CROWEI/Asuquo Ekpenyong Foundation provides N50,000 Micro Grants for 1,000 Women in Cross River

Today, 1,000 women active in micro & small business received a grant of N50,000 each from a collaborative scheme of the Cross River Women Emancipation Initiative (CROWEI) and Asuquo Ekpenyong Foundation (AEF).

At the launch of the scheme for 2022 in the commercial city of Ikom, the Wife of Cross River State Governor, Her Excellency, Dr Linda Ayade, who was full of enthusiasm for the training and support of women in business to boost their productivity commended the Asuquo Ekpenyong Foundation for partnering with CROWEI to empower women across the 196 wards of Cross River State.

She disclosed that “CROWEI will continue to stand firm with women in all their endeavors while calling for more participation of women in leadership/business positions that would grow the local economy”.

The Founder of the Foundation, Mr Asuquo Ekpenyong disclosed at the event that he was motivated to inaugurate the project designed to support 1,000 micro & small business women across the state by the challenges businesses were going through. “A wise man taught me that ‘we don’t give because we have enough, we give because we care enough.’ We must find ways to alleviate the suffering of our people. I am convinced that one of the ways to do this is through supporting our women. As primary caregivers in the home, uplifting women will uplift entire families because they extend those resources across the members of the home.

In my experience, people do not want to be given fish. They want to be taught how to fish. They want to be given the tools to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

Therefore, it is highly imperative that businesses become more sustainable as well as scalable in order to drive growth in the local economy,” he said.

“At the height of the lockdown in 2020, CROWEI were very instrumental in alleviating the hardships women faced across Cross River State. During the lockdown, Asuquo Ekpenyong Foundation also supported the State Government with a donation of N25 million in cash and medical supplies to assist in its welfare interventions.

Today, we go a step further. The Asuquo Ekpenyong Foundation has trained 1,000 women who are currently engaged in micro & small business on financial management to enable them access loans and grow their businesses. We carefully selected these women who are resident and doing business across the 196 administrative wards of Cross River to ensure that we develop a model case”, he said.

He noted that at the end of the training program today, the Foundation disbursed N50,000,000 in Micro Grants of N50,000 each to all 1,000 beneficiaries to scale up their working capital.

He concluded by saying “In all, I am very excited to begin 2022 on this note. Our disbursement partner is Ekondo Microfinance Bank, and it occurred to me that Ekondo is the Efik word for universe.

Women make up more than half of our universe. If they don’t prosper, we can’t thrive.” One of the beneficiaries, Mrs Nkoyo Okon from Akparabong Ward but married from Calabar, said the grant would help her to expand and meet up with the demand of the season, especially her yam trading business.

Another young lady Ms Favour Ushie, from Bekwarra, expressed gratitude to CROWEI and the Foundation for the financial assistance at a time like this. According to her, the Coronavirus has been a big setback to businesses, saying the financial aid was what she needed to re-launch her business.

 

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ASUQUO EKPENYONG COMMENDS LEGOR IDAGBO’S POLITICAL INITIATIVES

By Florence Kekong

Cross River Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr. has commended Hon. Legor Idagbo, Member, representing Bekwarra, Obudu and Obanliku Federal Constituency, for placing welfare of the people above politics.

The Commissioner who witnessed the end of year ceremony that held at Bekwarra on Wednesday, described it as a “Longstanding Empowerment Programme, most consistent and impressive”

While calling on the other politicians to take a cue from Hon. Idagbor’s laudable initiatives, Ekpenyong Jr. equally charged the Constituents to show their appreciation by way of offering continuous support to their son, who he furthered described as having result-orientated representation records at the Federal House of Representatives.

“There is no doubting the fact that Hon. Legor Idagbo is on the right path of development as he has placed people orientated empowerment programmes as a major priority.

‘I am optimistic that with the unalloyed support of his people, these laudable initiatives would grow into formidable Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), offering economic and development opportunities in the localities of the Northern Senatorial District”, he posited.

The ceremony which attracted dignitaries from across the country, ended with beneficiaries smiling

home with Tri-cycles, mini-buses, cars, grinding machines, sewing machines, among other gifts.

Worthy of note was also, the warm reception accorded the Commissioner, when he paid a courtesy call on the newly installed Ada of Bekwarra, Hon. (Signor) Omang Ideiege, who is also Commissioner, Youth and Skills Acquisition in the State.

Receiving the Commissioner, Ada Bekwarra applauded the good gesture of Ekpenyong Jr. in the area of youth development programmes that are opening opportunities for youths to diversify and become dynamic social entrepreneurs in the ever growing global competition.

