By Jonathan Ugbal
President Mohammadu Buhari today performed the ground breaking ceremony of the 260 kilometres dual carriage superhighway, one of Governor Benedict Ayade’s signature projects with a promise that he will return for the commissioning.
Buhari while addressing Cross Riverians at the site of the ground breaking in Nsan, Akamkpa local government area said his presence for the ceremony is a pointer towards the importance placed on the project by the federal government as it will provide amongst other things, an alternative seaport and evacuation corridor for neighboring northern landlocked countries.
Buhari said “I understand that major geotechnical survey of the seaport is ongoing, when completed, this road will start from the seaport and terminate at the boundary between Cross River and Benue states. It will link the South, North Central, North East and ultimately Central Africa. It will undoubtedly expand the boundaries of our economy and provide countries like Niger Republic an alternative to a Seaport”
He said the road will not only serve Cross Riverians but Nigerians as well and with the cutting down of travel time between Calabar and Obudu ranch resort from around 6 to 2 hours “less man hours will be wasted.”
On his presence in the state, the President averred that ” That I am here today performing this underscores the importance the federal government attaches to it (the projects). It is indeed a huge milestone for my brother and governor, Senator Ben Ayade who created a new vista of opportunities for Cross Riverians and Nigerians”.
He also stressed his delight in coming to the state for the ground breaking ceremony and said it was the first under his Presidency and commended Ayade for the foresight in “conceptualizing this project given the multiplier effect this laudable projects are expected to generate”.
He continued “I want to assure you of my determination as well as the determination of the federal government to ensure that this road and indeed the seaport come to completion”.
Furthermore, he thanked Cross Riverians for giving him a rousing welcome and sent the crowd into a wild applause when he said “I promise to come back to commission this road and I hope it will not be very long”.
Cross River Governor, Benedict Ayade on his part expressed confidence in the President to achieve his “dreams” which according to him lies in his choice of the State for his first working visit, thereby proving he was “truly the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
He called for a minute standing ovation for President Buhari. “In recognition of the honor you (Buhari) have done this State by finding time despite the limited days you have assumed office to leave your schedule to be here with us in this our African natural thick forest to celebrate with us (and) in spite of the fact that the weather was challenging, you decided to take it by road”.
He continued “Mr. President, the ontological kinetics of this road started with the loss of our oil wells consequent upon the loss of Bakassi, therefore the state was reduced to want in body and spirit. It became imperative that we must reconstruct a new means of production to open the horizon, to get the teeming young men employed, it is against that background that I sought to lead this state.
“It became very clear and evident that we must construct new means of production and as a solution architect that I am, that our people are, we all agreed in unanimity that for the Federal Republic of Nigeria with over 853 kilometres of Atlantic shoreline, it became imperative that as beneficiaries of that natural opportunity we must find a way to create a Seaport”.
Ayade stressed that it was impossible for the state government within its resource limits to complete such but still decided to go ahead because “We know we have a President who is indeed a President for all, we know that once we dream, it is his duty to make the dream a reality”.
He said it took less than a day for the letter of the construction of the Bakassi seaport to be minuted out and called on Cross Riverians to appreciate him for his ‘magnanimity’ and ‘statesmanship’ as only those who know the processes for a seaport that he did as if it was nothing will also know “the openness, the integrity, the character (and) the versatility of Mr. President”.
He went on to give a few technical details of the projects with the seaport to have 14 metres and a key wall of 680 metres capable of allowing “vessels of all sizes and mother vessels to berth”.
The road is to serve as the evacuation corridor to the northern parts and will according to him be the “first that will have limitless Internet broadband connectivity all through the way, the first to have a photomatic solar system that will light through with satellite antenna, the first that will have anti-slip bumps on the highway, speed cameras and ambulatory services “.
Furthermore, Ayade described the road as a digital road, designed for the 21st century that will also serve as a trans-central-African highway following his discussions with his neighbouring Governor Ortom of Benue state will lead to the construction of a superhighway to Nasarawa with hopes his counterpart over there will construct one to Abuja and so on into neighbouring and far countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and the rest.
He pledged that Cross Riverians will be always be with Buhari throughout the days of his service having decided to use the opportunity given to him by God for the service of mankind.
The ceremony had in attendance the governors of Akwa Ibom and Imo states, Udom Emmanuel and Owelle Rochas Okorocha respectively. Two past governors of Cross River, Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke, the deputy governor of Cross River State, Professor Ivara Esu, the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, John Gaul Lebo and other members of the House.
Others included members of the National Assembly from Cross River State, the President’s Adviser on National Assembly (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, renowned activist, lawyer and APC Chieftain, Barrister Okoi Obono-Obla who sat beside the President, top government functionaries and traditional leaders.
The event which was billed for 10:00 am was delayed following heavy downpour which forced the President to return to Calabar mid air in his Presidential Chopper, to use the road which takes a little over an hour to the venue.
He eventually arrived at about 12:36 pm. The event which lasted less than an hour saw the President board the helicopter which left for Calabar at 1:15 pm.
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