Fellow Cross Riverians, in 2007 I received your mandate to serve as Governor of our great State and at that inauguration ceremony I set out to strongly emphasize a clarity of purpose for the Government despite the prevailing uncertainty of the circumstances at the time. This ethos was founded on certain fundamental tenets.
Firstly my administration firmly believed, and it still does today, that Government should always be there for those who need Government the most. Improving and upgrading education and healthcare facilities as well as providing infrastructure such as road, water supply and state-wide electrification remain integral to our objective of social transformation.
Secondly, my administration also believed, as it still does today, that Cross River State should be positioned to eventually become a self-sufficient, dynamic and competitive, non-oil dependent economy for the 21st century. In other words, our economic growth shouldn’t solely be a factor of a single natural resource but should emanate from a range of economic activities. Given our geographical location and proximity to our better endowed neighbours in the south-south region, it was imperative as it still is now, that we work to create a conducive business and leisure environment which will be attractive to investor and tourists alike.
Thirdly, we were motivated by an immeasurable and inexplicably profound drive to deliver for the people of Cross River. However, achieving this delivery required a complete re-think and consequent overhaul of our models of governance and administration. We had to operate with processes which were consistent with transparency, due process, openness, accountability and effective governance.
With these as our working principles, we swiftly commenced work undertaking very crucial and important programmes directed at transforming the urban and rural communities and bringing quality and affordable education and healthcare as well as other necessary social amenities to our population. We have been able to, against not so insignificant odds, record significant achievements which have served to strengthened and embolden us both as a Government and as a people to keep the march towards social and economic development going.
The renewal of our mandate is testament to the satisfactory achievements we have gained together thus far and the overwhelming nature of this renewal is a clear confirmation and further attestation that we are moving in the right direction on this most important journey which we have embarked upon. The popularity of this joint agenda rather than waning after the first term seems to be on the rise as reflected by the enormous outpouring of support and affection which we received during the campaigns. All across the state our work is rapidly and radically converting people to believe that their dreams for Cross River State can be a reality in their own lifetime. The great news for Cross River State is that WE WILL DO MORE! And with this renewed mandate, the season of transformation continues.
Of course we have our critics but we completely and whole-heartedly embrace the criticism and view it as an opportunity to espouse and impart optimism. Not just by words but also by our deeds. As a government, we have an unspoken, immensely-important social contract bound by trust, with the people we serve. In years past, that contract had been breached and the trust misplaced. However, with the onset of democracy in 1999, we all, as a government and a people, started the collaborative process of repair. This revolutionary process of rehabilitation has meant that the link between the people and THEIR government grows from strength to strength. My administration will never take this for granted. We will endeavour to ensure that the trust you have bestowed on us is never misplaced.
This is why we intend to vehemently pursue our Economic Blueprint which was conceived in good faith to enhance the lives of Cross Riverians and will be executed in the same vein to achieve the intended successes. The crux of the economic blueprint is that it harnesses our strengths and resources and improves our competitiveness. Beautiful vegetation, a rich terrain, a hospitable and peace loving people steeped in culture and harmony with their environment. We decided to develop agriculture and tourism and on this foundation generate income, employ our youths, develop our infrastructure, health, education and commerce. The blueprint is a well-articulated, holistic credo for the development and manifestation of the “New Cross River Project”. The foundation had been laid in the last dispensation and we are vigorously building upon it. Calabar has fast become the tourism capital of Nigeria and with tourism assets spread across the state, the people of Cross River are certain to benefit from our popularity. Our achievements in attracting investment and industry as well as adding value to our dominant agricultural sector are obvious and speaks for itself. Indeed through deliberate government policy these initiatives have started creating and retaining wealth for Cross Riverian entrepreneurs who in the past few years have become key participants and beneficiaries of government contracts and the other commercial and economic opportunities in our state.
All these achievements could be considered laudable and may have attracted many plaudits but what matters to my administration is the real impact it is having on the people of Cross River and the complimentary social transformation which is taking place concurrently. Today, our youths are increasingly gainfully employed, cultism is virtually extinct, our schools are proper establishments of learning, our teachers are better equipped to meet the challenges of their vocation, we are positively intervening in the lives of the most vulnerable in our society and through our various social welfare programmes, giving them the social security they never had and never thought they would get. Today, we can boast of the only local government in the country to record a zero infant and maternal mortality rate in the year 2010 -2011. As we have continued to improve our people’s lives, we have also sought to qualitatively improve their living environments. More communities, both urban and rural are seeing more electricity, potable water and pliable roads than ever before in Cross River State. This is the essence of Government. This, my people, is why we will continue to work to serve you even better. Mark my words, THE BEST IS YET TO COME!
It is no wonder that Cross River is amongst the top states in the country for engaging investors and global development partners. This has been particularly enhancing for our efforts at developing parts of the state as commerce and business hubs for certain industries, expanding entry at all levels into the agricultural sector and most importantly, aiding our efforts at environment conservation and forestry management for which we have received significant global recognition.
Fellow Cross Riverians it is clear that the New Cross River is a palpable and tangible reality and it is being achieved with your collaborative efforts. My emphasis on collaboration cannot be understated. Every single one of you is a partner in this progress. You are as much a stakeholder and beneficiary of the process as you are a worker in the process of its realisation. Perhaps the most telling sign of this relationship with the people is evident through the levels of participation we are witnessing in the process of democracy. At every ward in every local government area of the state, people are engaged. Gone are the days where the process of representative democracy was riddled with apathy and disenfranchisement. Today, Cross River presents the model of democracy and electoral integrity in the country. This is confirmed and commended by the arbiters of the process. The commendation is for you, the good people of our great state.
Cross Riverians, there is a time for everything and this is our time. The work we embark on together today will reap rewards for the generations to come. When history chronicles this crucial juncture, it will establish our efforts as profound and vindicate our sacrifices as necessary. We will be remembered in gold as the partnership that forged the new Cross River. Let us all together march into this next dispensation filled with hope and optimism that the Cross River of our dreams is here for us to live in.
Let those who have good ideas about how we can better serve our people come up with them and we shall together work towards building a strong and virile State. The voice of the people, their hopes and aspirations will always speak to our conscience as leaders and louder than the din of narrow interests. We
will continue to strive in good faith to build a state that is ever moving forward toward realizing the full potential of its citizens. There is no better time than now to be Cross Riverian.
Once again, we thank you all for the support you gave to me and my team. If we did well to earn your support and mandate we pray that during the course of this tenure and even beyond we remain deserving of same and may the glory in this term be more than the former.
Finally, let me conclude by appreciating my immediate predecessor, the Rt. Hon. Larry Odey, the Acting Governor during the period the Supreme Court ruled that my tenure ended in May, 2011, for his exemplary character and maturity with which he steered the ship of State during the period. May the experience garnered in the process enrich his outlook as he returns to lead the other very important arm of our Government – the Cross River State House of Assembly. I wish him the very best in all his endeavours.
I thank my family and friends for their support, I also acknowledge the support of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party. But most importantly, I want to thank you, the good people of Cross River for giving me the opportunity to continue to serve you and do more for you. Together we can create a Cross River that future generations will be proud of. Our time is now.
Thank you and God bless you all.