|Engr. Esu O. Ayara|
Not too many would remember their community when God blesses them.
Most would prefer to acquire properties within and outside the country for themselves and their great grandchildren yet unborn. But a man from Ukwa Eburutu, Engr. Esu O. Ayara prefers to touch the lives of people, especially his immediate community.
Engr. Ayara, a businessman, an engineer and the chief executive officer (CEO) of Esuvic Nigeria Limited has empowered so many youths to acquire skills. He has built very decent houses for many in his community, amongst other contributions to the development of Ukwa Eburutu. His love for his community leaves many wondering if he intends to run for a political post. Currently, he, alongside his brother, Prof. Ndem Ayara, is constructing a 30km road in Ukwa Eburutu to ease the transportation problem of Ukwa Eburutu.
In this interview with Obio Monday, the Editor-in-Chief of Grassroot Reporters, he reveals why he embarked on the project, the need for government to assist and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Grassroot Reporters: The people of Ukwa Eburutu have been neglected by both the federal and state governments and it’s good that there are individuals like you who are doing the little they can for their communities. What really prompted you to come in and help your people?
Engr. Ayara: This problem our people are facing did not start today. I want to bring the issue of my late father into bare. He actually had problem in going through the other road. He only comes to the village during the rainy season when there is water in the creek where boat can take him to the beach. Because of the problems he had over there, he promised that he will not be alive and continue using the other road, not until he died, we now took the other road with his corpse and we had serious problems with the people over there. So, looking at the problems my people have been having with those at the boundary, I discovered that it has to do with road. They just believe that no matter what happens, we’ll still go back to them one way or the other, by passing through their place before we come to our village. I feel we’ll have freedom, I feel we’ll be liberated if we have a road of our own. That motivated me, together with my brother (Prof. Ndem Ayara) to go into this project.
Grassroot Reporters: What’s the cost implication of this project because I understand projects like this most times are done by federal and state government because of the high cost.
Engr. Ayara: Actually we are yet to come out with the total sum because the project will have to be in stages. What we have done now is tracking/tracing and bulldozing to make sure we create an access for other equipments to come in. So, we’ll go into grading, culveting and bridges. The engineers are busy calculating the cost at the different stages.
Grassroot Reporters: Are there plans to tar the road?
Engr. Ayara: Yea, if possible, it will be tarred but we also intend to plead with the local government, state government to come in and assist because we are part of Odukpani and Cross River State.
Grassroot Reporters: So far is there any support from state or federal government, and if no, in what area do you think the federal, state or even the local government can come in to assist for this project to be actualized?
Engr. Ayara: For now there is no support from any other quarters except myself and my brother (Prof. Ndem Ayara). Though we have not actually made the appeal to these quarters that you have mentioned but we feel in due course, when we are through with the bills and quantities and so on, we’ll have to document everything because when you are asking for help, you should be able to give all the necessary information pertaining the project or what you want to do?
Grassroot Reporters: Some people believe that the main reason Ukwa Eburutu doesn’t have access road is because of the river that divides us from the other side of the Cross River. Also, the route of the road being constructed is an area that overflows with water during raining season, how do you intend to solve this? Or is the road only for dry season?
Engr. Ayara: There will be fillings and embankments in such areas. Some we’ll have to do casting; you know the embankment has to be casting or stone work, so that the overflow will not wash off the laterite or materials that will be used for filling. On the issue of the river dividing us, that has happened in different part of the country. River Niger, Benue… The solution is bridge. So it is not an impossible thing for a bridge to be constructed. But at our own level, we have started planning for a pontoon that can cross vehicles and people to the other side until when the government comes in to give us a bridge.
Grassroot Reporters: Some have said the reason for your numerous philanthropic and humanitarian gestures is politically motivated. Do you have any intention of contesting for any political post in the future?
Engr. Ayara: I’m not into active or partisan politics. I’m an engineer, a businessman… That does not stop me from coming out to stand for my people. It may not be as a politician but in any other capacity, I can always come out to stand for my people.
Grassroot Reporters: What other challenges are Ukwa Eburutu people facing and what message are you sending to government to assist in helping to solve these challenges?
Engr. Ayara: In fact, there are a lot of neglects. When you look at the community, you’ll find out the way they are faring. The duty of government is to provide infrastructures and certain amenities that would alleviate the sufferings of the people. Apart from amenities, infrastructures, institutions that will help the people from that area get employment. Our area is a conflict area that people of other state are daring to take over. So for people to remain there and protect the land, there should be something that would keep people there; I mean something that will sustain them. Without that, you’ll see people moving away from there and we don’t want that to happen. We want people to live in their ancestral homes and carry out their legitimate businesses and thrive on that land and come out successful. We want Cross River State government presence in Ukwa Eburutu. Our place is a unique place. At times people say it’s a difficult terrain, yes it is but in it, we see lots of prospects. The area can be turned into a relaxation spot, a tourist centre. Even the river, government can set up a resort there with a five star hotel that even those outside the state can come in to rest there.
Grassroot Reporters: What’s your assessment of the present government after 5 years in office?
Engr. Ayara: I’m not in a good position to assess the present government because before you assess somenone, you must look at the funds coming in that would enable him carry out projects because as I look at it, Cross River is a civil service state. The monies that comes in goes into salaries and very little is left to projects. So I don’t have facts and figures to assess the government.
Grassroot Reporters: In view of the outbreak of Covid-19, are you satisfied with the way the pandemic is being handled in the state?
Engr. Ayara: Yes, I think this is one state that allowed the people to survive, because in .different areas, hunger can even kill and not the covid-19. So what the governor has done here is a more civilised way of making people to be aware of what the pandemic means, how to go about the situation. The governor has handled it very well.
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