Breaking: Ayade Frees 5 Death Row Inmates, 29 Others

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By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent

Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade during his statewide broadcast to mark Cross River At 50 where he granted clemency to 34 prisoners including 5 death-row inmates on May 27, 2017 (Photo: Govt House Calabar/Dan Williams)

Been the text of Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade statewide broadcast on occasion of Cross River At 50 celebration on May 27, 2017.

My dear people of Cross River State, it is with boundless joy that I address you this morning on the occasion of our Golden anniversary as a state.

On this day May 27, 1967, our identity and our aspiration as a state was realized. We were full of hopes and dreams as we danced in elaborate and radiant celebration of our collective identity.

As a people, a new brand was born as we a new journey that ultimately defined and set us apart as a state. It was a journey which destination was uncertain but a future full of promise.

My dear people of Cross River, in spite of the grave challenges that have beset us as a state; we cannot disregard the fact that we have cause to celebrate our statehood and even a greater cause to look forward to a brighter future.

Indeed, this is a momentous occasion when we need to pause and appreciate who we are, where we are, and to reflect on the reassuring possibilities that lie ahead. There is certainly much to celebrate: our heritage, our strength, our unity, our resilience, our poise, our vitality and panache.

In fifty years, we have in several respects, accomplished heights and imponderable feats that we should collectively be very proud.

Today there is no mention of Nigeria without the mention of the huge natural forest, the Cross River National Park, which provides over 58 per cent of the entire forest cover for Nigeria, therefore, serving as a mother state in terms environmental protection.

Furthermore, we hold many diadems as precursors and progenitors of great accomplishments such as the first capital for what was then the Southern Protectorate; the first monorail in sub-Saharan Africa, the Calabar International Convention Center, arguably the best in Africa and the Calabar Garment Factory, which is the biggest single floor garment factory in Africa.

You cannot discuss Nigeria today and indeed Africa, without the mention of Cross River as the epicenter of African warmth and hospitality. Our tourism industry has also birthed such offerings as the Carnival Calabar being Africa’s biggest street party.

As a people, we have blazed the trail and continue to set the pace in a number of ways in the country. Our clean and green environment continues to set us apart.

Urbane as a people, civilized and graceful in character and in conduct, we are what every society aspires to be.

So as we roll out the drums to celebrate our golden jubilee, let us not forget the heroic deeds of our leaders. For without them, our story will be incomplete.

Fellow Cross Riverians, as we march into another half a century, let us do so with hope, pride, confidence and optimism that our story tomorrow will be loftier than yesterday’s.

Today signifies the beginning of a greater tomorrow.

For as we gaze into a new horizon, we see the actualization of the deepest seaport in Africa, the Bakassi Deep Seaport; we see the realization of the most digital evacuation corridor, the 275 kilometers superhighway; the crystallization of the most sophisticated rice seedling center in Africa and many other ambitious projects that would ultimately alter our narrative as a state.

All we have to do to actualize these lofty goals is stick together, working in harmony with a singularity of purpose.

It is therefore, imperative that we forge a common front in our collective desire to completely re-brand our state.

Fellow Cross Riverians, in the spirit of the celebration and in the exercise of the powers vested in me under Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I hereby grant clemency to the following categories of prisoners;

5 prisoners who are on death row

16 prisoners serving life sentences

4 prisoners who are above sixty years of age

9 convicted prisoners who are terminally ill and may likely die if not granted pardon

The names of the beneficiaries shall be made public later today.

My dear people of Cross River State, once again, let us together thank God for our beautiful journey in the last 50 years, as we look forward to a glittering future.

Thank you and God bless.

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