By Bassey Inyang in Calabar
A former Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Edem Duke, has declared his intention to become the next governor of Cross River State in 2019.
Duke, who was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and served as minister from 2011 to 2015, had long ago defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the platform on which he announced his intention of contesting the governorship next year.
Making his declaration at his Ikot Edem Odo Ward in Akpabuyo Local Government Area Monday, Duke said under the current state’s administration, Cross River has lost its status as “a jewel in the crown of Nigeria”.
He said it was the drive to place the state in its former pride of place that has informed his decision to enlist for the governorship race ahead of the 2019 general election.
He, therefore, urged the people to join him in restoring the state to its glorious past.
“It is therefore important for us to put in place an agenda for the restoration of our paradise. We must restore this paradise. Cross River used to be the tourism destination of Nigeria. That is why it is important for men and women of goodwill to stand together when we have seen that unless we salvage our today, there is no guarantee of a tomorrow for us.
“I have pledged myself to be a steward for the people of Cross River State. And I want to assure Cross Riverians that this is a major assignment that we must achieve. If the state progresses, that progress trickles down to everyone.
“The most important thing is to restore the love, the bonding, and the unity and harmony that used to be the hallmark of Cross River State. The agenda for me as an aspirant is the restoration of what the world used to know as the paradise of Nigeria. It is the restoration of what used to be the jewel in the crown of Nigeria. It is to restore what God has endowed us with, our tourism sites and natural endowments.
“When you talk of Cross River State, the first thing that resonates in your mind is the beauty and blessing of God that nature has endowed us with. It is our hills, it is our riverside, it is our vegetation, it is our people, it is our history, it is our culture, it is our heritage, it is the love that binds us together, it is the critical dynamism of our youths who commit themselves in the search for livelihood, it is our elders who often times are never given attention in political calculations,” he said.
Duke, who spoke a bit about his personal qualities which he hopes to bring into governance if given the responsibility, said: “As a foremost business leader in the state, I have been a participant and a pioneer in orchestrating what used to be the Cross River tourism that the world spoke about. There is so much to do in the state. I have a wand. It is not a magical wand because you can only be a leader if you are a team player. No leader can arrogate to himself the monopoly of wisdom and knowledge. But, I would like to build a team across every socio-political stratum. I would like to promote a Cross River United agenda for the promotion of the peace, security and goodwill and fortune. We need to restore our common health in order for us to regain our common wealth.”
The former minister, who displayed the spirit of sportsmanship, said he was elected that other governorship aspirants were aboard the platform of the APC, stating that their involvement has enriched the field of aspirants so the people can have the opportunity of choice.
Duke said the APC has demonstrated its belief in democracy by proving the opportunity for the people to chose from the pool of governorship aspirants on the party’s platform in the state.