By Frank Ulom
The senator representing Cross River State Northern Senatorial District in the National Assembly, NASS, Sen. Jarigbe Agom has alleged that former Governor Ben Ayade looted the state in his 8 years of ruling.
Jarigbe who stated this in a social media post on Wednesday (24 Jan. 2024), added that the former governor should be in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC net, answering questions about embezzlement of funds from the state’s treasury.
The former Federal House of Representatives Member, representing Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency also claimed that Ayade is lobbying for ministerial appointments which is laughable.
He said Ayade, who also represented the people of Northern Cross River in the Senate from 2011-2015, used the food-on-the-table faux to deceive Cross Riverians while looting massively.
“It’s only in Cross River State that a Governor will loot for 8 years, without completing one known useful or functional project and walk away proudly without a probe. That is what gives him the impetus to be lobbying for a ministerial appointment. Do we know how many lives we have lost to maladministration and deprivation of the people to satisfy other people’s quest for primitive acquisition? How many of the food-on-the-table beneficiaries are sure of their next meal today? It was just a manipulative ploy to distract our people because of the fear of hunger.
“We compromised our future and development of the State for Rice and Beans. What was the percentage of the total income of the State, spent on food on the table? It was a very negligible percentage. Where did the rest of the funds go to? How is the new Government taking off? Was there anything left in the Treasury of the State? The Anti-Graft Agencies should answer Cross Riverians. It is time for us to ask questions and it’s time for answers to be given. What happened to the litany of Petitions before EFCC?” – Jarigbe posted on his official Facebook page.
His input has generated lots of comments, with former aides to Ayade coming for his defence.
One of Ayade’s former aides, Egbelo Ntebri Edward, said: “Thankfully sir, you are not the sitting Governor and I can’t remember him complaining of meeting an empty treasury. The former Governor and the sitting Governor are still in very good terms. Gov. Otu has seen the records and he understands how difficult the job was for Gov. Ayade due to meagre resources. He celebrates him every day. This comment of yours will not spoil the good relationship they have built for years before you moved into the National Assembly. Same you celebrated Ayade when he refused to go the way of violence to resist what happened during the last National Assembly elections in the North.”
Responding to Egbelo, Jarigbe said: “Egbelo Edward Ntebri, it’s not about Gov Otu. It’s about the State. You are my Constituent. Hold me responsible for non-performance and tell where I have diverted what is meant for the people. We can engage. The State does not belong to the Governor. It belongs to all of us, including you. People serve and leave but the State remains.”
Egbelo further replied to Jarigbe, saying, “Sen. Jarigbe Agom, if there’s any evidence of misappropriation of funds during his term as Governor, EFCC is there! Why the media trial?”
Another former aide to Ayade, Eugene Upah, who came for his defence, said: Sir, you have always said ‘no man is God’. The former Governor has played his part and left office. Let Ayade be.
“In 2022 when he vied to be President, you were the first to come out and openly ditch him as a sitting Governor. Severally, you spoke to the number man in the State without regard. It wasn’t about the office again but about your personal dissatisfaction with him.
“If there’s anything to go by it should be the incumbent Governor talking about State resources and writing to the anti-graft Agencies.
“If the Governor who is in the best position hasn’t complained about missing funds who then should?
“Anytime the man raises his head you will come with one of these stunts. In as much as l understand this is about the politics of 2027 Cross River North doesn’t belong to anybody.
“We have had Senators Kanu Agabi, Unim Musa Adede, Greg Ngaji, Rose Oko etc before now and none of them remained there.
“Let Ayade be!”
In his reply to Upah’s comment, Jarigbe said: “Eugene Upah, the funds of the State don’t belong to the Governor. Do not misinform the gullible ones. The funds belong to the people of Criss River State and I’m not ready to be part of those who willingly acquiesce their rights. You cannot run the State like a private enterprise, leveraging on the Mandate of the People and you say we should put our hands together for you.
“The Election is over. I defeated him because he was rejected due to his abysmal performance. I also won in all the Courts, even with all the funds available to them. Is that not a good lesson for you? I will leave as Senator but without my conscience haunting me because I will not cheat my people. After serving Ayade for so many years while in Office, I hope you can tell yourself the truth that you are fine today, even when ur Boss has what he doesn’t need. Where do u live in Calabar and what happens to the mansions in State Housing Estate, under lock and key? Just vanity. Food for thought bro.”
Also, Abang Ogon who served as SA Students Affairs to former Governor Ayade, said: “Dear Sen Jarigbe Agom, Sir, You may need to walk away from yesterday, It seems you are still living in the past, in your last post you already confined Former Gov.Ayade to the dust bin of ‘Political Oblivion’, why are you so concern about a man you have already written off? As regards former appointees not being sure of their next meal, I have seen Former Rep members and Senators equally groping for survival after office, you presently have some of them on your payroll, even salaries from the best jobs around town won’t last forever if not properly Invested, you have defeated Ayade, just free yourself and move ahead else you allow activities of yesterday to get a better part of you, Move ahead Sir, Just Move ahead.”
CONVERSEER reports that Ayade was governor of Cross River State from 2015 to 2023.