By CrossRiverWatch admin
The visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Cross River State for the groundbreaking ceremony for the 260km dual carriage superhighway has been postponed.
A statement signed by, Mr. Christian Ita, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ben Ayade, said the decision to postpone the ceremony was communicated to the governor in a letter signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
The statement said the Presidency attributed the shift to a letter written to the President by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Nana Fatima Mede, in which she claimed that the proposed highway, if allowed to go on, would cut through the Cross River National Park.
The letter claimed that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the proposed road was yet to be carried out.
But the statement by Ita refuted the claim of the Federal Ministry of Environment and insisted that the proposed road would not traverse the Cross River National Park, as the superhighway is several kilometers far removed from the national park.
“Based on the input of the Cross River National Park, the road has since been rerouted with the alignment now several kilometers away from the Park,” The Chief Press Secretary reiterated.
“As a governor who is passionate about the preservation of the state’s biodiversity with his establishment of the Green Police, he would not embark on a project that would undermine the environment”, the statement further added.
He said the EIA report on the road is being handled by PGM (Nig) Ltd, environmental consultants recommended to the state by the Federal Ministry of Environment.
The statement, while thanking Cross Riverians for keeping faith with Governor Ayade for his vision for the state, affirmed the Governor’s unwavering determination to see through the project.
It concluded that the Governor would work closely with the Presidency to clear areas of doubt, promising to convey to Cross Riverians a new date for the ceremony.
But the Spokesman to Mr. President told CrossRiverWatch on the phone that the new date may not be in sight soonest as the President will have to wait until there is contrary advice from the Federal Ministry of Environment.
“The President had already scheduled a visit for Cross River for the purpose of performing the ground breaking ceremony for the proposed highway. But he is also a President that is a stickler for due process. When he got contrary advice from the Environment Ministry which indicated that the construction work will affect a national asset in the state, the President immediately insisted that the Ministry and the State government must clear those grey areas before he can proceed with the visit. For now we do not know when those issues will be resolved. It may take some time since we understand that the Environmental Impact Assessment too has not been done.”
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