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Cross River Chicken Factory, A National Pride – Reps Committee, CBN

House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture Production and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have described Cross River’s Chicken Processing Factory (Calachika) as a source of national pride.

The committee therefore, pledged to enact relevant laws to strengthen its capacity.

Cross River Chicken Factory, A National Pride

The 24000 birds per day chicken processing factory is one of the numerous agro-based industries established by the government of Professor Ben Ayade across the state.

The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Muntari Dandustse and the Special Adviser to CBN Governor on Development Finance, Anthony Ifechukwu made this assertion during a tour of the facility situated at the Industrial Park in Calabar.

According to Hon. Dandustse, the Chicken Processing Factory was in sync with President Muhammed Buhari’s policy on Agricultural production “which greatly encourages this type of programme under the CBN. This is why we banned the importation of frozen foods.”

He urged other state governors to emulate Ayade’s strides in agro-industrialization.

His words: “This factory here is a giant stride by His Excellency, the Governor of Cross River and we hope to back it by law so that we will have a successful atmosphere whereby it will encourage this facility to have a backward integration for the economy.

“We encourage all the governors of the 36 states to emulate what Ayade is doing.”

Ifechukwu on his part said he was going back to Abuja to share the success story of the Chicken factory with the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.

According to him, “this factory for me is a milestone that we should come out to celebrate and thank the Governor for his vision.

“I’m going back to tell the CBN Governor that this program has started in Cross River and we need to do much more.”

The CBN representative disclosed that as part of its intervention, the apex bank “is currently financing 400 farmers to produce broilers for this program but I see us extending the numbers to say maybe 2000 farmers which will produce the number of birds to feed this factory.

“We will work with the state government to ensure that other basic raw materials in the poultry value chain are produced”, he added

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You are a selfless leader, Asuquo Ekpenyong Eulogises Obong of Calabar

Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr has described The Obong of Calabar, HRM Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, the grand patriarch of Efik Kingdom, as a selfless leader on his 2021 Utomo Obong Celebration. The event took place at Adiabo, Odukpani Local Government Area.

Speaking at the event, Ekpenyong Jr, who is also the State Commissioner for Finance, said that the king has impacted many lives positively in Cross River State.

“We are glad to remind you how important celebrating your heritage and crown is. For us at the Government level and Efik Professionals, your crown is one of the most cherished and adorned, and worthy of celebration every calendar year. We are always ecstatic to not only express our best wishes, but to also celebrate with you.

“When we think of you, we think of how you have positively impacted many lives in Efik Kingdom and Cross River State as a whole. And it is on this note that I and my lovely family express our profound gratitude for all your enviable successes.

“Today’s event is an opportunity for us to celebrate your majesty, as you’ve not only served as our royal father but a selfless leader.” We would like to take advantage of this special day to felicitate with you on your recent reappointment as Chancellor of Federal University Abeokuta. Unarguably. Your new feat is well-deserved and inspiring.

‘Hearty Congratulations, Amasi, May your days be long on the ancestral stool of our great fathers.”

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BUHARI’S ADDRESS AT MINISTERIAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW RETREAT BY ABDALLAH EL-KUREBE PROTOCOLS

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the First Year Ministerial Performance Review Retreat. We are
meeting a time that mankind is struggling to overcome the economic and social crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted life as we knew it. The consequences of the pandemic will no doubt influence our deliberations at this gathering, especially as we will have to adjust our policy approaches and methods of working going forward.

2. I stressed at last year’s Retreat that the Nigerian people expect dedication and commitment by all of us in implementing policies, programmes and projects to improve the quality of their lives and set Nigeria on the path of prosperity. I also reiterated the resolve of this Administration to set the stage for lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years. Even today, these remain our overriding objectives.

3. The priorities we set for ourselves were around nine inter-related and inter- connected areas, which are: stabilizing the economy; achieving agriculture and food security; attaining energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products; improving transportation and other infrastructure; driving industrialization with a special
focus on SMEs; expanding access to quality education, affordable healthcare and productivity of Nigerians; enhancing social inclusion by scaling up social investments; as well as building a system to fight corruption, improve governance and strengthen national security.

