My fellow Cross Riverians,
I wish to start by expressing my gratitude to all of you who have travelled from far and near to grace this historic moment in the annals of our State. I feel so humbled and honored by your response to my invitation at a very short notice. This is quite exhilarating and I am deeply touched by the huge sacrifice of your time.
We have all come together here today for a reason. Your coming here is not so much about me than it is about the demonstration of the love that you and I have for our dear State. I have no doubt in my mind that you are here because of your burning desire to see a better Cross River.
I believe that our gathering here is borne out of our collective conviction that in the midst of the seeming despair in our State at this time, there can be hope.
We are here today because in spite of the ruinous cloud of mis-governance that has enveloped our State in the last three and half years, we still believe in the power of our own redemption. It is my firm belief that we will be leaving this place with the resolve to work together as party men and women to make that redemption possible by nominating me in our party’s governorship primaries as the flag bearer for the 2019 general elections in our State.
My dear compatriots, needless to remind you that our beloved State is facing the worst form of misrule since its creation on 27th May, 1967 from the then Eastern Region. To this end, we will be keeping a date with destiny as a people in the next general elections in 2019.
Perhaps there has never been anytime in our history that the consequences of our decision to choose who to lead us as a governor will be more weighty, dramatic and consequential.
Our State is standing on the threshold of history. We are on the verge in which all socioeconomic indicators are getting dangerously adrift amidst the huge potentials our State is endowed with.
As a party, the decision on who will lead us in the contest against the apparent underperformance of the incumbent government in the State is particularly critical because of the enormity of the confidence our people have already reposed in us as a better alternative to take on the gauntlet of their rescue from the prevailing decadence.
We cannot afford to gamble with the choice on who should lead the pact in the task of redeeming our State from the present quagmire. It behoves on our party to build a workable consensus and good synergy to tackle the chronic leadership failure that we have in our State at this time.
I recognize the fact that the task ahead of us won’t be a tea party but I also know that it is achievable – the current administration in our State is vulnerable on all fronts.
But I make no pretence that it will take a combination of the grace of God, tremendous commitment and utmost dedication for us to arrive at our set destination. It will entail that the once divided house of the All Progressives Congress in Cross River State should stand together in unity, sincerity of purpose and unwavering faith.
Against this backdrop therefore, I stand before you with a deep sense of responsibility on this day, Wednesday September 5th, 2019 to formally declare my candidacy for the governorship of Cross River State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
I am propelled by a call to duty without preconceived notions and after wide consultations across the length and breadth of the State I arrived at this decision.
There is no presumptuousness in my desire to seek to fly our party’s flag in the February, 2019 governorship election in our State.
I have been long enough and garnered adequate experience in the political terrain of our State to understand the peculiarities in the dynamics of governance and the vacuum of leadership that needs to be filled at this time in our history.
The audacity in this announcement today is founded on my ever increasing passion to offer competent and meritorious service which our State is in dire need of. We are facing the greatest crisis in leadership in our State today.
However, the good news is that I have been tested, trusted, well prepared and armed with a well thought-out socioeconomic development blueprint which I will be unveiling in the days ahead to fill the void.
In the last three and half years, our people have been treated to an orgy of failed promises, empty rhetoric, mere soundbites and a clear lack of policy direction to build our local economy.
The brave efforts that were made by the last two administrations to put our State on the path of progress have been drastically eroded by the unprogressive tendencies of the current government.
The strides that were made to set our State on the status of a work-in-progress have been roundly degraded. Cross River State has been running on a reverse gear since 29th May, 2015.
Our State is blessed with boundless opportunities and enormous potentials to become a vibrant and self-sustaining local economy in Nigeria. We are endowed with tremendous human and natural resources that we could leverage on to metamorphous into an enviable height of socioeconomic transformation.
Unfortunately, our State is still groping in a downward spiral trend of unsustainable debt burden, poor infrastructure and a low human development index. There is a huge deficit in our educational system in Cross River State. Today, we are becoming more acutely disadvantaged in terms of educational development.
The reality of the deplorable condition in which our school system has been subjected to is unworthy of a democratic and progressive society. I am aware that the situation must change. I know that the current situation is straining, dislocating and inhibiting the human capital potential of the entire State. The reality is that the situation will deprive our State of the human resources that could otherwise contribute productively to the edification of the future of the State.
So, it is time to act and I will do so with utmost commitment and result-oriented strategies.
