By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
The housing problems plaguing the displaced Bakassi indigenes may soon be a thing of the past as the construction of 300 social housing units for the IDP’s is set to begin next week says Cross River Governor, Ben Ayade.
Ayade disclosed this, Saturday while speaking with press men shortly after his visit to Bakassi where he interfaced with the indigenes before braving the rains and taking a walk to the proposed location of the housing scheme.
“As you look towards my back you can see the squatter slums, you can see the inhuman structures that people are living in, that is the circumstance, that is the situation in which you find my people, the people of Bakassi” Ayade said while standing in front of an uncompleted mud house inhabited by some Bakassi indigenes.
Ayade who said though the federal government was already doing something to alleviate the problems of the Bakassi people, also said that; “I think more importantly, before we go to the federal government and indeed the International community to seek help, let us be seen that we as government has done something for our people before we can seek support and assistance. That is why as government, we have taken key responsibility to start construction by next week”.
The governor who said out that he had met President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue also pointed out that the construction of the 300 housing units is the first phase of 3,000, and forms part of his trip to Dortmund, Germany where they agreed to support the program.
On the question whether the houses will be free or not, Ayade said that; “The social housing we mean, is housing that is free. They say that there is no free lunch, but in Cross River State, we still do have free lunch. There are people who are displaced for no fault of theirs, government has a responsibility to cater for them and that is what we want to do”.
It will be recalled that since assumption of office, Governor Ayade has in several fora as reported by CrossRiverWatch, made case for the Bakassi people with his tone often emotional when speaking on issues related to the displaced Bakassi indigenes.
Earlier, Ayade trekked from the Governor’s lodge into Library road and through the Murtala Muhammed highway before turning into IBB way where he walked the entire length of the road to Atimbo junction and turned right into Atimbo road where he eventually entered his vehicle at a spot close to the Nigerian Navy staff quarters.
The governor was greeted from both sides of the routes by people who were taken aback at the governor’s decision to trek on foot while his security aides were entertaining them with chants used during their drills.
It was unclear what the governor intended as he was joined by the SPeaker of the house of assembly, John Lebo, the Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command who CrossRiverWatch gathered from impeccable sources was on his way to the airport to accompany his wife when he then stopped to join the governor, the former chairman of the PDP in the state, John Okon and many other aides and commissioners who all joined along the way.