Profiles of new governors-elect (4): Benedict Ayade (Cross River) –PDP

Benedict Bengioushuye Ayade was born on March 2, 1969. He studied at the University of Ibadan, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma and Delta State University, becoming a lecturer. An environmental consultant, he was appointed Chairman of the Ecological Fund, Chairman of the International Institute of Environmental Research and a member of SPAC. He worked on Groundwater Remediation in Nigeria, and invented a sewage treatment plant based on solar energy. He won an award from the government of Japan for outstanding research into global warming in Africa. He became a member of the Nigeria Association of Petroleum Engineers and the Cross River State Poverty Alleviation Board.

Ben Ayade became a PDP chieftain in Cross Rivers state and was a member of the Strategy Committee in the government of Senator Liyel Imoke, whose election as governor was nullified in 2008.

In the January 2011 PDP primary elections, Ayade was reported to have defeated Senator Gregory Ngaji‎ to become the candidate for the Cross River North Senatorial seat. In fact, his opponent was incumbent member of the House of Representatives Paul Adah, whom he defeated by 626 against 211 votes. Ngaji did not compete in the primary, and said he supported Ayade.‎

Later that month it was revealed that Ayade was being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ‎(EFCC) for allegedly swindling JM International, a Korean company of $250,000. A petition was submitted to Independent National Electoral Commission‎ (INEC) to investigate the matter. There was also an allegation that Ayade donated N20 million to the campaign fund of Cross River governor, Liyel Imoke‎, in violation of the Electoral Act. ‎In response to the second allegation, in February 2011 a Federal High Court justice in Calabar ‎granted an order of interim injunction restraining Ayade from presenting himself as a candidate and barring the INEC from accepting Ayade as a candidate of any party. Eventually, both allegations were found to be untrue and the case was thrown out in court.‎

Ayade was popular with young voters. He had been criticised as being arrogant due to his wealth and academic background. A report before the election noted that he had no serious competitor in the race. In 9 April 2011 elections, Ayade gained 91,123 votes. His closest rival was Patrick Agbe of the Action Congress of Nigeria‎ (ACN), who received 11,056 votes. Benedict Ayade was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology. He is also a member of the Senate Committees on Education, Marine Transport, Petroleum Downstream, and Drugs, Narcotics, Crime.‎

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