Abimbola Akosile in Lagos, Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano and Bassey Inyang in Calabar
To celebrate fifty years of creation, Lagos, Kano, Cross River, and other states including Kwara and Rivers yesterday marked their creation in May 27, 1967 in various grand styles and displays.
While the Lagos State Government has concluded plans to climax the Lagos@50 celebrations with a spectacular display of fireworks on Sunday (today), both Kano and Rivers states honoured some of their past and present leaders with various awards in different categories.
Cross River state, led by Governor Ben Ayade chose to mark the anniversary with the release of five inmates who were on death row, among other activities.
To mark the historical event, Kano state governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, bestowed special awards on 82 prominent Nigerians and expatriates, for their exceptional contribution towards the development of the state, as part of its golden jubilee celebration.
The honourees include former Heads of State, Gen. Murtala Muhammed and Gen. Sani Abacha, all past military and civilian governors of the state, the late Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, Africaâ€™s richest man Aliko Dangote, his maternal uncle Alhaji Aminu Dantata and Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state.
Other award recipients include Islamic religious leaders, public officials, traditional leaders, politicians, businessmen and so forth, who helped relentlessly in building Kano.
In his remarks, Governor Ganduje stated that individual and collective efforts of citizens, especially the founding fathers of the state and other patriotic people, had resulted in landmarks, by which Kano stands tall among its peers.
While rejoicing with recipients of the state honours, he said the awards would stimulate people to contribute towards development of the state, announcing that his administration would forward a bill to the state legislature to make the Kano Merit Awards a permanent affair in the scheme of things.
The Special guest of honour and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar paid special tribute to the first Military administrator of the state, late Police Commissioner Audu Bako and the late Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, for laying the foundation of infrastructural and agricultural progress of the state and for providing the leadership in keeping the pole together.
In his speech, Governor Okorocha, who expressed heartfelt appreciation to the people of Kano, urged the state government to pay more attention to education of children, assuring them that he would personally work with the state government to promote education, mainly for poor children, in view of its importance.
On his part, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, said the recognition would inspire them to do more. He also promised to work closely with the Ganduje administration to enhance the progress of the state.
Meanwhile, Lagos state government, in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, said the fireworks would be on display at midnight of May 28 on the water of Eko Atlantic.
â€œThis is to inform the public that there will be a display of fireworks as part of the music and fashion show to round off the 50thAnniversary Celebrations of the State. The fireworks will be on display at exactly 12 midnight at the Eko Atlantic City during the Golden Concert. Residents do not need to panic or nurse any fear whatsoever when they hear the sound of the fireworks as it is only just a symbolic way to draw the curtains of what has been a very splendid and successful celebration of our golden Stateâ€, Ayorinde said.
The Lagos@50 Celebration, which began on May 27, 2016, has featured series of events and activities to showcase the cultural essence of the State, including Jazz Meets Runway, International Conferences, Arts Exhibition, Film Shows, among others.
50 top artistes who have ruled the Lagos music scene over the years are expected to perform at the concert. Some of the artistes billed to perform include juju music maestros – King Sunny Ade and Evangelist Ebenezer Obey as well as the legendry Highlife Patriarch, Sir Victor Olaiya.
Other superstars on board are Davido, Tekno, Phyno, Olamide, Humble Smith, Adekunle Gold, Lil Kesh, Patoranking, â€˜Mr Capableâ€™ Banky W, Runtown, Vanessa, MI, Eedris Abdulkareem, Mr. Eazi, DJ Spinall and Waka Music star, Queen Salawa Abeni. Also expected are star Fuji artistes like Adewale Ayuba, Abass Akande Obesere and Wasiu Alabi (Pasuma Wonder).
Also, as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of Cross River State, the state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade has granted clemency to five prisoners who were on death row. Also granted clemency were sixteen prisoners serving life sentence; four on account of age, and nine because of ill health.
Ayade pronounced clemency for the prisoners in line with the prerogative of mercy vested in his office by the Nigerian constitution while making a state-wide broadcast on radio and television yesterday to mark the 50th anniversary of the existence of the state.
â€œFellow Cross Riverians, in the spirit of the celebration and in the exercise of the powers vested in me under Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I hereby grant clemency to the following categories of prisoners; â€œ5 prisoners who are on death row, 16 prisoners serving life sentences, 4 prisoners who are above sixty years of age, 9 convicted prisoners who are terminally ill and may likely die if not granted pardon. The names of the beneficiaries shall be made public later today,â€ Ayade said.
In the broadcast which lasted for about 5 minutes, he said there was every reason for the people of the state to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the state despite the numerous challenges they have passed through.
Ayade urged the people not forget the heroic deeds of their past leaders, saying, â€œFor without them, our story will be incompleteâ€. He tasked the people of the state to march into the future in unity with hope of a brighter and prosperous future.