Text of speech delivered by the Governor of Cross River State
on the occasion of Nigeria’s 52nd Independence Anniversary.
On this day every year, we are compelled by pride in our nation and a true sense of citizenship to celebrate the 1st of October as arguably the most important day in our national history. We commemorate this unique day in the annals of our history with great respect and reverence for the sacrifice and struggles of our founding fathers which marked the end of colonialism and the commencement of our enlightenment as a people and a nation.
We celebrate the day of our independence and self-determination not just with symbolic pageantry and ceremony but also with great expectation and an even greater desire to ensure that we all contribute to the development of this blessed nation. It is important that this day serves as a constant reminder of this fact. We must continually ensure that the ethos of the struggle for our independence is enshrined in the national psyche for the real and tangible benefit of the generations yet to be born. This is a particularly pertinent pointing the light of the myriad of challenges we are faced with today as a nation.
The disenfranchisement of our youth, corruption and abuse of public office, arrant terrorism couched as religious tension, the devastating civil war, geo-political power struggles and the establishment of the rule of law, are all challenges that other nations have had to contend with at various stages of their development, in various parts of the world. What is infinitely more important is the will and desire to face these challenges and overcome them.
The most important turning point for our great country in this regard was the advent of the present democratic dispensation 13 years ago. Since then, we have seen significant investment not only in infrastructure but also in the people. We are also beginning to see the consequent changes in our culture and collective national psyche. Changes which we hope will put paid to the divisive and destructive use of ethnicity as a social construct for defining our national identity. With increasing investment in not just roads, schools, healthcare facilities and other physical infrastructure but also in our youth and workforce, what will become more important will be the quality and efficiency of the education and healthcare not where the teacher or doctor comes from.
Here in Cross River we are witnessing this quantitative investment being matched by qualitative development. Our social and economic empowerment programmes in healthcare, education, environmental conservation, agriculture, information communication technology, tourism and youth entrepreneurship are the perfect complement for the significant investment in the urban regeneration and rural development which will herald state-wide development.
At this juncture it is important to note that this growth and development has not taken place in a vacuum. We here in Cross River have managed to attain and maintain a peaceful and socially stable political environment which has enabled our leaders to serve us with total commitment and utmost dedication. This partnership is one for which every Cross Riverian must take great pride in, for it did not come to us by chance. It is the fruitful outcome of the deliberate and often difficult choices we as a people have made for our collective benefit.
Indeed, the political stability and social cohesion which is natural to us here in Cross River is a great luxury yet to be attained in various parts of Nigeria and even across the country as a whole. Fellow Cross Riverians, it is safe to say that we are a beacon of democratic development in Nigeria and perhaps the closest model to what our founding fathers fought for and won as our independence. As we commend ourselves, we must not waver in our assiduous efforts to improve on the status quo. This is a salient point especially in the face of recent challenges to Nigeria’s territorial integrity regarding Bakassi and how it affects us financially, economically, politically and socially as a State.
As beneficiaries of the foresight, sweat and toil of the nation’s founding fathers, it falls to this present generation of Nigerians to sustain the dream of a free and egalitarian society that independence represented for their generation,still represents for ours and will represent for future generations.Though the evolution of the ideals of a strong, united, democratic and self-reliant nation our nationalists fought for is confronted by challenges of terrorism, corruption, poverty, illiteracy, religious differences, power struggles, and the veracity of our electoral process, protecting the integrity and unity of Nigeria is paramount and non-negotiable.
After 52 years of independence and as we look forward to the centenary of our amalgamation in 2014, we must all take stock of how far we have come and how much further we have to go. Our leaders at all levels must work selflessly to give Nigeria and Nigerians a better chance at competing in an incredibly dynamic and competitive world by providing for their welfare, and creating the right climate for them to attain their potential and aspirations. In Cross River State, we shall vigorously sustain the implementation of our social agenda to create wealth and a prosperous and harmonious society for all.
As we celebrate today, we remember with pride, the nationalism and patriotism that inspired our founding fathers. They set aside their differences to secure the unity and independence of our great country and we must do the same to sustain that unity. Today there is much for us to celebrate.
Our culture, diversity, entrepreneurial spirit, resilience and ability to turn adversity into hope are all great assets which will ensure prosperous growth and development. Let us stand united and steadfast to confront the challenges that face us as a growing democracy and a developing economy by ensuring that we all play our part towards the success of Nigeria so that the labour of our heroes past, shall never be in vain.
Happy 51 Independence Anniversary!
God bless Nigeria!!
God bless Cross River State!!!
I thank you all
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