4. In the course of the past year, Ministers have rendered reports to the Federal Executive Council on their activities and outputs related to the achievement of these objectives. Some of the notable achievements include:

i. Economic recovery prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. The economy recovered from a recession and we witnessed eleven quarters of consecutive GDP growth since exiting recession. The GDP grew from 0.8% in 2017 to 2.2% in 2019, but declined in the first quarter of 2020, as a result of the downward trend in global economic
activities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

ii. Implementation of a Willing Buyer, Willing Seller Policy for the power sector, has opened up opportunities for increased delivery of electricity to homes and industries. We are also executing some critical projects through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme, which will result in the transmission and distribution of a total of 11,000 Megawatts by 2023.

iii. On transportation, we are growing the stock and quality of our road, rail, air and water transport infrastructure. The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund projects are also progressing very well. These include the 11.9 km Second Niger Bridge, 120 km Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and 375 km Abuja Kaduna Zaria Kano Expressway. At the same time, we are actively extending and upgrading our railway networks, as well as our airports which are being raised to international standard with the provision of necessary equipment, to guarantee world class safety standard.

iv. The Government has continued to support the Agricultural sector, the key to diversification of our economy, through schemes such as the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative programme.

v. The work of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has resulted in Nigeria moving up 39 places on the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business! ranking since 2015 and Nigeria is now rated as one of the top ten reforming countries. We are confident that the on-going ease of doing business reforms would result in further improvement of this rating.
vi. Nigeria’s Law Enforcement Agencies have significantly scaled up their footprint across the country. As part of the efforts towards strengthening our internal security architecture, the Ministry of Police Affairs was created. Amongst others, we have increased investments in arms, weapons and other necessary equipment, expanded
the National Command and Control Centre to nineteen States of the Federation, and established a Nigerian Police Trust Fund, which will significantly improve funding for the Nigeria Police Force. We have also approved the sum of N13.3 billion for the take-off of the Community Policing initiative across the country, as part of measures adopted to consolidate efforts aimed at boosting security nationwide[1] .
vii. Efforts are also being made to empower the youth and provide for poor and vulnerable groups by enhancing
investments in our Social Investment Programmes.

5. These accomplishments are a estament to the fact that all hands are on deck in establishing a solid foundation for even greater successes in future.

6. Distinguished participants, when we met one year ago, little did we know that the world would be in a serious economic, social and health crisis that had left even the major economies in disarray, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as in other Jurisdictions, the socio-economic landscape of Nigeria has experienced a severe shock.
Nearly 55,000 of our people have been infected with the virus while we have recorded 1,054 deaths by 4th September. The economy contracted by -6.1 per cent in the second quarter of this year; normal schooling has been disrupted; businesses are struggling and in certain instances completely closed; many people have lost their jobs and earning a living has been difficult. It has been a trying time for all of us and particularly for those in the informal sector who make their living from daily earnings.

7. It has not been any easier for Governments, Federal and State alike. As a result of the poor fortunes of the oil sector, our revenues and foreign exchange earnings have fallen drastically. Our revenues have fallen by almost 60%. Yet we have had to sustain expenditures, especially on salaries and capital projects. We acted to mitigate the effect of the economic slowdown by adopting an Economic Sustainability Plan but we have also had to take some difficult decisions to stop unsustainable practices that were weighing the economy down.

8. The N2.3 Trillion Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), consists of fiscal, monetary and sectoral measures to enhance local production, support businesses, retain and create jobs and provide succour to Nigerians, especially the most vulnerable. In addition to improving the health sector, the ESP lays emphasis on labour-intensive interventions in agriculture, light manufacturing, housing, and facilities management. It also complements on-going major infrastructural projects in power, road and rail by prioritising the building of rural roads, information and telecommunications technologies as well as providing solar power to homes which were not hitherto connected to the National Grid.

9. Alongside interventions in these critical areas, including agriculture and food security, affordable housing, technology, health, and providing jobs for youths and women post-COVID; the ESP will also provide different
avenues whereby Government will support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to enable them respond to the economic challenges of COVID-19.

This includes safeguarding about 300,000 jobs in 100,000 MSMEs by guaranteeing off-take of priority products; and Survival Fund to support vulnerable SMEs in designated vulnerable sectors in meeting their payroll obligations and safeguarding jobs from the shock of COVID-19.

10. Under the ESP MSMEs component, both the Survival Fund (Payroll support), and the Guaranteed Off-take Scheme, GoS, are to impact about 1.7 million individuals within a three to five months timeline. Also, 45 per cent
of total business beneficiaries will be female owned; and 5 per cent of total business beneficiaries will be dedicated to special needs business owners.[2]

11. In addition, under the Survival Fund (payroll support) scheme; 250,000 new business names are to be registered at a discounted rate of N6,000 by the CAC, but this will be free for the MSMEs; while 330,000 transport workers and artisans will get one-time grants of N30,000 each.

12. Following an MOU to be signed by BOI and the FG, the total beneficiaries for Survival Fund Scheme tracks are about 33,000 beneficiaries per State; with a minimum payroll support at N30,000 and maximum support is
N50,000.

