Story by CrossRiverWatch admin
Cross River State has a land mass of 23, 074kilometre square. The State is
covered by a body of waters from the tributaries of the Cross River and
the Atlantic Ocean. This renders the land very fertile and provides
abundant aquatic resources for exploitation. Two third of Cross River
State is covered by tropical rain forests, making the state one of the
world’s bio-diversity hotspots. The state is also blessed with other
mineral resources including clay, salt, limestone, kaolin, barite,
quartzite, limonite etc. All in commercial quantity.
The capital of Cross River State is Calabar and the state has 18 local
government areas. The population of Cross River State is estimated at
2.89million persons (2006). 40% of the population constitutes the active
population that is engaged in various economic activities; ranging from
subsistence agriculture to urban commerce and transport business.
Agriculture has since 1970, been acknowledged as the leading economic
sector of the state. Agriculture currently employs about 80% of the
state’s workforce and contributes 40% to the state’s Gross Domestic
Product (GDP). The State boasts of several agricultural estates that only
need sustained support as well as small holder farms in various local
Traditionally one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria,Cross River State
is home to some of Nigeria’s most beautiful scenery. The development of
the state tourism potential has remained the core of successive
governments strategy for development.
Taking in 32% of the entire state, Cross River boasts of the world’s 2nd
largest preserved rain forest. The Afi Mountain Nature Reserve is one of
the last remaining reserves and tropical rain forests in West Africa and
is home to the most successful rehabilitation program for Drill Monkeys in
the world today.
In between the southern beaches and the northern mountains, visitors can
enjoy a range of activities including a most beautiful canopy walkway
which is situated close to the Afi Mountain Wildlife sanctuary. This
canopy walkway holds the record of being the longest forest canopy walkway
The Cross River National Park incorporates a large area of southeast
Nigeria’s tropical rain forest between the Cross River State and Republic
of Cameroon border. Cross River National Park comprising the former Oban
Forest Reserve and the Boshi Okwango Forest Reserve is now the largest and
only protected forest area in the rain forest region of Nigeria. It was
initiated by the World Wide Fund for Nature in collaboration with the
Nigerian Conservation Foundation. The Oban section contains the highest
tropical bio-diversity in Africa with remarkable wild life including the
rare red-head Rock Fowl, Golden Potto, Red Colobus, needle-clawed Galago,
Bate’s Pigmy Antelope, Day Duiker, Ogilby’s Duiker and the rare Olive
Ibis. Other animal species to be found in the park are antelopes,
chimpanzees, high forest monkeys, buffaloes, high forest elephants,
manatees and bush pigs. Others include baboons, leopards and gorillas,
some of which are endangered.
Located some 17km from Ikom, in central Cross River State and about 300km
from Calabar, are the Agbokim Waterfalls. The falls are considered a
“miracle of nature” and consist of seven different streams, each cascading
over steep cliffs, providing seven-faced falls.
Cross River is also home to one of the largest naturally occuring lake in
the South-South region of Nigeria; the Refome Lake. The lake is central to
a fishing festival which takes place between March and May every year.
Rubber and oil palm plantations generate export commodities for the state.
Forestry accounts for about two third of total land areas, hence forestry
products rank next after agriculture.
The Melina Plantation in Akampa LGA used to supply the Nigerian Newsprint
Manufacturing Company at Oku Iboku in Akwa Ibom State. Plywood and other
wood products are manufactured in Calabar using the rich timber from Cross
River State forests.
A great variety of tropical woods are found in Cross River State including
Brachystegia, Mytrogyna, Akwamini, Camwood, Iroko, Ebony, Mahogany,
Rhizophora, Obeche, Opepe, Black Afara, etc.
The State also has great potential for marine fisheries and fresh water
aqua-culture. Because of the large rivers which drain areas with heavy
rainfall, where the rocks are deeply weathered, the rivers are nutrients
laden with elements and dissolved salts for diverse forms of aquatic life.
Indeed these nutrients and vital elements support abundant shrimps, clams,
periwinkle and fish in the lower courses of the rivers and throughout the
coastal swamps and shelf waters. In mining and quarrying, Cross River
State has great potentials. But so far, industrial minerals have dominated
this sub sector. The only challenge that has impeded the exploration of
metallic minerals in the state is the thick impenetrable forests and deep
weathering which greatly mantles the surface.
