From Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Cross River state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, has extended the referendum on provision of state assest by two months to ensure greater participation by Cross Riverians.
Ayade had a few months ago mandated the Privitisation Council to conduct a referendum on the privatisation of about 34 state industries across the state.
The referendum seeks to gauge the opinion of indigenes of the state on whether industries constructed by his administration should be privatised or not.
Ayade, who gave the extension order on Thursday in Calabar when the Technical Team of the Privatization Council gave a presentation of about 34 industries to be privatised by the council to make for optimal output, said the extension is to ensure that the government is on the same page with the people regarding the future of the industries.
He said although refrendum is not a requirement of the Privatization Law, but that there is need for the council to return to the streets, local government areas, creeks and riverine communities carried along..
He said: “If we truly need their contributions, then we must do it with all sincerity and professionalism. Our
people must be properly carried along. I cannot take a decision based on what you have given me because the opinion is based on that of a few people.
“More Cross Riverians must be given the opportunity, more field responses must be taken, more people must participate in the referendum exercise.
“We are ready to put in more money to ensure you increase campaign and awareness on the streets, in the markets as well as all the communities and local government arrear. They must be effective public awareness.
“I am not playing politics with this. We should not be in a haste to get it right. I need to hear what the people want. If they say they don’t want privatisation, after my tenure I will pack my bags and walk away.”
According to Ayade, “The 2001 privatisation law gives me the authority to call up private investors myself but I said no and I decided that we do the right thing which is to actively involve the people and get their opinion. That is what we must do.
“I want to see you in the market places, I want to hear and see sensitisation, I want to see the real participation as our people are filling the questionaires so that history will know that we really consulted the people,” he said.
Earlier in his remarks, Chairman of the Privatisation Council, Mr John Odo, said thia is the first time in the history of privatisation in Cross River that the people will be consulted in this manner.
He added that the move was in tandem with the governor’s principle of ethics, transparency and accountability, adding that the pricisation is in pursuance of good governance and to positively impact on our people by improving their standard of living.
Acxording to hijacking, the established industries are having the challenge of management thus the privisation.