It is very impressive to know that the superhighway will have a tunnel, maybe to protect some parts of the forest or major landmarks, an antenna and a 4G LTE Internet penetration covering the length of the road. This is what we call development.
To those whose concern is how the state will pay off this huge debt, I don’t think it will be a major problem if properly managed.
Nigerians are in search of vacation life, Nigerians spend billions in real estate and tourism in Ghana and Dubai yearly.
The Cattle Ranch has one of the best scenery in Africa that can readily be developed to one of the world’s ultra modern vacation centers both for local and international tourism.
If the ranch gets the required visibility and accessibility coupled with modern day 4 G LTE through the superhighway, the proposed transformation of that real estate (the ranch) as a tourism heaven coupled with the customization of displays of African culture as a trademark for the Ranch, can have the ability to attract hundreds of thousands of Nigerians to travel to the Ranch, own properties, shop and relax for vacation rather than travelling to Ghana or Dubai.
We missed a similar opportunity when Tinapa was developed, we should take the opportunity of the superhighway to refocus national attention to Cross river state.
I will maintain, that the vision should go beyond the superhighway to the development and tourist promotion of a proposed Ranch City.
Developing both concepts concurrently will make loan repayment and improving IGR easier. Nigeria as a country, with a rising middle class is a big market that we can easily explore.
I believe with smart thinking and the right human capacity on board, this Superhighway that so many frown about, maybe the key to opening our economic potentials as a state.
Having studied the development metrics on the gains of the proposed superhighway if properly managed and executed with timelines, I can confidently tell you that if this project is followed to the letter, given the right professional management, technical capability, financial prudence, timelines management, coupled with the development of a proposed Ranch city, then this project will end up as our major breakthrough as a people. However, if for any reason whatsoever it is mismanaged or abandoned, we may never come out of the debt burden for decades.
The fact that the President is conducting the ground breaking is an excellent development. Although the present design is that the state government plans to source for investment finance to execute the project from international financial corporations on a PPP arrangement.
Our earnest prayer is that the state governor should make more effort in convincing the President to adopt this noble project as a federal road project and thus absolve us from all financial burden.
I would use this medium to call on stakeholders and traditional chiefs in Cross River state who will join the Governor to welcome President Buhari on Tuesday, to publicly make a request to President Buhari, appealing to him for the federal government to take over the road as it will also create economic openness and easy accessibility to the northern Nigeria.
I am very definite, if this request is made to Mr President publicly during his visit, he will either yield to a complete take over of the project or may offer to take on a percentage of the bill. However, there is no harm in trial, the request should be made.
I will also appeal to all well meaning Cross Riverians to tone down the arguments against the project both on social media and print media. Let us not create an impression that we are divided over the matter.
Every Governor in our short democratic history left behind a signature project. Donald’s Tinapa failed but his Carnival, Sanitation and Ranch projects stood out.
Imoke’s Convention Center, ITM Ugep and The agricultural farms are still on the works, we pray they become profitable. Let us help create the required synergy to make Ben Ayade’s superhighway signature project to succeed.
Most importantly, I will appeal, let the stakeholders and traditional Chiefs that will join Ben Ayade receive Mr President, seize the opportunity of his visit to make an open request for the federal government to take over the superhighway financing, after-all, we lost Bakassi and our oil wells to prevent a possible Civil war with Cameroon for the advantage of the entire country.
Secondly, we house one of the world’s most revered rain forest and national parks for the benefit of Nigeria and the entire world. If we could make such a sacrifice for the peace of our country and the promotion of environmental safety, making a request that the federal government should take over the cost of the superhighway that will create accessibility to the rain forest, I don’t think we are asking for too much.
There is no harm if President Buhari turns down the request, but as a student of government and public policy, I bet he will concede if the request is passionately done publicly by our traditional chiefs.
We have given enough to make Nigeria peaceful at the detriment of our farmlands, natural resources, oil wells and displacement of our brothers and sisters in Bakassi.
Requesting for a federal intervention for access roads to aid our ailing economy from the federal government, I don’t think we are asking for too much.
Princewill Odidi is a Project development Consultant writing from Atlanta USA
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