by crossriverwatch admin
A few years ago, Cross River State was often derisively described as a Civil Service state,this is due largely to the preponderance of majority of the population of the state being civil servants who depend on salaries and stipends from the state treasury.
Today, however, through strict adherence to fiscal discipline, rigorous planning, provision of infrastructure, security and an unwavering commitment to the development of the human resource, Cross River has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in the country with businesses and small scale enterprises being the highest employers of labor in the state.
HOUSING AND ACCOMODATION
In the provision of housing, with a policy thrust that every Cross Riverian, especially civil servants should have decent and affordable accommodation, the Imoke administration, in partnership with a private firm, has constructed and commissioned 200 Housing Units in Akpabuyo last year which has since been occupied.
The cost of the housing units meant for low income earners and purchased through mortgage financing is subsidized by as much as 50 percent by the state government and the Governor recently announced that another 1000 housing units will soon be constructed across the state.
The State has in recent times won acclaim for its primary healthcare delivery. Apart from providing the necessary infrastructure and equipment, the Imoke administration has evolved a healthcare system that moves from door to door in both rural and urban communities.
The result of that effort is that for two years running, the State has recorded zero maternal and infant mortality in two of its local government areas.
The administration is operating a free eye surgery program in collaboration with Tulsi Chanrai, an Indian foundation which has carried out over 30,000 free eye surgeries on patients from several states across the country.
Also on health, the state has in the past six years built 66 new Primary HealthCare Centers and upgraded 130 existing ones. This ensures that every electoral ward in the state has one well-equipped Primary Health Center.
The establishment of the Dr. Lawrence Henshaw Memorial Hospital and Specialist Center, with a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Laboratory, the second of such in Africa, has further enhanced healthcare delivery in the state.
The center provides treatment for tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.
With the provision of the requisite infrastructure and equipment by the current administration, the School of Health Technology was upgraded to College of Health Technology.
Also procurement processes have been concluded and soon construction work on a 100-bed American International Hospital will commence.
The administration has further bolstered its free Medicare policy for pregnant women and children of 5 years and below under the project Hope Program.
The government has attracted investments to the state and also invested in the development of benchmark infrastructure to boost foreign and local investment.
As a result, investment interest in the State has surged significantly since 2007. In 2012, Foreign Direct Investment into the state was in the region of $2 Billion.
General Electric, the world’s biggest infrastructure company, GE, which intends to invest $1 Billion in Nigeria, is building its manufacturing and assembly plant in Calabar. The President, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan recently did the ground breaking ceremony in for the factory in Calabar.
It is from the plant that GE will build aeroplane engines, train coaches and electricity turbines, which will be exported to the rest of the African continent. Its’ training facility is also to be located in Calabar.
Most recently, a state in China indicated its interest in setting up a truck manufacturing plant in Calabar. This will bring to two, the number of car manufacturing plants in Calabar. The construction of the first plant is at a very advanced stage.
Another major entrant into the Cross River State economy is Wilmer International, one of the world’s biggest players in agriculture.
With an initial investment portfolio of about $500 million, the firm which has commenced operations, projects that it will be employing about 20, 000 workers in the next 5 years.
Conscious of the pivotal role power plays in the effort to expand the economies particularly in rural areas, electricity has been extended to over 156 rural communities in the state.
450 kilometers of rural roads have been constructed by the Imoke administration to open access to rural communities and add value to agricultural produce.
The Imoke administration created the Rural Development Agency (RUDA) to facilitate the rapid and adequate construction of these roads.
The state government is also partnering the African Development Bank (ADB) through the Rural Access Mobility Program (RAMP) to further open up rural communities in the State.
Under the RAMP project, about 500 kilometers of rural roads have been constructed. And critically, the RAMP project in Cross River has been adjudged the best in the country by ADB.
Also, over 500 kilometers of urban roads have been constructed by the Imoke administration under its urban renewal program. So collectively, the Imoke administration has constructed over 1,500 kilometers of road in the state.
About 19 bridges have also been constructed by the administration.
Cross River State is the first State with a social security program called “Project Hope”, a free health initiative for pregnant women and children under five years of age and “Project Comfort”, a Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program for very poor households.
This was instituted as a poverty alleviation strategy for the most vulnerable people and families in the society, the second enrollment of beneficiaries through a biometric process has been completed.
Cumulatively, about 128,427 people have been enrolled for the free Medicare while 2,231 households are being serviced under the Conditional Cash Transfer program. 15 households in each of the 196 electoral wards are benefitting from it.
The government’s determination to revamp and position this sector for excellence was underlined by a clear definition of the “Cross River State Standard” for academic benchmark.
Under this initiative, 60 Secondary Schools, and 125 Primary Schools have undergone comprehensive renovation. Each of the secondary schools is provided with laboratories for the basic sciences and ICT.
This renovation also includes construction of modern classrooms, assembly halls, provision of desks and chairs, libraries, sports and recreational facilities, convenience, and other infrastructure to develop body and mind.
44 schools have been earmarked for similar intervention in the second phase of the program.
