By Our Correspondent
In what will be his last independence anniversary as Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke today gave a score card of what his administration has achieved in the last eight years and urged Cross Riverians to remain steadfast and committed to the development of the state and the country.
In a state wide independence day broadcast, Governor Imoke said he was aware that this year marks the end of his administration and it was an appropriate time to take stock and reflect on realization of his development agenda.
“We know this to be a fact as this year, which marks the last year of this administration, represented an appropriate time for taking stock of our achievements in government and reflecting on the realization of our socio-economic development agenda.
“To this end, earlier this year, this administration published and publicly presented the Cross River State Scorecard. This comprehensive almanac is an affirmative record of Cross River State’s Development Performance from 2007 to 2014.
“This necessary assessment of the performance of our state is an account of stewardship designed to give all Cross-Riverians a proper and indisputable understanding of the successes recorded so far across all MDAs, the challenges to overcome, and the role each stakeholder must play to advance the socio-economic growth and development of our beloved State.”
He listed gains that his administration has made in various sectors and said those gains are perfect complements for the significant investment in the urban regeneration and rural development which will herald state-wide development.
According to the Governor, “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. Today in Cross River, we are witnessing this quantitative investment being matched by qualitative development.
“Our social and economic empowerment programs 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.”
BELOW IS THE FULL TEXT OF THE GOVERNOR’S INDEPENDENCE DAY ADDRESS.
SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR LIYEL IMOKE, GOVERNOR OF CROSS RIVER STATE ON THE OCCASION OF NIGERIA’S 54th INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY ON 1STOCTOBER, 2014
Fellow Cross Riverians,
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 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 point in the light of the myriad of challenges we are faced with today as a nation.
The security of our country in the face of indigenous terrorism, the scourge of corruption ravaging not only our public institutions but also our collective national psyche, grave questions over the control and appropriation of our national natural resources, the quagmire of constitutional issues and geo-political power struggles, the concerning rate of unemployed and unemployable Nigerians as well as the enshrinement of the rule of law as an absolute condition of our democracy are just some of the numerous trials we have faced and continue to encounter on our path to realizing the growth of our nation and the development of our people.
Nevertheless, the unrelenting tenacity and inextinguishable determination to pull through have always seen us rise above such trials. As with great countries the world over, this is an inevitability on our collective march to success. Likewise as with all those other countries, the single most important factor in this success is the will and desire to face these challenges and overcome them with a unified national sense of purpose. Never has this unified national sense of purpose been more paramount than now, in the year of our nation’s centenary.
The most important turning point for the good people of Cross River in the realization of a unified psyche was the advent of the present democratic dispensation in 1999. 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 psyche. Changes which we hope will put paid to the divisive and destructive use of ethnicity as a social construct for defining our identity as a people.
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.
Today 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.
We know this to be a fact as this year, which marks the last year of this administration, represented an appropriate time for taking stock of our achievements in government and reflecting on the realization of our socio-economic development agenda.
To this end, earlier this year, this administration published and publicly presented the Cross River State Scorecard. This comprehensive almanac is an affirmative record of Cross River State’s Development Performance from 2007 to 2014.
This necessary assessment of the performance of our state is an account of stewardship designed to give all Cross-Riverians a proper and indisputable understanding of the successes recorded so far across all MDAs, the challenges to overcome, and the role each stakeholder must play to advance the socio-economic growth and development of our beloved State.
Most importantly, it was a clear signal of our commitment as an administration to accountability, transparency, integrity and our responsibility to enlighten our citizenry and illuminate their understanding of how we have served and how much more we can do to better serve the good people of Cross River State.
Our performance speaks for itself. We are firmly consolidating our position as the premier tourism destination in the country and have laid the foundation for the development of a tourism-based economy through the development of Summit Hills, consisting of the Calabar International Convention Centre (CICC), Specialist Hospital, high-brow residential estates, four star hotel, an 18 hole golf course, mono-rail as well as the Carnival Village. Alloyed with this is the progressive partnership between Cross River State and AMCON for the operation of Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort which will improve the commercial prospect of this investment and attract a greater tourist trade.
We are also gradually transitioning from a plantation economy to a production economy as we have started to create more opportunities right across the agricultural value-chain through the influx of private sector participation. We have also supported grass-root initiatives such as the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP), the Songhai Farm Initiative and Project Awake. These initiatives would have the cumulative effect of generating mass employment, skills development as well as enhancing the overall capacity of our agricultural sector and improving the livelihoods of its participants.
We have also upgraded the access and quality of our educational provision. The Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) and the State College of Education, Akamkpa have witnessed addition infrastructure to enhance academic pursuits. We have also built and opened a new vocational tertiary institution, the Institute of Technology and Management (ITM) Ugep to enable our workforce to meet the demands of a dynamic global market for vocational skills.
