Looking at a King’s mouth, one would never imagine he ever suckled at his mother’s breasts. Indeed, this age-long axiom holds so much veracity in the life and times of Senator Benedict Bengiousheye Ayade, a Professor of Microbiology, Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and incoming Governor of Cross River State.
It is said that the heights that great men achieve, are never attained in one day, nor do they come on a platter of gold; but they, while others slept, burned the mid-night oil in the focus and determination to be relevant to their society someday. Little wonder the Bible also admonishes us not to despise “the days of little beginnings”.
Kakum, a little village at the heartland of Obudu becomes for us the Bethlehem of sorts, where on 2nd March 1968, a little boy was born to the family of Mr. Peter Akinsheye Ayade and wife Beatrice, both of them devout Catholics. Little Benedict received his early formal tutelage at St. Stephen’s Primary School Obudu, from where he proceeded to the then famous Government Secondary School, Obudu.
At Obudu, where he grew up, young Benedict lived with his parents, his father a public servant with the Water Board. Living among the rural folks, Ben witnessed pain, poverty, frustration and deprivation first hand; he learned how to run in the sun and hunt game with his peers. Brilliant, focused and determined, Ben loved his family, respected and obeyed his teachers, elders and superiors, and trusted his friends. The personal of the quintessential humanist, socialite and future philanthropist had been implanted in the young mind.
Then, like Gabriel Okara’s “call of the river Nun”, the quest for the Golden Fleece and greener pastures beckoned and took control of the young enigmatic character. And so, from Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma (1984-1988), where he took his B.Sc Honours degree in Microbiology, to the University of Ibadan (1990-1994), where he bagged his Ph. D and won the Best Doctoral Dissertation Award in Environmental Microbiology, and finally to Delta State University, Abraka, where he was appointed Professor, there has been no looking back for the ebullient scholar, teacher, great inventor, accomplished politician and philanthropist.
Like a Prophet without honour at home, Professor Ayade’s research interest in global warming in Africa took the world by storm, when he was invited and honoured by the Japanese government for what was described as “an outstanding research” coming from Africa. The significance of the award by the Japanese government was a tacit endorsement of the University of Ibadan authorities, who, a decade earlier, had adjudged Professor Ayade’s doctoral research as “ground breaking”.
Having distinguished himself in his personal endeavours as highly successful and target-oriented, the stage was perfectly set for political adventure. He was appointed Chairman of the State ecological fund, Chairman International Institute of Environmental Research and a member of the State Poverty Alleviation Board.
Seizing the gauntlet, Professor Ben Ayade took the political stage by storm, when in April 2011, under the platform of the PDP, he beat old time political greenhorns in the Northern Senatorial District of Cross River State to become a member of “the Red Chamber” of the 7th National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The icing on the cake was his emergence four years later, as the PDP gubernatorial flag bearer and subsequent winner of the April 2015 governorship poll in Cross River State. This major political upset proved bookmakers wrong n many ways.
With a successful private life, buoyed with a vast business empire spanning agriculture, construction, transportation and the hospitality industry among others, analysts believe that Professor Ayade’s sojourn into big time politics id driven by his passion to give back to the people. With his “politics with ethics” mantra, Ayade is a man always driven by empathy to uplift the most vulnerable members of the society.
He is happily married to Linda Ayade. Ayade’s hobbies include reading, playing or watching games and dancing.
As times and seasons pass, history will be kind to this hitherto “inconnu”, this gentleman who, out of sheer hard work, resilience, exceptional courage and the leading of God, has been able to position himself as a charismatic leader, to help pull others way from the rubble.
Ben Ayade Biography and Profile (Ben Ayade)