Let me on behalf of the Government and good people of Akwa Ibom State congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari and our fellow Nigerians on the occasion of our 57 Independence Anniversary.

57 years ago today when the Union Jack was lowered for the last time and our flag was raised, signifying our independence, the nation was agog with excitement. Our Founding Fathers had so much hope and expectations for the nascent State. They had every reason to be optimistic. We were and still are a  land of vibrant, creative, talented and daring people and the hopes of a full harvest of these gifts was that it won’t take long for our nation to join others and become a major player in global affairs with attendant prosperity and justice for all.

Today, though our march down the boulevard of Statehood has been strewn with thorns, though we had to fight a bitter and acrimonious three year long Civil War, though the hopes of an economically powerful nation with world class infrastructural amenities are still works in progress, our hopes of getting to the promise land remains alive. We are incredibly optimistic people.

On this occasion of our Independence Anniversary, let us as a people renew our faith in the immutable belief that our nation is a blessed land, where each must give his or own best to get us to where we are destined to be.

Let us celebrate our beauty in diversity and use this as a unifying force as opposed to using same as a tool to exclude others from national aspirations.

Let us use our religious, tribal and cultural differences as galvanizing ingredients to forge a stronger bond of friendship and unity, respecting each other’s sacred boundaries of belief and thoughts. Let us not use these differences to create a society of “we” against the “others”.

Other societies have used these rich tapestries to enhance and deepen their bond of nationhood. The United States for instance have Jews who practice Judaism, the Mormons who practice another variant of Christianity, and  other shades of religion and they all co-mingle without causing social fissures.

The Deep South has cultural identities that are decidedly different from the North, yet these fault lines are not exploited to cause social tension in the land. Let us on this day, renew in our hearts our undying and unyielding devotion to the immutable words as contained in our first National Anthem that “though tribes and tongues may differ in brotherhood we stand”.

Though we may have experienced economic downturn lately, there is a silver lining in the sky; our recession is over, thank God! This is the time for our leaders to deploy our huge natural blessings to create and economically viable society where the youths would have jobs and hopes of growth and development. Let us look at other creative ways of growing our economy, using the tools of the 21 Century and engendering in us, a new moral and psychological attitude based on the belief that God endowed us all with special and unique gifts and we must appropriate these gifts for the betterment of ourselves and the society at large.

Nigeria will remain one indivisible country, where equity, justice and fairness shall prevail. We have come too far to entertain options other than strengthening our bonds of unity and equality.

Here in Akwa Ibom, our faith in the National Project remains sacrosanct. Let me use this opportunity to thank our people for the show of love and unity they displayed during the festivities that marked our 30th Anniversary last weekend. You really made us proud. I want to pledge here that as long as I remain your Servant Leader, I will do all I can to move this State forward by pursuing and implementing policies and programmes that will put food on the table, ensure quality and affordable education for our kids, a healthy and vibrant populace and a youth population that earns a living through the works of their hands as opposed to begging for a living.

Our industrialization drive is on course and I want to also use this opportunity to thank the Vice President, His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN for honouring us with his esteemed presence and for commissioning our two-life touching projects that signpost our industrialization drive-the Syringe Manufacturing Company, the Metering Solutions Company  as well as our newly reconstructed Etinan General Hospital.

Let me thank the gallant efforts of our Armed Forces in fighting insurgency and other security challenges in our country.

Our nation is on the march; our State is also on the march and together, we are moving gloriously to the land of economic prosperity, political inclusion, wealth and job creation, and the expansion and consolidation of our infrastructural amenities. Happy Birthday Nigeria!  God bless our nation, God bless Akwa Ibom State.

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