13. The COVID-19 pandemic, has led to a severe downturn in the funds available to finance our budget and has severely hampered our capacity to ..one of the steps we took at the beginning of the crisis in March when oil prices
collapsed at the height of the global lockdown, was the deregulation of the price of premium Motor spirit (PMS) such that the benefit of lower prices at that time was passed to consumers. This was welcome by all and sundry. The effect of deregulation though is that PMS prices will change with changes in global oi1 prices. This means quite regrettably that as 0il price will recover we would see some increases in PMS prices. This is what has happened now. When global prices rose, it meant that the price of petrol locally will go up.

14. There are several negative consequences if Government should even attempt to go back to the business of fixing or subsidizing PMS prices. First of all, it would mean a return to the costly subsidy regime . Today we have 60% less revenues we just cannot afford the cost. ‘ The second danger is the potential return of fuel queues which has, thankfully, become a thing of the past under this administration. Nigerians no longer have to endure long queues Just to buy petrol, often at highly inflated prices. Also, as I hinted earlier, there is no provision for fuel subsidy in the revised 2020 budget, simply because we are not able to afford it, if reasonable provisions must be made for health, education and other social services. [3] We now simply have no choice,
Nevertheless, I want to assure our compatriots that Government is exsemely mindful of the pains
that higher prices mean at this time, and we do not take the sacrifices that all Nigerians have to
make for granted. We will continue to seek ways and means of cushioning pams especially for the most vulnerable in our midst. We will also remain alert to our responsibilities to ensure that marketers do not
exploit citizens by raising pump price arbitrarily .
This is the role that government must now play through the PPPRA. This explains why the PPPRA made the announcement a few days ago setting the range of price that must not be exceeded by marketers. The advantage we now have is that anyone can bring in petroleum products and compete with marketers, that way the price of petrol will be keep coming down.

15. The recent service based tariff adjustment by the Discos has also been a source of concern for many of us. Let me say frankly that like many Nigerians I have been very unhappy about the quality of service given by the Discos, but there are many constraints including poor transmission capacity and distribution capacity.
I have already signed off on the first phase of the Siemens project to address many of these issues. Because of the problems with the privatization exercise government has had to keep supporting the largely privatized electricity industry .So far to keep the industry going we have spent almost 1. 7 trillion, especially by way of supplementing tariffs shortfalls. We do not have the resources at this point to continue in this way and it will be grossly irresponsible to borrow to subsidize a generation and distribution which are both privatized. But we also have a duty to ensure that the large majority of those who cannot afford to pay cost reflective tariffs are protected from increases. NERC the industry regulator therefore approved that tariff adjustments had to be made but only on the basis of guaranteed improvement in service.

Under this new arrangement only customers who are guaranteed a minimum of 12 hours of power and above can have their tariffs adjusted. Those who get less than 12 hours supply, or the Band D and E Customers MUST be maintained on lifeline tariffs, meaning that they will experience no increase. Government has also taken notice of the complaints about arbitrary estimated billing. Accordingly, a mass metering program is being undertaken to provide meters for over 5 million Nigerians, largely driven by preferred procurement from local manufacturers creating thousands of jobs in the process. NERC has also committed to strictly enforcing the capping regulation which will ensure that unmetered customers are not charged beyond the metered customers in their neighbourhood.

17. In addressing the power problems we must not forget that most Nigerians are not even connected to electricity at all. So as part of the Economic Sustainability Plan, we are providing Solar home systems to 5 million Nigerian households in the next 12 months.

We have already begun the process of providing financing support through the CBN for manufacturers and retailers of Off Grid Solar Home Systems and Mini-Grids who are to provide the systems . The Five million systems under the ESP’s Solar Power Strategy will produce 250,000 jobs and impact up to 25 million beneficiaries through the installation [4] This means that more Nigerians will have access to electricity via a reliable and sustainable solar system.

18. The support to Solar Home System manufacturers and the bulk procurement of local meters will create over 300,000 local jobs while review is not about the increase which will only affect the top electricity consumers, but establishing a system which will definitely lead to improved service for all at a fair and reasonable price. [5]

19. There has been some concern expressed about the timing of these two necessary adjustments. It is important to stress that it is a mere coincidence in the sense that the deregulation of PMS prices happened quite some time ago, it was announced on 18 March 2020 and the price moderation that took place at the beginning of this month was just part of the on-going monthly adjustments to global crude oil prices. Similarly, the review of service-based electricity tariffs was scheduled to start at the beginning of July but was put on hold to enable further studies and proper arrangements to be made. This government is not insensitive to the current economic difficulties our people are going through and the very tough economic situation we face as a nation, and we certainly will not inflict hardship on our people.

