By CrossRiverWatch Admin
The 29th day of May, 2018 is exactly 19 years as Nigeria and her citizens got unfettered from many years of jackboot military dictatorship on May 29, 1999 as democratic cultures and principles were once again established in our political clime and space.
Inspite of the many nerve seizure and breaking experiences which the fledging democratic experimentation has consequently unleashed on the people of the country, the various antidemocratic assaults and missiles of different range have not been able to shoot down the democratic flight on board all the democratic institutions to scuttle the mission.
Rather, the democratic mission has continued to push on undeterred, thereby securing 19 years of unbroken civil rule today.
We in CrossRiverWatch heartily congratulate Nigerians and Cross Riverians in particular for having faith with democratic culture for the past 19 years.
We are equally of the opinion that Nigerians deserves patting themselves on the back and celebrate for the democratic journey so far, though a far cry from that which is desired.
CrossRiverWatch equally wants to charge our people to appreciate the fact that the worst democracy, it is said is better than the most munificent dictatorship, which feeds the people with bread of sorrow and binds citizens down as servitudes with weapons of terror to deter them from revolting or embarking on anything.
We want our people to also know that the worst democracy with a dictatorial leader in any country still has an edge over dictatorship secured through the nozzle of the gun, coup d’état because there will always be a fixed tenure and a day for the people to exercise their inalienable right to change their leaders especially evils ones by voting them out. It is true that all over the country, some appreciable development in all spheres of our national life have been recorded.
Then narrowing down to our beloved state, Cross River, we in the CrossRiverWatch team, want to stress the need for the people to appreciate the noticeable progress that has been recorded from 1999 to date and to realize the fact that hitherto to the introduction of the present democracy in Cross River which Mr. Donald Duke emerged as the Governor, the state was abysmally and pejoratively referred to as one of the “Civil Service Oriented States” in Nigeria with nothing particularly outstanding outside being noted nationally as a state with beautiful women and a rich cuisine.
It is our candid opinion that the Cross River state narrative however began changing for the good with the pragmatic leadership of Donald Duke with his aggressive marking and opening of the state as an investment haven for investors with emphasis on the tourism industry.
During his tenure, the state became known as the tourism destination of not just Nigeria and West Africa but one of the best in Africa, as the Duke’s leadership purposefully and pragmatically laid solid foundation and took the industry to a height never before known in the history of the state and even the country, as the name of the State became synonymous with tourism, leisure and pleasure.
To attract tourists to the state, Duke revamped, renovated and lifted the standard of the famous Obudu Cattle Ranch and renamed it the “Obudu Ranch Resort” and constructed Presidential lodge, International Conference center, expanded residential and lodging facilities, camping facilities and bee farming activities as well as constructed the longest cable car in Africa to ease transportation issues.
Besides the Obudu Ranch resort, the administration of Donald Duke also brought to fruition the Bebi Airstrip that was planned long ago during the second republic when the son of the state, Senator Joseph Wayas was the Senate President. Duke equally constructed the Buanchor canopy walk way, the marina Resort, the Tinapa business and leisure resort, attracted many hotels, motels and other hospitality industry investors to establish their presence in the state besides the introduction of the Africa’s largest street party, “Carnival Calabar,” as it was he who also mooted the idea of the Calabar monorail which his successor, Imoke started but completed by Ayade.
We strongly opined that Duke deserves a place in our heart for leaving a bold imprint in the history of the state in terms of noticeable development which adds to the many achievements recorded in the state within the 19 years so far of democracy. We remember that it was Duke Administration that established the Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH).
CrossRiverWatch equally recognizes and appreciates the developmental giant leap achieved by Duke’s successor, Senator Liyel Imoke, most importantly in the areas of deliberate and aggressive rural transformation program which saw the construction and asphalting and bridging of several rural roads, renovation and construction of several education buildings and facilities as well as over 400 health facilities and centers.
We also salute the Imoke’s administration for the massive electrification programs, especially for the rural areas of the state where more than 60 percent of our people reside.
Under Imoke, the state also benefited greatly from the dividends of which unbroken democracy can afford with his construction of the Calabar monorail and Calabar International Convention Center (CICC), both massive and capital intensive projects which are being completed by the Ayade’s leadership.
Senator Imoke, by our own estimation did well for establishing the Obudu International Mountain Race, the Calabar Monorail, Calabar International Convention Center (CICC), for sustaining Carnival Calabar started by Duke and for his well-structured method of governance and administration of public office in the state, among others. It was Imoke who also reestablished the Cross River College of Education, Awi in Akamkpa.
CrossRiverWatch is of the view that while the first of the three leaders from 1999 till today, Duke’s development stand post was established unequivocally on tourism and hospitality industry, investment drive and pragmatic leadership, and his successor, Imoke’s legacies stands tall in the area of aggressive rural transformation, emancipation, education and health innovator and as a great administrator, the last of the trio, Governor Ayade’s tripod development agenda in the areas of massive industrialization; infrastructure development program; agriculture and agro-allied revolution and total welfare program hinged on massive jobs; health program (AYADECARE), standard and qualitative education, shouts loudly to the world.
We commend the Ayade’s administration for the massive industrialisation programs as seen by the Calabar garment factory, the Calabar pharmaceutical company Limited, the Ayade Industrial Park housing the Rice Seedlings factory, all at the verge of completion; the cocoa processing factory at Ikom, the ultra-modern automated rice mill at Ogoja, the Odukpani banana plantation , etc. focusing on the agriculture sector.
It is equally our candid view that Ayade has taken the right step in the right direction by making the development of infrastructure one of his cardinal focus with his signature projects (Bakassi deep seaport and the 275 km Super highway), the Calabar haulage city and the planned new cities across the state.
Indeed, the AyadeCare program centered on health, renovation of health centered and schools, building of Canadian school in the state, improvement in the state’s rating in WAEC and NECO, provision of scholarships, prompt and regular payment of workers’ salaries are some of Ayade’s programs that revolve around social welfare of the people, among others.
While we agree that the 19 years democratic journey in the state so far has been appreciably reasonable in term of development, we however, strongly assert that we still have a long way to go and that the present administration is saddled with the onerous task to not only complete the projects it has started but to leave the state a much more better place in all ramification than it met it.
Truly we are not yet there but we have certainly started the journey and in the right direction and all that is required is altruistic and patriotic governance on the part of those in power and sincere support from the citizenry.
Congratulations to Cross Riverians, as we look forward to more celebrations under the democratic rule.
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