Scholarships have been awarded to 177 post-graduate students, 485 undergraduate students and 52 overseas students. Recently, 10, 000 teachers were provided with lap tops to enhance the state’s e-learning program in schools.
Each of the lap tops are fitted with internet access, materials on 30 subjects, past WAEC questions and answers.
Renovation work has been carried out at the College of Education, Akampka, the School of Health Technology, and the Cross River State University of Technology (CRUTECH).
Lecturers have been recruited for CRUTECH and the College of Education while over 1,000 teachers have been employed, with a further 4,000 retrained in response to the renewed quest for excellence. A post-graduate school has been established at CRUTECH for higher academic pursuits.
Plans for the establishment of a specialized polytechnic have reached an advanced stage. The polytechnic, which is fashioned in the mould of the Highbury College of London, will ensure 90 per cent employability of graduates.
Tailing from a pass rate of about 5 per cent in 1997, Cross River is now one of the seven best performing states in national examinations.
YOUTH AND SPORTS
Cross River perhaps has the most comprehensive sport program in the country. The program is anchored on identifying sporting talents early in life and grooming them to become tomorrow’s stars.
They are exposed to the best training techniques and equipment and education in a camp like environment managed by a renowned athletic coach and consultant.
The result is that Cross River has won back to back, the National Schools Sport Festival in the last two years.
The administration is also constructing two ultra-modern stadia with a combined sitting capacity of 12,000 in Ikom and Ogoja to complement the U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar.
The state has also established five centers of excellence in selected schools across the state.
Each of the five centers is equipped with Olympic standard equipment purchased at the cost of $1.3 Million.
The state is set to build an ultra-modern indoor sport hall in readiness for the 2014 National Sports Festival which it is hosting.
The state has become the home ground for the country’s national football teams; Super Eagles and the Golden Eaglets.
The Super Eagles played all their qualifying matches in Calabar enroute to winning the African Nations Cup.
The choice of Calabar for the teams is due largely to the fact that the U.J. Esuene Stadium is the best maintained stadium in the country, with the most modern flood lighting system and a natural grass pitch that is kept in pristine condition all year round.
The government has consolidated the enviable rating of Cross River State as the cleanest and most environmentally disciplined in the country with bold initiatives aimed at improving aesthetics, and protecting its ecosystem and improving its standing as one of 25 biodiversity hot spots in the world.
There is a moratorium on logging and the State’s rich mangrove swamp has been designated as a reserve area, which have scaled up the value of the State’s Carbon stock.
Last year the state signed an MOU with the United Nations on REDD+ which entitles the state to carbon credit.
Under its urban renewal program, aesthetic development has been extended to within a 25-km radius of each of the five Urban Development Authorities in Calabar, Ugep, Ikom, Ogoja and Obudu.
The work of the Urban Authorities has been enhanced with the establishment of the Cross River State Waste Management Agency, and the acquisition of additional waste disposal bins and trucks including development of sand-fills.
The Government has also completed the study and design process of 21 erosion sites in readiness for intervention.
To immure Calabar and its environs from the ravages of flood, an ambitious underground drain system known as the Channel 11 Drain has been constructed. The construction cost is N2 Billion.
To match the mission statement of the administration, which is to “give farming pride of place by creating an environment for making farming a profitable venture and a veritable source of wealth for our people,” several programs were conceptualized.
The government has put in place market-sensitive, commercialized, competitive and dynamic programs for the full exploration of the agricultural potential in the state.
In 2012, the government signed an MOU with Songhai Regional Center in Porto Novo, Benin Republic to build an integrated world class center for Agribusiness and Entrepreneurship in the state.
The Songhai Cross River Initiative (SCRI), currently under construction in Abi Local Government Area, will be a center of excellence for training, production, research, demonstration and development of sustainable agricultural practices.
The government recently sent 99 youth to Songhai Farm in Porto Novo for training. These youths will form the pilot employees of the Cross River Sonhai Farm.
Then there is also the Cross River Farm Credit Scheme. The scheme has so far disbursed N1.45 Billion to over 650 farmers and food processors in the state under the CBN Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS).
Under the Cross River Commercial Agricultural Development Program (CRCADP), which enjoys support from the World Bank, the government has disbursed grants to about 2,348 commercial farmers.
Also about $1,848,928.10 has been disbursed as grants to 141 community interest groups.
The project has also constructed rural roads at the cost of N527.64M. MOUs have been entered with Tolan Energy Limited for the production of bio-diesel with an investment of $150 million.
Yet another MOU is in place with Notore Chemical Industries for the cultivation and milling of 20,000 hectares of rice. These initiatives will create close to 20,000 jobs.
FADAMA III, a World Bank partnered intervention in this sector has facilitated the provision of tractors, processing equipment, irrigation and credit to farmers. Another partnership has been forged with the NDDC for the revitalization of the poultry Farm at Ikot Effangha Mkpa.
