There was drama recently in a Catholic church in Cross River where an outspoken cleric, Bishop John Ebele Ayah, the metropolitan bishop of Uyo Diocese, rejected a cash gift from Governor Ben Ayade.
The occasion was the thanksgiving service at St. Patrick Catholic Church, in Ikot Ansa, Calabar, in honour of Justice Emmanuel Agim Akomaye who was elevated to the Supreme Court, Business Day reports.
While Ayah, who was the officiating cleric, was presiding over the service, Governor Ayade made a donation of N25 million to the church on behalf of his family and the state government.
But making the donation, Ayade, turning to Ayade, said:
“For our pride, the pride of Cross River North, the son of the soil, Bishop John Ayah, I will whisper my package to him later.”
In a quick response, the Bishop took the microphone and told the governor to take the money, add to it and use the sum to pay workers’ salaries, a position which was hailed by congregants who said, “Correct Bishop, God bless you!”
“I want to talk. The governor is my brother. We are both from Cross River North. I want to appreciate the governor and tell him to package whatever he has for me, add to it, and use it to pay the salaries of the workers.”
Sensing the apparent embarrassment, the governor replied by saying that the fund for workers’ salaries is ready and that his administration has been paying civil servants for seven years.
Ayade was quoted to have said:
“The salaries of the workers are already ready. Let me say this government has been faithful in paying salaries for seven years upward. The people will appreciate Ben Ayade when he leaves office.”