal Government and some States quickly acceded to the demands of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria but Cross River State has bluntly refused to grant financial autonomy to its judiciary, hence the lingering strike action. 

Since Governor Ayade took over the concerted efforts to resolve this matter, the efforts have failed because of the Governor’s refusal to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that embodied the agreement reached between stake holders on the 7th July, 2015. 

Another issue that the Governor did not mention in his address is the continued deterioration of the Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja Highway that has numerous fatalities of frequent road accidents that daily occur on the road. 

The failure of so many culverts on the road has virtually led to a cut-off of the Southern part of the State from the Central and Northern parts. All in all, the Governor dismally failed in his address to give insight of the overall policy direction of his government on so many aspects.

Okoi Obono Obla; okoiadvocate@gmail.com

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