The government’s pilot program in this sector, the Cross River Agricultural and Rural Empowerment Scheme, (CARES) has resulted in the allocation of 2HA each of developed oil palm and cocoa farms, 3,500 tons of fertilizers, and 1.2m disease resistant, high yielding cocoa species to more than 3,500 farmers. A further 100 hectares of land was developed and leased to 12 Cooperatives.
Cross River State has succeeded in establishing itself as a reference point for tourism in Nigeria and the sub-region.
Imoke has branded the State as a destination of excellence in all areas. The government has added-value to the branding of the State by adding real value to the State’s tourism assets and places leaving tourists spoilt for choice.
A Water Park and an Amusement Arcade have been added to Tinapa Resort. The Obudu International Mountain Race and the Calabar Festival and Carnival Calabar have been improved upon and increased private sector sponsorship recorded.
To improve the tourist value of the Ranch Resort, the calibration and alignment of the instrument Landing System (ILS) at the Bebi Airstrip has been achieved.
INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY:
The government has almost completed the development, deployment and utilization of modern information and communication technology in all the Local Government Areas in the State, including a Metropolitan Area Network that links all the State’s MDAs.
A special purpose vehicle, the “Cross River State Network Company Limited” is driving the ICT program of the government. This vehicle is powered by the Consortium of CISCO and NEXTZON. Every bit of government business is e-governance compliant.
Provision of benchmark infrastructure is one of the driving passions of the government. The administration is presently building a multi-billion Naira purpose-built international convention centre with the capacity to seat 2000 people.
Located within the New Development Area, the Calabar International Conference Center (CICC) is meant to address the absence of big conferencing facilities in the state. Calabar is the third most sought after destination for conferences outside Lagos and Abuja.
Contract for the construction of an international golf course has also been awarded. The golf course is also located within the New Development Area.
A 5-star hotel and an upscale housing estate have also been earmarked for the New Development Area. The administration has also been able to attract the private sector into the New Development Area.
One of the private sector players has commenced the construction of a university within the area.
Governor Imoke has created a Department of Public Transportation to attend to the challenges of public transportation and raise the sector to modern standard so as to drive the State’s tourism industry. The operations of commercial motor-cyclists were outlawed and modern taxis provided in its stead. Road Marshalls have been recruited to regularize, monitor and track road usage and offenders. A commercial transportation agency was recently established by the government to oversee issues and challenges related to commercial transportation.
To get maximum performance from the civil servants incentives, reforms and welfare initiatives have been engaged by the Government to prime the Public Service for greater service delivery. Car and motorcycle loans have been provided to ease transportation challenges usually faced by public servants.
Professionalism and efficiency is emphasized by the government through training and manpower development programs.
ICT training and laptops have been provided to all categories of public officers. Staff morale has also been boosted through an annual percentage increment and regular payment of salaries, allowances and grants.
INFORMATION AND ORIENTATION
To ensure mass communication and keep the electorate constantly informed of government programs and activities, information organs in the State have been revitalized by the Imoke administration.
New ultra-modern UHF Radio/Television Digital Transmitting Systems have been installed in Calabar, Odukpani, Ikom and Obudu Ranch stations to guarantee universal coverage of the State.
INTERNATIONAL DONOR SUPPORT
Governor Imoke has engaged the support of International Donor Agencies to push his development agenda especially in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, MDG and the Conditional Grants Scheme, CGS.
This funding is vital to the execution of 105 key projects in health, water, sanitation and alternative power generation. These donor partners – European Union, EU, Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA, World Bank, United States Agency for International Development, USAID, Department for International Development, DFID – have provided the State with finance and capacity building services.
In spite of its location in the volatile Niger Delta which at the best of time is restless, Cross River State has a near zero crime rate. The Security network in the State is efficient with safety of lives and property guaranteed all-year round.
Cross River State is perhaps the only State in the country with a functional emergency Response Center, with dedicated staff providing 24-hours response to all emergencies. In line with its proactive approach to dealing with security, the State has engaged the services of internationally reputed security consultants to implement a blanket security master plan.
TINAPA KNOWLEDGE CITY
In a couple of weeks the Tinapa Knowledge City will be inaugurated. Located within the Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort, the Knowledge City is an ICT incubation center, the first of its kind in Nigeria.
Apart from running a call center, the Tinapa Knowledge City will offer young ICT-driven Cross Riverians the opportunity to learn and be certificated in software designing and production.
TINAPA MEDIA CITY
The decision by the administration to farm out the running of Tinapa Studio to EbonyLife, a privately owned concern has turned out to be a master stroke. Not only has the facility been put to good use, but Ebony Life, owned by Mo Abudu of Moments with Mo fame, is set to start beaming digital television signals to the world from the Tinapa studio.
The statement by Mr Labaran Maku, that Cross River State is the emerging manufacturing hub, not just in Nigeria, but also in the whole of West Africa during the Good Governance Tour to the state captures more vividly the quantum leap the state has witnessed in the last 6 years under the leadership of Senator Liyel Imoke.
By Charley Ofem.
Readers reactions are welcomed.
follow us on twitter @crossriverwatch
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.