Donald Duke (born 30 September 1961 in Calabar) was the Governor of Cross River State, Nigeria from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. He received LLB degree in 1982 from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria – Nigeria, the B.L in 1983 from the Nigerian Law School, Lagos and the L.L.M. in Business Law and Admiralty in 1984 from University of Pennsylvania.
Spearheading the incumbent debt of Nigeria, Duke pushed for democracy and against military control. He stated; “What got the military out of power was not democracy but the dreadful state of the economy. If we, the democratic government, cannot deliver food for the mass of people we can forget about democracy.”
Duke has been praised for his contributions to the fields of agriculture, urban development, government, environment, information and communication, investment drive, and tourism. Through his work Calabar is seen as the “cleanest city in Nigeria.”
He created the idea of the Obudu Ranch International Mountain Race and the race grew to become one of the most lucrative mountain running competitions in the world under his stewardship.
Donald Duke initiated the Tinapa Resort project as a way to boost business and tourism in the state. Over $350 million was spent on initial development before phase 1 opening in April 2007. The BBC reported in September 2006 that Governor Duke was the only governor specifically mentioned as not being under investigation by the federal Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Four other governors were also reported as not under investigation but their names were not released.)
Donald Duke announced that he would run for president in the 2007 presidential election, but stepped aside in favour of the eventual winner, Umaru Yar’Adua.