By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade last weekend signed the Hawker’s Rights Bill and seven others into law with a view to addressing “vital issues” in the state.
This was part of the activities to mark 50 years of the state’s creation where he also commended past Governors and administrators of the state for laying the foundation for the present Cross River State which he promised to improve upon despite challenges of recession, the Bakassi peninsula among others.
The other bills include: Center for Citizens’ Right Bill, Cross River State Inland Waterways Agency Bill, Scrap Regulatory Agency Bill, Lottery Board Bill, Cross River State Emergency Management Agency Establishment Bill and a Bill for the Establishment of the Cross River State House of Assembly Commission.
On the occasion of celebrating the state at 50, Ayade said that: “I feel a sense of joy. We have reasons to celebrate at 50. We must dedicate the celebration to God. We have had our fair share of challenges but we have always overcome.”
He described the day as a “special” one in the history of Cross River: “It is very epochal. It represents a new spirit and a new beginning for us,” and maintained that the state holds a “special position” in Nigeria’s history and having been the first to have contact with civilization, “We are very articulate. The state is the epicenter of conservation and tourism in Nigeria. We have done well.”
The Governor said there was no going back on his signature projects as the design had been completed with funding “not a challenge” and prayed for the recovery of Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari whom he said has been “sensitive” to the plight and yearnings of Cross Riverians.
Earlier, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Honorable John Gaul Lebo who presented the bills to Governor Ayade for signing, said most of the bills were initiated by him (Ayade) and pointed out that the 36 bills passed so far into law showed “The legislature is playing a critical role in decoupling the state’s economy from dependence on federal allocation in line with the vision of the state governor.”
The Chairman of the Central Planning Committee and former Military Administrator of Kwara State, Colonel PAM Ogar (rtd) had said cries of marginalization had led to the creation of the state alongside 11 others by the then Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) on May 27, 1967.
He said any attempt to chronicle the state’s history and put it in one document in a year will be futile as the state has a rich history and culture.
In a related development, the guest lecturer, Professor Pat Utomi failed to show up for the anniversary lecture at the Calabar International Convention Center, but a member of the planning committee told our Correspondent that it was due to issues of logistics.
According to him, Utomi had missed his flight into Calabar and choose to land in Port Harcourt and on his way to Calabar, was stuck in traffic around Itu bridge less than 50 kilometers from Calabar due to traffic gridlock caused by protesting tanker drivers.
But, the State’s Economic Adviser, Dr. Francis Ntamu, gave an overview of the performance of the Governor Ayade administration and spoke about future projections.
“The 30-year Growth and Development Strategy of the state is to make it a prosperous Nigerian state with healthy and well educated citizens living in harmony with people and nature, pursuing inclusive and sustainable growth moderated by good governance,” he said.
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