Being text of the welcome address presented by the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Eteng Jonah Williams (PDP Yakurr II) at the presentation of the 2020 budget estimates.
Your Excellency, I wish to very warmly welcome you to the hallowed Chamber of the Cross River State House of Assembly. I recall vividly that the last time you addressed the 8th Assembly at the twilight of your first term in office, Your Excellency was in a different mood. At that time, Your Excellency and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) family were on an intense campaign tour of the entire state. Even your appearance on that day depicted a General in war mood. But as a strategist and tactician Your Excellency’s effort and courage paid off as the party and its candidates recorded victory at the polls. It gladdens my heart therefore to congratulate Your Excellency and the PDP for creating an enabling environment and platform that ensured success of our party at the April 2019 General Elections in Cross River State. Honorable Members of this august Assembly collectively and individually appreciate the support and commitment exhibited by your good self, and members of our great party to seeing that we came out victorious.
It is on record that Cross River State is a PDP state and will remain so. This conviction is anchored on the astronomical and monumental achievements that Your Excellency’s administration has recorded since 2015.
Moreover, You have shown a rare form of Statesmanship in embracing all and sundry in terms of appointments, empowerment and support including those who had no faith and worked against the PDP agenda
Your Excellency’s food on the table principle (concept) has united the state like never before and it has set a new pedestal for human capital development in our state.
Permit me also to thank your dear wife Her Excellency Dr. Linda Ayade for providing purposeful leadership for the Cross River women. In her, the women have not only heard but have seen and touched compassion, goodwill and warmness.
Your giant strides have given the 9th Assembly impetus to deliver on its mandate either in Law making, representation or oversight. In so doing we are committed to working in partnership with the Executive and Judiciary Arms of Government including Civil Society Organisations, and the Press. This is in view of the fact that modern democratic principles demand that law-making should be inclusive and every voice must be heard. We are therefore poised to consult more, get to the grass roots and obtain reliable information from constituents. Elaborate town hall meetings and wider public hearings will therefore be given much attention in the next four years.
Again, the 9th Assembly is aware of the priorities of Your Excellency’s administration and this must be reflected in the laws we enact. The House wishes to join Your Excellency in making the people of the state the centre of our work. Priority will be given to strengthening service delivery at all levels. And in line with Your Administration’s Development Agenda, priority will be given to infrastructural development, education, healthcare and gender issues. Rural Development and economic empowerment will not be left out. Finally, the House will align with you to bring comfort and succour to orphans, widows and other vulnerable groups in society.
The 9th Assembly is into its sixth month since inauguration. We have recorded modest achievements in Bills received and tabled for consideration, Motions and Resolutions taken and attention given to other Matters of urgent Public Importance. And to make the House very functional, we have been able to address some problems ranging from procurement of equipment, refurbishing of existing ones to installation of new facilities. Other modest achievements include:
1. Provision of a bore hole to supply water in the Assembly complex
2. Refurbishing of abandoned pool vehicles
3. Repair of air conditioning systems
4. Repairs and servicing of generating plants
5. Purchase of computers
6. Payment of outstanding dues to the Conference of Presiding Officers of State Legislatures
7. Renovation of Assembly Clinic and Police Post
8. Reactivation of Industrial borehole at Honorable Members’ quarters
9. Repairs of transformer to ensure public power supply and
10. Payment of some outstanding liabilities among others.
We have also been able to assist our staff who are sick and receiving attention in various health facilities.
All the above wouldn’t have been achieved without the support and funding we received from Your Excellency. This support is coming despite the daunting challenges occasioned by the ceding of Bakassi to the Cameroon, the loss of our oil producing status and the illegal transfer of our 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom State. Even at this, Your Excellency has continued to excel.
Our State under Your Excellency’s leadership is once again the cynosure of all eyes. Investors are clamouring to come in, Tourists are trooping in and other well meaning Nigerians are eager and willing to either own a house in the state or visit for leisure or enjoy our rich cuisine.
You have elevated agriculture to a pedestal that is the envy of all. We have the best rice seedling and processing facilities, vitamin rich banana, citrus and cocoa whose quality speak for itself in the international market. Expansion in oil palm production has also been monumental under your watch.
In your first term, you concentrated on construction, expansion and development, and it is our hope and the hope of all Cross Riverians that in your second term, we shall be exporting.
This is why the Bakassi Deep Sea Port remains very cardinal in the 2020 fiscal year. The achievements you have made in this project are outstanding. Permit me and this Honorable House to specifically commend Your Excellency for securing the buy-in of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria Mohammadu Buhari GCFR to the construction of the Bakassi Deep Sea Port and for securing approval for the Outline Business Case from the Public Private partnership (PPP) Regulatory Commission. This is a clear indication that the project is no longer a dream but a reality.
Your Excellency, the input we often receive in the course of our legislative work gives us a clear indication of the yearnings and aspirations of our people. There is increased insecurity and communal clashes, kidnapping and cultism. The House appreciates your effort in providing basic infrastructure, quality education and healthcare, employment generation and revitalization of the state economy.
The House is therefore willing to partner and support all measures you have initiated to curb or eliminate the above social challenges including Your Excellency’s initiative in resolving interstate boundary disputes principally between Odukpani and Akwa Ibom State, Abi and Ebonyi Obudu/Obanliku and Benue State among others.
Permit me Ladies and Gentlemen to congratulate all Permanent Secretaries who have held sway in the absence of members of the State Executive Council. You have all exhibited high standards in the administration of the various MDAs and we pray you will extend your expertise and experience to incoming Commissioners, Chairmen or members of Commissions, Boards and Parastatals when they are eventually sworn-in.
Before I conclude this address, let me remind Your Excellency that the presentation of the annual State budget to the House has become exciting and special. Apart from the traditional understanding of the income and expenditure accruing to the state in the next fiscal year and the projects proposed for execution, it has become an academic exercise built around intellectual concepts and expedition. Today’s presentation will not be different.
In 2016, we had a Budget of Deep Vision which set out to accelerate infrastructure and Human Capital Development, transform agriculture, attract foreign direct investment, encourage competitiveness of private sector and enthrone transparency and accountability in Governance. 2017 brought in Budget of Infinite Transposition and in 2018, we had Budget of Kinetic Crystalization while 2019 was Christened Budget of Qabalistic Densification. We are waiting for 2020.
Having said that, May I by leave of Section 121 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as altered) invite His Excellency, Senator (Prof) Ben Ayade, KSJ to present the 2020 Cross River State Budget Address, and Appropriation Bill to the House.
Your Excellency please…
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