The inaugural address by His Excellency Senator Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State.
“Fellow Cross Riverians with the greatest humility, I stand before you today to answer the call of history and, accept with an open heart and hands, the monumental challenge to provide leadership to one of Nigeria’s most enlightened states.
“I am fully aware of the weight of this challenge and fully resolved that by the Grace of Almighty God, we shall build on the great tradition of excellence left by my brother and my leader, His Excellency, Senator Liyel Imoke, these past eight years. Fellow Cross Riverians, I am a proud inheritor of an outstanding legacy, which has firmly placed our beloved state on the global map of purposeful leadership; and for this, I am eternally grateful.
“Nevertheless, before I proceed further, I must thank all of you, my beloved people of Cross River State for the massive support you gave to my deputy and I during the election that brought us to this historic ceremony. I wish to assure that in choosing us, you have entered a social contract with us, compelling us to hold aloft the banner of our collective dreams and aspirations as a people for the next four years. I assure you that this is a sacred mandate that we shall handle with utmost respect and commitment.
“Fellow Cross Riverians and friends of Cross River State, permit me at this juncture to acknowledge and most graciously, thank our quintessential leader and political Field Marshal, the man with the heart of gold, His Excellency, Senator Liyel Imoke and his dear wife, our mother, Obioma.
“We are all gathered here today because Senator Imoke did not only dare to dream but had the audacity to bring his dream to fruition. His vision, charisma and midas touch will prove the lamp to our feet as we embark on this quest for a new and better Cross River State. I must also thank all members of our great party, the State Chairman and his EXCO members who endured sleepless nights and gruelling hours, strategizing for the victory we celebrate today; I am proud of you all.
“Finally, I must thank that special woman, my best friend, the love of my life, the pillar of my family, Her Excellency, Dr. Linda Ayade. Let it be known that I would not be standing here today, without your unwavering support. And to the rest of my family, I say thank you!
“Fellow Cross Riverians, this is the moment we have all been waiting for; that rare moment when HOPE is born; flinging opens the floodgates of possibilities, promise and prosperity. Today, we are witnesses to the rise of a rainbow, the pollination of our metaphorical petals and the birth of hope. From this day onwards I urge you to look inwards and envision the future of our dear state and the role we must all play to make it a better place.
“Today, as I raise my hands to lift up the Ark of history I pray you to stretch your hands along with me and together we can force the Spring of Greatness on Cross River State. We are only as big as our imagination. Brothers and sisters, if we can dream it, then we can achieve it!
“Fellow Cross Riverians, we have come to that bend in the river where we must all rise to our full height to envision and carve out a better future for ourselves and posterity. True, it seems such a daunting task with the falling oil prices and dwindling revenues. It is further compounded by the general atmosphere of despondency across the country. But with our backs against the wall, we must dig deeper into the wells of our creativity and hew out a new pathway to greatness. In doing this, we must be guided by the immortal words of Dr. Nelson Mandela that “it always seems impossible until it is done.” Fellow Cross Riverians, we shall overcome the present bleakness and wend our way into the sunshine of a brighter day!
“As we climb this imposing mountain of HOPE, we shall widen our scope, broaden the horizon and sharpen our instincts for fresh and big ideas that will galvanize this great state to achieve its full potential and usher in a prosperous Cross River, where our people will live in peace and harmony with one another and with nature.
“We count on your prayers and support to achieve this. In the new Cross River of our DREAM, there is a place and hope for everyone. There will be jobs for the youth and prosperity for the working class. The resurgent middle class shall find anchor for their roots and everyone shall find independence and pride in their work. The wages of honest labor shall liberate families from the jaws of hardship and no child shall go to bed with an empty stomach. Neither shall any mother be depressed by lack of access to Medicare for her children and loved ones. Brothers and sisters, this is our DREAM!
“This is what this moment requires. The capacity to dream! That is what will give real meaning to our belief. We must all strive to dream, to lift our eyes beyond the horizons of the present difficulties and visualize a better day! And we must all do this…from the hills of Obanliku to the thick forests of Boki and from the Creeks of Bakassi to the Cocoa plantations of Ikom, we must join hands to plant the trees of HOPE and water the gardens of liberty!
“And by ensuring that every foot is on the pedal, we aim to harness new ideas and technology to reconstruct our state, reform our schools to guarantee first class education for our youth and empower our citizens with the skills they need to engage a brave new world!
“I will live and lead by these principles; to serve the public interest with courage, to speak for greater justice and compassion, to call for responsibility and try to live it, as well. In all these ways, I will match the values of our past to the promise of tomorrow.
“We shall bring a new vista of hope by expanding the means of production, increasing access to capital and catalyzing our value chain.
“Let me use this opportunity, to announce our signature projects; we shall undertake the construction of a dual carriage super highway from Calabar through Ikom and Ogoja to the Ranch Resort in Obudu. We shall also build a state sea port. We shall do all these and more. In God we trust.
“Thank you! Long live Cross River State! Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!”