Similar interventions have been made in the health sector where the development, equipping and staffing of over 810 Healthcare facilities has seen access expand to even the most remote areas of the state to meet the health needs of the most vulnerable in our society.
We have also encouraged private sector participation such as the International Specialist Hospital that is under construction and the concessioning of the management of the General Hospitals in Bekwarra and Obudu.
We have also made significant investments in upgrading our healthcare training facilities such as our Schools of Nursing, School of Midwifery and the College of Health Technology as well as meeting the necessary accreditation and quality standards for such institutions. The overall impact of these is a broader and deeper-reaching quality healthcare coverage for all Cross Riverians as a healthy population is a more productive one.
Our investments have been primarily people-centered as is the case with our youth development programmes such as the Central Bank of Nigeria Entrepreneurship Development Centre (CBN-EDC) established here in Calabar as a hub for the South-South and designed to develop the capacity of 2,000 Medium and Small Enterprises (MSMEs) and unemployed youths from the region.
To support this, over 3,000 Cross Riverian businesses and entrepreneurs between 18-45 years have been assisted by the Micro Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA), working in collaboration with the Investment Promotion Bureau.
Our comprehensive Sports Development Programme has seen the natural sporting talents of our youths nurtured and developed such that they have excelled in various National and International competitions.
To further enhance the investment climate initiatives such as the Cross River Geographical and Information Agency (CRGIA) have been launched to encourage development, promote investment and reinforce the confidence and trust of the people as well as investors in the land Management System. The digitalization of these land transactions and processes has greatly reduced time taken for the issuance of Certificates of Occupancy (C-Of-O) from 304 – 21 days.
Similarly in 2012, 200 housing units were constructed and commissioned in Akpabuyo along with the attendant infrastructure to provide low cost, affordable housing to the public sector workers in Cross River. The second phase of 410 units is under construction and is expected to be completed at the end of this year. We have also concluded plans to build 220 housing units in Odukpani, 166 in Ogoja and 130 in Ikom.
Connecting these amenities and our communities are over 1,100 kilometres of rural roads constructed through the Cross River Rural Access Mobility Project and the state Rural Development Programme. Over 200 communities have been provided with electricity under the State Electrification Programme and the provision of Potable Water has expanded right across the state with over 70% of the state’s population enjoying the benefits of these amenities. This has improved the economic prospects of our people.
Furthermore, the vast range of development projects undertaken through the State Border Communities Development Commission has seen infrastructural development reach even the most remote communities in our state, giving those communities a true sense of belonging on our collective journey to socio-economic growth.
Perhaps most important is the tangible sense of ownership which members of these communities have for the projects undertaken for their benefit. This is evident through the work of the Community Social Development Programme (CSDP) where the beneficiary communities are involved in every aspect of the execution of the projects. This is participatory governance in action.
It is important to note that we achieved these great strides not unilaterally but through a consistently collaborative effort with the people we serve. 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 and guard jealously, 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 now 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 best match of the ideals of what our founding fathers fought for and won as our independence. As we commend ourselves, we must not waver in our tireless pursuit of a brighter and better future for our state and our country.
This is a salient point after 54 years of independence and at the Centennial celebration of our nation’s amalgamation. Today marks an important opportunity for a collective introspective self-analysis of how far we have come and how much further we have to go.
As the largest nation on the continent and an apt representation of Africa, we must be determined to ensure Nigeria’s place in an incredibly dynamic and competitive world. In Cross River State, we shall vehemently protect the implementation of our social agenda to create wealth and a prosperous and harmonious society for all. We must sustain the dream of a free and egalitarian society that independence represented for the generation of our forefathers who fought for the country we live in today.
Since 1999, our state has experienced an evolution. Our people, supported by progressive governance, are more confident in their economic prospects and steadfast in the determination to achieve our collective goals. The economy of our state has been transformed from a dependency on the public sector to one which is forging ahead on a path to becoming the premier service-driven and investor-friendly economy in Nigeria.
Our progress is palpable. Our achievements are tangible. Our dreams are attainable. All we need to do is maintain the momentum of our development and remain unremitting in our desire to reach our goals.
Today we celebrate all that makes us great as a nation. We celebrate our culture, unity in diversity, resilience and optimism in reverence of the great sacrifice and unwavering determination of our founding fathers.
To adhere to that essence of reverence, we must ensure that we all are equally determined to play our part towards the prosperous growth and development of our beloved country.
Let us stand united and steadfast to confront the challenges that face us as a growing democracy and a developing economy so that the labour of our heroes past, shall never be in vain.
Let us look forward and march purposefully towards the bright future which is ahead of us.
Happy 54th Independence Anniversary!
God bless Cross River State!!!
God bless Nigeria!!!
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