1. Akwa Ibom praise the Lord! Nigeria praise the Lord, Africa praise the Lord.
  2. I am lost for words, wow!  What a surprise! Thank you Permanent Secretary, Aniekpeno Mkpanang, for such great  presentation you have just made. You have, by the presentation, shortened my speech by half. You have so nicely,  so expansively and so transparently  shown the world what we have used the resources we have received to touch lives,  to create and leave enduring Legacy of Impact and to  challenge our people to ARISE and Go Forward and NEVER Backwards!
  3. As I have always said, we came to serve our people, and as a Professional in Politics, we needed to do things a little differently. I am glad to observe that you have even gone beyond what I had in my speech to show the breathe and extent of the progress and development across sectors that we have made. I give thanks to God Almighty who imbued in us, the capacity, the spirit of transparency, of character, and abiding love for our people and, also,  to our resourceful and great Akwaibomites for your prayers, support and trust we have enjoyed from you in the past almost eight years. This is not a valedictory speech. That will come next year, so let’s get to the business of this night.
  4. We are gathered here again on this hallowed grounds  as we have done in the last seven  years, to raise our voices and  join our hands and faith in singing praises to the Most High, the Author and the Finisher of our faith, the  Saviour of mankind, whose season of birth is the reason we are in this joyous mood of thanksgiving, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  5. Let us therefore, from the wide boulevards of our beautiful  and serene Capital City of Uyo, to the sandy beaches of Ibeno, to the Raffia City of Ikot Ekpene, to the boisterous City of Lagos, to our beautiful Capital City of Abuja – from the sleek and manicured streets of Cape Town to the exotic and beautiful boulevards of Alexandria, Egypt,  raise the cymbals and bring out the flutes, and   let the Ecclesiastical party begin.
  6. Hello, Times Square in New York,  Hello, Arc de Triomphe in Paris,  Hello, Trafalgar Square in London,  greetings to the wonderful people in Cable Beach, The Bahamas.  All over the world, this is one of the most highly anticipated gatherings of the praise and worship event and I am happy and excited to welcome you, to this party, right here in the Capital City of Nigeria’s Best Kept Secret, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
  7. The Book of Revelations Chapter 7:9   captures vividly the mood we are experiencing here –  the mood of praise and worship. “After this,  I beheld and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, all of nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with robes, and palms in their hands.” You will agree with me, that this is a great assemblage of our people, filled with joy and gratitude to our God.  This is a season of love, of giving, of thanksgiving and of unity and of brotherhood and I would like you to stretch your hands and greet three people next to you and tell them “ Our God is good, all the time and we are Going Forward in glory and in strength!
  8. This year’s event is deeply special. It is the last I am hosting  as the Governor of this blessed Piece of Godly Real Estate. By this time next year, and by the grace of God, I will be seated right there,  as a Guest of our Incoming Governor, Pastor Umo Eno, richly fulfilled that, we had run a great race and that he, would, ARISE and leverage on the  Legacy of Impact  we have created across all facets of our human experience and  go even further to rewrite  the  Akwa Ibom Story of Peace, Development, Economic Growth, Human Capital Development, Prosperity and Christ-centric leadership.
  9. The Akwa  1bom Christmas Carols has grown in size and stature beyond the usual global December event commemorating the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ across Christendom. It is not just about bringing  celebrity gospel artistes  and powerful men of God to minister to us. This event, above all these, is about bringing the ordinary people across the length and crannies of this wonderful State to engage in thanksgiving, and show love, faith, hope and unity in our common and shared dreams.
  10. Given the positive impact that this event has engendered in the last seven years and conscious of the fact that it has become inseparable with the active participation of contemporary  gospel music ministers, we have decided to rename the Carols to effectively capture their great participation. Consequently, the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival will now be known as THE AKWA IBOM CHRISTMAS CAROLS AND GOSPEL FESTIVAL.
  11. With the change in name, will also come the change in perspective. While putting our Christmas celebrations on a global stage, as we have been doing in the last seven years, we will also be providing a global stage for our upcoming and budding local gospel artistes to share the stage with these accomplished global gospel icons and ignite the process of becoming world-class gospel stars in their own right.