But we are convinced that if we stay focused on our plans brighter more prosperous days will come soon. Ministers and senior officials must accordingly ensure the vigorous and prompt implementation of the ESP programmes, which will give succour to Nigerians.

20. In this regard, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has created credit facilities ( of up to N100B) for the Healthcare (N100 Billion) and Manufacturing (N1 Trillion) sectors. From January, 2020 to date, over N 191.87B has already been disbursed for 76 real sectors projects under the NI TRN Real Sector Scheme; while 34 Healthcare projects have been funded to a tune ofN37.159B under the Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility. The facilities are meant to address some of the infrastructural gap in the healthcare and manufacturing sector as a fall out to the COVID-19 pandemic and to facilitate the attainment of the Governors 5-year strategic plan.[6]

21. Distinguished participants, to address our current economic challenges, and consolidate on our achievements over the past year, this retreat has been designed to: Review the performance of each Minister in delivering the priority mandates, including programmes and projects assigned to them upon their appointment in 2019;
Identify key impediments to implementation; and Re-strategize on how to accelerate delivery of results, given the current economic situation.

22. The retreat would also provide the opportunity to effectively evaluate the activities of the
Ministries over the last twelve months with regard to the delivery of our agenda and promise to
Nigerians.

23. The Ministers are urged to work closely with the Permanent Secretaries to ensure accelerated and effective delivery of the policies, programmes and projects in the priority areas. I have also directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to intensify efforts at deepening the work of the Delivery Unit under his coordination towards ensuring effective delivery of Government Policies, Programmes and Projects in the coming years. It is also my expectation that progress on performance of the implementation of the 9 priority areas will be reported on a regular basis.

24. In closing, 1 encourage optimal pariicipation and contribution by all participants, while observing all the necessary safety protocols and compliance with COVID-19 guidelines.
25. On this note, it is my pleasure to formally declare this Retreat open. I look forward to a very fruitful session and stimulating exchange of views.

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CROSS RIVER COLLEGE OF NURSING AND MIDWIFERY SCIENCES MATRICULATES PIONEER STUDENTS

Parent and student over joyed praise Ayade as New Degree Awarding Status will Qualify them for NYSC There were shouts of joy, dancing, and jubilation as young students took procession into the Tear Rubber Cross River State College of Nursing and Midwifery Science Itigidi ABI LGA. In the words of a matriculant ” It feels like a dream, that I will graduate with a degree from this institution & go for NYSC, God bless super Governor and visionary Health Commissioner.” Following hard work, Governor of Cross River State Sen Ben Ayade working through the Commissioner for Health in collaboration with the Legislative arm were able to gain Accreditation For the first College of Nursing Sciences in South-South Zone of Nigeria meaning graduates will now be awarded a degree and are eligible forNYSC, an unprecedented height the Health Sector has recorded amongst others mind-blowing achievements in the last 12 Months. The College held her first Matriculation and Capping exercise.

The event that had the wife of the Governor Dr. Linda Ayade as the Special Guest of Honor also had the Speaker of the CRSHA Rt. Hon. Eteng Williams as chairman of the occasion, the Honorable Commissioner for Health Dr.Betta Edu as chief host, the Commissioner for Lands Prof. John Inyang, the member representing the good people of Boki 2 Constituency Hon. Hilary Bissong, the Chairman of Abi LGA and Yakurr LGA Hon. Ofem Eno, the DG of the CRSPHCDA Dr. Janet Ekpenyong, the Paramount Ruler of Abi LGA Eval Solomon Edward and other Chiefs, NANNM Chairman Comrade Josephine, Chairman Governing Council Dr. Margaret Opia, Dec AbasiOffiong, Principals of various schools, and a host of other very important dignitaries. Speaking at the event, the Wife of the Governor Dr. Linda Ayade charged the Matriculating Students to take their academic pursuits seriously to make the State Government and their parent’s who have sacrificed so much, proud. “I’m standing here filled with positive emotions, I am so proud to be a part of this success story. Knowing the details of what the School went through to become a College today I’ll say the team under the leadership of Dr.Betta Edu has done great.

As students, you must reciprocate the efforts of the government by studying hard knowing very well that the lives of thousands will be dependent on you during practice.” The speaker of the State House of Assembly in his speech congratulated the Governor and the leadership of the health sector under Dr.Betta Edu for the giant strides recorded so far and for achieving tremendous successes in many areas.

