…Endorses Peaceful Protest

By Nsan Ndoma-Neji, Calabar

The Cross River State governor, Senator Professor Ben Ayade, has appealed to protesting youths in the state not to take laws into their hands, even as he endorsed peaceful protest to enable the youths express their anger against government at all levels.

Ayade made the appeal in an address he read to Cross Riverians, stressing that though as a people, those who were not pleased with their leaders have the right to express their grievances.

Saluting the courage of young people in the state, who had joined their compatriots across the nation to protest against police brutality and bad governance, Ayade stated that his administration had over the years made the well-being of youths a key priority, stressing that his administration is one with the youngest political appointee, who is just over 16 years old, and also with the youngest state executive council in Nigeria.

He therefore urged the youths not to engage in acts that can cause harm to themselves during this era of public demonstration, especially now that the security operatives and the protesters are in deadlock.

He said, “I value the life of every Cross Riverian. I am therefore, appealing to our young people to avoid any act that could bring them on the way of harm, now that the Federal Government has deployed anti-riot policemen in our cities.

“You have through your sustained protests, made your points. We have heard you loud and clear.”

The Cross River State governor promised to proceed with the process of asphalt overlay and fixing of potholes within Calabar metropolis immediately the rains subsides.

To tackle unemployment plaguing the state, the governor stated that his administration will find additional means to create more jobs for our young people so that youth’s restiveness can be checked, even as he lamented the meagre allocation accruing to the state from the federation account, which he siad is kit enough to cater for the challenges the state is facing.

He added, “I would like you to note that in spite of being the least federal allocation earning state, we do not owe salaries. We also do not owe pensions. Our lean resources not withstanding, we will strive to commence the payment of gratuity as soon as possible.

“The focus of our administration has been on industrializing the state, with a view to creating job opportunities for our people.

“We have established several industries including the ultra-modern rice mill, Ogoja, Cocoa Processing Factory, Ikom, Calabar Pharmaceutical Factory, Calabar Noodles Factory, Frozen Chicken Factory, Calabar Garment Factory, Rice Seedling Factory, Toothpick Factory, Piles and Pylon Factory, all of which have been completed.

“The factories will soon commence operations, thus providing more job opportunities for our people, including our young people.”

Maintaining that his administration is confronting security challenges in the state, he stressed that it was on such premise that the administration deployed special security team from Abuja to compliment effort of security operatives in the state, addin that on a daily basis, an average of between 15 and 20 stressing that team is kidnapping suspects are nabbed by the security operatives.

He said that 99 per cent of suspected kidnappers arrested by security operatives were non-indigenes of the state, even as he commended the state indigenes for their non-involvement in criminal enterprises like kidnapping.

On roads,the give.rnor siad that the dualization of the Tinapa-Odukpani Highway, with the spaghetti flyover and an interchange bridge will be completed in the coming dry season, adding that asphalting of the dual carriage road in the northern part of the state will get to the Bekwarra axis of the road by the end of the month with Okpoma, Mfom road to be completed by the first quarter of 2021.

Other roads projects that will received attention of the state government includes, the Boki East-West road and the North Ukelle road, which the World Bank reckoned unfortunately was beyond the capacity of the state, and stressed that the road will be completed by the first quarter of 2021.

The governor also spoke on how his administration has appointed over 6,000 individuals in the state to serve in his administration, including the 2,500 workers recently reabsorbed into the payroll, after lifting an 18-year old embargo placed on employment.

Ayade said, “Please note that our state does not just earn the least allocation from the federation account, it can also not borrow because it had attained the threshold of borrowing, even before the advent of our administration.

“So please be fair when analyzing the achievements of our administration. It is always easier to see what government has failed to do while conveniently turning a blind eye to what it has achieved.

“The power of the people is supreme. Your voices have been heard and we will not sleep until your demands are met. Please do not confront the security agents deployed to keep the peace. Let us remain peaceful, for that is what we are known for”.

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