I will bring our educational needs to the forefront of public concern through a deliberate policy roadmap thereby evolving a new context in which there will be a broader attention on improving the infrastructure of our schools, equipping school libraries and engaging in capacity building of our teachers through a train-the-trainer’s program particularly at the primary and secondary levels.
I will engage all stakeholders in our educational system and build a renewed culture of commitment and dedication for a dramatic turnaround within two years of the administration. I will place great emphasis on technical education and knowledge based learning.
Our state owned University and other tertiary institutions will be given adequate attention to ensure the development of our manpower needs and prepare our young people for the challenges of the 21st century and the coming 4th Industrial revolution.
I have resolved to build, consolidate and enhance our development initiatives on the back of our factor endowment in agriculture, human capacity through skill acquisition and tourism with a good focus on ecotourism.
To this end, we shall group together our socioeconomic development measures into a single model of bottom up approach which would incorporate each of the focal areas of our concern as a people. The integration of such measures and perspective in our economic drive would ensure a genuine cohesion in government action in the realm of a holistic and inclusive development of our State with the rural areas well captured in our development agenda.
I want to run a government that future generations will be proud of what we have. On that note, my administration shall develop an agenda with a clear direction on the sustainable use and management of our forest resources.
My administration shall make an inclusion of distinctive measures in policies, strategies and sectoral action plans in our socioeconomic affairs that would nonetheless engender appreciable progress in the quality of government’s intervention in critical sectors of our local economy.
Our idea is to cascade Cross River State from the current undesirable state of avoidable deprivation and handouts-laden political jobbers to a full blown sustainable job and wealth creation economy within a record time of 3 years while leveraging on our abundant factor endowment of both human and natural resources.
We shall adopt a full court press strategy with an industrial policy that would drive the value chains of some of our factor endowments in agriculture and a broad spectrum of other areas in which the State has a comparative advantage such as solid minerals to national and international reckoning.
The state shall make use of information technology (IT) as a key driver to re-energize and rapidly transform governance in order to effectively interface with the people and meet their needs. My administration shall ensure an expansion of the skill and career development opportunities of the state civil service which is actually the engine room of government by improving on the management and use of IT within and among ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
In this regard, systems, standards and procedures shall be developed with shared ideas and experiences that would promote practices and provide innovativeness in service delivery to the people. In the same vein, I am determined to run an open, transparent, honest, inclusive and accountable government with an avowed commitment to deliver service and loyalty to the people.
The government under my watch shall encourage, nominate and sponsor some of our civil servants and public office holders to attend advanced management or technical programs within the state, around the country or overseas to build capacity to deliver on the mandate of their offices and fit for purpose as the 4th Industrial revolution arrives.
My style of governance shall be participatory and needs driven. In which case, I shall institute regular interface and interactions with the people through town hall meetings and statewide electronic media chats to keep the people abreast of government programs in order to get their buy-in, suggestions, opinions, feedbacks, and general assessment of our deliverables.
The major consideration for appointments and promotions into critical government offices shall be competence, experience and track record. Nepotism and clannishness shall be eliminated from our governance structure.
The government I seek to lead shall establish clear internal control and accountability measures that would foster efficiency in the management of State resources. There shall be a monitoring and evaluation (ME) framework that would serve as a barometer to gauge the applicable performance in the implementation of government policies and programs against set objectives. This is necessary with regards to sustainability, modification, adjustment or termination of any government program.
My administration will introduce new initiatives to increase our internally generated revenue and properly extend our tax dragnet while we maintain very friendly tax regimes. There shall be an adoption of sound and innovative debt management strategies to ease cash flow problems and reduce the current debt burden.
For me as a Christian, the greatest test for an employer of labour is seen in the Scriptures where it is written in 1 Timothy 5:18 that, ‘Thou shall not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And labourer is worthy of his wages.’
The current situation in our State where pensioners, our senior citizens who worked so hard during their youthful years to bequeath us the legacy of a peaceful society are now treated with so much disdain is outrightly unacceptable.
Even with the receipt of the Paris Club refund and bail out funds from the Federal Government, is it not an aberration that our pensioners are still being subjected to such harrowing experiences of nonpayment of their entitlements? Indeed, our aged people are being traumatized by this government. I am aware that many of them have died in the process. What did this government do with the money without clearing the backlog of arrears being owed our pensioners? This cannot happen under my watch as the governor of Cross River State.