  12. In demonstrating our resolve to  create a global brand that will be reckoned with, across the gospel music community in Nigeria, and further encourage and reward these creative ministers to do even more in winning souls for the Kingdom of God, through music ministration, we wish to announce the institution of  THE EMMANUEL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN GOSPEL MUSIC MINISTRY. Emmanuel means ‘God with us’ and nothing reveals the essence of God with us than gospel music which in the first instance is made possible by gospel music ministers.
  13. The Emmanuel Award for Excellence in Gospel Ministry will be given every December during this event, to the Nigerian Gospel Music Artiste who, in the last twelve months of the preceding year, has demonstrated extraordinary expressive talents and deep humanism, and has been able to awaken new audiences to the Transcendental Power of The Gospel through music ministration, teaching and performance. The Maiden recipient of this Award, will be officially unveiled later at this event.
  14. Fellow Akwaibomites, we have  every reason to be thankful to God and to sing praises to herald the birth of His Son and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. About seven years ago, I stood here in my maiden appearance at this event, as your Governor, and made a solemn pledge to serve you my people diligently; to apply the available resources to impact lives and change the trajectory of growth  and development of our dear State. I promised to engender a new Christ- centered administration, where the tones of civility, humility, love of our people, peace and development will form the binding articles of our engagements.  You have seen the full manifestation of that solemn declaration from the presentation we have just seen. To God be the glory!
  15. I had, also, stated, that the machinations of the enemies of our State will not stand because our God is a Supreme God, and he would do supreme things in our lives. Today, more than seven  years , He has indeed done great things in our lives, He has shown that those who believe in Him and worship Him in spirit and in truth,  will have a reason to celebrate and be filled continually with the spirit of thanksgiving.
  16. Our State, today, is nationally considered as one of the safest States to live, work and invest in the nation. It was not always like this. Those dark and harrowing years of politically-motivated violence are long gone. Today, you can traverse the length and crannies of  our State at any hour, in peace and safety. We have every reason to sing praises to the Lord and of course, in appreciation of the great collaborations we have enjoyed from our security agencies.
  17. I love the theme of this year’s event: Go Forward. Yes, we are going forward and not backwards. We must go forward in loving one another, by providing a shoulder for others to lean on. We must show love and  a spirit of gratitude as we are doing here, this evening to our Father, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
  18. We must eschew hatred, blackmail, unbridled antagonism and zero-sum game approach in our daily engagements. We must love our State, our culture, our leaders, our institutions and come to the understanding that, politics will come and politics will go, but the Akwa Ibom spirit and blood that flows in us, will endure and bind us forever. We must not as I have always said, destroy the cords of our unity in the name of politics. Politics should be practiced without bitterness and acrimony and our stakeholders must not engage in acts that seek to divide and balkanize us.
  19. Let me end this address by quoting from the speech I gave on this platform seven years ago ”When the sun of love and unity rises, the dark clouds of hatred and divisive tendencies will disappear. Our story of victory and accomplishments may be singular, but our destiny as a people is a shared enterprise”.
  20. We all have a shared destiny in this noble project of making a new Akwa Ibom State, of planting the seeds of prosperity in our land, where opportunities shall beckon, and our men and women will earn a living instead of begging for a living. This is the noble cause for which we are emotionally, spiritually and psychologically investing and nothing, I repeat nothing will deter us”. I believe we have worked hard to fulfill that noble ideal as shown in the great presentation by our ever resourceful Permanent Secretary, Aniekpeno Mkpanang.
  21. As I said earlier, this will be my very last edition of this great and spiritually uplifting  event as your sitting Governor. However, looking back, without necessarily sounding valedictory, with so much nostalgia, I cannot but give God all the glory for His benevolence, protection, guidance and of course, His Grace and mercy, which has seen us all through the past seven years.
  22. As we gather here, tonight to offer thanks and praise to the One who has benevolently made all these possible, let us continue to work and grow together as a people, knowing fully well that the future is bright and quite promising. Let us show love to the less-privileged, a hand to lift up those who may have fallen on hard times, and kindred spirit to all that we may come in contact with.
  23. Let us reject in its totality, all forms of ethnicity and tribal sentiments. Let us all turn away from those people who preach violence as a springboard to leadership. Let us rather embrace peace and progress as we continually ARISE to the faith of our greatness.  We are going forward and never backward!
  24. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year in advance! Akwa Ibom Dakkada, Ami mme  dakkadanda!

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