By Our Correspondent
Immediate past governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, was yesterday given a hero’s welcome back home at his Itigidi, Abi Local Government Area, country home after eight years of service as governor.
Led in a procession-like walk from his residence to Community Secondary School, Itigidi, venue of the reception and recognition, by a vast concourse of enthusiastic and ecstatic elders, market women, age groups, youths, as well as cultural troupes bedecked in traditional regalia, chants of “Ete Aman Afor”, meaning, our father has come back home, renting the air.
Welcoming guests and visitors alike, about five hundred meters away from Senator Imoke’s home were colorful banners with inscriptions such as ‘Ete Aman Afor’, ‘Welcome home our illustrious son’ by Efa Age Grade, ‘Welcome back home after a spell of meritorious service to your state and country’.
Like a new bride being unveiled for the first time, everyone scrambled not only to have a glimpse of the former governor, but touch the helm of his garment, with several of the youths carrying him shoulder high and occasionally throwing and catching him midair.
For the community, his return is as gallantry and triumphant as that of a warrior who went, saw and conquered and deserving a carnival procession befitting his great and uncommon exploits.
Reminiscent of a retiring Field-Marshall, several gunshot salutes were fired intermittently to announce his arrival home.
In attendance at the reception were politicians including senators, House of Representatives members, House of Assembly members, the Chief Judge of the State….., traditional rulers and others from different walks of life.
Lauding Senator Imoke for what they described as his outstanding and unparalleled achievements and service to the people of Cross River State, President of Itigidi Community General Assembly, Elder Edward Elemi Ikpete, said: “We have observed with great delight the extent of development executed in the state by your administration. These developments have given a face lift to all communities and local governments across the state, of which Abi and Itigidi in particular are parts of. We also thank you for your achievements and magnanimity to mankind as well as your immense contribution to the growth of society and welfare of humanity.”
Speaking on behalf of the traditional rulers, Paramount Ruler of Abi, His Royal Majesty, Ovai Usa Solomon Osim, said: “You are indeed our illustrious son. We are very proud of you and we declare that even now that you are out of government, we are with you and anywhere you go, we will go with you. You have represented us well as a worthy ambassador would represent his country. Thank you very much.”
Also praising the former governor, His Royal Majesty, Evaluate E.E. Imong IV, the Ezibebe Ezekpan Abama, said: “We honor you today and thank you for not only building society but also building capacity. You have made millionaires out of many who never thought it possible. You built generation of future leaders and entrepreneurs.”
Responding, Senator Imoke thanked the people for the honor done him. He said the recognition meant more to him than anything else.
The former governor said he deliberately choose to develop the rural parts of Cross River with the provision of roads, water and electricity, adding that those are the people who need government the most.”
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