But by far, the greatest natural asset in Cross River State is the
availability of extensive and highly fertile soils which should ordinarily
turn the state to the bread basket of the old eastern region.
Cross River State has good prospects for a host of agricultural and
mineral raw materials; but agricultural raw materials top the list.
Natural rubber, palm oil and kernel are already established plantation
products and main raw material exports of the State.
Cocoa, Soya Beans, and food crops such as cassava, yam, rice, plantain,
banana, and maize are produced in great abundance. The state can also
consider the feasibility of utilising the locally available raw materials
like maize for glucose, egg for egg powder, yam for yam flour, mango,
orange, cashew, pineapple for fruit juice, cocoa for cocoa products, and
palm wine for baking yeast.
Industrial materials such as crushed rock, sand, gravel and limestone are
already being produced from the state. Cross River State holds the purest
(97% CaCo3) and largest reserve of limestone in the country. The Mfamosing
limestone deposits used to be quarried for the manufacture of cement by
the Calabar Cement Company and by the Cross River Limestones Ltd. for
shipment to the Delta Steel rolling plant at Aladja, Warri for use as a
fluxing agent and for making of hydrated lime.
Geological exploration by the Geology Department of the University of
Calabar have uncovered limonite in commercial quantity in obudu LGA.
Limonite is a titanium bearing mineral that is used in the manufacture of
Other mineral deposits in Cross River include, three good quality kaolin,
graphite, manganese, baryte, tin, marble, brines of up to 8.6% NaCL at
Okpoma near Ogoja in Yala LGA. There are also brines with lower salt
concentration in Ikom. Cross River brines are the richest brines in the
country. They are richer than the Uburu Okposi brines in Abia State, the
Abakaliki brines and those of the Keana Awe area in Nasarawa State.
And since Lead and Zinc are always associated with the discovery of
brines, the Cross River brines holds the prospect of manufacturing
chlorine and caustic soda. The State also boast of an Export Processing
Zone in Calabar.
Matter-of-factly, methinks that the State management team and the people
of Cross River State should stop all the bickering over the transfer of 76
oil wells from the state to Akwa Ibom State and look inwards to see how
they can turn the state to the envy of their neighbours.
Experts have projected that agriculture, mining and tourism have the
potential of giving the state in excess of 10bn US Dollars per annum and
all the annual allocation from Abuja to the entire South-South is no where
near that amount.
To maximise these potentials therefore, the Governor should look for local
and international partners to:
1. Construct a dual purpose, two lane modern speed rail for passengers and
haulage to connect Calabar Port and Yala through Obudu. This will reduce
travel time across the state. People can come everyday to work in Calabar
from the northern part of the state and keep the capital de-congested.
Goods and other products can leave the north and arrive at the Calabar
port on record time. New towns will also open up along the rail corridor.
2. Dredge the Calabar port to berth bigger cargo ships. This will engender
huge commerce and facilitate a lee way for the huge exports that the state
will produce. The wharf will also create massive employment for the
3. Revamp or upgrade the Bebi Airstrip to a full airport. This will open
up the tourism potentials of the north and make them more accessible to
tourists in the global market. It will cut the travel difficulties that
have continued to discourage massive private investments in the sector.
4. Make 80,000hectares of land available for six mega farm estates at
different locations between Akpabuyo and Obudu. Just make the land
available, give very juicy moratoriums like 5-10yrs tax rebate, free land
lease for 20yrs, security etc, and the train and Calabar Sea Port are
there to move produce conveniently for export, don’t worry, the “mega
farmers” will definitely show up from wherever they are in the world.
But when they come, your standards too must be high. Something like…
They must employ a certain percentage of our people. They must transfer a
certain percentage of technology in whatever it is they are doing. They
should source for raw materials locally unless where not available etc.
This will create employment and keep the rail and the wharf busy.
5. Source for alternative sources of energy to power the emerging economy.
By the time careful thought and planning is applied to achieve these and
many more, our neighbours will envy us and we can as well ask Abuja to
keep their pittance.
The wealth of Cross River State lies not in crude oil but in the
preponderance of the ineffable munificence of God upon our fertile soil
and the incredibly innovative human resources. It is the lack of visionary
and imaginative leadership that has stunted the growth of the state and
our leaders need to tickle their imagination and stop fussing over some
cursed oil money.
God bless the people’s paradise.
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