“We faced severe battles to get to this point. At some point, accreditation was taken away from all Cross River state schools of Nursing and Midwifery for over 4 years. but today under the leadership of Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade, we’ve gained it back and gone further to upgraded to a College. We’ll continue to support the growth and development of the health sector through budget appropriation, we look forward to having more Colleges as requested by the Health Commissioner.”

Dr.Betta Edu in her speech thanked the State Governor, Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade and his dear wife for the tremendous changes that have come to the College while providing the best to ensure we achieve a college status. “The government of Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade has fulfilled its part in giving you a College and making this environment more comfortable for learning it is now Left for you to reciprocate and make us proud. “We’ve come this far due to the hard work and consistent efforts of both the executive and legislative arm of government.

I strongly appreciate the efforts of Dr. Linda Ayade, Honorable Speaker Rt. Hon. Eteng Williams and Assembly Members, NBTE, Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, as well as all the health team who made this dream come true. I charge you all to study hard, avoid distractions while Challenging Staff to invest more in students without victimizing them. The best graduating students will be awarded half a million as part of Dr. Linda Ayade’s scholarship.”

The member of Rep, Boki 2, the Commissioner for Lands, and DG Primary Health Care, in their Goodwill messages all congratulated Students for being successful following a rigorous selection process while charging them to study hard and become world­class Nurses.

Highlights of the events include; Welcome Speech from the Provost Mrs. Ruth Ebong, Goodwill message from Dr. Margaret Opiah, Handing over of 150 Matriculating Students to the Provost and Health Commissioner, Capping & Students Declaration, presentation of Awards of Excellence to Dr. Linda Ayade, Dr.Betta Edu and Dr.MagaretOpia for their excellent support and immense contribution to the growth of the College, Matriculating Lecture by Dr. Teresa A. Osaji and other Goodwill messages from dignitaries.

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STILL ON CALLY AIR By Florence Kekong

Still looking for best places to visit to mix and mingle for business and leisure? Where to watch the thrills and frills of hospitality and let your heart loose with ecstasy and get all wrapped in much fun and pleasure? Destination remains, Cross River State-The People’s Paradise, uniquely the Enterprise State where business and leisure have a common ground. Little wonder, the ancient city of Calabar (Come and Live and Be at Rest), which is Nigeria’s first capital, even as the federal administrative powers have shifted from here, still remains the best place, ever, with none of its kind. Administrations past and present have always taken beautifying the State as priority, ensuring that it maintains its serenity. It is these concerns that saw one­time Governor of the State, Mr. Donald Duke, make several attempts at getting the entire features of the State wearing completely, Nigeria’s Tourism flagship. To this end, he tried to get a mono-rail that could make visitors to the State move with ease to the Tinapa Resort, from the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, as he envisioned full satisfaction for the huge number of visitors, tourists and business people alike, trooping into the State in their numbers. Also, the building of the Bebi Airstrip close to the Obudu Ranch Resort by his administration, is a clear indication that shows today that the present administration’s laudable initiatives are equally innovative and proactive, proving today that the deep analytical thinking of Governor Ayade and his Predecessors are all on one page-development of Cross River State with a view to maintaining its first position as best Tourism and Business Destination in the country.

Governor Ayade’s decision to grow the agro-business hinges on a well-conceived innovative system that satisfies the yearnings of the people of the State for improved standard of living. But Critics, as we know already, will always be Critics. They continue to assail and accuse him of wasting the State’s resources, engaging m gigantic and meaningless projects.

Their sleepless nights have been issues on how the procurement process of the Cally Airline was handled, controversy over ownership, structure Operational Model, terms of Agreement with Aero Contractors, Status of the Airline Operational Certificate (AOC), source of funding and all, you may think of. How the Airline is funded, is it on lease, or outright purchase and of course, the cost of the aircraft, how old, passenger capacity, and what have you?

That Cally Air is truly

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ADDRESS PRESENTED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SIR BEN AYADE, ON OCCASION OF INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY ON 1st OCTOBER, 2021,ATU.J. EUSENE STADIUM, CALABAR.

Fellow Cross Riverians, as it has become traditional with October 1st, today offers us yet another opportunity to gather once again to mark our country’s Independence from Britain. Precisely 61 years ago, the vision and aspirations of our founding fathers melted into concrete reality with the birthing of our dear country Nigeria as an independent state. It is for that historic occasion, 61 years today, that has offered us this unique opportunity to celebrate once again our evolution as a nation state. Instructively, as we celebrate today, we cannot say with absolute conviction, that 61 years down the line, it has been a bed of roses. At best, it has been an admixture, sometimes chequered, disappointing, hard and fraught with challenges that so often tend to numb our spirits.

