By Jonathan Ugbal, Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has said the state will in partnership with an investor, set up a manganese processing plant as the state moves to position itself to changes in the global economical and technological scene where oil will soon be out of place and technology taking over.
This followed the announcement that a geological mapping team from Shaanxi province in China had found manganese in the state and Mr. Ayade shortly after his arrival from a three weeks trip to Europe says he held a meeting with an investor who has agreed to set up a processing plant in the state as the element is the future.
“The manganese we have found is the future, oil is not the future. What is the future? The future is technology.
“If cars will not drive with gas, if cars will not drive with petrol, if cars will drive with electricity, what do you use to produce the battery? The major component is Manganese.
“We have the largest deposit of manganese in Nigeria and I assure you that the last meeting I had before leaving Nigeria is (with) a large manganese processing company.
“They are already ready, they are strong and capable, they are actually working in Conakry right now and they are ready to move their processing plant to Cross River state.
“A team will soon arrive and so very soon, we will start processing manganese and when we start processing manganese, Cross River State is out of the woods,” Mr. Ayade said.
He also announced that the ultramodern rice mill which he performed the groundbreaking in November 2016 at Ogoja will roll out its first products by December 2017.
“Part of my trip itinerary was to inspect the manufacturing process of the rice mill which is the most sophisticated and digitalized facility you can ever find. It is the latest technology in rice processing in the world today,” said Ayade who disclosed that the state has paid for machinery and are currently “awaiting delivery by end of October while installation will commence as soon as the equipment arrives.
“Hopefully, Cross River State will have it own home grown, milled and ready for consumption rice by December.”
The Governor commended Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari for his policy in agriculture as the world will soon do away with hydrocarbons, a situation the state has foreseen and is already planning towards avoiding plunging deeper into the woods.
“Our major focus is on agriculture, solid minerals and to a lesser extent oil and gas.
“In Cross River State we had seen this coming which was why we set up food bank, cotton cultivation with the focus to support our garment factory as a strategy for backward integration. We must find any means to earn money other than oil and gas,” he said.
He continued: “We are also expanding into various aspects including the cultivation of corn because we are setting up a poultry farm which will require yellow maize as feeds.
“I will use this opportunity to call on Cross Riverians to as a matter of urgency, start arranging for their own farms. You must own a farm because if everyone owns a hectare or two, the impact on food supply will be humongous.”
Furthermore, Mr. Ayade said that the government intends “to introduce the Israeli farming system where everyone owns a farm and what government will do is to harvest and process those proceeds for the benefit of everyone. We need massive supply of corn and we are making arrangement to introduce modern corn farming techniques that will require all hands to be on deck as farmers to achieve this.
“For our cocoa processing plant which is being handled by a firm in Switzerland, the manufacturing has reached 80 percent completion.
“I am talking about all the equipment required for cocoa processing including dryer. We are in addition, setting aside 100 hectares of land dedicated for the cultivation of a new breed of cocoa to support the proposed cocoa processing plant as well as provide us cocoa bags in readiness for export.”