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Cross River residents shun celebrations, cite poor infrastructure, others

By Anietie Akpan and Tina Todo, Calabar
02 October 2019   |   3:23 am
Most Cross River indigenes shunned the October 1, 2019 celebration of the country’s independence anniversary in Calabar, citing lack of good roads, electricity, hospital facilities, water supply, poor salaries, and food, insisting that there was nothing to celebrate.

[FILE] Cross River State governor Professor Ben Ayade

Most Cross River indigenes shunned the October 1, 2019 celebration of the country’s independence anniversary in Calabar, citing lack of good roads, electricity, hospital facilities, water supply, poor salaries, and food, insisting that there was nothing to celebrate.

The 12, 000 capacity U. J. Esuene Stadium was almost empty except for a handful of school children and government officials who sat in the cover stand.

Curiously also, Governor Ben Ayade was absent at the Friday Jumai service and thanksgiving mass held at the Saint Bernard Catholic Church on Monday to mark the country’s 59th independence anniversary, just as all former governors of the state were present at the event.

A resident of Calabar, John Ekpo said, “We should be ashamed of ourselves as a country and state. What we see in Cross River State are high sounding projects used as conduit pipes to deflate the treasury. Only God will intervene and help us. There are kidnappings everywhere, every day and security is poor.”

A social critic and former governorship candidate of the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA), Goddy Akpama said, “No food on the table after working hard to return the governor. People are hungry and waiting to renew their energy to enable them to walk to the stadium.”

Another respondent, Agatha Kolawole told The Guardian, “I believe in Nigeria. There is hope for Nigeria if we all take responsibility for our land actions in the best interest of the country. In our little spaces, we should strive to be good citizens at all times regardless of what we see daily.”

But speaking, Ayade, who was represented by Deputy Governor of the state, Professor Ivara Ejemot Esu said, “Instructively, as we celebrate today, we cannot say with absolute conviction that 59 years down the line, it has been a bed of roses.

“At best, it has been a potpourri, at times turbulent, disappointing, hard and fraught with challenges that so often dulled our spirits. In spite of those dispirited moments, there have been sparkling times that we have radiated so much national pride as a people, following our chain of accomplishments as a nation.

“And against all odds, we have continued to bounce back, rediscover ourselves by staying focused, steadfast and optimistic. Conscious of the fact that no nation has ever berthed on a roller coaster or fulfilled its destiny without sweat, we cannot, therefore, as a country, afford to take our eyes off the ball,” he said.

Ayade pointed out that this year’s anniversary marked another turning point as Nigeria continues to soldier on with audacity of hope, refreshing optimism and an enterprising spirit.