In the last 61 years, we have demonstrated more commitment, greater faith and unflinching belief in the project called Nigeria than anyone would have imagined. We have survived brutal assaults, wriggled through tremors of recurring violence and sailed through the sea of divisive politics. As a people, we are currently confronted by a wave of insurgency and banditry. But against all odds, we have continued to bounce back, to rediscover ourselves by staying focused, steadfast and optimistic. And with the Almighty God watching over us, our dear country shall overcome.

Fellow Cross Riverians, in spite of those dispiriting moments, there have, however, been glittering times that we have exuded so much following our chain of accomplishments as a nation. Conscious of the fact that no nation has ever berthed on a roller coaster; or fulfilled its destiny without sweat, we cannot, therefore, as a country, afford to take our eyes off the ball.

Accordingly, today’s anniversary marks another turning point as we continue to soldier on with audacity of hope, a refreshing optimism and the spirit of enterprise. And with our minds firmly fixed on the ever­ sparkling skyline, we shall sure find a pathway to our destination.              .

More significantly, today’s celebration should no doubt serve as a reawakening and an enticing platform to reflect on our past in order to re-chart our future.

Fellow Cross Riverians, as we ruminate on our nation’s socio political trajectory­ considering the tall mountains we have had to climb, the steep slopes we have had t~ descend, I want to enjoin you to remand resolute by re-committing and re-dedicating yourselves to the enduring values and vision that distinguish us as Cross Riverians. For it is only by such distinguishing attributes that we can achieve true independence as a people- one that will guarantee true freedom and total emancipation in the real sense of it. There is no doubt, therefore, that while our today is steadily finding perfect harmony. with our great expectations as a people, given our industrialization feat in the last six years, our future will find fulfillment from our great energy and determination to berth a better tomorrow for our beloved people of Cross River State. As an administration, we came with a clear focus to reconstruct the economy of our state and six years on, and in keeping with that vision and mission, we have been able to create a new and sound economy firmly anchored on industrialization, with a huge potential to create jobs and lift our people out of deprivations. In our avowed commitment to entrench a prosperity agenda, we shall not relent until we ensure every Cross Riverian is indeed rescued from the socio-economic quagmire that has held us captive to hunger and lack. Let us therefore, continue to bond together so that we can boldly confront the future with renewed confidence and determination. Fellow Cross Riverians, as we felicitate with one another on our lofty attainment of 61 years of nationhood, I enjoin us all to render our solemn supplications to God for His grace and enablement to overcome the challenges of today and actualize our dreams of tomorrow for the attainment of true independence.

Happy Independence Celebration.
God bless Nigeria!
God bless Cross River State!!
Sir Ben Ayade,
Cross River State
Governor

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ACCELERATING AGRIBUSINESS BLOCK VALUE CHAIN LOCALIZATION, THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS- Case of a private Enterprise in collaboration with NGOs in Cross River State

The NGO sector has been widely criticized for their failure to demonstrate the ideals of partnership in practice, especially, between international NGOs and their local NGOs in developing countries. Many literatures assert that conventional partnership often fails to demonstrate its ideals in practice because, INGO (International None Governmental Organization) donors wield enormous power and influence over their local NGO partners because of their control over funds. Several face-to-face interviews ponder whether many Nigerian NGOs and their INGOs partners share a common understanding of the ideals of partnership? And more so, whether these partnership ideals are actually demonstrated in practice, as the case may be. A few rich incredible collaborations have been witnessed lately, following the Covid-19 pandemic that has proven the need for INGO donors and local counterparts to effectively be partners willing to promote mutual accountability in their partnership engagements in order to promote concrete changes in the lives of the beneficiaries of their work project Environments.

Such is the collaboration of local enterprise and local NGOs, co-opting together in Cross River State, with a view to achieving zero, hunger, and creating food security opportunities among rural dwellings, towards promoting communal wealth generation for the less privileged of society. Frantic attempts have been taken by the digital Governor of Cross River, Senator Ben Ayade, to upgrade the Greenlife of Cross Riverians by promoting agribusiness investment development initiatives through numerous agricultural fronts in a way that will enhance millions of youth engagement, and socio-­venture assistance in the sector.