I shall honour the valor of our aged who gave their years of strength as a blessing to our State. On assumption of office, I shall reform our pension process and our pensioners will be given priority attention by paying their gratuities and other outstanding benefits. Our civil servants and the entire workforce under the State Government should be rest assured of better times ahead with the regular payment of their salaries and that their promotions will come with immediate implementation of salary increase commensurate to their status. I promise to run a labour friendly government in our State.
I believe that we won’t get far without developing an entrepreneurial mindset in our young men and women. My government shall encourage and inspire the establishment and growth of small businesses by organizing training programs for our young people to take on the challenge of entrepreneurship and credit guarantee schemes will be made available for their takeoff.
They shall be closely monitored and given the desired motivation until they are well established to stand on their own. I shall promote the establishment of cooperative societies in both our rural and urban centers to encourage our people to do business together drive our local economy.
I shall also encourage Cross Riverians to participate actively in the control of major aspects of our local economy. From my findings, I feel very sad that no Cross Riverian is a major distributor or dealer with UNICEM and some major business concerns domiciled in the State. I shall reverse this ugly trend by getting some of our people involved in the major distributorship and dealership of these companies by guaranteeing credit facilities for them, availing them with the necessary training and putting in place adequate internal control mechanism for the repayment of the loans.
Youth and sports shall be given adequate priority. Our youths must not be allowed to get so entrenched with the handouts mindset. Sport development is a veritable tool to engage our youths and help them channel their energies productively and make good progress in life. My government shall be deeply involved in grassroot, primary and secondary schools sport development programs to source for talents and get them developed to participate in major sport tournaments nationally and internationally. Youths with other innate talents like music, dancing, acting etc shall be sourced, encouraged and established.
Our Healthcare delivery system will be given topmost priority through increasing Healthcare Centers with up to date equipments and trained personnel, as well as Health Insurance Scheme.
I shall work closely with our security agencies to ensure security of lives and properties, as well as the peaceful coexistence of people within the State. Government shall introduce proactive conflict prevention and conflict resolution mechanisms to stem the incessant communal conflicts within the State and between communities in the State and communities in neighbouring States.
A financial re-engineering process will be put in place to re-negotiate some of our loans with banks, plug leaks; and external transformation grants will be sourced and invested in building our human capacity and the development of our ailing infrastructure. With a well articulated economic blueprint and policy direction tagged: “Social Empowerment And Economic Development Agenda (Seeda)” that I will be unveiling in the coming days, our development partners who left the shores of our State because of the lack of direction of the incumbent government will be attracted back to the State.
I intend to replicate the Rwandan model to attract external grants for the development of our State.
Calabar shall regain its pride of place as the capital city of the State and the seat of government with a well thought out master plans. Mini flyovers and pedestrian bridges will be constructed at some busy locations to ease traffic during rush hours and peak periods of the day. Effective environmental sanitation framework shall be set up to restore the cleanliness of the city. Ikom shall be remodelled as a major border city to Central and East Africa to take on the status of the commercial nerve center of the State.
One of the great places that have marked us out over the years as an outstanding state is the Obudu Mountain Ranch Resort which has become moribund under the current administration in the State. The government under my leadership shall source and engage international hospitality consultants and companies to run the Mountain Ranch Resort on a concessional basis.
In same token, the Donald Duke Bebi Airstrip shall come back on stream. The status of Ogoja as a former provincial head quarters will be restored. No less attention will be given to other emerging towns as hubs for the rapid development of our state.
Our beloved State has gone from being the shining light of tourism and cleanliness in Nigeria to that of moribund projects and very unkempt State capital. But hear me today, with my candidacy our days of redemption and restoration are nearer than we can ever imagine!
The prospects for a thriving Cross River State, away from crushing poverty and deprivation is within our grasp with me at the helm of affairs. I see a future of endless possibility for our State with me as the governor.
I am contesting this election not merely to hold the high office of a State Governor, but to work together with you to transform our State and restore its lost glory in record time.
I want to fly our party’s flag in the next governorship election and win to put Cross River State on a sustainable and high growth path.
I want to win the next contest for a better Cross River. That’s why I am asking you all here today to join me in this onerous quest to redeem and restore the lost glory of our beloved State.
God bless the All Progressives Congress!
God bless Cross River State!
God Bless you all!
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