Proposed Cross River State Waterfront Infrastructure Management Agency: Sustainability Perspectives – BY ESTHER ESHIET

In Breaking News, Columnists, National News, Opinion, Politics

Our Position BY GLOBAL SHAPERS COMMUNITY CALABAR

Esther Eshiet
Esther Eshiet

THE ISSUE

A high proportion, about 66% of families in Cross River State do not have necessary immovable assets (Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, 2013) that are crucial to improving their quality of life.

People work hard to earn the financial capacity to own homes, businesses and land assets so they can support themselves and their families; independent of government.

Research shows that involuntary loss of ownership and possession of these immovable assets is associated with socio-economic risk and frequently results in the impoverishment of affected households and communities (International Finance Corporation, 2012).

Governments around the world recognize the necessity to end poverty in their countries with resolve to promote sustained and inclusive economic opportunities and growth for all (The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development).

For instance, the Australian government already upholds that anything that stops the citizenry from owning their own land so that they can enjoy the fruits of ownership and pride in their own homes must be swept away (Commonwealth of Australia, 2014).

This brief therefore is aimed at proposing what could be done now to avoid potential unintentional harm that can result from the passage and implementation of the Cross River State Law No. 10 (2015) for “the establishment of Cross River State Waterfront Infrastructure Management Agency and for matters connected therewith”.

WHY IT MATTERS

The proposed Cross River State Law No. 10 (2015) is a welcomed developmental stride. But explicit consideration of the security and welfare of the people (waterfront land owners) – the primary purpose of government (Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999) is needed.

‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’ is the first among 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that is set by the United Nations to consolidate and complete the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The 4th target set for this ‘Goal 1’ states that by 2030 governments should “ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance” (The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development).

The clauses “retain and preserve all lands set aside as waterfront in the State” and “process waterfront land allocations” under the regulatory functions of the proposed board to the exclusion of waterfront land owners negates the above goal and target, and constitutes a detraction of the people’s constitutional property right (Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999).

‘Regulatory taking’ of family and community assets by the Cross River State Government affects owners’ socio-economic opportunities and prosperity with no commensurate beneficial effect on the deprived owner (s) as well as long-term positive impacts on the general populace because of government characteristic loss of sense of responsibility to care for and maintain the assets for the intended common good after a while, as evident, for example, in the illegal occupation of Henshaw Town Primary School’s sporting site and farmland by individuals and churches with impunity – a property the was surrendered to the government for common good (Petition letters to government functionaries: Governor of Cross River State, Speaker of Cross River State House of Assembly, Chairman of Calabar South Local Government Council, Commissioner – Ministry of Lands and Survey, Directors of the State Security Service dated 2011 through 2012).

Indigenous-held (waterfront) land has great potential for improving indigenous persons’ employment and economic development and people want to own their properties as it gives them full control over their home environment (Commonwealth of Australia, 2014).

We share in the belief that sustainability comes from building the capacity of individuals, communities and countries to address their needs; and research evidence demonstrates strong positive relationship between community empowerment and sustainability (Ahmad and Talib, 2014) hence the need to adopt a sustainable approach to the proposed Cross River State Waterfront Infrastructure Management.

POLICY OPTIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS

1. The law should recognize the owners of waterfront lands with reserved rights to develop or enter into contracts with any person, firm, corporation, or government agency for the development of waterfront infrastructures on their land across the State.

2. Establishment of Waterfront Infrastructures Development Fund:

I. the Waterfront Infrastructures Development Fund should be financed from: (a) State Government Annual Grant of not less than one per cent of its Consolidated Revenue Fund. (b) Grants by international donor partners; and (c) Funds from any other source.

II. Money from the fund shall be used to finance community owned waterfront infrastructures development projects across the State.

III. The fund shall be administered by the Cross River State Waterfront Infrastructure Management Agency.

IV. For any community to qualify for a block grant pursuant to recommendation (1) above, such community shall contribute not less than 25 percent of the total cost of the project.

V. The Cross River State Waterfront Infrastructure Management Agency shall develop appropriate guidelines for the administration, disbursement and monitoring of the fund (s) which shall be laid before the Cross River State House of Assembly.

VI. Beneficiaries of the fund should be made to spend at least 10% of their profit after tax as contribution to the fund, as requirement for annual permit for extraction of sand, stone, and gravel from waterfront, with tax rebate for communities who contribute more than the stipulated 10%.

Though the fiscal year may not end before the fund is expended, available evidence (Ahmad and Talib, 2014) shows that financial empowerment of communities to achieve socio-economic growth can engender sustainable development.

REFERENCES:

Ahmad, M. S. and Talib, N. B. A. (2014) ‘Empirical investigation of community empowerment and sustainable development: quantitatively improving qualitative model. Springer

Commonwealth of Australia (2014) ‘The Forrest Review: Creating Parity’.
Commonwealth of Australia

Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999).

Ewa Ekeng Combined Traditional Council (2011) ‘Illegal construction of private residential buildings on land at Henshaw Town, Calabar South Local Government Area donated to the Cross River State Government for construction of Henshaw Town Primary School recreation field and garden’. Petition Letter

Ewa Ekeng Youth Assembly (2012) ‘Partial implementation of our request’.

International Finance Corporation (2012) ‘Guidance Note 5: Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement. World Bank Group.

Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey 2013 (NDHS, 2013). National Population Commission, Abuja, Nigeria

Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Final text for adoption (1 August 2015).

ABOUT THE GLOBAL SHAPERS CALABAR HUB:

The Global Shapers Community (an initiative of the World Economic Forum) is a network of city-based Hubs developed and led by young leaders between 20 and 30 years old who are exceptional in their potential, their achievements and their drive to make a contribution to their communities.

Shapers are highly motivated individuals who have a great potential for future leadership roles in society. They are selected on the basis of their achievements, leadership potential, and commitment to make a difference. Through the Global Shapers Community, Shapers are provided with opportunities to connect with the worldwide network of Global Shapers, to network with other World Economic Forum communities, and to represent the voice of youth at World Economic Forum events.

Shapers are united by a common desire to channel the members’ tremendous energy and enthusiasm into building more peaceful and inclusive world. With global membership strength of over 5,000 shapers representing 416 hubs, the Global Shapers Calabar Hub is a platform for collective action on development issues driven at the community level.

Esther Eshiet, Curator
Esther.eshiet@gmail.com
+2348185035437

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