Wemton Agricultural Development and Advisory Services (WADAS), made an entry that is adding value to this sector, leading Small and Medium Scale SMS Enterprises to collaborate with the local content – women, with support from Second Opportunity Africa (SOPA, to pitch tent in great Cross River State, using the World Food Day as an entry point. The focus is to accelerate opportunity localization, especially, in the Agribusiness sector of Cross River State to ensure rapid response to entry into the sector in order to accelerate cumulative food security, employment, marketing, and improved socio-welfare especially of the rural poor, women in Agriculture, reducing youth restively idleness, cult culture, and migration to the urban areas. Whilst Wadas focused at providing Agribusiness training, extension services, and cooperative formation, the two NGOs provided lift spring board effective mobilization continuum scheme with welfare and advocacy infomercials to retain proficient operation and lifestyle changes. It is indeed, a silent revolution that is adding Cross River State to the very key pivotal FOOD BASKET mechanism of GDP for Nigeria and essential import substitute lead State of the nation.

Co-operative formation, training, farm input supplies, cottage size processing units, and eventual off-take direct to market scheme were established in conjunction with Ocean mint Uk positioned for export of packaged foods from Cross River State to African foods stores in Europe.

The group pitch tents in the following local community area, Boki, Ogoja, Obanliku, Akpabuyo, Akampka and are given certificates for contributions towards food security was organized in the State by Wemton Agricultural Development Advisory Services, WADAS, in conjunction with Offer of Jobs Opportunities for Women and Children, OJO WACNET, a multi-purpose cooperative society.

The farmers expressed happiness that they will benefit from Global Good Agricultural Practice (GGAP) standards in all areas of their cultivation, operation, and harvests, safe food marketing, and export of quality healthy produce to Europe and America. While commending the gesture and encouragements to local farmers, Mrs. Angela Bako, Senior Lecturer at the Federal College of Education, Katsina Ala, and Hon. Linda Somiari Stewart, Member, Rivers State House of Assembly and Matron ofOJO WACNET, spoke on importance of boosting agriculture to ensure food security in Nigeria.

In his remarks, Hon. Paul Okoh, a farmer and Special Adviser to Boki local Chairman on Security, gave a lecture on organic natural foods from the Boki nation.  Amongst the food vendors, produce merchants and smallholder farmers recognized included those from Boki, Ogoja and Akamkpa local government areas of the State, who have made tremendous contributions in farming. Dr Tony Wemton of WADAS, said it was worth appreciating the farmers and their families with such funfair, competitions, and awards for best agricultural practice standards in farm management, food handlmg, storage, and marketing.

He promised further training, and introduction of modem agriculture best practices in order to create agro allied jobs and communal wealth generation in nominated communities. The event closed with deliciously cooked natural fresh rice and veggies from the stables of local farmers in Boki/Ogoja townships in traditional culinary ways.

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DIGITAL GENERATION, OUR GENERATION!

Everywhere around the world people have different reasons to celebrate in diverse ways. The International Day of the Girl Child is one of those unique annual festivals that is also celebrated globally. It is a day set aside for concern organizations and individuals calling out for the rights of little girls who are silently oppressed around the world to take a chance to celebrate girls around the world. It works to eliminate deep-rooted gender-based issues, deeply entrenched issues and problematic mindsets that have been passed on to generations, having mad gender-based discrimination and oppression threateningly common in every household, particularly in developing countries. International Day of the Girl Child seeks to eliminate the tragi predicaments of little girls around the world.

Adolescence is a critical point in every person’s life.

It determines the trajectory of girls’ lives, which i why caring for girls in their youth benefits all. If the are empowered at a vulnerable age, they can mature into liberated, wise women of the future and as a society, we all win. The world needs profound social transformation in support of girls’ rights.

In Cross River State, wife of the Governor, Dr. Linda Ayade, Linda is making remarkable progress towards the empowerment of girls, as she is working hard to see that empowered girls grow up to be empowered women. She marked this year’s day with the theme, ”Digital Generation, our Generation”, with a call for support of the all-round development and growth of the girl chi!~ ensuring that girls, especially, in rural communities, can reap the benefit of the technological revolution that has reshaped the life of every human being.

The message behind observing this day is to show that girls are leaders. They are change-makers and they can drive good and growth around the world . They are a fundamental source of transformational change for gender equality, and technology is a crucial tool to support their work, activism and leadership. Also, this October 11, UN Women joined other UN agencies, Civil Society and girls around the world to celebrate this memorable day, with particular focus on how girls are disadvantaged and not enjoying their fundamental human rights and how gender and age discrimination are at the heart of the violation of girls’ rights.

Together, women called for equal access to the internet and digital devices for girls and targeted investments to facilitate opportunities for girls’ safety and meaningfully access, use, lead and design technology. It is evident that digital inclusion and literacy open new avenues to learning,. . earning and leading for girls, especially, during the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the pandemic has also deepened the gender divide around connectivity and online safety, with girls facing economic and social barriers to internet and device access.

The UN statement for International Day of the Girl Child is instructive.

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